Criminal Minds (2005– )
3 user

Scared to Death 

The unit tracks a man working through his fears by working them out on others.


Félix Enríquez Alcalá (as Felix Alcala)


Jeff Davis (created by), Debra J. Fisher | 1 more credit »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Paget Brewster ... Emily Prentiss
Shemar Moore ... Derek Morgan
Matthew Gray Gubler ... Dr. Spencer Reid
A.J. Cook ... Jennifer Jareau
Kirsten Vangsness ... Penelope Garcia
Michael O'Keefe ... Dr. Stan Howard
Matt Bushell ... Bill Calvert
Stephanie Venditto Stephanie Venditto ... Jane Howard
Jayne Atkinson ... Erin Strauss
Danielle Sapia ... Missy
John Bobek ... Patrick
Jennifer Lee Keyes Jennifer Lee Keyes ... Jenny (as Jennifer Keyes)
Randy Crowder ... Apartment Super
M.J. Karmi ... Howard's Mother


The BAU are still reeling from Gideon's disappearance, he who has clandestinely tendered his resignation. Hotch admits to the team that he too is confused despite having known Gideon the longest. And Reid is the most affected since Gideon's goodbye note was addressed solely to him. Regardless of Gideon, the BAU are still together as a unit - Strauss did not disband the unit - and have work to do. Their latest case takes them to Portland, Oregon, where four bodies are found in a mass grave. Each victim was tortured prior to death, but there are no signs of sexual assault. Since they had no defensive wounds, the victims probably knew and trusted the unsub. Some of the victims were never reported missing since the unsub took on the victim's electronic identity and sent electronic messages as the victim to family and friends. These facts mean the unsub has personal knowledge of his victims. The common thread between the four victims is that they had all recently moved to Portland from ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

10 October 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Scared to Death See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Stereo | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Hotch's ear-piece in out of his ear in one scene, then in his ear in the next. See more »


Aaron Hotchner: [opening quote, voiceover] The Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu once wrote "He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still."
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Criminal Minds (TV Show Intro / Main Song Theme)
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User Reviews

Solid episode, if not one of the best
18 July 2016 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Season 3 started off strong with "Doubt", but the next couple of episodes (including, and especially this) suffered from having to work around Gideon's departure which caused a good deal of unsettlement behind the scenes and on screen, before returning to form with "Children of the Dark".

The third episode of the season "Scared to Death" is not among the best 'Criminal Minds' episodes, but is still a solidly done episode. It does feel somewhat rushed in places, as a result to tell a lot of story and cram a lot in which means that the mystery doesn't take time as it should do and parts could have done with more explanation.

Wasn't completely crazy about the ending either, which seemed melodramatic and anti-climactic with a rather too convenient comeuppance for the unsub. Lastly, this reviewer still hasn't warmed to Strauss, she is more tolerable and less bitchy than in the previous two episodes but she still isn't gelling and still comes over as a little cold.

It's in particular the character interaction that makes "Scared to Death" a solid and enjoyable episode, such as Reid struggling to come to terms with Gideon's departure being the most affected, the moment with Hotch at the start, the scene in the elevator between Reid and Morgan (which was a refreshingly humorous moment), the interaction between Prentiss and Reid and that of Hotch and Morgan at the end. The character moments and the interaction are always what makes 'Criminal Minds' such a pleasure, and "Scared to Death" doesn't let the viewer done.

As for the mystery, it is a decent one with some disturbing murders based on the victims' anxiety disorders which the unsub takes advantage of and preys on, and the way the team go about solving the case with the profiling and psychology is satisfying enough if more intelligently done and creative in other episodes. The unsub is not the most interesting or most well developed but he's still an effective creep and it's easy to hate him.

Visually, it's stylish, audacious, atmosphere and suitably moody, while the direction is solid and the music is haunting and fits with the mood well, while not enhancing the action it never distracts either. The script is thought-provoking and tight, and the acting from all the leads is very good and Michael O'Keefe is effectively creepy and does convey some menace.

On the whole, solid episode if a little disappointing at the same time. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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