Long before gritty true crime shows like "Mindhunter" graced our television screens, CBS gave us "Criminal Minds." Showcasing the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) of the FBI, the network series debuted in 2005 and featured terrifying serial killers. From sexual sadist Frank Breitkopf (Keith Carradine) to "Mr. Scratch" (Bodhi Elfman ) –- a killer who injects victims with hallucinogenics and forces them to murder their loved ones –- "Criminal Minds" explores truly horrific spaces.
Due to the series’ dark subject matter, original star Mandy Patinkin left "Criminal Minds" after Season 2. "The biggest public mistake I ever made was that I chose to do ‘Criminal Minds’ in the first place," Patinkin later told New York Magazine. "I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality."
Nonetheless, the series has continued to captivate viewers for years. The show resolves storylines quickly, and despite the darkness explored, flickers of hopeful light poke through in each episode. Although "Criminal Minds" ended after 15 seasons, Paramount+ has since picked up a reboot series, "Criminal Minds: Evolution" (per Variety). However, we still have some big questions left unanswered by the original "Criminal Minds."
The fate of Reid’s love interests not named Maeve or Max
Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) joins the BAU in Season 1 of "Criminal Minds" as the resident boy genius. The youngest and (ostensibly) most intelligent member of the team, Reid is treated like a little brother by his fellow agents, and as a son by Jason Gideon. Throughout the course of the show, Reid often struggles under emotional duress in horrible situations. Among a plethora of tragedies that befall him, in Season 8, he watches helplessly as his love interest Maeve (Beth Riesgraf) is killed by her stalker Diane (Michelle Trachtenberg).
Although Maeve and Reid don’t spend much time together, much is made of the bond they shared, and Reid is devastated by her death. In Season 15, when Reid dates Max (Rachael Leigh Cook), the show makes a big deal about the romance, and it seems like things might be looking up. However, Maeve and Max are hardly Reid’s only love interests. In Season 2, he shares a kiss with movie starlet Lila (Amber Heard), but he never mentions her afterward. In Season 4, he woos a bartender named Austin (Courtney Ford), and again, the storyline is dropped. Perhaps these potential pairings just weren’t long-term options for Reid, but the show makes such a big deal about Maeve and Max that it would make sense to at least give these other women some closure.
The omniscience of the Fisher King
On "Criminal Minds," the BAU often comes face-to-face with downright terrifying serial killers. One of the scariest unsubs (unknown subjects) tracked down by the team comes in the form of Randall Garner, AKA the Fisher King (Charles Haid in Season 1, Charley Rossman in Season 2). Garner was once a mild-mannered school teacher whose family perished in a house fire. He emerged from the fire horribly disfigured and out of his mind, later spending time in the same mental institution as Spencer Reid’s paranoid schizophrenic mother, Diana (Jane Lynch), who told him stories about the Fisher King from King Arthur legends. Garner came to believe that he was, in fact, the Fisher King himself.
Garner proves both pitiable and a truly evil, creepy character. Variety dubbed the Fisher King’s two-episode arc the fourth-best "Criminal Minds" storyline overall, calling the Season 1 finale and Season 2 opener "true highlights of the entire series." In his evil quest, Garner begins to stalk the members of the BAU and hacks into the team’s personal files to learn more about his potential victims.
However, Garner also knows personal information about each team member that he couldn’t possibly have gleaned from FBI files. For example, he learns that JJ Jareau (AJ Cook) loves butterflies and drops off a box full of rare ones on her doorstep. While this reaffirms the Fisher King’s creepiness, it’s never explained and makes him seem omniscient. How does Garner know about the secret hopes and fears of the BAU team?