Last season on Criminal Minds, Emily Prentiss died. Yes, her death was merely faked so she could go into hiding, but the impact of that loss was still felt by everyone on the team. Though they have all seemingly moved on from Prentiss’ false demise, I believe there are still issues bubbling under the surface for these characters and I think we will see the continued effect of Emily’s “demise” for some time to come.
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Morgan (Shemar Moore) was one of the hardest hit by Emily’s death and he carried around a lot of guilt when he thought she was gone — guilt that he channeled into a vendetta against Ian Doyle (Timothy V. Murphy), the man who took her life. Though Morgan eventually learned that his friend was still alive and she worked with the team to bring Doyle down, the lingering effects of her death are still fresh in Morgan’s mind.
Earlier this season, we saw Morgan ask Emily if she would let him train her for re-certification because he wanted to make sure he would not have to worry about losing her in the field ever again. Though his concern was understandable, it makes you wonder if he would be able to handle seeing her killed in the line of duty a second time, a risk that all of the agents take whenever they go out into the field.
Another result of Prentiss’ supposed death is the rift it caused between Morgan and Hotch (Thomas Gibson). In last night’s episode, “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy,” Morgan confronted Hotch about the secrets he has kept from the team over the years and Morgan’s belief that Hotch does not trust the rest of the team the way he should.
In truth, Hotch did what he had to do in order to keep Emily safe, but would he have ever told his team the truth if Emily had not returned to help them catch Doyle? Could Hotch have continued to watch his team grieve for their friend indefinitely or do you think he would have eventually let them in on the secret? This must be a question Morgan and the rest of the team have been asking since they learned about Hotch’s involvement in Emily’s ‘death’ and it could cause them to have less faith in Hotch as their team leader.
Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) was also deeply affected by Emily’s loss and he chose to react to her resurrection with anger at those who kept the truth from him, JJ (A.J. Cook) in particular. Though both she and Hotch lied to cover up Emily’s vanishing act, JJ was the one Reid turned to for comfort during the months following Emily’s death and thus, he pushed his anger onto her for keeping quiet while he mourned for his fallen friend.
While it is easy to sympathize with Reid in that situation, it must have been hard for JJ to keep up the lie, knowing how much pain all of her friends were in. Reid and JJ have since made up, but that breach of trust is not something that can be forgotten overnight and I imagine there are still fractures in their relationship due to JJ’s deception, however necessary it was at the time.
The team has suffered many loses over the years (Gideon’s departure, personal attacks from UnSubs, Hayley’s death) but none more severe than Emily’s loss, however brief her absence ultimately was. While they are all thrilled to have Emily back safe and sound, those months of grief cannot be discarded or chalked up to the nature of the job, no matter how much they would all like to pretend it can be.
Who will be the first to admit they are not past what happened? Will we ever learn what happened to Prentiss during her absence? Will Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) and Rossi (Joe Mantegna) get a chance to express how they feel about the whole situation? Or do you think the writers will decide to just move on, now that the team is back together?
(Image courtesy of CBS)