From 2005 come 2020, "Criminal Minds" readily available a stimulating look in ~ the FBI"s Behavioral evaluation Unit, a team of highly expert profilers whose objective is to stop "unsubs" in their weekly search to obtain serial killers off the streets. Despite the collection aired its last episode back in February 2020, its existence on streaming services like Netflix means "Criminal Minds" can still sell old and brand-new fans a comfortingly uniform, if somewhat gruesome, kind of escapism.

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There"s never a need to justify return to the formulaic however suspenseful story that comprise this law-and-order procedural, but there"s a moral dilemma in one specific episode that"s offering some pan an excuse to come back in because that a closer look. That episode is the 11th one from Season 2, entitled "Sex, Birth, Death," which features Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) encountering a high institution student struggling with feelings and also fantasies that might lead him to a criminal future.

In the start of the episode, teens Nathan Harris (played through the late Anton Yelchin) accosts Dr. Spencer Reid on the subway, saying he observed him at a Georgetown college lecture on sexual sadism and also "thought appeared cool." Nathan tells Reid he"s interested in true crime and also the nature versus nurture debate when it pertains to criminal proclivities, and also then asks about the engine of serial killers particularly in the deaths the sex workers. At the point, Reid clearly thinks the conversation seems off, and also Nathan reveals some details the a murder the Reid states he"s never seen before. Reid asks the boy if he wants to come to the BAU with him, scaring him off. 

The conversation leader Reid and the team to uncover that there"s a serial killer at job-related stabbing and also cutting off the hair the sex workers, and step among the examination is to situate this teenager that knows for this reason much. Nathan hangs about the sex workers and also admits during questioning to thinking around killing lock — however his willingness come come in mirrors he"s also looking for help. He"s still through the BAU when one more murder happens conveniently afterward, for this reason it"s clear he isn"t the killer they"re looking for. However, a peek into Nathan"s inner psyche and a formal psych evaluation shows he"s struggling with some dark think — and that it"s an ext a matter of when he"ll end up being a killer than if that will. Then, a third murder bring away place. 

Later in the episode, Reid saves Nathan"s life, but what the evaluation has revealed about the teen has actually him wrestling v that decision. Nathan is innocent, at the very least right now, but he"s most likely a future serial killer. "He wanted me come let me come let the die," Reid says, then wonders, "How numerous lives go I hazard in the future?" 

The emotional influence of this "Criminal Minds" illustration has world discussing the philosophical effects on Reddit. 

User u/Angelkrista wondered around the gray area about Reid"s live-saving actions: " saved the resides of unsubs many times transparent the display ... Isn"t the natural dominion of thumb to not punish someone because that deeds not yet committed? Wouldn"t it have been his ethical obligation together someone that studied ideas behind morality, but additionally his sworn duty together an FBI agent to have actually done all he could?" They walk on come speculate that the "moral" decision should have actually led to a conviction of law right, and that was what was missing for Reid. 

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Redditor u/saturdaybloom weighed in, saying, "Reid did perform all he could as he was bound, both by his duty and by his morals; the didn"t permit his apprehension protect against him native doing so." The user additionally pointed the end that the toughness of the episode contained the connection between Nathan and also Reid and also "the totality question of even if it is we have the right to overcome our nature or if we would inevitably succumb come it."

Another user, u/sofil__, wrote, "He saved the boy and also probably would have saved that again and again. However Reid has a naturally broader view the the future. That knows very well that if something taken place five, ten or 20 years later, he would certainly feel partially responsible. I don"t think the would ever before have changed his mind about saving a life that was totally innocent up till then, however at the exact same time that type of thinking is more than understandable. It is human to reevaluate ours decisions based upon what could happen."

Some individuals expressed dismay the Nathan"s fate was never revealed in later episodes that "Criminal Minds," yet one, u/Blitzerxyz, figured the innocence to be bliss: "I"m glad there wasn"t a follow-up episode. It permits us come think the ideal that the is act fine and also hasn"t come to be a killer."