WARNING: This review contains spoilers
“Maybe I’m here because you’re going to die and I make it less scary. Or maybe I’m here to help you hold on.”
“Derek” was such a roller coaster ride all the way from the beginning, and while it was very amazingly written, acted, and directed…it was also predictable. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. Just that it was exactly what I expected it to be, only done in the best possible way. It’s safe to say that this was the most intense Criminal Minds episode they’ve done in a while. That’s not a surprise, everything is always kicked up a notch when one of the them is in danger.
We pick up right where the last episode ended (Morgan being attacked and abducted by three men while yelling into the phone for Savannah to call Hotch) and we see Morgan being hung up on some sort of metal cross. He’s already put himself in a dissociative state so that he doesn’t feel the pain that they’re going to inflict on him. One of the men picked up on this and began hitting him and when that didn’t work (Morgan went straight back into his state right after and his heart rate returned to normal) the three took it up a notch.
What really made the episode was Morgan’s hallucinations. They gave us insight into his mind and forced him to face things that he’d ignored for the majority of his life. While most of the time they were with his dead father, Hank — and we’ll get to that in a moment — it was clear (to me at least) that the first one with him getting home and being greeted by his two kids (that don’t actually exist) and then Savannah getting mad at him for being late after he promised he’d be home for dinner was some serious foreshadowing that he might end up leaving the BAU to be with her and start a family. Especially since last week she had something to tell him and the writers were strongly hinting at her being pregnant. The one with his team also arguing at him for breaking that promise was quite interesting as well.
While the team searches urgently to find him, Morgan’s father helps him through it. At the age of ten, Morgan was a witness to the shooting death of his father, a police officer. Since then Morgan has been carrying around guilt for not escaping the abuse he endured for years after that. He thinks his father would be ashamed of him and he finally gets some closure that his father actually isn’t – but is proud of him for turning that pain around into what he is today. Whether or not Hank was just Morgan’s delusions or actually his father coming to help him when he needed him most is up to the viewer. Either way, it’s beautiful to see and without it Morgan probably wouldn’t have made it, but the fact that he was still mumbling for his father as the put him in the ambulance was heart breaking.
Happy endings don’t always happen with Criminal Minds and with this one I was very pleased that’s what we got. We see him wake up in the hospital three days later to Savannah and Garcia, and asks Savannah to marry him after she confirms she’s pregnant. She of course, says yes. After seeing him hallucinate his death and then actually coding in the ambulance — I don’t think I could handle the real thing. Also Criminal Minds remains one of the shows that doesn’t kill of main characters for their thrill, thank God. Even if you aren’t exactly thrilled will the ending, or maybe you aren’t the biggest Savannah fan, I’m sure you’d prefer that over his death. Personally, I didn’t hate it but at the same time it didn’t make me overjoyed. Morgan is safe (for now) and he’s happy, that’s enough for me.
The cliche ending, which was very similar to JJ and Will in season 7, (I wasn’t a huge fan of that one either) certainly didn’t bring the episode down any. Shemar Moore did an exceptional job acting. Morgan is usually the toughest one and to see him so vulnerable and weak must have been a huge change for him. Thomas Gibson did an amazing job directing as always. It’s no surprise that Breen Frazier wrote this episode. If you feel overwhelmingly emotional or emotionally drained after the episode, it’s likely that that Breen is the one who wrote it.
Questions are still unanswered. Why was Morgan tortured? Who hired them to do it? How is this going to affect Morgan down the road? Is he going to leave to start his family with Savannah? I’m sure we’ll start seeing answers to these in the next episode where Morgan searches for the people in charge of his attack. He isn’t exactly out of the woods yet but at least they’re all aware and ready to protect him this time.