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The Hotchner Scene On Criminal Minds That Went Too Far

Agent Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) is one of the stalwarts of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) who is known to "Criminal Minds" fans for his steely personality and dedication to his work. Getting unknown subjects (unsubs) off the streets is one of the biggest driving forces in his life, one that even comes before his marriage. However, sometimes this single-minded dedication leads him to make inappropriate decisions while on the case.

The Season 11 episode "Hostages" features one of the more disturbing crimes the BAU ever faced, and that's saying quite a lot. It concerns an unsub named Michael Clark Thompson (Daniel Roebuck), a kidnapper who has been holding several girls hostage for years. When one of his victims escapes, the BAU is able to track down Thompson, who is on the road with another victim, Amelia (Amelia Rose Blaire). However, when the BAU tries to get Amelia to tell them where the rest of Thompson's victims are being held, they find that she has developed severe Stockholm syndrome and believes Thompson to be her father and protector.

When Thompson himself refuses to let any details slip, Hotchner makes an extremely questionable move (it wouldn't be the first time the show got something wrong) to try and get the information he needs.

Hotchner makes a shocking decision during a sensitive case

While interrogating Thompson to try and figure out where his other victims are being kept, Hotchner faces a grim prospect. Thompson tells him that the other girls have a limited supply of food and water, but that he won't reveal their location unless he's able to cut a cushy plea deal to ensure that he'll serve minimum time in prison. He also tells Hotchner that he wants to be allowed to see Amelia in person, which Hotchner agrees to.

It's understandable that Hotchner is eager to find out where the other girls are being kept, as time is clearly a factor. However, it's hard to justify the decision to allow Thompson to spend time with one of his victims after she has already been rescued. When Hotchner facilitates the meeting, he even lets Thompson hug Amelia. She is still under the belief that he's her father, but that doesn't seem like a good enough justification for allowing this upsetting reunion to take place, especially as psychiatrists are already working with her to try and get her to understand the truth of her situation and reconnect with her real parents.

During the meeting, Amelia has a flashback to Thompson's abuse and breaks free of the psychological hold he has on her. Furthermore, a piece of information she drops while speaking to him helps the team find where the other girls are being kept. But both of those things might have happened regardless of whether Hotchner allowed Thompson to be in the same room with Amelia again. While the situation ended up resolving in as happy of an ending as was possible, Hotchner granting Thompson his wish feels like an irresponsible decision that took things way too far.