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The Disturbing Criminal Minds Episode That Upsets Canadian Fans

The agents of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) on CBS' hit crime procedural Criminal Minds deal with some of the most dark and disturbing cases of any crime-fighting squad on TV. Over the course of the show, we've seen human marionettes, child abductors straight out of a twisted fairy tale, and an unknown subject (unsub) who used rabies-infected victims to kill for him. And considering there are literally hundreds of episodes in the series, that's a lot of disturbing content!

It should come as no surprise, then, to hear that the show hasn't always gotten it right when it comes to the sensitive subject-matter they frequently handle. There are moments on the show that haven't aged well, and then there are episodes that really just cross the line in their portrayal of the cases and subjects at hand. One storyline in particular managed to not just drop the ball with how it handled a murderer with intellectual disabilities, but also with how it portrayed the way law enforcement is handled in the Great White North.

The two-episode event "To Hell ... and Back" is regarded as one of the most disturbing stories the series has ever done due to its high body count and extremely grim circumstances. Add cultural ignorance to the storyline's list of sins. There's one moment in particular from this grim-fest that had Canadian fans on Reddit angry over how their country was portrayed.

Criminal Minds fans find 'To Hell ... and Back' to be problematic for many reasons

In "To Hell ... and Back," the BAU team is trying to solve the mystery of who is abducting at-risk people from the streets of Detroit and bringing them across the border to Canada. Their investigation eventually leads them to the Ontario farm of Mason Turner (Garret Dillahunt). Once there, the team learns that Mason has full-body paralysis and has been making his brother Lucas (Paul Rae), who has an intellectual disability, abduct people and harvest their spinal fluid as part of Mason's attempt to find a cure for his condition.

After a long investigation, the team tracks down Lucas, who is holding the latest victim hostage in a cellar. The BAU agents get the victim to safety and almost immediately afterward, a tactical unit from the local police storm into the cellar and shoot Lucas to death.

The way the show handled the character of Lucas didn't sit well with Redditor u/weewoowah36. They started a thread on the subject, in which they criticized the BAU team for acting "aggressive and mean to them despite them saying that the unsub ... doesn't fully understand what they're doing." They went on to add, "Like instead of pointing guns at them and shouting/ pushing them to the floor etc why don't they speak to them more softly and sensitively? Seems really cruel and unnecessary."

Another user, u/queen-but-uncrowned, pointed out that in the case of Lucas "it was the SWAT team that shot him," and that Agent Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) was yelling at them to stop. This didn't prove much of an excuse, however. The show's choice to have the Canadian police force immediately use lethal force against Lucas didn't sit right with one user, who felt it seriously misrepresented how things are done up there.

Some believe the episode misrepresented Canadian law enforcement

Responding to u/queen-but-uncrowned, user u/mccabebabe had strong words for the way Lucas' death played out: "don't even get me started on that bulls***. Canadian police were so terribly misrepresented in this s***hole of an episode ... "

After being asked to elaborate, u/mccabebabe went deep into what they perceived to be inaccuracies about the depiction. They began by noting, "The show portrayed the SWAT team as shooting up poor Lucas [Turner]. That is just NOT how it's done here. They knew he was unarmed, and that he was mentally challenged [sic] and they just would not have gone in there guns ablazing like a bunch of trigger happy yahoos. That made me so effin' angry."

They went on to add, "My husband was a cop before he retired. 22 years on the force and he only ever drew his gun twice, never shot it ... This crappy episode made it look like the [Ontario Provincial Police] are a bunch of hot dogging cowboys who can't wait to empty their clips at the first available opportunity."

As for what actually would have happened, u/mccabebabe believes, "They would've spoken to him; they would have tried to talk him down, assure him he wasn't in any danger etc." While police brutality is a problem in Canada, especially for indigenous communities (via Yellowhead Institute), it sounds like u/mccabebabe's personal experience led them to question how the show portrayed this particular set of circumstances.

Considering how many elements of the story fans of the series found objectionable, it looks like "To Hell ... and Back" is in the running for most controversial Criminal Minds episode ever.