In Season 3, Episode 16, titled “Elephant’s Memory,” the BAU team takes on a mass shooter (Cody Kasch) who goes on a killing spree after his high school bullies take their treatment of him way too far. At one point, as the gunman approaches the local sheriff’s office (which is located right in the center of town), Reid makes a snap decision. He hands his gun to Prentiss (Paget Brewster) and tells her to cover him, but also orders her not to shoot. He then proceeds to have a heartfelt conversation with the perpetrator in the middle of the street, eventually earning his trust enough to get him to surrender before he kills anybody else.
In a February 2022 Reddit thread about Reid’s worst qualities, “Criminal Minds” fans discussed his emotional impulsivity in great detail, while also reflecting upon how it’s especially up front and center in this episode. “He can be rash and impulsive when he gets emotionally invested. We see this through the show. He put himself and others at risk in ‘Elephant’s Memory’ when he walked up to the unsub to talk to him unharmed,” writes u/No_Seesaw_5789, with no less than five other users agreeing in the thread replies. In a different Reddit post from December 2018 that focused more on the Season 3 episode, u/Deejaymil agreed that Reid’s actions were rash and dangerous, but went on to concede, “[His] dumbassery makes sense, and I really enjoy it when characters act dumb but in a believable and understandable way.”