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The Prentiss Scene On Criminal Minds That Went Too Far

"Criminal Minds" was no stranger to intense, frightening, and downright disturbing scenes when it was still on the air. The police procedural crime drama supplied us with 15 seasons of action — and a rumored upcoming 16th — as the agents of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) worked to understand the minds of violent offenders in the hope that their psychological insights might help bring these killers to justice. Though the cast changed over the years, fans came to know and love the team, which usually included agents Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson), Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (A.J. Cook), Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), and Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), among a few other part-timers.

One of the later additions to the BAU was Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster), the supervisory special agent who replaced Elle Greenaway (Lola Glaudini) in Season 2. Brewster's Prentiss took awhile to meld with the rest of the established team. Her political connections initially rubbed Hotch the wrong way, and her very presence at the BAU even threatened his job at one point, though she ultimately proved herself and won everyone over with her brilliant insights and courageous action in the field. Prentiss is beloved among the fandom for her intelligence, leadership, and general butt-kicking abilities — she arguably ranks as the team's second-best unsub tackler, right after Shemar Moore's Derek Morgan. Despite all those respectable achievements, however, she definitely had her fair share of cringey moments on the long-running procedural.

Let's face it: "Criminal Minds" probed some dark and disturbing territory, crossing the line with fans on more than one occasion. Although Prentiss had her hands in plenty of these kinds of cringey moments, it's actually an act of deception that left the viewers feeling most betrayed. Let's take a look at a Prentiss scene that went too far for even the most hardened fans.

Fans didn't like that time Prentiss faked her death

In Season 6, Prentiss learns that a violent fugitive named Ian Doyle has escaped from prison and is likely looking to kill her. Doyle sends an ominous flower to Prentiss' door and leaves a creepy voicemail on her phone, which prompts her to go into hiding. We discover that while Prentiss was working for Interpol, she was part of a team who worked to capture terrorists. Doyle was personally affected by her efforts when his son was apparently murdered by the group. We also learn that Prentiss carried out a relationship with Doyle that served as part of her cover, making him a fool two times over and breaking his psychotic heart in the process. As Bill aptly points out in "Kill Bill Vol. 2," "There are consequences to breaking the heart of murdering bastard."

The season escalates when Prentiss decides to go after Doyle alone, since he's started murdering people connected with his Interpol case. She eventually tracks him down, only to be abducted, held hostage, and tortured by Doyle so he can extemporize at length about his motivations and exposit a bit of deep Prentiss history. When he realizes Prentiss staged his son's death, he becomes enraged and starts attacking her just as the BAU reaches Doyle's hideout. Doyle stabs Prentiss in the stomach before disappearing, and the BAU finds Prentiss apparently bleeding to death on the floor.

The BAU holds a funeral for Prentiss — only she's not really dead. It turns out: Prentiss faked her death to keep her team safe, since Doyle was still on the loose, and the only other agents who were in on the ruse were Hotch and JJ. The show deploys quite a bit of handwaving to explain just how the trio pulled off this deception, especially considering the fact that several members of a crack investigative team like the BAU were fooled. To even accept the successful ruse and Prentiss' equally unlikely return after Doyle is dealt with in Season 7, "Criminal Minds" requires an unusually high level of suspension of disbelief — and that's part of what irked all the fans.

Prentiss was downright cold to her team

The other part of this storyline that makes fans cringe is the effect Prentiss' deception has on the rest of the BAU, which any long-time viewer will tell you is pretty much a family. 

Her unwitting teammates are rightfully traumatized, and Reid even takes a few episodes to get over the lie after she returns to the group, though they ultimately patch things up. Perhaps Prentiss, Hotch, and JJ were justified in wanting to protect the rest of the BAU from Doyle, a proven killer with no qualms about targeting law enforcement. Considering all the trauma this team had already endured by Season 6, however, forcing them to face the death of a beloved team member likely wasn't worth the cost. Let's not forget that by this point in the series, Gideon (Mandy Patinkin) has already left, and Reid, who takes Prentiss' betrayal the hardest, has had to overcome PTSD after being captured and held by serial killer Tobias Hankel (James Van Der Beek). The last thing this crew needed was a dead Emily Prentiss on their collective conscience, and for a few in-show months, that's what she gave them.

The whole storyline went a bit too far, and is still one that fans hate to this day.