This was, hands down, the best hour of TV I've seen this year - and certainly the best of Criminal Minds Season 9.
It had everything: violence, a corrupt police department headed up by the most evil unsub ever, heartbreak, two important revelations... and some heart-stopping moments when we weren't sure whether Reid was going to live.
Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 24 picked up where we left off at the end of last week's installment, with Reid and Morgan both shot, the dead and injured laying where they fell and bullets still flying back and forth.
It didn't take the team long to put two and two together and realize that Preacher Mills wasn't the mastermind behind all of the violence, and that the second in command of the police force - Owen McGregor - was the actual unsub.
And that's where things really picked up.
A.J. Cook alluded to a bit of this in our interview with her. She also said there would be some revelations and that a major change would happen for one of the characters.
At the end of Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 23, I guessed that the unsub was a member of the police department and that he had made the first shot which began the gun fight with Preacher Mills.
I also guessed that one of the BAU would end up being severely injured in the shoot out and that it was probably Reid. Maybe he would end up partially paralyzed, much like Tim McGee's girlfriend Delilah on NCIS.
Later on in the week, when Joe Mantegna tweeted that one of the team would be leaving, I thought for sure it mean Reid would not survive.
It is such a relief to be wrong, once in a while.
Blake and JJ's intense worry was keenly evident as they waited for news on Reid's condition. It seemed surprising that when JJ tearfully told Rossi that she had been scared, he didn't get up and hug her. I would have.
It was impossible to watch this episode and not be completely blown away by the terrific moves from Garcia! Of course, we realize that she is just not the badass type and that what she had to do to protect Reid was just not in her nature.
Yet, she rose to the occasion and blew that guy away like he was yesterday's leftovers. Reid's focus on the fact that she saved his life brought her quickly back into focus. What a great team they make!
Now we need to talk about the two team revelations:
The first was Rossi's explanation to Blake about the ending of his first marriage. What I liked about it was that it was entirely logical and believable that Rossi would consider saving lives to be a much bigger priority than smaller things like remembering anniversaries.
You could see Blake taking it all in, too, as she realized the same could quite easily happen to her. Saving innocent people from vicious killers is huge - it would take a very determined, structured and disciplined person to assign the proper priority to things (yes, we're looking at you, Hotch).
On a side note, maybe that's why we're not seeing much movement on the romance front for Rossi lately. He knows himself too well.
The second revelation came from Blake herself.
We did a double-take when Blake was trying to keep Reid alive by telling him to keep his eyes open - but kept calling him "Ethan." This was not lost on Reid, as he later asked her who Ethan was.
It seems she's begun to see Reid as a kind of surrogate son - something I certainly didn't see coming. We know they have a lot in common, are super-smart and are able to view evidence perhaps more dispassionately than anyone else on the team. Reid being shot startled her way too much.
The memory of her son, and the discussion about Rossi's failed marriage, put the straw on the camel's back for Blake. It was enough, and now she's left the team.
Some will see that as a good thing, but I see it as sad.
- You have to wonder how Derek Morgan now sees Garcia. She kicked some major butt in this episode, and has proven her mettle. She's not just a pretty face anymore. She's a momma bear like no other.
- I couldn't help grinning at Hotch's thousand-yard stare when that corrupt deputy grabbed JJ's arm. Even after he let her go, Hotch's dead-eyed stare remained. You could almost hear him saying "come on. Let's go. I dare you."
- McGregor was pure evil. When he learned about Rossi's escape, he shot the two deputies dead, and then shot the police radio for good measure. Someone obviously messed with his morning's Cornflakes.
- The song that was playing at the end of the episode as Blake left Reid's apartment was "Maybe" by Lily Kershaw.
Let us know your thoughts on this finale.
What do you think about Blake leaving the BAU?
Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter.