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Extreme Aggressor

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"Extreme Aggressor"
Criminal Minds episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 1
Directed byRichard Shepard
Written byJeff Davis
Featured music
  • "Penitentiary"
  • "In the Air Tonight"
  • "Galveston"
  • "Rock Music"
Original air dateSeptember 22, 2005 (2005-09-22)
Running time42 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
  • Lukas Haas as Clerk (The Footpath Killer)
  • DJ Qualls as Richard Slessman
  • Meredith Monroe as Haley Hotchner
  • Andrew Jackson as Timothy Vogel
  • Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia
  • Chelah Horsdal as Heather Woodland
  • David Lewis as David Woodland
  • Louise Grant as Mrs. Slessman
  • Hiro Kanagawa as Seattle ASAC
Episode chronology
← Previous
Next →
Criminal Minds (season 1)
List of Criminal Minds episodes

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"Extreme Aggressor" is the pilot episode of the American television police procedural crime drama Criminal Minds, which first aired on September 22, 2005 on CBS.[1] The episode introduces main characters and FBI agents Jason Gideon, Aaron Hotchner, Elle Greenaway, Derek Morgan, Spencer Reid, and Penelope Garcia. Although Garcia was not a main cast member, she did have a recurring role throughout season 1 and appeared in most episodes before being promoted to "Also Starring" status later in the season and then promoted to main cast at the start of Season 2. These characters are members of the FBI's elite behavioral profiling group, the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU).

The episode premiered on a special night and time on a Thursday at 10pm.[2] The episode was watched by an American audience of 19.57 million,[3] and received negative to mixed reviews from television critics.[4]


Heather Woodland (Chelah Horsdal) is kidnapped after inquiring about purchasing a car (a Datsun 240Z) on the internet. The owner of the care kidnaps her by offering her a test drive. After the test drive when the owner of the car is supposed to be driving her back to her house, he keeps on driving, beats the woman and proceeds to abduct her.

After 6 months of medical leave, Supervisory Special Agent Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin) returns to the Behavioral Analysis Unit. While he is profiling a killer (The Footpath Killer) to a class of Behavioural Analysis trainees, Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) interrupts his class and requests his help on a case. Unknown to Gideon, Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) is asked to assess Gideon's mental fitness as they work through the first case to see whether Gideon is really ready to return to work full-time. His first case back on the job is the ‘Seattle Strangler’ case. After a fourth woman, Heather Woodland, goes missing in Seattle in four months, the BAU team are called over there to help with the case. Also working on the case is BAU agent Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), who specializes in fixations and obsessive behaviors, and Seattle based agent Elle Greenaway (Lola Glaudini), who specializes in profiling sexual offenders and aspires to join the BAU. The Unsub (unidentified subject) has sent a virus to Heather’s email, wiping the hard-drive and leaving a message on the computer screen (“For heavens sake catch me before I kill again I cannot control myself”, the same message that the Lipstick killer left behind at his crime scenes). After reviewing the case, the team come up with a profile for the unsub.

The team present their profile to the local police department. When offered to look at a list of suspects, Hotchner declines and states that they would come up with a profile before looking at the suspects to maintain from having a biased view. Gideon proceeds to give the profile:

A white male, in his late 20’s. Someone you wouldn’t notice at first, and who’d blend into any crowd. He is an organised killer, who is careful and is a psychopath, not psychotic. He follows the news, has good hygiene and he’s smart. Because he’s smart the only physical evidence you’ll find is what he wants you to find. He’s mobile, his car is in good condition, most likely a Jeep Cherokee with tinted windows. He is sexually inadequate. Psychiatric evaluations will show a history of paranoia, stemming from a childhood trauma, death of a parent or family member. Now he feels persecuted and watched. Murder gives him a sense of power. Organised killers have a fascination with law enforcement, they will inject themselves into the investigation. They will even come forward as witnesses, to see just how much the police really know. That makes him feel powerful, in control. In fact, someone in the department would have already interviewed him.

The profile leads the BAU to Richard Slessman (DJ Qualls), a man who was already on the list of suspects in the case. The BAU believe that Slessman is the ‘Seattle Strangler’ until an inconsistency with the case - he has no wounds on him even though the reports state that all the victims fought back. Because of the conflict in the case, Gideon realizes that Slessman is working with another person involving the crimes. Richard Slessman is revealed to be very intelligent (he plays Go, for which his strategy is being the "extreme aggressor" and his laptop is protected by extremely difficult-to-crack security software etc.). Gideon then interviews Slessman’s grandmother, Louise, and asks if Richard has any friends, his grandmother says she only recalls one friend, a man named Charlie. Slessman shared a cell with a man named Charles. Gideon and Elle take a trip to the prison where Slessman had previously spent time at. At the prison they find out that Charles had died two months earlier in a car crash. As they are leaving the prison, a prison guard, Timothy Vogel, escorts Gideon and Elle out of the prison. Gideon notices the keys that Vogel is carrying has a large metal ‘Z’ keychain (a keychain for the Datsun 240Z) attached to it, this causes Gideon to be suspicious of Vogel.

After Vogel leaves work, Gideon and Elle follow his car until they realise that he had switched cars with another employee at the jail so that he could kill Heather and then dump the body. Meanwhile Morgan cracks into Slessman’s laptop and finds live webcam footage of Heather - who is still alive. Spencer determines that Heather is on a boat, due to the swinging of a light bulb in the footage. Using the evidence from the live webcam footage, Hotchner coaxes Slessman telling him that they have Vogel and that he is blaming everything on Slessman, saying that it was his idea to have the girls on a boat. Slessman cracks and tells Hotchner that the boat is at a shipyard. Gideon and Elle arrive at the shipyard whilst Heather is attempting to escape, but just before she can get free Vogel holds her at gun point. Gideon taunts Vogel (of his sexual inadequacy) and prompts Vogel to shoot him instead. Vogel lets go of Heather and shoots Gideon, leaving Elle to have a clear shot of him, she shoots Vogel.

The episode ends with a flashback of Gideon stumbling across the Footpath Killer (Lukas Haas) at the gas station by accident. When the Footpath Killer sees that Gideon has a gun, he points his shotgun at Gideon, threatening him and taking him to a back room in the shop.


The episode was filmed in Vancouver and was the only episode to be filmed there as the rest of the series is filmed in Los Angeles. Originally, the title for the show was Quantico but was changed to Criminal Minds and in the "Quantico" script, Jason Gideon was named Jason Donovan,[2] whose character is based on real-life profiler John Dogulas.[5]

When Matthew Gray Gubler first auditioned for the role of Dr. Spencer Reid, he was originally told he wasn't right for the part. He auditioned a few more times until the producers gave him the role.[6]



The episode aired on CBS on September 22, 2005. Upon initial release, it was viewed by 19.57 million people and it also garnered a 7.0 Nielsen rating. "Extreme Aggressor" was also the week's fourth most watched drama and ranked fourth on the list of most watched television programmes overall.[3] It is also the second highest rated Criminal Minds episode to date.

Critical response[edit]

"Extreme Aggressor" was met with negative to mixed reviews from critics. The episode has received an average score of 7.2 out of 10 in IMDb.[7]

David Bianculli from the New York Daily News gave the episode a negative review, calling it "Mindless Dribble" and saying that "it's a premise that feels almost insultingly derivative" and that the show would soon be facing "cancellation".[8] Matthew Gilbert from The Boston Globe said "'Criminal Minds' doesn't offer much new to think about" and that the show "faces an uphill battle to distinguish itself from the many other crime procedurals already on TV, most of which similarly borrow from 'Silence of the Lambs'." Gilbert then went on to say that the show "deserves to be banned by the FCC."[9] Robert Bianco from USA Today gave the episode 1/4 stars and said the show was "patched together from other shows, from the FBI setting to the tired visual gimmickry, to the sometimes contentious crimefighters" and called it a "patently phony 'profiler' procedural", saying that "the only fix is a quick cancellation followed by an apology from all concerned."[10]

Robert Lloyd from the Los Angeles Times gave the episode a mixed review and compared it to Killer Instinct (the other new crime drama on Fox at the time), saying that they "have similar characters, plots." but said that 'Criminal Minds' "is the more 'realistic' of the two."[11] Dorothy Rabinowitz from The Wall Street Journal gave the episode a positive review, calling it "Genius" and saying that "the subject may sound a bit familiar but the show's character and tone have more than average flair and spirit."[12]


  1. "Criminal Minds Episode Guide 2005 Season 1 - Extreme Aggressor". TV Guide. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Criminal Minds Season 1 Episode 1 Extreme Aggressor - Trivia". TV.com. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Weekly Program Rankings". ABC Medianet. September 27, 2005. Archived from the original on June 1, 2009. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  4. "Criminal Minds Season 1 Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  5. "5 CBS Sync Facts from "Nelson's Sparrow" - Criminal Minds S10 E13". CBS.com. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  6. "15 Facts About 'Criminal Minds' You Didn't Know". Horizon Times. 2018-02-14. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  7. "Extreme Aggressor". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  8. "'CRIMINAL' IS MINDLESS DRIBBLE". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  9. "'Criminal Minds' doesn't offer much new to think about". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  10. "Something is criminal about gruesome 'Minds'". USA Today. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  11. Lloyd, Robert (2005-09-22). "A crime pattern develops". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  12. Rabinowitz, Dorothy (2005-10-07). "Circle of Genius". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 29, 2018.

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