Posted by: The Learning Pastor | April 25, 2011

Top 5 Favorite Episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent

Today is the day after Easter and I am brain cooked!  A testimony to how tired I was at the beginning of this day was my appearance.  I wore a dress shirt that had a permanent stain on it, a stain that commands attention (not a good selection,) my “holy” jeans –ratty jeans that have holes all through them, and old tennis shoes.  I worked exhausted all day today and it remains to be seen if that was a good thing.  There were however several things that I HAD to do.  I did them, and now I am at home resting, letting go.

What can I do tonight that I would actually enjoy?  Chill out with my wife?  Of course!  Spend time with my daughter Hope?  Absolutely!  AND I can post something fun on my blog!  So in honor of Law and Order: Criminal Intent’s final season beginning this Sunday, I’m offering up my favorite episodes!

Law and Order: Criminal Intent (not Law and Order: CI, as some USA Network exec mistakenly, tragically, in poor taste and judgement, put it) is/was/is my favorite all-time television show.  NCIS, X-Files, Deadwood, and the Sopranos are all television shows that are up there, but Criminal Intent is/was/is my number one favorite.  It follows NYC Major Case squad detectives Bobby Goren and Alex Eames.  Goren has a unique skill set that proves masterful in capturing hard to catch devious criminals.  Eames compliments him nicely, making a most effective partnership.

I realize this blog post will probably be the least read article I’ve ever posted, and that’s okay.  I’m doing this exclusively for my joy.  Who knows?  Maybe someone out there is reading this and remembers some of the stories I’m listing.

Without further ado, here are my favorite episodes:

  1. Want –Season 4, episode 3.  On the emotional level, this was the deepest story I’ve ever seen.  The depth Goren goes with the perpetrator (Neil Patrick Harris) in understanding him in order to catch him was incredible.  Adding to the difficulty was Assistant District Attorney Carver insulting/belittling the detective when the two strongly disagree. Goren doing what he thought was right in the end because of compassion was unbelievable.  All for the last two minutes to happen the way it did?  Unbelievable story and journey.  Nothing short of unbelievable.
  2. In the Wee Small Hours –Season 5, episode 6.  This was a 2 hour episode, which was inspired by the Natalie Holloway case, had all four Criminal Intent detectives on the case. In one memorable scene Goren uses a personal attack by the suspect’s father, a powerful judge, as a means to get to a salacious truth. Also in this episode you learn Goren’s partner Alex Eames had second thoughts about working with the eccentric Goren early on in their partnership. You see how bad she feels when this is exposed, as well as her learned appreciation of him, calling him “an acquired taste.”  Goren has a great quote at the end: “You’re right. I am an acquired taste.  I’m lucky to have you as a partner.”
  3. Anti-Thesis –Season 2, episode 3.  Yes, Goren has a nemesis. Nicole Wallace, played by Olivia d’Abo, touched Goren in a way that was only apparent through D’Onofrio’s acting.  It was remarkable to see.  The two had a definite chemistry on screen, one that was marked by genuine vulnerability amidst deception, guardedness and danger.  From their first interaction, you realize she’s got the goods to counter his brilliance and emotional skills.  The scenes in the interrogation room were like a poker game of emotions.  This is the first time in the series Goren gets unnerved and highly agitated.  Wallace was in 5 episodes.
  4. Semi-Detached –Season 4, episode 1. Speaking of vulnerability, this story had Detective Goren play a dangerous emotional game with a suspect, one in which the detective is both genuine and deceptive. It produces one of the best quotes from the show when the suspect states that she knew the detective genuinely cared because she saw it in him only to have him respond “I didn’t mean for you to see that.”
  5. Sound Bodies –Season 3, episode 8.  This story has a brilliant and gifted teenager with a “messiah” complex that Goren goes head to head with.  The brilliance of the perpetrator, the incredible acting, and the final interrogation scene make this a must see.  The actor who played the perp was exceptionally good.  It was through a clever deception, a bluff actually, that Goren got the teen to confess to his involvement.

I had a really hard time narrowing down my top 5 on this one.  So for the serious Criminal Intent fan, I’m giving another 10 of my favorite episodes with a sentence about the story that speaks to its distinctness.  They are not in order, they’re just some of my favorite stories from Criminal Intent.

  1. Gone –Season 4, episode 11.  The brilliance and madness of the perpetrator played by Robert Carradine.
  2. Phantom –Season 1, episode 16.  Intense final scene in which Goren talks to the perp in order to save lives.
  3. Blink –Season 2, episode 20.  The risk taker who had no fear.
  4. The Faithful –Season 1, episode 4.  Goren’s compassion outweighed his professional duty.
  5. The Extra Man –Season 1, episode 6.  Goren doesn’t lay eyes on the perp until the last 5 minutes of the episode.
  6. Yesterday –Season 1, episode 18.  Quote:  “You have no idea.”
  7. Faith –Season 1, episode 21.  The look on Deakins face when Goren asks a girl via telephone a question about her “feminine health.”
  8. Tuxedo Hill –Season 1, episode 22.  Quote:  “It was the mints!”
  9. Dead –Season 2, episode 1.  The madness of the perp boils over in the final scene.
  10. The Pilgrim –Season 2, episode 8. Goren goes toe to toe with a warped religious zealot connected to a terrorist.
I will miss this show terribly!  It is a one of a kind!


  1. I haven’t read your other blog posts, so I wouldn’t know if this one is the least read. However, I read it and I’m looking forward to any episodes I haven’t watched yet. I’ll keep this list so I know what to look for. Thanks for this! Originally, I’m a fan of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and decided to try this series as I ran out of SVU episodes. I love the psychology and the partnership between Eames and Goren. It really makes the show.

    • Cool! I love the first 5 seasons the most! The series finale about a month ago was a good ending, I thought. My favorite episode “Want” is one I’ve seen probably 20 times (yes, it’s that good.) Most of my blog readers are people who I know are unfamiliar with Law and Order: Criminal Intent, so I was guessing they would see the title of the post and not read it. Not trying to be negative or anything, but I know their interests. I’m really glad you responded! Shoot me a message via this blog or my email if you ever want to talk about cool stuff from Law and Order: Criminal Intent!!!!!

  2. I too am a Law and Order SVU fan but really like these. I have been trying to find an episode (with no luck). I know it’s a C.I. episode, about a little boy (I think his name was George) who’s mother (blind) would lock him in the attic. Help!!!!! I need the name of this episode, it was a good one!

    • It’s from Cold Case.
      The last episode of season 2.

  3. Thanks for the great, well written summaries..
    I love watching each season over and over again, and was having trouble picking ep.’s tonight hehe
    Oh how I miss Bobby!! But poor Vincent was worn out and wanted out..!

    • Thank you Faith Maree Ryan! I miss Bobby as well. I enjoy reruns of this show almost every day!

  4. add me on FB and we can share our love of crime dramas :)) hehe

    • I will add you on fb, crime solving loving new friend!

  5. great writing!!

    • Thank you for reading, kind words and sharing your love for Criminal Intent!

  6. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, never know wich episode to choose.
    My top 5 series:
    -Law and Order Criminal Intent
    -Law and Order SVU
    -Criminal Minds
    -CSI New York
    Because I live in Europe (The Netherlands) not every crime serie and spinoff is broudcasted in my country so there might be even beter ones I never heard of. So if sombody has som tips, let me know

    • Wow! Law and Order: Criminal Intent is on television in the Netherlands! That is awesome! For what it’s worth, I’ve been getting into the series “Sherlock” on BBC. She’s been using a proxy server online to watch the newest episodes. It is an awesome show! Thanks for reading my blog! I like your list of crime drama series! Take care!

    • Have you seen Person of Interest? I love it.

      • Haven’t seen it, but reviews are awesome and I really like both actors in it! I wish CBS shows would be available through On Demand. To watch that show, I need to go online and start with the pilot and watch them all. I’ve thought about doing that, just haven’t yet! Is either of the main characters like Goren? Emotional depth, emotional skill set? Sidenote: My daughter got me to watch “Sherlock” and that show is outright awesome! What do you think of “Sherlock”?

      • I started to watch Person of Interest because of Jim Caviezel ( though I hate to admit that!) and turns out the show is quite good, though the characters aren’t terribly deep. Sometimes I wonder if the producers could take more advantage of both Caviezel’s and Emerson’s acting skills. Watch it and tell what you think. As for “Sherlock”, I haven’t seen it or heard of it, which is funny because I always keep an eye for new things.Nice talking to you, by the way.

      • Got cha! I appreciate the thoughts concerning “Person of Interest”. If you like the emotional depth and skills of Bobby Goren, then I think you’ll really like “Sherlock”. Their “seasons” consist of three 1 1/2 hour movies. The first season in on Blu-Ray, and I got it from Barnes and Noble. The second season has aired, and each episode can be seen online through websites like DailyMotion. The emotional depth and complexity of Sherlock is unbelievable. Good taling to you too!!!!!

      • I’ve just read what you wrote about Valentine´s day and romantic love. That was true and yet so cute. I´m not a very zodiac oriented person, but I’d bet you´re cancer,hehe. Feel like sending my hubby a warm phone text right now.

      • HA! Thanks for the read and response! Nope, I’m a Taurus. I like to think most husbands enjoy getting warm text messages from their wives, so I hope you send one (or sent it!) Take care!!!!!

  7. Hello from a stranger! I googled “what’s your favorite Law and Order CI (sorry) episode? This was one of the sites that popped up! I often watch the show on Saturdays, on WGN.

    I agree about Wanted, it was an insight into Goren’s sense of right and wrong, and justice. I also loved The Pilgrim. From beginning to end, it was quite a journey, and was a fantastic blend of Goren’s investigative skills, knowledge of religion, and his subdued, but passionate, patriotism.

    Anyways, thanks for this blog. I’m glad I stumbled upon it! Best wishes in your spiritual quest.

    • Thanks for the read! “Want” is an unreal episode isn’t it?!? “The Pilgrim” is as well! I really liked the scenes from the final ten episodes of the show with Vincent D’Onofrio and Julia Ormond. Thanks for the interaction about this great show and thanks again for the read!

      • The final season was like a gift. And Vincent wasn’t tired of doing the show. He and Erbe were ready to soldier on. The perp in Sound Bodies, didn’t he resurface at some point? In the final season? The psych sessions were good cat and mouse games. But the final scene of the last episode was priceless. Another crime. “Come on, let’s go!”

        Good to meet you.

      • I appreciated the final scene as well! The look on Goren’s face when he walks around the front of the SUV is priceless. Yes, the perp in Sound Bodies came back in the episode “In the Wee Small Hours.” Julia Ormond played a good opposite of D’Onofrio, I thought. Good stuff!!!! Good to meet you too!!!!

      • I also stumbled upon your blog the same way. “Best Law & Order Criminal Intent” on Google. I am a die hard Law & Order fan. I wonder why I pay for cable when I always end up watching the various Law & Order show’s reruns. Criminal Intent is my favorite though. I lost some interest when Jeff Goldblum joined, but stumbled upon the final season on Netflix. Amazing. There is no other detective on TV like Bobby. I was delighted with the delicate end to the series. I was also thrilled to see you recommend Sherlock though. When I came across season one, it restored my faith in TV crime shows. It’s the best production of a detective series I’ve seen. From set design, to the writing, to the amazing acting. Benedict Cumberbatch is superb. I just wish I could convince more people to watch it. Thanks for the post!

  8. Thank you for a nice post – actually, now I want to rewatch all the episodes you mentioned. I really liked this series – the first 4 seasons are simply perfect; I liked every episode! I have it on DVD (I’m from Croatia) and often I start with 1 episode, only to end up rewatching the entire season, lol Goren is one of my favorite TV characters. „Person of Interest“ is solid, but I have to say „Sherlock“ is superb.

  9. Goren was like Sherlock Holmes. Now have my brain going crazy trying to remember name of mints used in ‘Tuxedo Hill’ episode. You remember name?

  10. Hi! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you much!!!!!! Sorry for the late response, I’ve been preoccupied with my work!!!!! Thank you again!!!!!

  11. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website
    yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond
    as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. thanks a lot

    • Thank you so much!!!! The design was from WordPress. I chose the colors and the photos (obviously!) including the banner photo of the ocean. WordPress has neat layouts with a lot of options for one to choose. Take care!

  12. I am a huge fan of the show and I really enjoyed your input on each show. I watch the show then come back to compare with what you thought. It seems you like detective Goren alot. I feel the same way. I’m not to much of a fan of the Criminal Intent with the other detectives. But I still watch it because I love the show.

    • Thank you! No doubt, Goren is my favorite! I haven’t found another detective –or character, for that matter– on television that I enjoy watching more. Take care!

  13. Those are all amazing episodes and certainly the first 5 seasons of the show are simply the best thing I’ve seen on a police drama. Only Homicide Life on the Street and the original Law&Order come close.

    Anyway, here are some of my favourites:

    “Grow”- Season 5, Ep. 1- My favourite Nicole Wallace’s episode.
    “Shiboleth”- Season 4, Ep. 17
    “Probability” Season 2, Ep. 14
    “Monster” Season 2, Ep 15
    “A person of Interest” Season 2, Ep 23

  14. I love this show! Of course, I watch the original and SVU, too, but this was my favorite; the writing was the best, IMO. The character development was so rich (especially Dt. Goran, of course), and the acting (again, especially Vincent Donofrio!) was superb.
    Being a crime connoisseur, I also enjoy “Cold Case” very much; not only is the acting very good, so much emotion is conveyed through the music used in each episode. I don’t believe it would have been the same if they didn’t use songs from the original recording artist. Meredith Stiehm (sp.?) is excellent.

  15. my 3 personal favorite episodes of are Cherry Red S2E19, Death Roe S4E15, and my #1 is Shibboleth S4E17. Yes, there is a theme among those 3 episodes and we can say my personal history does bias my thinking, but imo Shibboleth is easily the darkest episode in the entire Law & Order universe. Nothing else even comes close to it, because the unique psychological torture Keith had to suffer pretty much his whole life from age 7 to age 44. Particularly powerful is the scene at the end where the illusion Frank left with Keith breaks down as he hears from the next room over what Frank really thinks of him, and there was a sort of wind noise you could barely hear over the usual dramatic string music that clearly illustrates the chaos in Keith’s head. also for in particular the two Season 4 episodes there Eames has amazing quotes at the end. For Death Roe: “Gluttony. Now I understand why it made the short list of Deadly Sins.” and Shibboleth: K: “How could you, dad?” F: “Dad? You’re no son of mine.” E: “That’s the nicest thing he (Frank) could’ve said to him (Keith).” One more amazing quote from Goren right at the end: “He finally cast you out of his head, out of his head.”

  16. LO:CI diehard here.. got the DVDs.. but didn’t take time to figure which ones you chose. “Tuxedo Hill” is one of my favorites, along with “Cherry Red” (but being a classic performance car freak, I’m jaded… great scene was when car expert “kid” was going to ID tires, and Det. Eames walks in… kid perks up with “De-TEC-tive Alex..” in an ‘.admiring’ tone, which she recognized and said “Down boy”… all was respectful and good.

  17. Excellent choices, Pastor.

    I’m ordering Season 4 & 5 from Amazon now–excellent price, free shipping and am excited to see Vicent D’Onofrio again. Every Sunday in Houston, Channel 49 runs all-day marathons of Law and Order : Criminal Intent and D’Onofrio does a promo for it. Older now, still intense, he remains my favorite actor.

    Thanks for your blog. Keep writing!

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