Criminal Minds (2005– )
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The Black Queen 

When a murder investigation opens in San Jose, Garcia is forced to delve into her past as a hacker and reconnect with her former boyfriend to help the BAU solve the case.


Tawnia McKiernan


Jeff Davis (created by), Breen Frazier




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Mantegna ... David Rossi
Shemar Moore ... Derek Morgan
Matthew Gray Gubler ... Dr. Spencer Reid
A.J. Cook ... Jennifer Jareau
Kirsten Vangsness ... Penelope Garcia
Jeanne Tripplehorn ... Alex Blake
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Paulo Costanzo ... Shane Wyeth
Jeffrey Combs ... John Nichols
Erik Passoja ... Sam Russell
Clifford Morts Clifford Morts ... Bob Cooper
Caroline Whitney Smith ... Kathleen Miller
Jackie Joyner ... Rhonda
David Salsa ... Lt. Mike Sommers
Rayna Tharani ... Marguerite Churchill


In 2004, the BAU traveled to San Jose, California for two reasons. One was to recruit Garcia, a hacker at the time, who was known in her circles as the Black Queen and who was given the choice of the job or prison. The second was to investigate the murders of eight prostitutes. Although he didn't fit the profile exactly, a man named Sam Russell then admitted to the eight murders, he who is now on death row at San Quentin, his execution scheduled in two weeks. However, the San Jose Police Department computer system was just hacked, and Russell's files stolen. The anonymous messages the SJPD received from the hackers are that Russell is innocent. Garcia believes the hackers are a vigilante justice group called Star Chamber, Russell who used to be a hacker himself and who Garcia knew online. Russell also now recants his admission of guilt, he stating that he was drug addled at the time, with the lead investigator, now retired Det. Bob Cooper, feeding him drugs to satisfy his habit in ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

15 January 2014 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


Garcia mentions the Michael Douglas movie, The Star Chamber (1983). Jeanne Tripplehorn starred with Douglas in the hit movie Basic Instinct (1992). See more »


San Jose, CA does not have an FBI field office. The closest field office for the FBI is in San Francisco. See more »


David Rossi: Any idea who's behind it?
Penelope Garcia: Best guess is that's online collective known as Star Chamber. There one of several justice oriented groups that sprung up in the wake of the Steubenville rape case
Alex Blake: Star Chamber? Interesting name
Dr. Spencer Reid: It's derived from the 17th century British court designed to ensure fair enforcement of laws against the rich and powerful
Penelope Garcia: Actually according to my research they named it that because it's also the name of a mediocre, yet awesome Michael Douglas movie from 1983
See more »


References The Star Chamber (1983) See more »


Criminal Minds Theme
Composed by Mark Mancina
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User Reviews

The second worst episode of Season 9 and one of the worst of the show
5 September 2016 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Despite being quite negative lately towards 'Criminal Minds' it is not because of disliking the show. In fact, when it was in its prime 'Criminal Minds' was a huge favourite, and although it has gone vastly downhill there is still just about enough to warrant me still tuning in.

"The Black Queen" really isn't an example of 'Criminal Minds' at its best. In fact, from personal opinion, it is one of the show's worst episodes and of the Season 9 episodes only "200" was worse. A few things redeem it. It is very well made as always, very stylish and classy as ever and very nicely shot, the music is a nice mix of atmosphere and melancholy and the performances despite underwhelming material are still good.

On the other hand, there is a lot that didn't work about "The Black Queen". May be criticised for being nit-picky, for not accepting change and hating it when things done differently. The last two cannot be further from the truth, the problem is when doing something differently is done badly. That is the case with "The Black Queen". Garcia's story could have been really interesting and could have seen some great development, but it does take up far too much of the episode and is heavy in continuity gaffes and contradictions which strongly suggests that the writers have completely forgotten about the earlier seasons.

As a result of this the rest of the team take a complete back-seat, so much so that you barely see them at all and they are all forgettable at best, with the sole exception of seeing a more heroic Reid. The case also feels like an after-thought and feels very disjointed with Garcia's story and a case of too many ideas tossed in with not enough development. The unsubs are well-performed but not very interesting, the second unsub suffers from being a rather too convenient and thrown in Deux Ex Machina so poor Jeffrey Coombes has very little to do.

Garcia has been more likable too in earlier seasons, this was at a point where she did become annoying and like a caricature. The problem is not to do with Kirsten Vangsness, who is very good actually, but the writing. The sexual harassment talk just felt out of place within the story and the Morgan and Garcia banter was in serious need at this point of the show of a toning down and being used far less because it was unrealistically over-familiar, almost creepy, and sometimes cringe-worthy.

In conclusion, not as bad as "200" but almost on the same level. 3/10 Bethany Cox

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