There’s nothing like a good episode of Criminal Minds to make you feel disturbed in all sorts of ways. The show is known for the particularly grisly cases it features and it does have the worst collection of villains you’re ever likely to come across on TV.
And yet it makes for brilliant TV, which is why it's good news that the show’s spin-off, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders is back with a second season on W, starting Thursday May 25th at 9pm. There, the International Response Team take on cases involving US citizens abroad.
To celebrate we thought we’d take a look at the episodes that have stuck in our minds the most, for all the wrong reasons. (*shudder*)
Cradle to Grave (Season 5 Episode 5)
This case sees the Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU) track down a suspect who kidnaps women who all look similar. The story? The murderer has a wife dying of cancer - and the couple wants a son. So the husband imprisons female victims, gets them pregnant by force, and disposes of them if they miscarry or have a daughter. Yeah, it’s pretty grim stuff.
God Complex (Season 8 Episode 4)
The unit finds a series of victims with their legs amputated on both sides of the US-Mexican border. The culprit is a deranged mortician who is convinced that through experimenting, he’ll manage to graft a new leg on his wife (and yes, in case you were wondering, the procedure is indeed medically impossible). He’d been kidnapping and drugging people in order to take their limbs off and sew others back on to test the procedure.
Rabid (Season 9 Episode 18)
The suspect in this instance has a bizarre fascination with rabies. The BAU discovers that David Wade Cunningham keeps himself entertained by trapping victims in a cell with another prisoner already carrying the illness. He knows that the newcomers will ultimately get bitten by the rabid individual and catch it too, hereby continuing an endless chain of contagion. Endless horrifying drama for him, nightmares for a good while for us.
North Mammon (Season 2 Episode 7)
Speaking of mind games: the suspect in North Mammon kidnaps three teenagers because of a hang up about an American football game. After starving them for a few days, he declares that he’ll only set them free if two of them kill off the third. We have to sit and watch the three girls figure out how they’re going to make the decision - and what happens when they do. And yes, it’s as awful as it sounds.
Scared to Death (Season 3 Episode 3)
Former psychiatrist Stanley Howard is terrified of the dark due to a difficult childhood, and so has a bit of an obsession with phobias. He traps people suffering from extreme fears by making them believe they’re participating in a study to cure them. Then he kills them off with the very thing that they’re terrified of (so drowning if they’re afraid of water, etc). A death caused by what frightens you the most is an horrid way to go, and those scenes still have us shivering.
Lucky (Season 3 Episode 8)
There is, naturally, a gory cannibalism case on Criminal Minds. Floyd Feylinn Ferell is obsessed with Satanism and kidnaps vulnerable people into his lair. There, they’re cut up and stored in his freezer for his further consumption. Ugh. That’s already horrifying in itself, but we discover later on in the episode that the murderer has baked someone into a stew, which he served the search party for that very victim. The reactions of the team when they find out are, as you’d expect, quite something.
Our Darkest Hour (Season 5 Episode 22)
While this villain doesn’t have a particularly original modus operandi (he drives around in a dodgy looking van) Tim Curry’s performance is chilling enough to earn him a mention. Billy Flynn breaks into houses and assaults and kills off families, leaving only one or two survivors behind. The idea is that those that remain will be scarred for life by the experience. In Our Darkest Hour, he goes to Los Angeles to send a message to the very first survivor of his attacks. He takes advantage of electricity black-outs in order to operate, and those scenes in which he attacks in the dark make us, let’s say, a little more than edgy.
Legacy (Season 2 Episode 2)
Charles Holcombe owns a meat-packing factory. He smuggles victims away there, who are then presented with this choice: if they manage to escape out of the building before a given time, they’ll be set free. None of them ever manage, as the whole place is rigged with traps of an awful sort. Watching panicked people trying to make it through the grim maze is completely heart-breaking.
Mosley Lane (Season 5 Episode 16)
We meet a decidedly unsavoury couple in Mosley Lane. The two have made a habit of kidnapping children to raise as their own - until the kids either become too old or rebellious, at which point they’re knocked unconscious, and cremated while still alive in the family’s funeral home. Then the pair spread their ashes over a rose bed. We. Have. No. Words.
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders season 2 starts on Thursday 25th May at 9pm on W. Season 1 is currently available to watch On Demand. Find it in On Demand > Box Sets > Drama