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What Really Drove Criminal Minds Hitman John Bradley To A Life Of Crime

The "Criminal Minds" Season 11 episode "Derek" kickstarts a three-episode arc meant to write Shemar Moore's character Derek Morgan off the series. He'd been around since the first episode, as both the heart and the tough guy of the group. However, while he's known for dating around and his fiercely loyal, flirtatious relationship with Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), Morgan gets a serious girlfriend, Savannah (Rochelle Aytes), in Season 9. Their relationship — and an almost deadly threat — are key to his exit from the BAU.

In "Derek," Savannah teases that she has some good news for when Morgan comes home, but before he can make it to his car, he's kidnapped by a group of men. They take him to a remote house, tie him up, and brutally torture him in a scene that many fans think goes too far. Meanwhile, Morgan retreats into a mind palace of sorts — a grassy expanse with his late father helping him survive the ordeal. The torturers take a risk, though, by untying him and allow him to wriggle out of their grasp and take them out. Unfortunately, Morgan is left severely injured, alone, and with their "cleanup crew" on the way. That "crew" winds up being just one person: the hitman John Bradley (Jonathan Cake).

Bradley is a short-lived villain in "Criminal Minds" history, but the episode spends much of its time trying to unravel the motivations and lives of these kidnappers, so the audience gets a fair amount of information about them by the end. However, Bradley's story is told in rapid-fire Garcia speak while the audience worries over Morgan's fate, so in case you missed it, here's the rundown of why he did this.

Bradley had the right set of skills

The episode's climax is a tense moment when it's unclear who will get to Morgan first: the man trying to kill him (John Bradley), or the BAU, desperate to save him. Bradley comes in dramatically, with a British accent, and taunts him while they scuffle. But before he gets a killing blow in, Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) appears and shoots him.

It's just before this that we get a rundown of Bradley's history: He served in England's military for a while, as part of the Royal Marines, before applying to be a part of the British Army's elite special forces unit called the Special Air Service. The SAS, symbolized by the winged knife the kidnappers had tattoos of, deals in things like counter-terrorism and hostage rescue, but is very secretive. Bradley, it turns out, was rejected from the SAS and then dishonorably discharged from the Marines, for an unknown reason. Between then and the tense episode in Season 11, Bradley became a freelance contractor — not for fixing sinks or retiling bathrooms but for crimes.

Garcia remarks that no one in the SAS has the SAS sigil and motto — "Who dares wins" — tattooed on them because their enlistment is classified, but people dishonorably discharged from the Royal Marines do get it inked. This, combined with Bradley's turn toward kidnapping and torture, suggests he has some lingering resentment toward the British Army over his rejection and expulsion. It's never fully explained why he took the job from Chazz Montolo to target Morgan, but it seems he had a set of specialized skills, a disagreeable attitude, and a sudden bout of unemployment that lent themselves perfectly to a life of crime.