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Criminal Minds: Thomas Gibson gives last performance as Hotch

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Eddy Chen/CBS

Thomas Gibson made his last appearance Wednesday on Criminal Minds, though it wasn’t much of a goodbye.

Most of the episode showcased the talents of A.J. Cook, whose character J.J. was particularly affected by the Behavioral Analysis Unit’s latest case — a creepy white guy who likes to burn his young victims. The story played out in a non-linear fashion as J.J. looked back on the night and shared details of the investigation with her husband Bill (Josh Stewart).

Gibson (Aaron Hotchner) — along with other cast members like Joe Mantegna (David Rossi) and Matthew Gray Gubler (Dr. Spencer Reid) — spent the hour sitting around a conference room table and discussing the case. Gibson’s already limited amount of dialogue consisted of him asking for data from Penelope (Kirsten Vangsness) and telling J.J. to take a week off because she was traumatized by the killer’s final act.

“It’s not a request,” said Gibson.

That was Gibson’s last line on Criminal Minds.

The episode ended with Cook’s character reciting a quote from Mother Teresa.

Criminal Minds was in the midst of shooting this particular episode in July when Gibson, who has been on the show since it launched in 2005, got into an altercation with one of the show’s writers. He was placed on leave and then fired by ABC Studios, which produces the drama for CBS.

Gibson, 54, recently told PEOPLE he feels like “they’re trying to erase me from the show.”

CBS is already attempting to fill the void he left: on Friday, the CBS drama announced that it has cast Damon Gupton (Empire) as Special Agent Stephen Walker. His character, who works for the counterintelligence division of the FBI, will be introduced in the eighth episode. 

“Our BAU family is growing,” said Showrunner Erica Messer in a statement. “We’re excited to have Damon join the show and work alongside our amazing cast and crew.”

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