Criminal Minds (2005–2020)
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Pay It Forward 

When a time capsule in a small Colorado town is opened 25 years later and contains a gruesome discovery, the BAU investigates that crime and a possible link to the death of a local police officer.


John Terlesky


Jeff Davis (created by), Bruce Zimmerman | 1 more credit »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Mantegna ... David Rossi
Shemar Moore ... Derek Morgan
Matthew Gray Gubler ... Dr. Spencer Reid
A.J. Cook ... Jennifer Jareau
Kirsten Vangsness ... Penelope Garcia
Jeanne Tripplehorn ... Alex Blake
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Rob Nagle ... Tory Chapman
Missy Crider ... Leanne Chapman
Ryan Cutrona ... Sam
Bill Dawes ... Sheriff Bob Collier
David Hayward ... Clarence Tipton
Jeanette O'Connor ... Arlene Tipton
Pamela Bellwood ... Wanda Sullivan
Linda DeMetrick ... Melanie Burke


The team is called to Bronson Springs, Colorado (formerly designated "City of Tomorrow" as a great community in which to live), because of the discovery there of the decapitated body of retired police deputy Charlie Figg. That in and of itself would not normally require the services of the BAU, but the fact that Charlie's dead body was found just hours after the discovery of another human head in the just-unearthed 25-year-old official Bronson Springs time capsule makes it a BAU case. That head belonged to then 23-year-old Wade Burke, who was never listed as deceased since no body was ever found and no foul play was suspected. The team quickly learns that Burke and Figg were both decapitated with the same saw, and thus probably by the same unsub. When a third decapitated victim is discovered shortly after their arrival, they determine that all the victims were hypocrites in that their private lives were contrary to their squeaky-clean public image. The team realizes that the unsub, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


While talking about other serial killers with long cooling-off periods, Reid mentions the Keystone Killer, from Criminal Minds: Unfinished Business (2006) See more »


Tom Backus birth certificate gives his DOB as 4/18/48. His marriage license shows his DOB to be 3/1/48 (with no DOB or address for his wife), and his W4 has his DOB as 3/24/41. See more »


Penelope Garcia: So either she went way off the grid or changed her identity again, 'cause I can't find her. So I'm reattaching my snorkel and goggles, diving back in
See more »


Written by Drew Holcomb
Performed by Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors
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User Reviews

'Criminal Minds' and "the delusional hero"
22 March 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

When on form, and even better at its best, 'Criminal Minds' is one of my most watched and most re-watched shows and is a personal favourite. It is nowhere near as good now, but there are still good to great episodes made every now and then when the show doesn't forget what it's about, but Seasons 1-5 was its prime period.

Of a very hit-and-miss Season 8 (almost as much as Seasons 6 and 9, though Season 11 is the worst season), "Pay It Forward" is very much like "Perennials", an average bland episode that considering its gruesome concept should have been so much more while fits on neither extreme of best or worst of the season. It is much better than the likes of "Magnificent Light", "The Pact", "Through the Looking Glass", "The Replicator", "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Magnum Opus". Season 8 is not all bad though, "The Lesson", "Restoration", "All That Remains" and "Broken" were great, and the likes of "The Fallen", "Alchemy", "God Complex" and "The Good Earth" were also very good.

There are certainly good things about "Pay it Forward". Have yet to see a 'Criminal Minds' episode with no redeeming qualities, even low-point episodes like "200", "The Black Queen" and the worst of Season 11. Visually, the production values in "Pay it Forward" are without complaint. It's very well shot and lit and is overall stylish, gritty, classy and atmospheric. The music is moody in the haunting and melancholic sense and fits well, without either enhancing or distracting from the atmosphere. Some of the direction lets the case breathe while keeping the momentum.

"Pay it Forward" has a few effective moments. The whole stuff with the heads, especially with the refrigerator, was incredibly disturbing without being too gratuitous. Reid's explanations, like with the sheriff, are fascinating with enough to make his reputation as a fan favourite justified. Have always found him an intelligent and relatable character, without being too much of a know-it-all, whose problems have resonated with me and that's the case here. The whole exchange with Backus and the unsub is truly chilling too.

Even with less than great material, the acting is still good enough. Although Jeanne Tripplehorn has very little to work with (or anything worth discussing), all the regulars are fine and the supporting cast don't undermine them. The absence of the Replicator story arc proved to be a good thing, sometimes it could be creepy but at other times it distracted from the story and dissipates the suspense.

However, "Pay it Forward", as has been said already, could have been much more. A few effective moments just didn't feel enough for a just over 40 minute episode that should have been much creepier, instead of having sporadic creepy moments and everything else being dull and run-of-the-mill. That there was more emphasis on the procedural aspects was appreciated, and less of the soapy personal lives stories and gratuitous horror.

Personally would have liked more of a psychological element, which really would have set the case apart, and in focusing on the case and procedural aspects character development ranges between minimal and completely off. The team work was competent and cohesive but just seem there with no development, and Blake is still a character with a cold exterior and disconnected chemistry apart from with Reid. The case itself is hampered by a lack of tension and suspense, partly to do with being unsub-heavy (revealed too early) and nothing special at all done with it or with enough to justify such an emphasis, a rather too vanilla unsub and a couple of elements that didn't add anything to the story (one big one rendering the entire story meaningless, won't spoil it but it was crucial to the unsub's motivations).

All in all, average and bland but hardly a complete disaster. 5/10 Bethany Cox

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Release Date:

10 April 2013 (USA) See more »

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Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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