Criminal Minds (2005– )
2 user

The Stranger 

1:34 | Trailer
The BAU hunts a stalker in San Diego who is targeting college students. Meanwhile, the team comes under Strauss' scrutiny in the wake of the loss of Prentiss.


Nelson McCormick


Jeff Davis (created by), Kimberly A. Harrison (as Kimberley Ann Harrison) | 2 more credits »





Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Mantegna ... David Rossi
Shemar Moore ... Derek Morgan
Matthew Gray Gubler ... Dr. Spencer Reid
Kirsten Vangsness ... Penelope Garcia
Rachel Nichols ... Ashley Seaver
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Chad Todhunter ... Greg Phinney
Heather Mazur ... Kate Phinney
Jayne Atkinson ... Erin Strauss
Michael Raynor ... Det. Bryce Harding
Sophie Kargman ... Lily Droubay
Nick Toren ... Bob Jenkins
Rae Latt ... Rosemary Jenkins
Yuri Lowenthal ... Jake Ellison
Jen Kuhn ... Amy Ellison


The team heads to San Diego, California where three murders have occurred in five days. The unrelated victims were each brunette, female, college students (in different institutions) majoring in education or some aspect of child care, and were murdered in their off campus home. Each murder, caused by multiple stab wounds, was successively more violent. Because of the unpredictable nature of the victims' schedules, the team realize that the victims were targeted and stalked. They also come to understand that the victims are surrogates for who will be the unsub's ultimate target. During the investigation, more murders occur with slightly different M.O.'s where the child care issue becomes more a central theme and a key piece for the team to find the murderer before he kills again and before he gets to his final target. Meanwhile, Strauss reviews Hotch's grief assessments of the team. The scrutiny unnerves all on the team, but Strauss admits the reason for the scrutiny to Hotch. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 April 2011 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


None of the universities mentioned actually exist in San Diego, CA. See more »


When the unsub has Kate Phinney and is cutting her arm, the tip of the knife clearly bends. See more »


Dr. Spencer Reid: Do you wanna know why horror movies are so successful?
Derek Morgan: Why is that, genius?
Dr. Spencer Reid: They prey on our instinctual need to survive. In tribal days, a woman's scream would signal danger and the men would return from hunting to protect their pack. That's why it's always the women and not the men who fall victim to the bogeyman.
Ashley Seaver: Count on you, Reid, to break a movie down to science.
See more »


Criminal Minds Theme
Composed by Mark Mancina
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User Reviews

The most pleasant surprise of Season 6
14 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.

Season 6 was when 'Criminal Minds' became wildly hit and miss, and generally is one of the show's weakest seasons. This said, "The Stranger" was one of the season's better episodes and, coming from somebody expecting it to be a misfire due to hearing that it was going to be Ashley Seaver heavy (such a badly mishandled character throughout her entire latter half of Season 6 stint), to me it was so much better than expected and the most pleasant surprise of the season. Nearly as good as Middle Man", "Remembrance of Things Past", "The Longest Night", "Into the Woods" and "Hanley Waters", and much better than "Today I Do", "With Friends Like These", "25 to Life" and particularly "The Thirteenth Step".

"The Stranger" could have been better. Credit is due finally giving Seaver something to do, and her involvement in the climax is actually done quite well (also loved her perfect summing up of Reid in response to why horror films were so successful), but the character is still dull, annoying, inexperienced and condescending and prone to making facepalm-inducing remarks.

More profiling would have been more welcome too, there is some (more so than most Season 6 episodes) but not quite enough and not enough of the classic profiling, with still too much conclusion jumping and too much reliance on Garcia providing the answers. The team dynamic is balanced well and is fun and adorable, but they have worked more cohesively before and since, almost like the writers were trying too hard to give Seaver something worthwhile. The climax has a little suspense but for 'Criminal Minds' is too predictable and easily resolved.

However, the production values as always are very high in quality, being atmospheric and stylish, while the music has the right amount of the ominous touch and the pathos. The direction is alert and sympathetic and most of the script is thought-provoking with a good balance of mystery, bonding and humour. The opening cinema scene with the team was very funny, while the opening murder is nerve-shredding, setting up perfectly the tone for a case that is really quite creepy.

Another thing that was done well was Strauss' assessing of the team, Strauss is business-like but not as cold as she can be and one for once can see past her unexplained problem with Hotch. Her scrutiny is justified in the episode and it makes sense, plus it was nice to see Hotch showing genuine care for her considering her treatment of him.

Everybody performs well, including Rachel Nichols surprisingly. Of the regulars, Thomas Gibson, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jayne Atkinson are particularly impressive while Chad Todhunter and Heather Mazur fare strongly as Greg and Kate.

In conclusion, a pleasant surprise and a good episode. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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