The latest episode of Criminal Minds is a study in mind control and how in the face of adversity, you can use disassociation to “save” yourself.
At the end of the previous episode, Derek Morgan is kidnapped just as he reaches home. He’s on the phone with his girlfriend, Savannah, and she’s about to tell him some good news when he is attacked.
Derek, the episode which aired Wednesday, March 2, picks up with Derek being unloaded from crates, and strapped to beams via cables. A team of six men in an isolated location stands by taking orders from a man leading the show.
When the leader orders them to “wake him,” they realize Derek is awake but is disassociating himself from the pain that is about to be inflicted on him. After two similar dreams, one involving children, the other involving the team, but ending with Danny Glover sitting in his dining room, Derek’s torture begins with some body shots and his conversation with Danny Glover begins in earnest.
He needs a hint to find out who he is, discovers it’s his Dad, and with the encouragement of his Dad, begins a cognitive interview on himself to discover who and why he’s in this predicament and how he’s going to get out of it.
His next torture is nasty – some kind of flammable gel is applied down the center of his chest and lit, and when that doesn’t phase him to the delight of the leader he orders Derek to be stripped. They cut him loose and as he falls to the ground and his shirt is cut off, Derek makes his break, grabbing one of the guys as a shield and begins shooting at the rest, killing and/or wounding all of them.
Meanwhile Garcia and JJ take Savannah home to pack a bag and do some cyber scouting and Garcia discovers an Intranet in their wireless router. It opens up a page about the CIA which causes JJ to get on the phone immediately to a contact of hers.
While searching for a cell phone on one of the six, now assumed dead, Derek finds one, but it displays “No Signal.” He finds an interesting tattoo and discovers the leader is still alive and encourages him to talk, but all he does is mutter name and serial number gibberish. He realizes he isolated and has no way of contacting anyone to help him.
He and his Dad are now standing next to a body of water, and Derek asks him “why are here?” His father says, “you created this space in your head when you were 15.” “I don’t want to talk about what happened when I was 15,” Derek tells him. Dad tells him he’s very proud of him, which floors Derek. “Proud!” “Yes, Derek,” his Dad says, “Proud you turned your pain into your greatest asset.”
Soon Penelope shows up in his dissassociated state, teetering around in heels among the grass and dirt with a furry halo wired to her, appealing to Derek for help so she can do something to find him. Nothing comes to him immediately, but he remembers the tattoo and in the real world, JJ has returned to headquarters with a picture of a six man team that hires itself out to the highest bidder. Hotch tells Garcia to focus in on the tattoo and they have a clue.
Is this a Walking Dead episode?!?…. no but Derek has heard one of the survivors talking on a satellite phone and when he tries to get it away from him the guy swallows the sim card and Derek’s only option is to gut the guy with a knife and get the card …. which he does. When he gets the phone working it says “enter password” and he proceeds to throw a temper tantrum and just like our friend Garcia his Dad says “let me know when you’re done throwing your temper tantrum” and continues smoking his cigar.
Derek calms himself and says, “okay Dad. Hey is that a Dominican? At work we had this Day of the Dead thing and I left it for you,” and Danny Glover takes a puff and says, “well, I got it.”
Still he’s really stressed as he plays with the phone, his only chance and his fear takes over and briefly they show the aftermath of his death … his photo up on the FBI wall, his team solemnly standing in front of it. As he continues to play with the phone he finds the redial screen and with his Dad talking him through it, he redials the first number ….
Which gets Garcia incredibly excited hoping someone answers it, and someone does, sending everything into motion …. Morgan talking to the man who had him kidnapped, the team heading out to rescue him on helicopters, Garcia going to tell Savannah they know where he is and they’re going to get him.
So the guy shows up and tries to finish the job. Kicks Derek down, takes the knife away and stabs him in the hand. Derek is calling to his Dad, wondering where he is, and Derek plays a little possum so Reed can sneak in the front door and shoot the guy.
But it doesn’t end there. Derek is rescued. So go check OnDemand and watch it for yourself. You’ll really enjoy Danny Glover’s performance as Derek Morgan’s dad.
Thomas Gibson (Hotch) directs this episode.