Criminal Minds (2005– )
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Safe Haven 

The BAU team is on the trail of a serial killer targeting families throughout the Midwest. Meanwhile, Morgan is concerned when Ellie runs away from her foster family and pays him a visit.


Andy Wolk


Jeff Davis (created by), Alicia Kirk | 1 more credit »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Mantegna ... David Rossi
Paget Brewster ... Emily Prentiss
Shemar Moore ... Derek Morgan
Matthew Gray Gubler ... Dr. Spencer Reid
Kirsten Vangsness ... Penelope Garcia
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Mare Winningham ... Nancy Riverton
Sterling Beaumon ... Jeremy Sayer
Michael Reilly Burke ... Agent Grady Beeks
Kerry O'Malley ... Kendra Sayer
Isabella Murad Isabella Murad ... Ellie Spicer
Kristin Carey ... Sandra Bennett
David Goryl ... Jake Bennett
William Cowart ... Reverend Louis Hannum (as Billy Cowart)
Evan Dye Evan Dye ... Zack Riverton


Two families consisting of a mother, father and two children are murdered in two consecutive days in the Iowa/Nebraska border area. The children are strangled, the mothers killed by blunt force trauma and the fathers stabbed multiple times. The father in the second set of murders was also eviscerated crudely postmortem, meaning that it was done not as torture but rather out of curiosity. The autopsies show that the mothers suffered the most pain in their deaths, making the BAU believe that the mothers are the key to the unsub's rage. In reviewing the crime scenes, the BAU come to the realization that the unsub was known to the victims and that he is a minor. As the BAU determine more about the unsub, including that he is a ward with a criminal record, the unsub is dealing with his next target, the Riverton family, its mother, Nancy Riverton who does her best to temper the inner rage of the unsub. Evidence at one of the earlier crime scenes leads the BAU to come to understand where the... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

20 October 2010 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Karl Arnold (Neal Jones) is once again mentioned as a family annihilator. He first made an appearance as the unsub in Criminal Minds: The Fox (2005) and again when the team interviews him in custody while hunting another killer in Criminal Minds: Outfoxed (2009). See more »


At the beginning, you see an aerial view of Council Bluffs Iowa. This is actually downtown Grand Haven, Michigan. See more »


David Rossi: Niko Bellic is the name of the main character in "Grand Theft Auto IV".
[the team looks surprised]
David Rossi: What? I know things.
See more »


References Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) See more »


Written by Michael Fitzpatrick and Chris Seefried
Performed by Fitz and The Tantrums
See more »

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User Reviews

Generally one of Season 6's better episodes
12 November 2016 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Season 6 of 'Criminal Minds' was decidedly hit and miss. It started off promisingly with "The Longest Night", which was an improvement over the Season 5 finale "Our Darkest Hour", but since had good episodes like "Remembrance of Things Past" and "Devil's Night" and disappointing ones like "Today I Do" and especially "The Thirteenth Step" for examples.

Although not without imperfections, "Safe Haven" to me is one of the season's better episodes. There are a few scenes where the team jump to conclusions too quickly and without much build up or proof, while the scene between Morgan, Ellie and her mother was not that well written, sappy and unrealistic, and saw a rather unprofessional side to Morgan with the disclosing of such personal details to and in front of the very people that he shouldn't have done too. The reason for the murder of the reverend also could have been made clearer.

However, once again "Safe Haven" is a very well made 'Criminal Minds' episode with top-notch production values, is solidly directed and hauntingly scored with the odd appropriate melancholic moment. Apart from that aforementioned scene and the occasional tastelessly flippant remark and cringe-inducing innuendo banter from Garcia, the script is smart and thought-provoking, with the episode not losing sight at all of what makes 'Criminal Minds' so good in the first place. Jeremy's parting remark really sends chills up the spine, and would make an intriguing future episode.

The case is tense and suspenseful, with a powerful and devastating climax especially, while the identity of the unsub and the revelations learnt about him are shocking and unthinkable. Morgan and Ellie's subplot will be, and has been, criticised for being unrealistically close and not adding much (one of the few issues that struck me about "Remembrance of Things Past", as well as criticisms for the Ellie character herself. Thought so myself on first viewing, seeing it again the subplot and Ellie's situation read to me as an interesting mirroring of the case. The subplot also gave the episode some heart, and the chemistry between Shemar Moore (excellent here) and Isabella Murad (whose acting has come on a lot since her character debut in "Our Darkest Hour") is moving.

Once again, the BAU have a natural and charming chemistry, and all the regular roles are beautifully played. Making even more of an impressions are the supporting turns, especially Sterling Beaumon, who is effectively creepy while injecting a little sympathy for his circumstances (you actually hate his mother just as much as him), and Mare Winningham, who is compassionate yet also hugely believable in her terror.

In conclusion, not a total smooth ride but generally one of Season 6's (one of the show's weakest and most hit and miss ones) better episodes. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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