J.J. and Prentiss are back for Season 7 of Criminal Minds and so is the rest of the BAU team. In "It Takes A Whole Village," the team faces disciplinary action for their involvement with the terrorist that tired to kill Prentiss. There are plenty of UnSubs to track down including one bent on taking away sight from his victims ("Proof"). A bloodbath at an Internet security company takes the team to Virginia ("Dorado Falls") and a copy cat killer is on the loose in a town that's holding a ceremony for the 10-year anniversary of a Columbine-style shooting massacre ("Painless").
A summer has passed since the events of last season, and it was an eventful one for the BAU. The team stands trial in Washington, facing disciplinary action for an unauthorized takedown of Ian Doyle, the international terrorist who tried to kill Emily Prentiss. (Ep. 617 & 618). We flash back to see that Morgan and Garcia, acting on their own, decided to trace down Doyle’s son Declan in the hopes that the terrorist would eventually attempt to contact him. Their plan works, but while the team takes Doyle into custody, someone else kidnaps Declan. With the clock ticking on the boy’s safe return, the team must choose whether or not to trust Doyle when he says that the only person who can save his son is his nemesis: Agent Prentiss. This episode marks the return of AJ Cook as Jennifer "J.J.” Jareau and Paget Brewster as Emily Prentiss.
The BAU's latest case takes them to rural Oklahoma, where two blonde, attractive women were abducted, blinded with acid, and brutally murdered. At first it seems as though the UnSub is specifically targeting his victims’ sight, but as the killer escalates the team learns that his obsession is with denying these women any of their five senses. As the BAU zeros in on their profile, the UnSub makes his boldest move yet and kidnaps the seventeen-year-old daughter of the woman he’s been obsessing over since the 1980’s.
A massacre at an internet security company attracts the attention of the BAU, and the team travels to Charlottesville, Virginia in order to investigate. It isn’t long before the team figures out that their UnSub is a highly trained Navy SEAL who is targeting his friends and family. The evidence points to PTSD at first, but Reid is able to diagnose the UnSub with Capgras Syndrome, a disease where one believes that loved ones have been replaced by impostors. The killer is working under the assumption that there is a conspiracy surrounding one of his SEAL missions, and he will kill anyone who comes between him and what he believes to be the truth – including an attack on Quantico itself.
It’s been ten years since a Columbine-style high school massacre, and the survivors are returning for a ceremony of remembrance and reflection. While the school shooter/bomber died in the act, a new killer is now on the loose – an UnSub targeting survivors using the same methods as the original attacker. As the BAU team races to profile the UnSub, Dr. Reid makes a chilling discovery: whoever is doing the killing seems to be suffering from a rare disorder where he can not feel pain.
The BAU investigates the abduction of a young boy who was taken off the street after being left in front of his grandmother’s house. He was left there by his mother, who suffers from severe depression, because she didn’t want him to see her self-mutilation. She is their initial suspect, but that theory is soon dismissed when she turns up dead and another child goes missing. The team ends up focusing their search on 911 first responders, theorizing that the UnSub is reenacting his own childhood trauma by "saving” children who have distressed or disturbed parents.
The BAU travels to Southern California’s Angeles National Forest when a series of bodies turn up in mountain lake. Unusually, the UnSub’s behavior runs counter to the normal progression of a serial killer. Instead of moving from weaker victims to stronger ones, this UnSub is attacking ever easier targets. When autopsy reports show that each victim has been resuscitated multiple times before finally being killed, our team learns the truth – they are chasing a terminally ill UnSub who is killing and reviving people in order to find out if their near-death experiences prove that there is life after death.
When a series of late season tornadoes hits Kansas, the BAU is called in to investigate the bodies of several young teenage males that have turned up in the aftermath of the storms. The victims were all killed by a blow to the head before having several of their limbs posthumously removed. They were then placed in the path of the coming storm. As the weather intensifies, the team learns that the UnSub lost his brother in a tornado and appears to be harvesting the body parts of young men in order to re-build him.
Seven years after the abduction of her little girl, grieving mother Monica is kidnapped by the very same UnSub. Because Garcia is friends with Monica and was the last person to see her before she was taken, the BAU is able to get a head start on the case. But while Monica willingly follows the UnSub into his lair in the hopes of recovering her daughter, our team learns that it was likely the little girl’s death that triggered the UnSub’s recent escalation.
The BAU team looks into the real reasons behind an apparent mass suicide of a small group of youths at a military academy. Also, Hotch and Morgan butt heads when a team member could be in jeopardy.
After two men are found bludgeoned to death in an alley, the team flies to Philadelphia in search of a particularly brutal UnSub. Triggered by the imminent death of his terminally ill child, the killer – an amateur boxer with a history of losing – has been enveloped by an all-encompassing blood lust. As the window between kills starts to shrink, the BAU begins to run out of time.
When a couple is murdered in Golden Gate Park, the initial investigation suggests that the Zodiac killer is back. As the team investigates the possibility that the most famous uncaught serial killer of all time has returned after forty years, Reid works to decipher a series of clues and codes left by the UnSub. Through investigation and profiling, the team learns that they are dealing with a genius-level psychopath – and unlike in the original Zodiac case, this killer is working fast.
The BAU team investigates a serial rapist known as "The Piano Man” who roofies his victims before violating them and leaving permanent scars with piano wire. After a few months lying dormant, the UnSub has begun to strike again – this time re-assaulting all of his previous targets a second time. As the team builds a profile and tracks the UnSub’s escalation, one of the victims takes matters into her own hands and captures the man she believes to be her rapist – with the intent to end his life.
When an Atlantic City casino boss turns up dead with a ring of eight dollar bills around his head, the BAU is called in to investigate the ritualistic killing. The UnSub they’re chasing is a compulsive gambler who has stumbled upon a unique system: he believes that if his luck sours, he can kill someone in order to turn his fortunes around. And with bad luck all too common in the casinos of Atlantic City, it’s a race against the clock for the BAU to find their man before he kills again.
On the beaches of Southern California, the BAU team discovers a series of bodies hidden in lifeguard towers with their genitals removed. After identifying the victims, a common link is found between them – they’ve all had a romantic relationship end recently due to infidelity. As the killer’s pace increases, the team learns that the UnSub is a bartender suffering from a psychotic break. Unable to deal with the betrayal of his own wife, he has decided to ‘help’ his victims put their own problems permanently behind them.
A formerly affluent suburban community in California’s inland empire is hit hard by a series of brutal home invasions and murders. At first, it appears as if the killings are gang related – the bodies of young black men with drugs in their system are found dead in the houses of the murdered families. But the BAU soon comes to the realization that these scenes are elaborately staged - someone is trying to incite a race war. With the local mayoral race heating up, the team’s first lead is to look at the staff of a candidate who is using the killings to successfully push a campaign of racism and fear.
Haunted by a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, a twenty-five-year-old man acts out his sexual frustrations by murdering prostitutes. The BAU team travels to Atlanta in order to work the case and soon deduce that the UnSub they’re tracking isnt' acting alone. As the kills start to increase in boldness and frequency, we learn that the UnSub’s parents are complicit in his crimes. Driven by guilt, they have taken to hunting down victims for their son to slay in the hopes that he'll walk again.
A serial killer targeting married couples leads the BAU to Seattle, where they learn that the UnSub is going after foster families in the search for a young child. As the killer begins to unravel and escalate, the team zeroes in on their target – a female teacher who had a baby with her 16-year-old student. After being released from prison, she has begun a murderous rampage in order to get her ‘family’ back together.
When a frightened, emaciated young boy is found in the Arizona desert, the BAU begins their search for the kidnapper. Their search intensifies when the team learns that another young child was taken from his neighborhood in Flagstaff just hours before the first boy was discovered. While Morgan bonds with the recovered child in the hopes that he will be able to identify his tormentor, the rest of the team investigates the claims of a woman who says that she glimpsed a similarly captured child thirty years prior.
The BAU are called to Oregon in order to investigate body of a young woman that was found displayed in Shakespearian garb inside a burned out insane asylum. When another woman falls victim to the same type of ritualistic murder, the team begins to suspect that the UnSub might be a Satanist. In truth, they are chasing a delusional man who is attempting to fulfill the wish of his equally delusional mother – to rid the world of ‘Satan’s brides.
While driving through Chicago, Morgan’s sister catches a glimpse of a woman she believed to be dead – her cousin Cindi, who has been missing for nine years. Forced to come clean about the lie he told last year to help his family move on (Ep. 623), Morgan and the team re-open Cindi’s case in the hopes of bringing her home. In order to do so, they must enter a world of sadomasochism where women are brainwashed into believing that a shadowy company will kill everyone they love if they don’t submit to their master’s every whim.
Mere minutes after the execution of an infamous serial killer, a copycat begins to commit crimes in the same town with the same MO. The BAU is forced to act fast – the UnSub isn’t wasting any time, and bodies are being found every six hours. As the team meets with the executed killer’s ex wife in a search for suspects, the UnSub begins to escalate his plan. While the first two women murdered are found with cut hair, the third is discovered with a shaved head. The fourth body is found after having been scalped entirely.
Rossi leads the BAU in presenting one of his longest tenured cases to a class of college students who are learning about profiling. Through this lecture, Rossi tells the story of an UnSub who was a victim of constant physical and emotional abuse throughout his childhood. After becoming an adult, he began to kill women and remove their wombs. Rossi chases the UnSub up and down the west coast over the course of nearly twenty years, and in the process he shows the class how far the science of criminal profiling has come
When the BAU goes up against a gang of serial-killing bank robbers in Washington, D.C., the team tries to negotiate the situation unfolding inside the bank, but the stakes rise when one of their own becomes a hostages.
As the BAU team continues to pursue the bank-robbing serial killers, the team determines that the suspects have a bigger target in the Nation's capital, and with one of the team still a hostage, they must work quickly to diffuse an explosive situation. Also, wedding bells ring for one of the BAU, and Prentiss ponders her future.