In the season’s 18th episode, “Restoration,” Morgan’s past is re-visited thanks to a case that hits close to home. In part, tonight’s episode is a follow-up to season 2’s “Profiler, Profiled” — arguably one of the show’s best episodes. Will “Restoration” live up to the quality of its predecessor? Read on to find out what the minds behind Criminal Minds have in-store for us this week.

Morgan Faces His Abuser

The team heads to Chicago’s South Side — where Morgan grew up — to investigate the murders of several middle-aged men. It does not take long for this case to relate to Morgan’s past because the Unsub leaves behind a message connected to Carl Buford, the man who abused Morgan as an adolescent. Morgan delves deep into his painful, personal memories to tell the team what they need to know about Buford’s M.O. and the agents realize that the Unsub is most likely another of Buford’s former victims.

When the team hits a road-block in searching for Buford’s victims, Morgan says he needs to see Buford, who is still in prison for serial murder. Morgan points out that he finished his counseling two years ago — something I do not remember Morgan mentioning before now — and Hotch eventually agrees to let Morgan go to the prison. Prior to seeing Buford, Morgan has a flashback of his confrontation with Buford 6 years earlier and that scene from “Profiler, Profiled” is still just as powerful now as it was when the episode aired several years back.

Morgan visits Buford in prison and tells him that the US Attorney will give Buford immunity on the molestation charges if Buford names all of his victims. Buford does his best to get under Morgan’s skin, going so far as to demand a hand-shake in exchange for the list of names. Somehow, Morgan manages to maintain his cool and get the list but we see how much the encounter affected him when he throws up in the bathroom later on.

Familiar Faces Return

This episode features several characters we were introduced to in “Profiler, Profiled”. One of those characters, Rodney Harris, is revealed to be the Unsub in this episode. Rodney was also abused by Buford and the team discovers that Rodney murdered the first victim after learning that he had molested his son. That molestation triggered Rodney’s memories of Buford’s abuse and his other victims served as surrogates for Buford.

When the agents track Rodney down, he is holding his ex-wife and her new partner hostage, in front of his son. Morgan enters the home and manages to talk Rodney down, telling him that he does not want to hurt anyone with his son as a witness. Morgan gives Rodney a moment with his son before taking Rodney into custody.

An Apology

Morgan’s former nemesis Stan Gordinski returns in this episode and works with the team. Gordinski seems less hostile toward Morgan this time around and expresses remorse for his attitude toward Morgan in the past. When he learns that Morgan was not Buford’s only victim, Gordinski is shocked and he has to reevaluate how he handled things over the years.

After they arrest Rodney, Gordinski tells Morgan that he got it wrong all those years ago. He protected Buford and arrested Buford’s victims based on assumptions he made about them. Gordinski apologizes to Morgan and while the gesture is genuine, it does not erase everything Gordinski put Morgan through over the years.

A Moment of Closure

After Rodney’s arrest, Morgan overhears reporters asking if the abuse is what drove Rodney to kill and Morgan makes a statement to the contrary. Morgan explains that most victims of molestation do not grow up to be offenders or criminals. He knows this because he is also one of Buford’s victims. Morgan says that despite the pain, isolation and anger that often follows the abuse, the victim can get through it and it can make them stronger. Morgan’s statement is a message not just to all of Buford’s victims but to all victims of sexual abuse.

When Buford’s fellow inmates hear Morgan’s statement, they react as expected. The episode ends with Morgan learning that Buford is dead and we see an incredible range of emotions pass over his face as he realizes that his abuser cannot hurt anyone ever again.

Like “Profiler, Profiled”, this episode shines the spotlight on Shemar Moore — a good actor and solid performer in general. But whenever Moore is given material of this depth and quality, he knocks it out of the park. It would be easy to go over the top in a lot of these scenes but instead, Moore delivers with precision and a quiet subtlety that makes it impossible to take your eyes off him. His performance is so raw and real, he elevates the already-high quality of the material and puts this episode on par with “Profiler, Profiled” as one to remember.

Were you pleased that the show revisited Morgan’s past like this? Did you appreciate all the call-backs to “Profiler, Profiled”? How would this episode rank on your list of favorites? Hit the comments section and let us know your thoughts.

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Megan Cole

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV