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"The Fox" is the seventh episode of Season One of Criminal Minds.


The BAU profiles a serial killer who targets entire families by stalking them, taking them hostage, living with them, then finally killing them.

Full Summary[]

A little boy is being chased by his dad through the house before knocking over his sister’s paints.  She’s upset, and the parents have a few words, but agree the kids should get to bed because they have a long drive to Disney World in the morning.  But when the kids call for the dog, he’s out of sight, so the kids go in for the night.  A few seconds later the dog comes in, without wearing his tags, but the father doesn’t seem to notice.  As the boy falls asleep in the parent’s bed, the mother takes the girl to her room. Meanwhile, outside, a figure appears outside the house. 

In the morning, the wife wakes and kisses her husband’s shoulder, only to realize that not only is her son not in the room, but when she turns, her husband is bound and sitting beside the bed.  The figure gets up from the bed and the woman is shocked.

In the office, Gideon is musing about ‘the fox,’ and pinning up the victim’s photos. In the hall Hotchner and Hayley are there with Jack, and Reid seems disgusted by the baby, Garcia has baby fever, Derek jokes about sticking to practicing, and JJ seems taken.  Elle congratulates them.  Hayley takes Jack and leaves, and they head to the conference room to discuss the case.

They talk about the husbands being the murderers, but decide they need more information.  Reid takes point interviewing the previous husband from the first family of victims and Morgan and Gideon go to the house to discuss the murders. Elle and Hotchner listen to the ME’s reports on the bodies. 

Reid goes in to talk to the suspect and things get tense.  Reid pushes the suspect and he admits that he went to his ex-wife’s house, only to find them dead already.  He admits that his son was clutching a painting and that he wants to know what it was.  Reid rules him out as a suspect, because while he did suffer a break, he was still wearing the ring. 

Gideon and Morgan are examining the house.  They find out that the Crawfords lived beyond their means.  Gideon finds a painting on the fridge and is surprised to see that the painting has no color and a lot of dimension.  Morgan notices a dog door that is chip activated.  Gideon begins screaming from the living room to see the reaction time of the neighbors.  When they react and the lights go on, they ask a new question: why didn’t anyone hear them scream?

They look into the financials and find that Allison Crawford had two cell phone accounts, one billed to a separate address.  They go to the address in South DC.  Gideon finds a painting signed by Emily, and Reid reminisces the paintings of the other family. 

In the next room is a dog, and a man whistles after Morgan is cornered by him.  He lets him out.  They take him in, and interview him.  The man recounts how the picture is his.  Frank is Allison’s brother.  He gets upset when they talk about the family.  He recalls how he went to the house even though he wasn’t supposed to when his cell phone got turned off.  It was dark and cold, and he went to the side to look through the window.   There, he saw the family at dinner, everyone minus Chris. Sam, the son was crying.  Someone else was at the head of the table.  She looked up at him and mouthed something, so he left. But he gives a vague description of the unsub.  Frank realizes what happened and has a mental break. 

A third family is putting a baby down.  When they leave the room, the closet slides open and a figure walks out, putting the pacifier back into the baby’s mouth.

Back at the office they talk about how the families are targeted and coming up empty. Morgan profiles the man as someone who is confident but writes down everything implicitly.  He personalizes everything and controls it with having everything in its place.  He’s extremely thorough and organized and takes great pride in his job.  He thinks the workplace is the connection.  Gideon refers back to the paintings and points out that the black and white photo is the unsubs point of view.  Hotchner spins his wedding ring, adding in that the father’s ring is missing, and he gets to play daddy for a few days.  Morgan recognizes how both families had government employees.  They talk to the employers.  While Garcia hacks the government HMO back at the house, we see the little girl painting a picture of the house in black and white while the unsub pets her hair.

When the team goes to the Applewood family center to interview Dr. Howard, the woman who prescribed Ms. Miller her medications, they end up discussing another therapist, one who saw the families.  Dr. Karl Arnold.  His office is filled with paintings, and they ask where he is.  Morgan gets a call.  They raided Karl’s home and he’s not there. 

They locate Mrs. Arnold, and call her, advising her about what is going on.  She says that he’s a scary guy, and that he just called an hour ago, saying that he just met a girl that reminded him of their daughter.  While still at his office, they go through his files until they find a file that isn’t his case. 

At the house, they rescue the mother, father, and daughter, but the unsub cut the power and ran to the basement with the baby boy.  Gideon and Morgan go after him and corner him.  He tosses the baby in the air and rushes Gideon and Morgan with a knife.  Gideon catches the baby  and Morgan gets Arnold. 

In the interview room, Gideon talks about the murders.  It is revealed that Gideon had Mr. Crawford and Mr. Millers victim photos swapped because of Karls’ need for control.  When he calls it out, they know they have him.   He admits what he did and how he killed the family.

While that’s happening, Hotch is tearing apart Karl’s office.  He finds a false wall where a box holding the husband’s rings are kept, as well as the bindings used to tie up the family.  There were eight rings, showing that there are more victims out there.

Guest Cast[]


  • "Illabye" by Tipper

Bookend Quotes[]

  • Jason Gideon: Doctor Thomas Fuller wrote, "With foxes, we must play the fox."

Criminal Minds Episodes