“Rabid” is what happens when Criminal Minds meets The Walking Dead. Well, kind of. In the only way this procedural drama can, the series tackles zombies in tonight’s new episode, which turns out to feature one of its most disturbing cases yet.

Meanwhile, the two geniuses whose brains are usually more valuable than their physical skills on the job face their greatest challenge yet: a company fitness test. 

Don’t Be Nice to Strangers

When Gloria gets on the bus she notices Russell watching her, and it seems like he’s just going to be one of those creeps, especially when he follows her off the bus, but he just gives her a bag she left behind. She goes into her apartment, and we follow Russell as he walks home and makes the mistake of offering a homeless man a banana. The guy grabs him, and when Russell wakes up, he’s in a cell and the UnSub sets up a video camera before spraying him with a hose and telling him to drink. Oh, great, it’s the first sign that this is just going to get more and more distressing.

Life just gets worse for poor Russell, whom I was so quick to judge when we first saw him on the bus, as he hears a woman yelling out for help and then hears “I’ll eat you. I’ll eat you alive,” before the UnSub drags her out of her cell and away. But wait, that’s still pretty tame compared to what comes next, as the UnSub brings him food because he’s going to need his strength, and I don’t want to look at what’s on the tray because this is Criminal Minds.

Russell may want out of that cell, but he probably regrets that when the UnSub shocks him and binds his hands behind his back. He drags him to another cell as he screams before setting up a video camera and recording as a woman crawls through what I can only call a doggie door-type thing and attacks him, her mouth foaming. I think Russell’s screams and pleas make this episode as disturbing as it is.

What’s With the Biting?

The BAU is called in when three partially buried bodies are found, each victim killed a month apart, with bite marks on them. There are no connections or similarities between the victims, so it looks like these are just targets of opportunity. All three died of cardiac arrest, as the ME tells Reid and Rossi, but that’s not the most interesting part of that visit. All of the first victim’s bite marks are from animals; the other two have human bite marks too. So is this a biting fetish or cannibalism? The close-up of the bite marks is probably unnecessary; I get the picture.

When Garcia reports that the first victim worked in animal control, Reid puts everything together. This isn’t a biting fetish or cannibalism, thankfully. It’s just a guy who wants to spread rabies, arguably the deadliest disease known to man because unless treated within 24 hours of infection, there’s no cure. (Only on this show would that be a ‘just.’) Their UnSub is a sadist who gets off on the attacks, and he likely lost a pet or relative to it.

The profilers are right on both those points. The UnSub is recording his victims and rewatching them getting worse and worse. Dying from rabies is like a real horror show. It’s insane, and it’s terrible. When Garcia works her magic, she finds a case from 15 years ago of a 9-year-old who was admitted to a hospital with flu-like symptoms after he was bitten by a bat. A week later, he checked out and disappeared. He has a brother, David, who lives in the area, and hello, UnSub. When they check out his place, they find a tape of his father with his brother as he was dying and they put him out of his misery, along with photos. That was his first recording.

How to Ruin Your Morning Coffee

Meanwhile, David’s in a sadist’s heaven, with two victims in different stages of the virus to watch; Liz is further along and raving, while Russell is in the early stages and still pleading to be let go. However, when David leaves them alone, Liz bites free from her bindings, searches for a way out and finally climbs out the window. A 911 call comes in about a woman foaming at the mouth at a coffee shop and in a park, and there goes Rossi’s coffee. It’s strictly a no-foam order from now on. Sadly, Liz is too far along and can’t be reasoned with, so Morgan has no choice but to shoot her in the leg to stop her. It doesn’t matter, though, all they can do is make her comfortable at the hospital.

Once again, Garcia does her magic and directs the team to an animal shelter nearby that was shut down due to budget cuts. When they burst into the place, Morgan and Reid chase down David while JJ takes care of Russell, who’s going to be okay. David shocks Morgan a few times, and the nature of the fight doesn’t give Reid any openings to shoot him, so instead, he tackles him. Together, Morgan and Reid subdue him, and the working out Reid has been doing comes in handy in the field. Don’t worry, Reid’s face isn’t messed up too bad; they wouldn’t dare do that to Pretty Boy.

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“But He Has Really Good Abs”

After the disturbing nature of the case, I for one need something light-hearted, and Reid and Garcia training for the company fitness test more than delivers in that regard. Deciding to go about working out without Morgan because while he has great abs, he still talks smack, and they don’t need that. They’re more than happy to leave the running behind for a case, but that doesn’t mean Garcia’s not limping a bit at work, which she blames on an active night with Sam, and Reid’s not stretching, to “keep his brain limber,” while geo-profiling on the job.

When the case is over, it’s time for Reid and Garcia to face their instructor, who just so happens to be Morgan. He tells them he could have gotten it waived for them if they had told him. It’s too bad they didn’t because the test he puts them through is pretty sadistic, especially since he did have the test waived for them and he just messes with them. They have just enough energy to go after him in revenge. Who else loves to see this team outside the office just relaxing and having fun after everything they see every day at work?

Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.