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The Morgan Scene On Criminal Minds That Went Too Far

The CBS crime procedural "Criminal Minds," which ran for 15 seasons from 2005 to 2020, made a huge impact on fans and is still popular even now. Starring Matthew Gray Gubler as Dr. Spencer Reid, Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia, A.J. Cook as Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, Joe Mantegna as David Rossi, and more, "Criminal Minds" follows a BAU unit of the FBI as they hunt down serial killers. Throughout the show's long run, one member of the team became a fan-favorite for many viewers. Derek Morgan, played by Shemar Moore, is a handsome, strong, and extremely talented agent who has close friendships with his whole team, but especially Garcia.

While Morgan is usually the bright, laughing team member on the scene, working as an FBI agent makes it impossible for him to stay happy all the time, given the horror that they see on a daily basis. On top of that, a lot of the cases get personal and can be very dangerous, both to the agents and their loved ones, so the dark storylines are to be expected. Even so, there are a few moments throughout "Criminal Minds" that even the most loyal of fans have an issue with.

For Morgan, one such moment happens to be in Season 11, episode 16, "Derek," when Morgan is kidnapped on his way home from the store. But it's what comes next that really pushes the limit of what both Morgan, and fans, can handle.

Fans thought Morgan's torture was too much

In "Derek," Morgan is kidnapped by a group of men who string him up to torture and kill him. The men appear to be strangers, and the reason behind their actions is unclear for a few more episodes. After beating up and restraining Morgan, the group's leader, Edgar Solomon (Charles Mesure), puts white phosphorus on the agent's chest. As the material is highly flammable, Solomon then heats up a knife in the fire before placing it on Morgan's skin, causing the phosphorus to burn an extremely painful line down his chest. From the beginning of this agonizing experience, Morgan goes into a dissociative state to get through the pain. The episode features interactions in his mind with his dead father, played by Danny Glover, who helps him survive the ordeal. In the end, Morgan is able to overpower and kill the men, before finding a phone and getting a message to his team. 

Although the storyline with Morgan's father really touched fans, the scene with the white phosphorus, and the overall story of his kidnapping, felt unneeded. When the unsub is revealed a few episodes later, it's a man named Giuseppe Montolo (Robert Neary) who blames Morgan for his son's death. Compared to other "Criminal Minds" villains, Montolo is quite a forgettable villain and his motive feels boring and impersonal, out of place with of the many complex unsubs featured on the show. While looking back on the episode now, fans on Reddit even have trouble recalling the reason behind the torture, questioning "if there was even really a point to begin with." Thankfully, Morgan recovers and moves on from the experience, but not before Montolo does a bit more damage, leading to Morgan's departure from the show.