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The Surprising Director Of The Most Haunting Criminal Minds Episodes

Despite running for 15 seasons, the CBS procedural "Criminal Minds" was still quite popular when it went off the air in 2018. Time has not dimmed the enthusiasm fans had for the show, to the point that the streaming service Paramount+ announced earlier this year that they would be bringing the show back for a 16th season. The popularity of the series even spawned two spin-offs, "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders" and "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior," neither of which outlasted the parent show.

One of the distinctive features of "Criminal Minds" was their willingness to not hold back. The series, which followed the exploits of a Behavioral Analysis Unit in the FBI that tracked serial killers, was willing to get disturbing both in its imagery and in its writing. This most notably led to the departure of star Mandy Patinkin early in the show's run, but that did not deter fans of the series in the slightest. Even in the context of the show, however, some episodes were particularly haunting. In a surprising turn, there was one director who was responsible for some of the series' most memorably disturbing episodes.

Matthew Gray Gubler was instrumental to the show's success

Matthew Gray Gubler, who played Dr. Spencer Reid, was one of the most crucial cast members of the show, ultimately appearing in every single one of the 300+ episodes of the series. This put him in rarified company, as no other performer on the show was a main cast member for all 15 seasons. This, however, was not the only contribution Gubler made to the show, as he also directed 12 episodes of the show from Season 5 to Season 14, according to IMDb.

Gubler started off with a bang, as Season 5's "Mosley Lane," which marked his directorial debut, saw the team take on a child kidnapper. His next directorial episode, Season 6's "Lauren," looked at the relationship Prentiss had with Ian Doyle, a noted terrorist. Gubler's next turn in the directorial chair was the Season 7 episode "Heathridge Manor", which saw the team look for a Satanist with a disturbing past. In Season 8, Gubler directed "The Lesson," which saw the team looking for a collector-style serial killer, and "Alchemy," where the team searched for a killer after bodies were found poisoned and dismembered.

Gubler continued to direct key episodes through the show's run

Gubler's first Season 9 turn in the director's chair was for "Gatekeeper," in which the BAU went after a strangler serial killer in Boston. He then returned for "Blood Relations," which saw the team end up in the middle of a feud between two families while trying to identify a particularly vicious killer. Following that, Gubler didn't return behind the camera until late in Season 10 with "Mr. Scratch," where the team had to find a serial killer who was described as a shadow monster by witnesses. His return to directing in Season 11 was with "A Beautiful Disaster," where the BAU went after a crime boss who was targeting them specifically.

Following that episode, Gubler made a relatively early return as director in Season 12 with "Elliott's Pond," where the BAU had to investigate three missing children whose disappearances match those from a 30-year-old case. Gubler's next turn as director came in Season 13 with "The Capilanos," where the BAU had to tackle the case of a killer seemingly dressed as a clown. His last episode as director was Season 14's "The Tall Man," in which the team had to separate fact from fiction when an urban legend held the clues to the disappearance of two victims.

While it's still unsure if Gubler will return for Season 16, it's very likely that if he does, he'll add to this already impressive list of directorial credits for "Criminal Minds." If history is any indication, his directorial entries are sure to be standout episodes for the fans to look forward to.