A notable selling point in “Sex, Birth, Death” was the phenomenal guest-starring appearance by Anton Yelchin as Nathan Harris, a teenager slowly losing his ability to struggle with his dark impulses.
Knowing that he had the signs of a budding serial killer, Nathan wanted to stop himself from going down that path. He even sought out Reid’s help — but there simply appeared to be no way to keep Nathan’s case from ending badly.
Anton Yelchin’s tragic real-life premature death, in retrospect, now lends this episode even more pathos. But it doesn’t require it — on its first airing, “Sex, Birth, Death” was extremely potent.
Dark, incredibly well acted, and with a penetrating focus on empathy and psychology, this Season 2 episode makes one of the clearest cases for “Criminal Minds” having a unique identity of its own. After all these years, it is episodes like this that made “Minds” stand out in a crowded field of TV procedurals.