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The Criminal Minds Episode Fans Agree Is One Of The Creepiest In The Series

"Criminal Minds" is definitely not short on creepy episodes, what with all the serial killers and psychopaths, but some stand out as far scarier than average. There's the one where the unsub feeds his victim to the search party looking for her, the one where the unsubs feed the victims to their pigs but not before extracting their spinal fluid for science experiments, and the twin twist one where they feed their victims parts of their previous victims. Not to mention all the disturbing episodes that don't involve eating people. All around, it's enough to make anyone queasy, and yet "Criminal Minds" fans eat it right up — pardon the pun.

Still, some episodes take a different route, steering away from the gruesome nastiness and toward more subtly haunting events. Sometimes it's not the shock value of a cannibalism reveal that does the trick, but an open ending that hints at more trouble to come. Such is the case with one of the creepiest episodes of the series.

The ending of Heathridge Manor hints that the story isn't over

The Season 7 episode "Heathridge Manor" dabbles in gothic horror and has a spectacularly unnerving ending. In the episode, the BAU are called in when a dead woman is discovered in an abandoned asylum, dressed for the 16th century. They suspect Satanic worship is at play, but as the story unravels, we discover that the killer is the delusional James Heathridge ("Veronica Mars" star Kyle Gallner). His mother believed her mission was to kill the Devil's wives, going so far as to mutilate her own daughter to make her less appealing to the Devil. Since his mother's death, James has had hallucinations of her telling him to continue the mission.

James kidnaps women and drowns them in a pseudo witch hunt. He enlists his sister, Lara (Madeleine Martin), in making them elaborate historical dresses, which he forces his victims into. As the BAU closes in on him, he turns on Lara, believing her to be corrupted, and nearly kills her. However, in a fight with Hotch (Thomas Gibson), James accidentally dies, and Lara is saved.

One of the local cops comments that Lara, the sister, will probably stay in the manor, calling it a "house that breeds delusions." The camera then cuts away to some time in the near future, when Lara answers the door to find a tall, unidentifiable man dressed in black and carrying a cane decorated with a stylized cow skull. He, presumably the Devil, says he's been waiting for her, but that it's time for her to go with him. She takes his hand, but when the camera pulls away, she's all alone — he is simply a hallucination. But of course, delusions are what drove her mother and brother to kill, so it leaves the audience wondering: What will Lara do next?

Fans love how disturbing Heathridge Manor is

Reddit user u/Aubreezy92 brought up "Heathridge Manor" on the show's subreddit r/criminalminds, asking if "anyone else get the creepy crawlies with this one?" Several users agreed, with one user u/Adebisola saying that they wished the story had been continued past the single episode. Another user, u/Psychological_Bat865 quipped that they would "never sleep again" after watching it. 

It's no wonder this episode is a creep-fest, as actor Matthew Gray Gubler (aka Spencer Reid) directed it and he's known for directing some of the scariest episodes of the series, like the possibly overrated but still excellent "Mr. Scratch."

Generally, fans adore Gubler's directing for his style, which often is more evocative of horror flicks than a typical detective story. In another thread, user u/cgrapperhaus wrote that of all the actors who got a chance to direct, "Matthew is 100% my favorite that directed episodes. I can always tell when he directs an episode because he always leans to the more physiological aspects of the show and they are always creepier/scarier than other episodes." Gubler definitely nailed the horror vibe with "Heathridge Manor."