Going into the Criminal Minds season 9 finale, we knew one thing thanks to the promo: One member of the team would be saying goodbye forever. With the first part ending with both Morgan and Reid shot (though Reid’s bullet to the neck was much worse than the bullets to Morgan’s vest), going into the second part is understandably more than a bit nerve-wracking.

This show is no stranger to losing team members; just take a look at a season 1 cast photo, and you’ll see what I mean. Characters have died over the years as well, and even knowing it can happen, especially with the nature of their jobs, doesn’t make it any easier. However, in this case, the promotion of the episode, the way it seemed like someone could very well be dying, helps to lessen the blow when it comes to the profiler’s departure.

Who’s Ethan?

That’s the question we’re left with for almost the entire episode, as “Demons” picks up right where “Angels” left off, with Blake at Reid’s side, calling for a medic and telling him to stay with her – and calling him Ethan. Meanwhile, JJ and Morgan (bullets to the vest aren’t going to slow him down) chase after the preacher, and the tension builds until finally, after Morgan gets hit in the arm, he takes down the preacher. That hit earns him a spot in the ambulance with Reid, who’s fading by the minute.

At the hospital, all they can do is sit and reflect on how Reid would’ve read three books in the time they’re waiting for news and how he’s too young. There’s still so much for him to do, like have kids. Blake says it should’ve been her because he pushed her out of the way. Conversations like that tend to foreshadow a death, and that makes me worried, but not too worried because of what has been shown in the promo because they wouldn’t give that away, right? Blake stays behind waiting for news about Reid while the others check on Morgan, who’s eager to get out of the hospital bed and back on the case, but first, they have to catch Cruz up. Thanks to crime scene photos and the high pitch Morgan heard, they figure out that the preacher didn’t shoot Sheriff Coleman; someone with a law enforcement issued gun did. 

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Just as they’re going to get Dinah to see what she knows, the UnSub, Owen, gets to her and she swears she won’t say anything. He takes her with him. After the doctor tells Blake that Reid was “incredibly lucky,” she updates JJ and Rossi, who have found Dinah’s packed suitcase but no Dinah in her apartment. “Kid’s too smart to die. Probably rerouted the bullet by power of suggestion,” Rossi comments as both agents admit they were scared. However, they have to focus on the case, and while Dinah may not be there, they have an important clue: the framed photo of a boy in the suitcase. But where’s Dinah? Well, Deputy McGregor found her trying to flee and brought her in, and another deputy says that she was driving her truck. You know, the truck that was still at her place while JJ and Rossi were there? Yeah, that one. JJ tries to talk to her and promise to protect her, but Deputy Bennett not-so-subtly interrupts. 

Corruption at Work

The BAU takes their conversation outside and away from eavesdropping deputies who don’t have any right to the badges they wear. One of the victims inside the restaurant was Deputy McGregor’s informant, and the “they” everyone keeps talking about is the entire police force. Cruz insists Sheriff Coleman wasn’t dirty, and he’s right. He wasn’t. That’s what got him killed. (As they later find out, it also got the previous sheriff killed. Great police force, really.) “Trust no one,” Rossi advises Morgan when he joins the others for the pow-wow outside the station “getting fresh air.” Their best bet is to get Dinah to trust them, and that means finding her son. Garcia has that covered, as she discovers that Dinah’s 78-year-old mother has a first-grader, Josh. When Blake joins the others after Reid wakes up and assures her he’s okay, Rossi takes her for a drive to get him, while JJ slips Dinah a note to let her know they can keep him safe.

Morgan slips into the file room and snaps a photo of Deputy Owen McGregor and sends it to Garcia, who sees him at the nurse’s station. Owen has come to take care of the agent who’s going to make it because, guess what? Reid saw him at the scene, and even in his hazy state, he remembers it in the hospital. Morgan tells her to get to Reid and shut the door, and thanks to an orderly pushing a cart, she’s able to get by Owen. Once in the room, Morgan tells her to get Reid into the wheelchair and his gun out of the patient bag. She does, and she sets off the fire alarm as she sneaks by Owen.

Unable to get to Reid, Owen tells Deputy Bennett to kill Rossi and Blake, who are on their way to Josh. In the car, Rossi tells Blake about the best day of his career that turned out to be one of the worst: July 16, 1983. They got a guy who had killed five children, and it was a victory to know he wouldn’t hurt anyone else. However, when he got home, his bags were packed. He had missed another anniversary. It’s the balance of life, and frankly, that has me worried because that’s when Deputies Bennett and Vicky come at them from either side. Luckily, the deputies’ stupidity extends to them thinking they can take on two FBI agents, because when Owen arrives on scene, they’re down, and he just finishes them off, the first thing he’s done that I’ve liked. (But really, Michael Trucco does a pretty good job at playing a pretty bad guy, don’t you think?)

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Garcia Saves Reid’s Life for the Second Time

Garcia brings Reid back to the hospital room once it’s safe, but then a nurse comes in and tries to give him medication, a post-op antibiotic, he claims, and when Reid sees the vial, he says he has a severe reaction to it. The nurse still gives it to him, but Reid rips out his IV and hits the guy’s arm down. He sees he has a gun, and Garcia grabs his gun from the bag and…. The show cruelly cuts to commercial break.

When Morgan arrives on scene, the nurse is down and Garcia is in shock, something I’m happy to see because this isn’t what Garcia does, and Criminal Minds doesn’t brush it aside like it’s no big deal. It takes Reid telling her she saved his life to calm her down and make it better, but she’s still shaken. However, as Hotch says, Owen had a distraction planned, and this is it.

Junkyard Showdown

Rossi and Blake get Dinah’s mother and son and send a photo to JJ to show Dinah, who is willing to probably do anything they want her to in order to get out of that station, and when a deputy tries to stop JJ, Hotch steps in and they’re out of there. Dinah spills everything in the car. People who aren’t being paid off by Owen to keep quiet do just because they’re afraid. He deals everything, smuggles people across the border, uses his badge to his advantage, etc. Basically, he’s a really bad guy, and where else would a bad guy like that operate but a junkyard?

After dropping Dinah off with her family, Hotch and JJ head to the junkyard, Morgan joins them, and all three end up in various dangerous situations I’d be so sure they’d make it out of any other episode, but with word that someone is leaving, everything has me worried. However, in the end, the team wins, with Hotch delivering the final blow to Owen when he shoots first after the two throw each other around the yard a bit. The case is over (and they likelihood that they’ll get a bigger plane after the year they’ve had, like Cruz suggests, is slim to none).

Goodbye, Alex Blake

On the plane, Blake is on her phone before Hotch’s beeps, and the way she’s sitting by herself, away from the others on the full plane, confirms what I’d been thinking, not just about her leaving the team, but also about Ethan’s identity. She goes with Reid to his apartment, and when he asks about Ethan, she tells him he was her son who died when he was 9. The doctors said it was neurological, but they still don’t have a name for it, and that has driven her crazy. She wasn’t ready to let him go when he died, even though he was ready to go. Reid asks her if she’s ever felt like her future is somehow behind her, and when she says yes, he tells her it isn’t. As she leaves, he tells her goodbye, and then he finds her badge in his bag and watches her leave from his window.

It’s sad to see any team member leave, but I’ll admit I’m a bit relieved it’s Blake. I like Jeanne Tripplehorn and I liked her character more this season than last, but honestly, she’s the easiest one to say goodbye to because she hasn’t been on the show as long as the others.

Criminal Minds returns for its 10th season in the fall on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.