Criminal Minds Wiki

"The Thirteenth Step" is the thirteenth episode of Season Six and the 127th overall of Criminal Minds.


As the BAU goes to Montana to track down two young lovers who have embarked on an interstate killing spree, Prentiss receives alarming news from an old friend.

Guest Cast

Referenced Criminals


  • "Six Pack and Smokes" by Tara Novick Teaser
  • "The Hop" by Radio Citizen
  • "Revival" by JVC Mix Maritine Girault
  • "Green Haze" by Miles Davis Bar Source

Bookend Quotes

  • Emily Prentiss: Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "What really raises one's indignation against suffering is not suffering intrinsically, but the senselessness of suffering."
  • Emily Prentiss: William Glasser wrote, "What happened in the past that was painful has a great deal to do with what we are today."


  • The "thirteenth step" is an aptly-titled extra "step" for the twelve-step recovery process, which dictates that someone, usually a man who is a veteran Alcoholics Anonymous member, must not start making romantic advances on another person who had just entered Alcoholics Anonymous. It is also a term referring to the fulfillment of only the first step (admitting that one was powerless over alcohol) and the twelfth step (having a spiritual awakening after completing the entire process and then sharing it with other alcoholics) while ignoring the other steps.
  • A promo for the episode is accompanied with the narration: "They're young. They're in love. And...they're killers." This is extremely similar (almost word to word) to a tagline for the film Natural Born Killers, which this episode is based from: "They're young. They're in love. And they kill people."
  • Robert F. Lyons, the actor who portrays Paul Donovan, previously appeared on Criminal Minds, starring as a murdered bartender in the Season Five episode "Hopeless."
  • Meegan Godfrey, the actress who portrays a schoolteacher, previously appeared on Criminal Minds, starring as Nicole Wegener in the Season One episode "Charm and Harm," and as Samantha Rush in the Season Five episode "The Internet Is Forever."
  • Reid exhibits a knowledge of addiction support meetings and twelve-step programs. This may be because of his former addiction to Dilaudid, for which he sought help in a support group for law officers with addicts.


  1. Credited as "Mr. Donovan"

Criminal Minds Episodes