Criminal Minds (2005–2020)
2 user 1 critic

A Thousand Suns 

0:46 | Trailer
A terrorist hacks a passenger's tablet and uses it to take control of the auto pilot of a plane in order to crash it.


Rob Bailey


Jeff Davis (created by), Sharon Lee Watson





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
Jennifer Love Hewitt ... Kate Callahan
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Deidrie Henry ... Commander Jumilla Reardon
Eyal Podell ... Charlie Hosswell
Charles Carroll ... Galen Petosky
Eden Riegel ... Shelley Hicks
Jed Sura ... Frank Canvers
Bill Coelius Bill Coelius ... Morris Perrault
Patricia Tallman ... Captain Margot Nolan
Vic Chao ... Co-Pilot Phillip Tran


Trans Alliance flight 420 from Pittsburgh to Phoenix just crashed in a Colorado field, with only one known survivor, co-pilot Frank Canvers, of the approximately 150 aboard. A witness saw a flash of light, which could mean a surface to air missile. However, the crash area is sparsely populated largely by anarchists and extremists, which could make on-ground witness statements unreliable. The BAU is called in to determine if indeed this was an attack and if so to provide a profile of the attacker(s). The plane was off course approximately 150 miles when it crashed, and there are thirteen minutes of lost communication between the plane and air control. As the team goes through the clues, Reid comes across an issue specific to the plane which he believes is key to determining not if it was an attack, but from where the attack definitely did not originate. However, they do believe that other planes will be targeted unless they can find the attacker. Written by Huggo

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Did You Know?


When aired on the Dutch television, it started with a warning: "Deze aflevering van Criminal Minds bevat beelden die gelijkenis vertonen met de MH17-ramp. De beelden kunnen als schokkend worden ervaren." (This epsisode of Criminal Minds contains images that resemble the MH17 disaster. These images can be considered shocking) See more »


The exterior shots of Flight 420 in the air show a Boeing 747, but it is described by characters and shown on a blueprint as a smaller three-engined Boeing 727. See more »


Commander Jumilla Reardon: He knows who did it, but he won't tell us. The guy's a wackadoodle!
Aaron Hotchner: Well, unfortunately we can't dismiss him yet.
Commander Jumilla Reardon: The fact is no one else has come forward with a similar statement.
Aaron Hotchner: That's because the population is so sparse out here. We should be grateful for that.
Commander Jumilla Reardon: Alright. Can you get him to talk?
Aaron Hotchner: I can try, but I should probably do it alone. I think he has a problem with you.
Commander Jumilla Reardon: My race or my gender?
Aaron Hotchner: Probably both.
Aaron Hotchner: Wonderful. As long as you can get some answers, be my guest.
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We Congregate
Written by Rocco DeLuca
Performed by Rocco DeLuca
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User Reviews

The most unconventional 'Criminal Minds' episode ends up being one of the high-points of Season 10
14 February 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Despite being really disappointed in episodes like "If the Shoe Fits", "Protection", "Hashtag", "The Boys of Sudworth Place" and "Scream", "A Thousand Suns" is proof that there are also great episodes from Season 10 (which for a season was not as wildly variable as Seasons 6 and 9 or as underwhelming as Season 11, but still very mixed in quality).

It is not quite as good as the terrifying "Mr Scratch", the poignant and harrowing "Nelson's Sparrow" and the creepy and powerful "The Forever People". However, as far as Season 10 episodes go, "A Thousand Suns" is up there in the season's top 5 best, alongside those three and "Rock Creek Park". It is a very unconventional episode, 'Criminal Minds' has done numerous attempts at changes of pace (some of them worked, others didn't) but "A Thousand Suns" is perhaps the most unconventional, but it is an example of different and unconventional being done very well and often brilliant.

There are things that stop "A Thousand Suns" from being a classic 'Criminal Minds' episode. Really didn't buy that the co-pilot survived such a catastrophic crash, let alone being significantly less injured than one would expect him to be, the explanation provided was just bogus. While the use of misdirection was mostly interesting and came off well, the earlier misdirection parts came over as unnecessary agreed and confused the story a little. The climax was too short and too rushed.

"A Thousand Suns" however sees a huge amount of sublime team interaction and character moments. Highlights being Reid's air flight explanation (reminding one strongly of why Reid is such a fan favourite), the touching conversation between Reid and Kate that said a lot and Rossi's hilariously sassy "Washington is like his Hiroshima" line. Liked the reference to The Replicator (with the helicopter) and Garcia's worst blind date line sounded like a reference to her being shot in "Lucky"/"Penelope". The conspiracy nut character was quite fun.

It's further advantaged by a terrific engrossing story, with not much action but a lot of information without feeling overcrowded or hasty. Tension and suspense levels are very high. One cannot mention "A Thousand Suns" without mentioning the opening plane crash and the carnage, anybody with a fear of planes will have their fear intensified and even those without this fear will be scared of going on a plane for a while (like "House of Fire" from Season 4 did for cinemas). The writing is thought-provoking and tautly structured.

Other episodes have admittedly achieved a better balance of team and unsub with this being a team-heavy episode. But this means better focus on profiling, psychology and team detective work rather than the viewer worrying constantly about seeing too much unsub revealed too early and being frustrated about knowing everything long before the team does (a big problem in some Season 8 episodes). The unsub is a little underdeveloped but still evokes a creepiness.

Visually, the production values 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 it. The direction keeps the momentum going but lets the case breathe, and most of the pacing is spot-on apart from the climax.

All the acting is very good, especially from Matthew Gray Gubler. Even Jennifer Love Hewitt who more often than not doesn't do it for me but she balances better with the team than in most Season 10 episodes and there is a vulnerability that is touching rather than the dull character Kate is for most of the season.

In conclusion, very good indeed and often great. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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Release Date:

15 October 2014 (USA) See more »

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16:9 HD
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