On tonight's episode of Criminal Minds, the team travels to Arizona in search of a kidnapper and Morgan (Shemar Moore) taps into his traumatic past to help a young victim.
Worse than PTSD
After a young boy escapes from some kind of long-term imprisonment and another boy is reported missing, the BAU heads to Arizona to investigate. The surviving boy has been deeply traumatized to the point where he refuses to eat or speak. Morgan tries to connect to the boy in order to get him to open up and he responds enough to let JJ (A.J. Cook) know that his name is Angel. Morgan continues to work with Angel and seems to be making progress, but when Angel is left alone, he tries to kill himself. Luckily, Morgan and JJ get there in time to save him.
After news about the boy is released, a woman named Samantha Allen tells the police she remembers a boy being held in chains when she was a kid, but the woman is spooked by a photo of her father before she can explain. When Rossi (Joe Mantegna) and Prentiss (Paget Brewster) track her down, Sam says she cannot help them and that her father is a good man, but she shows up at the police station later on.
Sam had a flash of memory when she saw the news report about the boy and Prentiss tries to walk her through that memory. As a little girl, Sam saw a boy in chains trying to escape from the trunk of a car and with Emily's help, she remembers seeing the same boy in the basement of her childhood home. Emily thinks Sam can recover more of her memories if she re-visits the basement in her old house and Sam agrees to try. Unfortunately, the basement does not bring back any memories.
Morgan Discusses His Trauma
After Angel's suicide attempt, Morgan decides the only way to get through to Angel is to tell the boy things about his own past. Morgan tells Angel about his childhood history of abuse, something we learned about in the season 2 episode 'Profiler, Profiled'. Morgan says he felt ashamed about what happened to him and he thought about taking his own life, but he never once let his abuser win.
Morgan promises Angel that they will take down Angel's abuser together and Angel starts talking. Angel does not recognize any of the men in the pictures JJ shows him because the UnSub always kept Angel in the dark, but he tells the agents that one of the things the UnSub did to him was to bite him. It turns out the J.B. Allen had his teeth re-capped several years ago.
How It Plays Out
Prentiss is convinced that Sam's father is the UnSub, so she asks Sam more questions about her father's behavior over the years. Her father had extreme mood swings and would often give her gifts. As it turns out, the gifts were trophies from the abductions and Prentiss is right that Allen is the UnSub.
Sam remembers that her father used to give kids' rides on the back-hoe at his construction sites and the team realizes that is how Allen found his victims. Sam recalls a particular construction site her father would take her to over the years and the team realizes that is where Allen has taken Billy, his latest victim. The team arrives just in time to save Billy's life and Morgan catches Allen as he tries to flee. Allen is arrested and Billy and Angel are reunited with their families.
The Things that Shape Us
The only real team moments in this episode are between JJ and Morgan. JJ tells Morgan that she knows how hard it must have been for him to open up about his past and that she is sorry for what happened to him. Once again, Morgan says that his past is the reason he is working at the BAU. This is another great episode for Shemar Moore.
(Image courtesy of CBS)