"Compulsion" is the second episode of Season One of Criminal Minds, and the second of the two-part series premiere.


The BAU is called to Tempe, Arizona, to assess the mind of an escalating serial arsonist targeting a local university and figure out the unsub's true motive for setting the fires. Meanwhile, Gideon continues to recover from his near-death experience with a serial killer.

Guest Cast

  • Kristen Caldwell - Chemistry Student #2
  • Michael David Cheng - Fire Inspector Zhang
  • Evan Lee Dahl - Jeremy
  • J.J. Dashnaw - Matthew Rowland[1]
  • Lukas Haas - The Footpath Killer
  • Jennifer Hall - Clara Hayes
  • Bob Jesser - Professor Ralph Wallace
  • Erika T. Johnson - Agent Trainee #1
  • Sage Mears - Chemistry Student #1
  • Rolando Millet - Campus Security Guard
  • Nathanial Moon - Agent Trainee #2
  • Christopher Mowod - Campus Patrolman
  • J. Karen Thomas - Dean Ellen Turner

Referenced Criminals


  • "Every Day Is Exactly the Same" by Nine Inch Nails

Bookend Quotes

  • Jason Gideon: Einstein once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
  • Jason Gideon: Faulkner once said, "Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself."


  • Media liaison Jennifer Jareau, a.k.a. "JJ", is introduced for the first time in this episode.


  1. Credited as "Matthew Cooke"
  2. Referred to by his birth-name of Peter Dinsdale

Criminal Minds Episodes