When Thomas Gibson was fired from Criminal Minds, his character, Aaron Hotchner, wasn't given much of a sendoff. After Gibson's last episode aired on Oct. 5, the show explained that Hotch had gone on special assignment.
However, in Wednesday's Nov. 16 episode of the hit CBS show, titled “Elliott’s Pond,” viewers learned that that wasn't exactly the case.
Rossi (Joe Mantegna) told the Behavioral Analysis Unit that instead of a special assignment, Hotch had actually gone into Witness Protection after Peter Lewis, a.k.a. Mr. Scratch, began stalking his son, Jack (Cade Owens), at a soccer game.
“He’s OK, but he has not been away on special assignment,” PEOPLE reports Rossi as telling the team. “That’s something we had to say as a cover for the investigation.”
Rossi added that Hotch made a huge sacrifice when he gave up his position as director to protect Jack, explaining, “Peter Lewis is not going to stop, which is why Hotch and Jack have entered the program.”
Deciding that he “can’t put Jack in danger again,” Hotch submitted his resignation, and Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) became his successor as the new BAU unit chief.
“Thank the universe for silver linings," said Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness.)
Gibson was fired from the show in August after getting into an altercation with a writer in which he allegedly kicked the man.
"I love Criminal Minds and have put my heart and soul into it for the last twelve years. I had hoped to see it through to the end, but that won't be possible now," Gibson said in a statement following his departure. "I would just like to say thank you to the writers, producers, actors, our amazing crew, and, most importantly, the best fans that a show could ever hope to have."