Criminal Minds (2005– )
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Public Enemy 

A serial killer who targets random victims in highly visible places to create a sense of public fear is the subject of a BAU investigation.


Nelson McCormick


Jeff Davis (created by), Jess Prosser (as Jess Prenter Prosser) | 1 more credit »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Mantegna ... David Rossi
Paget Brewster ... Emily Prentiss
Shemar Moore ... Derek Morgan
Matthew Gray Gubler ... Dr. Spencer Reid
A.J. Cook ... Jennifer Jareau
Kirsten Vangsness ... Penelope Garcia
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Sprague Grayden ... Meg Collins
Frank John Hughes ... Detective Jake Moreland
Nate Mooney ... Connor O'Brien
Larry Clarke ... Father Kendellen
Sean Patrick Murphy ... Officer Liddy
Brantley M. Dunaway ... Officer Gardella
Natalie Edwards Natalie Edwards ... Tara Kelly (as Natalie Brooke Edwards)
David Landry ... Paul Collins (as David Lee Landry)


The BAU are called to Providence, Rhode Island where a serial killer is on the loose. He has killed three people thus far, each in an increasingly public location. Each victim was slashed across the throat with a knife, which is left at the scene without fingerprints. As the BAU go through the three murders thus far, they determine that the unsub is more like an arsonist than a killer in the way he approaches his crimes. The victims themselves seem to be secondary to the location for the unsub, and he is only killing when it is convenient as opposed to choosing a predetermined victim. The BAU feel that they are missing one step in catching the unsub, and as such make a special request of Meg Collins, the wife of the third victim who was a Iraq War veteran. Meg's willingness to assist is all based on thoughts of her daughter, Sophie, who witnessed her father's murder. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

10 February 2010 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


[All trivia items for this title are spoilers.] See more »


When briefing on the case at beginning, picture of victim in church was taken from high angle with very small blood pool; last shot of victim just after crime has priest holding victims head with huge blood pool already spread out. See more »


Detective Jake Moreland: What are you smiling at? You're going to prison.
Connor O'Brien: In jail, they treat cop killers like kings.
Detective Jake Moreland: First, you have to see how we treat them at the station.
See more »


Criminal Minds Theme
Composed by Mark Mancina
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User Reviews

One of the very good episodes of Season 5
21 January 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

As a big fan of 'Criminal Minds', the show was at its best in Seasons 1-4 (a contender for the best season being 4), though a good deal of Season 5 was also solid, though with a higher number of average-or-less episodes than before.

Season 5 saw outstanding episodes such as "100", "...A Thousand Words", "The Uncanny Valley" and "Mosley Lane", while also seeing underwhelming episodes like "The Fight" (didn't feel like 'Criminal Minds' at all), "Hopeless", "The Performer" and "Parasite". Most range from decent to great.

"Public Enemy" is one of Season 5's very good episodes. Wouldn't have said no to more Hotch and Reid, though what they have is strong and hardly wastes them but it's just the matter of more screen time. Also didn't completely buy seeing father and son in the same prison, probably fitted with the unsub's motives for his crimes but it was just a situation that seemed very unlikely to me.

However, "Public Enemy" is stylishly and atmospherically made, solidly directed and hauntingly and melancholically scored. It is a very well written episode too, provoking a lot of thought and being written in a smart and intelligent manner. A standout line was Hotch's "there's lots of ways that sons defeat their fathers", a line that hit me hard and like a nod to Hotch's own harsh childhoods. Reid's response was somewhat amusing too, despite Hotch saying something very serious.

The story draws one right in with a lot of tension and suspense, as well as some unexpected twists and red herrings. Notable examples being the red-herring right at the beginning which suggested mass poisoning was going to happen but turned out to be much more sinister and the hardcore but not-so-traditional profiling where the unsub is profiled like an arsonist. The killings are random but increasingly daring, the motives are pretty twisted and also loved the large and enthusiastic role the BAU played here.

Most enjoyable was Rossi, his sassy and direct personality shining like a ray of sunshine, being the one to come up with some of the answers (correctly) and his re-enacting in the church being one of the most creepiest scenes and it was a shock to see Rossi like that. JJ's role gave the episode heart as well, and Prentiss having a good deal of screen time is always welcome. The acting is great, especially from Joe Mantegna.

In conclusion, a very good episode. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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