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Criminal Minds, Starring Derek Morgan

[7/18/16 Note: This was a draft post for ages while I tried to find time to finish my thoughts on episode 18. I wanted to preserve the timeline feel so I just made it public today instead of making a new post.]

I actually watched "Derek" back when it aired, and I wasn't sure how much I wanted to say about it, and then when I saw the next one was available I figured I'd roll them both into one post, but there was a hell of a lot more than I bargained for going on in that one. One thing led to another and now it's June, but I'm out of Beyond Borders episodes and this is the easiest crime show to unblock, so onward we march.

11x16, "Derek"
"in which the title and/or Savannah makes me spontaneously convert to calling him Derek"

I feel like it is not really my place to judge this episode -- it was clearly not made for me -- yet I could recognize that there was some damn impressive acting/writing/directing throughout. For the people who want the complete opposite of Reid Pain, I guess, here is Agent Morgan: a man so stoic he can meditate his way beyond the pain of having A STRIP OF FIRE BURNING ON HIS CHEST with little more than a few grunts. And shortly thereafter take out like five guys single-handedly with a combination of muscle, reflexes and deadly bullety accuracy, and only then start to stumble, break down and collapse.

Little thoughts:

  • Donald Glover was his standard level of good, though I was somewhat disappointed he was just a figment of Derek's imagination and not a long-absent rogue CIA agent selling out his own son for personal gain, as the previews led me to believe.

  • This was pretty high concept, and an incredibly tense plot. With my mostly-spoiler-free ways, I wasn't even sure if he would live or die, making this the most high-stakes character-in-danger episode ever. Even now, I am definitely invested to know who the hell would go through all the trouble of trying to kill him in such an elaborate fashion and why.

  • I liked Penelope (complete w/ halo) showing up in Derek's Dream Sequence.

  • Awww @ the shared look & affirming nod between Reid & Penelope as the team rushes off to collect him, leaving her behind to wait. What sweet acknowledgment of the two who are going to hurt like no one else if this goes down badly.

  • I got my personal fix when they played out a scenario in which Derek died and the team rushed in just a little too late. Hey, there's my Reid Pain! With a bonus AU scene afterward in which the team mourns him, which I'm sure will be very useful to fanvidders; thanks for that.

  • I also liked the real version of that scenario, with Reid nailing the killer (two weeks in a row on that now, maybe we wanna cool down) and forlornly trailing the gurney to the ambulance, trying to understand what Morgan is mumbling without realizing that it's not for him

  • Pretty cute hospital ending. Little heavy on the schmaltz. I now feel dumb for not being 5000% certain that she was pregnant in the previous episode.

11x17, Sandman
First of all, WHAT THE DAMN HELL. Did you...did you really just skip forward six months during a 2-week real-time break? In what universe you figure you can just skip six months EVER, much less when four of them aren't summer? I had to shut it off for the night to be Outraged for a while. It's been two and a half actual months and I'm still kind of stewing about it. [edit: It took until I got to the next episode to make sense of the timeline]

On the bright side, this means Derek got to have a perfectly nice wedding as planned, no case interruptions or last-minute disasters. So few law enforcement agents are afforded that opportunity.

Case-wise: Memorable. Suitably creepy dude killing dad, glueing mom's eyes shut and adding sand, and abudcting the kid in an attempt to recreate his own childhood trauma but this time get an apology from the mom within 11 hours. I admired the incredible fortitude of that little girl.

Personal plot wise: the welcome back party was cute -- and this might be the first time ever Hotch has not busted up a party on the spot (he granted them ten whole extra minutes to celebrate). I liked Reid taking a moment to be the support pillar for once (albeit while still continuing to read Morgan wrong, but quickly recovering to lend encouragement about him being a good father)...and then the ending was TO BE CONTINUED AGAIN with Derek being attacked and frankly I think that's the real reason I threw this show out in the backyard to languish until it was all wrapped up for the year. (although I also just heard it ends on a cliffhanger so that's...great. But I also heard it's been renewed, which is great in a non-sarcastic way)

11x18, A Beautiful Disaster
...is not how I would describe this episode. (Or would I? Because it included a lot of disaster, but it was all beautiful.)

This is the greatest Fan Service Episode I have ever seen on this show, so much so that I am too overwhelmed to do it justice. I love that the entire criminal plot ws devoted strictly to capping a season-long arc (hi there Giuseppe Montolo's Angry Daddo) while mixed up in a spectacular hospitalized-loved-one scenario. In fact, scratch that, shotgun-wounded pregnant wife is like three ideal scenarios rolled together into one SUPER-SPECTACULAR scenario; I do not think I could ask for more intense hurt/comfort if I tried (unless I had just had an entire episode of kidnapped/tortured/left for dead almost-husband antics OH NO WAIT WE GOT THAT TOO).

And despite everything that happened with that plot, it got wrapped up way ahead of schedule so we had time for something like an 11-minute Victory Lap & Farewell Tour. First we meet the symbolically cute new baby and unite the family. Then the whole team is like DOUBLE HUG TIEM NOW. And then it's an endless parade of individual goodbyes. Regarding the ones I particularly care about: I loved the tearful parent-to-parent hug with JJ, and yet that was just like an appetizer. Reid's stopping short at the sight and then abruptly running away was the most perfect in-character response I can think of.

And now I'm going to go over here and flop like a beached fish over their conversation, with the super tight/long hugs and the tears and the "I don't want you to stay because I know why you're leaving" and the hair ruffling and literally declaration of brotherhood and the HOLD UP, finally proper verbal out loud "I love you"s and awwww.

(I'm not even going to mock "I can't imagine this room without you" when he literally just got back from being absent from the room for months)

And the final goodbye with Penelope was nice too, not quite as emotionally overwhelming until the end, but then... "You will always be my original babygirl" awww. More tears. More I-love-yous getting thrown around. I really, really love that Morgan's character arc over the course of the series (as best I understand it) has involved so much emotional growth and learning to open up to people, culminating in this big, beautiful grand finale of SENTIMENTAL FEELINGS MUSH.

My only slight qualm is that um...Savannah really ended up with no say in this baby matter, huh? Morgan gets to choose both names AND the godmother? Listen, bud, you're not the only parent, and you're not even the only one who almost died on the way to becoming one.

(actually two qualms: way to undermine Penelope's importance in getting saved for last in the farewell tour only for Spencer to sneak back in afterward, getting the final eye contact and parting go-ahead "it's okay" nod while the rest of the team is distracted. I mean, it made half of my heart happy, but it also made me a little "whyyyyy!")

Anyway. Damn, show, you did real right by this character in a way that few other television shows, much less procedural ones, ever accomplish. We should all feel good that Shemar Moore put in almost 11 very good years on a pretty rigidly structured show, and departed with the same level of care he put into it:

The star explained he considered leaving when his contract was up last season, but that he wanted to make sure his storyline came to a logical conclusion. “Derek Morgan isn’t walking off because Shemar is done with the show,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “Derek is walking away because there’s part of his life that’s missing and that he has an opportunity and he risks that every day, but he needs to be a dad and experience that and be by his wife.”

------------
In way sadder news: I just found out, over 2 months after the fact, that Reed Kelly & Josh Canfield broke up in March. :( I feel so much secondhand hollowed-out sadness right now. I kinda figured this was a possibility, but I also wanted to think they were not high enough on the celebrity food chain for this to be an inevibility. When they made it into engagement and surpassed three years, I figured all was safe and sound. I think it's hitting especially hard because I don't want to hear that a 3-year relationship can fail, and I especially don't want to hear that one which ostensibly remained celibate for so long could fail.

And sad for me in the sense that he appears to have been busy scrubbing every photo including Reed off his instagram. Damn, why didn't I save more of them? And where did this even come from?? As far as I can tell from scant gleanings at the Reed Kelly message boards, they seemed pretty solid as recently as January. Reed has a joking tweet three weeks before The Breakup Tweet about how Henry Cavill is the only replacement he'll accept if Josh ever gets sick of him, yet it sounds like this breakup was Reed's doing, so seriously...??

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