Criminal Minds: Shemar Moore Previews a Face- Off With an Old Foe, Teases Big Replicator Twist

Criminal Minds Season 8 PreviewThis Wednesday on Criminal Minds (CBS, 9/8c), the crime drama will reach back six years into its past to revisit BAU Agent Derek Morgan’s backstory, which originally surfaced in the Season 2 episode “Profiler, Profiled.”

The storyline — which brings back Carl Buford (played by Julius Tennon, Loneseome Dove) as Morgan’s childhood mentor-turned-pedophilic serial killer — resonates deeply with Shemar Moore, and for multiple reasons.

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Reflecting on his start with the CBS series, “On the surface, I was the tough guy and kicking down the doors and beating up bad guys — but I wanted Morgan to have some substance and some levels.” In “Profiler, Profiled,” “You learned that he had a secret that he had to divulge to get himself out of harm’s way and find justice. And that secret was that he had been taken advantage of and molested by a mentor.”

In that last run-in with Buford, Morgan managed to get the cretin locked up for life, for multiple counts of murder. But as revealed in this week’s episode, as the BAU team is led back to Morgan’s urban Chicago nabe, Buford “has figured out a way to play the system,” Moore previews. “He’s kind of reinvented himself as a way of survival, and Morgan threatens to bring that false identity down.”

But first, the BAU has a case to crack, “And in order to find justice, Morgan has to face off with his mentor again to get information.” As he picks at those old scabs, what presents itself, Moore says, “is a show about loyalty… a show about faith…. a show about redemption. It’s a show about dignity and manhood and pride.”

Helping with this ongoing saga’s continuity is the return of the aforementioned Lennon as well as Skipp Sudduth (Third Watch), as Morgan’s onetime Chicago adversary, police captain Stan Gordinski. “A lot of times for actors, it’s just a check — you go in and you use your skills and do the job and collect the check and you keep it moving,” says Moore. “But this one is more of a labor of love and passion. Everybody understands the delicacy of the subject matter, so they wanted to bring their ‘A’ game. This is not something I can do by myself.”

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Moore notes that while this chapter of Morgan’s dark backstory is one “told by minorities — the lead writer, [executive producer] Janine [Sherman Barrois], is African-American; I’m I’m half-black, half-white; the director Felix [Alcala] is Mexican-American; and you have a strong supporting cast [featuring] African-Americans — it’s not a story about color. It’s a story that touches all colors.”

So touched were some by the molestation saga’s December 2006 installment that they reached out to Moore and the show with their regards for tackling the topic. “People to this day say that’s one of their favorite episodes — whether from Twitter, Facebook, letters I’ve gotten…,” Moore shares. “They applaud our courage in taking on such subject matter. They were inspired by it, and they found closure through it.”

Though Moore, when we spoke with him this week, had yet to see the episode, which is titled “Restoration,” “The word on the street is that’s it very powerful,” he said, “so I’m excited. I just know if it’s done right, it is going to resonate with fans. They are just going to enjoy the entertainment of it, they are going to be touched by it. And then there are the people out there that have been victimized and hopefully will feel like they have a voice.”

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Moore says that since “Restoration” was fully focused on revisiting this particular story, the episode did not even attempt to move forward this season’s Replicator arc, in which the BAU team is being stalked by a serial killer recreating solved crimes. That said, as Season 8 draws closer to the finale — and with cast members’ contract talks holding up renewal — “I know one of us is going to be in harm’s way, because that’s how it always goes down,” Moore reveals. “I do know that one of us, who you may least expect, may or may not be taken out. And that’s all I can say. It’s an interesting twist that I don’t think people are prepared for.”

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