Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Criminal Minds season 11 finale recap: The Storm

The CBS procedural ends its 11th season with an uncertain future

Posted on

Darren Michaels/CBS

Criminal Minds

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Thomas Gibson, Shemar Moore, Mandy Patinkin, Lola Glaudini, Kirsten Vangsness
Drama, Crime

No good deed goes unpunished. And the BAU’s most-recent punishment for all their crime-solving good deeds is a real doozy. Criminal Minds’ season 11 finale ended without anyone’s life in the balance nor another departing BAU member. Instead, the team finds themselves gearing up to go head to head with a few skeletons from their past.

The ominous message that Hotch supposedly called in to 911 definitely sets the tone for the series if it is picked up for season 12 (that future is not quite definite just yet): “Today will change everything.” The team had no idea until it was too late.

When Hotch’s door is kicked in and he is hauled away to the DOJ under suspicion of planning nefarious activities, the team quickly comes together to prove their leader’s innocence and find the true culprit of whatever is about to happen. With the help of Garcia and Reid, the team is able to gather enough evidence to prove that the 911 “Hotchner” left was actually spliced together using footage from Hotch’s reports over the years. He was framed, but how did the DOJ get the information to detain him in the first place?

Turns out Peter Lewis, a.k.a. Mr. Scratch, ratted out Hotch for being dangerous. “The world needs to know what kind of man Aaron Hotchner really is,” he states in a video testimony. Hotch asks why the DOJ, FBI, or anyone would believe anything the convicted serial killer would have to say, and the evidence stacked against Hotch is a little suspect. Not only do they have receipts of Hotch buying materials to make a bomb (which anyone could frame), but they also know that he was exposed to the dissociative drug Mr. Scratch used on his victims (who suffered psychotic breaks after) — which Hotch just so happened to leave off his report.

The series writers do a nice little callback to some of the series’ big moments, including the fact that Hotch did nothing when Rossi shot Gideon’s killer, Donnie Mallick, but he allowed Elle to resign after she shot an unsub, all to prove that Hotch’s judgment has been clouded since the death of his wife.

NEXT: The conspiracy goes DEEP