Criminal Minds (2005–2020)
2 user

Devil's Backbone 

1:43 | Trailer
The authorities believed that two Virginia based cases of missing boys, Adam Morrissey and Jimmy Bennett, from two years ago were unrelated, until their bloodied clothes, those in which ... See full summary »


Jeff Davis (created by), Sharon Lee Watson





Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Mantegna ... David Rossi
Matthew Gray Gubler ... Dr. Spencer Reid
A.J. Cook ... Jennifer Jareau
Kirsten Vangsness ... Penelope Garcia
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Frances Fisher ... Antonia Slade
Rick Peters ... Warden Bart Shulman
Aisha Tyler ... Dr. Tara Lewis
Jason Denuszek Jason Denuszek ... Claude Barlow
Jason Caceres ... Jimmy Bennett
Rebecca Lincoln ... Cheryl Morrissey
Brandon Alan Makovy Brandon Alan Makovy ... Orel Wilbur
Chad T. Wood ... Juan Lopez
R. Charles Wilkerson ... Tyrell Curtis
Reid Miller ... Adam Morrissey


The authorities believed that two Virginia based cases of missing boys, Adam Morrissey and Jimmy Bennett, from two years ago were unrelated, until their bloodied clothes, those in which they were last seen, had just arrived in one intercepted package at Fletcham Correctional Center in Troy, Virginia. The addressee of that package is Antonia Slade, a serial killer of young teens, she who was convicted in part by work of the BAU, most specifically Gideon. A social worker, she ran a fake youth hot-line as a means to lure her victims to her home, where the dead bodies of the young teens were found encased behind her basement drywall. Since, she has never talked about the murders, and has refused all visitors. However, she seems to know about the clothes and the missing boys before the BAU's arrival at the facility to speak to her. They know that she, a narcissist despite not responding to the correspondence from any of her legion of groupies, has no compelling reason to talk to them ... Written by Huggo

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Did You Know?


Rick Peters (Warden Schulman) played an FBI agent in Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye (2002). See more »


Using the algorithm Reid has given, the text of the fourth sentence "When I think that proof alone will never beat faulty logic, I bleed twice" would not convert to the shown 41, 54, 4F, 4E, 45, 46, 4C, 4D, 4E, but to: 41, 54, 55, 45, 46, 51, 55. The conversion of the given hexadecimal numbers to characters however is correct (ALTONEFLMN) See more »


Dr. Tara Lewis: [closing quote] "No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself" - John Steinbeck
See more »


Referenced in Criminal Minds: The Storm (2016) See more »

User Reviews

In the top 5 best episodes of Season 11
4 March 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Despite being a big fan of 'Criminal Minds', Season 11 was largely underwhelming for reasons too numerous to list, including too much unsub and not enough team, lack of profiling and psychology, too much emphasis on the personal lives and not enough tension and suspense.

Along with "Entropy", "The Job", "Hostage" and "The Witness", "Devil's Backbone" is one of the season's top 5 best episodes. That is saying a lot when most of it has been average at best and poor when at its worst, with particularly bad episodes being "Till Death Do Us Part", "The Bond", "Future Perfect", "Awake", "Inner Beauty", "Internal Affairs", "Outlaw" and "Drive".

The only thing about "Devil's Backbone" that could have been done better was explaining the significance of why Tara Lewis and Antonia were speaking to German at one point, that was very vague and even to someone who studies and speaks German was the one confusing element of the story.

However, as ever "Devil's Backbone" is a slick and stylish episode with a wonderful ominous and gritty atmosphere evoked. The music is appropriately moody, in both the haunting and melancholic sense and the direction is quick-paced yet sympathetic.

Writing is some of the most tightly structured, thought-provoking and tense of the season or of any post-Season 6 episode, the interrogations with the individual team members and Antonia being wonderfully twisted and illuminating. Despite Antonia's blatant attempts to break them, one has to admire them for sticking to their guns and focusing directly on the case. Reid's interrogation with Wilber was intense too, and to me Reid struggling with Morgan no longer being there was understandable and plausible considering that of the BAU members it was Morgan who looked out for him the most and was particularly protective. The team function so well and work delightfully together, and after being sorely lacking for most of the season classic 'Criminal Minds' profiling is back.

Loved the story, it had many twists and twists, lots of tension and suspense yet was very easy to follow, the more psychological focus rather than the horror-story-like ones of many latter season episodes was appreciated and done brilliantly. Antonia is one of the season's creepiest and meatiest supporting characters, portrayed superlatively by Frances Fisher, while the unsub is one shrouded in mystery done very effectively yet it's Antonia that's the character that one really hates.

In fact, all the acting is very good, even the usual Achilles Heel Aisha Tyler whose Tara Lewis actually fits well here and proves herself useful (the German-speaking exchange being the sole false note).

Overall, unexpectedly great episode and after being let down for so much of the season this was refreshing. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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Canada | USA


English | German

Release Date:

20 April 2016 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Stereo | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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