Instead, it was the cameo appearance by Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) that had everyone on the edge of their seats — but the two are connected. The team investigating a new string of murders matching Lucky's MO brought back some serious PTSD for Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) since he was the unsub the team was chasing the night she was shot 10 years ago.
Morgan returned to the BAU to give Garcia the "baby girl" shot of love that she needed to get her back in the right working headspace, and TV Guide caught up with Moore to talk about making time to stop by Criminal Minds to help his girl out.
"I'm a big believer in you always appreciate where you came from, personally and professionally. You never forget because all of that and all of those people, all those things along the way groomed you," Moore told us. But it all comes back to his OG baby girl. "Just to go home to Criminal Minds...to go back because Kirsten Vangsness, who plays Penelope Garcia — my original baby girl — we created that bond together. That was our friendship off camera. Then we put it on the screen."
This marks Moore's second appearance on Criminal Minds since Morgan left the BAU at the end of the show's 11th season in 2016. He comes back sparingly — not only because he's now headlining his own CBS show SWAT (premiering Nov. 2 at 10/9c) — but because the secret in keeping that baby girl special is to use it sparingly.
Moore let us in on his secret that he purposefully limited the use of the fan-favorite nickname to once or twice per episode so it felt specific when he did drop it over one of Morgan and Garcia's patented phone call banter sessions.
"I made it a point, and people may not know this, that once 'Baby Girl' became a thing, I didn't want to overdo it. If you pay attention to the episodes, when things were getting really serious or we were deep in a case and we needed information I wouldn't call her baby girl. I'd call her Garcia or Penelope," he said. "I wanted to find at least one place to call her Baby Girl just to have an endearing moment, just a little thing, our cute banter, because the fans loved it."
Plus, Moore didn't want to make anyone sick of the nickname, just to give them something to smile about in the midst of the horror that usually takes place on Criminal Minds.
"If I just did, 'Baby girl, baby girl, baby girl,' it felt too much to me, just coming out of my mouth," he explained. "It was nice because Criminal Minds is such an intense show. It was nice to have some levity. Morgan and Garcia just had this light banter that gave you a moment to breathe from the darkness that was going on."
Once again, Brown Sugar delivered.
Criminal Minds continues Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS)
Additional reporting by Joyce Eng