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Criminal Minds Review: The Morgan Principle

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On Criminal Minds this week, Morgan was a little bothered when a girl he's been seeing suddenly bugged out in the middle of the night to go to her job. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Kind of beside the point, wasn't it?  

How about: Morgan has a new main squeeze! Her name is Savannah, she's drop dead gorgeous and they've been seeing each other for a few months.

Girlfriend Issues

On Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 8, the BAU (including Derek Morgan, after he walked his girlfriend's pug) investigated the murders of a group of people at a diner, all shot by a young teen who was then himself killed by an off duty cop. Awhile later, another young teen blew himself up in a car in the middle of an intersection, killing a traffic cop in the process.  

The team eventually figured out there was a Pied Piper who was leading the cult of kidnapped kids and using them in a revenge plot against the Chicago PD. A long time prior, the Unsub and his partner had been kicked off of the force for brutalizing suspects when trying to get them to confess.  

They were turned in by a rookie cop named Reyes, who years later became the ultimate target for the Unsub.

The cult-like dynamic of the Unsub's group included a young woman who - after being kidnapped six years ago and brainwashed - entered the precinct wearing a suicide vest and holding a dead man's switch. In an amazing act of precision that can only be accomplished on a TV show, Morgan shot her dead while JJ tackled her and held the switch closed, thereby saving everyone.  

In real life, odds are that they'd all be decorating the walls of the precinct.  

As cases go, this one was milder and less of a wild dark fantasy than what we're used to seeing. As such, it was more believable (except for the dead man's switch deal) than the usual fare. 

On the plus side, it's important to note that the case itself was built upon the Patty Hearst event of 1974. Hearst was kidnapped and subsequently fell victim to what's known as the Stockholm Syndrome - where a captive strongly identifies with her captor. In the case of Hearst, she identified so strongly with the people who kidnapped her that she robbed a bank with them.   

The premise for this case was therefore quite believable, as was the behavior of the captured teen - Daniel Morrison, played quite convincingly by actor A.J. Achinger - who would only give his name, rank, and "serial number."

The more fascinating story had to do with Morgan's romance. It was interesting to see him fall for a woman who, like himself, was passionate about saving people. And just like him, she prioritized her job over almost everything else. Funny how it took Garcia - the girl he's flirted with for all these years - to point this out to him.  

In past episodes, we've watched members of the BAU get a little uncomfortable with the ongoing cutesiness between Morgan and Garcia - especially when other outsiders were watching or listening to their banter. 

Here, we finally got to see that their dynamic is all play, none of which is even remotely serious. They are best friends who've found a unique sort of playful corner where they can be warm and completely honest with each other.  

Final notes:

What did you think of the case of the week? How about Morgan and Savannah? Can a relationship where both parties prioritize their jobs over everything else work? When JJ rescued the last teen victim, was she internalizing her own son - who happened to look a little like him?  

Review

Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 (44 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter

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Interesting enough case. I like the way Morgan/Shemar Moore and J.J./A.J. Cook play so well off one another. She's really filled in the void left by Prentiss, which brings me to my one complaint: Having watched the show since its pilot, I have to wonder when Agent Blake's relevance to this team is going to be revealed. Her weak dialogue tends to be throwaway lines, her performance often leaves her looking afraid and she seldom adds anything to any of her scenes other than distraction or restating the obvious. She's a poor fit to a team that already divides enough of its screen time between characters who are actually interesting.

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I am not feeling this season maybe it because season 8 was just so perfect

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These back-stories to the characters have hardly been riveting, so far the one-dimensional characters haven’t progressed from season 1. I can’t think what Morgan back-story will be, it bad enough we have to watch the angry black man stereotype that writers subject us too weekly, with Morgan character.

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@ Dan

We know a lot about Morgan. He saw his cop-father being murdered in front of him. He was then abused sexually by Carl Buford at a rec center. I agree that he sometimes comes across as stereotype but if you had watched the show you would know there is a lot more to him and all the other caracters.

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@ Hege

@ Hege - Are you sure you watch the show? Out the blue the writers decide to make out Morgan was abused as a child in season 2, yet all his characteristic play on every black man stereotype. He a player with the ladies, his inappropriate behaviour in the office with Gracia, and they way he is always the one questioning and being argumentative with Hotch. The whole to cool for school, character Morgan plays is based on every stereotype. I hardly think the writers have built in any characteristic of a person from an abusive background. As for Hotch, I agree his character is definitely exhausted, yet the only person to blame for that is AJ Cook. Due to her pregnancy the writers had to write Will in and basically give her the same background story as Hotch, FBI agent struggling with work and family commitments. Having two characters with the same attributes within their back-stories makes the writers’ job harder. The best thing that could happen for the show is for Hotch to take the Chief section job, because so far the completion between JJ and Hotch background stories has offered little interest to the viewers.

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@ Dan+

People who has been abused often has a lot of different sexual partners but struggle to settle down with one. They have often issuses with commitment. I think all the characters have good backstories which expalin why they are who they are. For me JJ is the characters with the least consistent backstory. I liked her better befor she became a profiler. I found it weired the worked full time at the pentagon for a year and became a profiler in that time. She has changes way too much.

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@ Dan+

"...the only person to blame is A.J. Cook." Yikes! A writer worth their salt, especially a team of professional writers should have no struggle constructing two differing backgrounds for a male and female characters -- especially on a series that's spear-headed by a woman. As for Morgan being a stereotype, he might have been in the first season but he's evolved beyond the "action man" of the team. He's a different type of leader and a fine asset to the team as he's matured.

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@ Hege

Of all the male characters, Morgan has progressed and evolved more than any of them. It's a shame he isn't running the team as Thomas Gibson's deadpan performance has become as exhausted as he looks.

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@ Jase

Why can’t AJ Cook be held responsible, the show format was to write crime stories not make it about the characters. The characters background stories were suppose to be a 5/10-minute scene out of a 40-minute show. So it didn’t warrant the writers to put so much effort into two character having similar back-stories. Since season 6 all we had is drama around AJ Cook. Tantrums about her being kicked off the show. Then the drama about bring her back and since she has been back the endless write up from the writers of how JJ character is going to be improved. Not to mention that is because of AJ the show lost two good show runners like Ed Bernero and Chris Mundy and replaced with Erica Messer, who’s previous work has been O.C and Charmed. Erica hasn’t got the skills to take over on a crime show, as this is not her genre and it reflects on the show. The audience does not need to know about the characters personal lives as it has no bearing on the cases. @ Hege – I don’t think the writers have ever brought Morgan being abused into his relationship commitment phobia. In fact if that was the case when they introduced Tamara as Morgan love interested they could have explored it then.

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I like the way this is going with the backstories I want to know more about all the characters past lives I think they should bring back the actress that Reid had a crush on a few years ago

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@ fatima padarath

Just needed to defend TG's portrayal of Hotch, and leader of the team. The day Morgan comes near that brand of acting will be a frosty Friday in H. You found it easy to defend Morgan's moody episodes because of his backstory. And Hotch didn't have any tragedies to face? In the least Hotch never acts the victim. Thank the powers that be that they are returning to the powerful, strong Hotch that we love.

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@ Tammi

Of the BAU team, Hotch is the tragic hero. If a bad thing happens, it tends to happen to Hotch. The car explosion, the stabbing, the divorce and murder of his wife, the struggle to know his son and not become his father. If ever a character deserved a break, it's Hotch.

Terrie

So, the ongoing character backstories are why we are not getting a season long case like last season...........I'm not exactly sure I'm liking it. This is one of my top shows and while I do like the personal element of the characters thrown in, I do like for there to be something ongoing that keeps me coming back for more........ The reviewer was spot on in saying this wasn't one of their darker episodes..........wasn't even a top 10 one........

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The case was a cool one, and even thought the 'dead man's switch' thing was a little unrealsitic, i still loved it. I thought they were going to show JJ stuck holding it down until bomb squad got there, but i guess i was wrong...still my fave part of the ep. Something is definitely going on in her home life. They keep focusing on her sister's suicide and she seems to always be around when abuse is brought up...maybe her dad??? Nice to see Morgan getting a love interest. She really is him in heels :P This season is certainly going on the list as one of my favs. I'm reeeeally diggin' the personal side of it, and the fact that JJ is going to be a victim in the end of 199th ep/200th has me on the edge of my seat. Ive been waiting for this whole 'JJ in jeopardy' since season 1!

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Somethings been going on in JJ's home life. Look back over the episodes this season and it's almost like the writers are painting Will to be a threat. It's been subtle, but I noticed it in the case where Reid asked if she was okay because of her shift in body language when they were discussing women being abused. Similar instances have cropped up a couple of times since then.

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I didn't feel like this was a strong one

Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 8 Quotes

The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse - Edmund Burke.

Blake

Morgan: How was your day? Save some lives?
Savannah: Mm hm. We both did.
Morgan: Yeah we did. So, what do you got in mind for the next twenty minutes?

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