Entertainment Review: “Criminal Minds: Evolution”


   If the phrases “unsub” and “wheels up in thirty” paint a clear picture of a crime solving team, then you’ll be glad to hear that “Criminal Minds” has released a season spin-off containing ten new episodes. The first episodes began streaming on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, and the last of them will come out December 15. You can watch the “Criminal Minds: Evolution” premiere on Paramount+. 

   For those not too familiar with the show, “Criminal Minds” focuses on the Behavior Analysis Unit of the Federal Bureau Investigation. A group of profilers study the behavior, background, and thoughts of criminals. Studying criminals allows profilers to anticipate their next move and capture them. 

   The last time you saw the team was in February of 2020. Showrunner Erica Messer said, “The BAU, like a lot of workplaces, has had some changes. These past few years have made the team count on one another a lot more. And that is a very good thing, because in the premiere, they’re going to discover there’s been a prolific killer on the loose since 2005 and he’s evolved into legendary status during the pandemic.” 

   Throughout its fifteen season run, the show had been notorious for its flip-floppy characters coming and going. Along with the addition of new characters every ten episodes or so. So who will the sixteenth season feature? You will be glad to hear that you’ll see many familiar faces on screen. Joe Mantegna (David Rossi), A.J. Cook (Jennifer Jareau), Paget Brewster (Emily Prentiss), Aisha Tyler (Dr. Tara Lewis), Adam Rodriguez (Luke Alvez), and the returning, Kirsten Vangsness (Penelope Garcia). They will be accompanied by a batch of fresh characters as well. The main criminal will be played by Zach Gilford. As a new recurring role, Nicole Pacent will be portraying a lawyer with the Department of Justice who reveals disturbing news about the fate of the BAU.

   Some of the cast members have announced that they will take part in directing a number of the episodes: Joe Mantegna, A.J. Cook, Aisha Tyler and Adam Rodriguez. 

   Along with a change of characters, they will also introduce a new kind of style for the show. Instead of the regular set up of a new case every episode, the team will focus on one large case over the period of the season. 

   In an interview, A.J. Cooks describes the cast’s anticipation over the show’s reboot. She says, “When we wrapped up Season 15, there were already rumors [of a reboot] kind of floating around. And everyone, all the cast, was obviously like a huge thumbs up. Of course, we would do it in a heartbeat…I think the surprising part, for me, at least, is how quickly the reboot came together.” Cooks goes into detail about her character and the personal challenges J.J. has to face being overwhelmed by solving cases as well as being a mother. This struck a little closer to home given that her on-screen kids are played by her actual kids. 

   The first episode introduces where everyone in the team is at. Lewis is leading a case of her own, apart from the BAU. But when boxes containing tools used for murders start showing up in cases around the world, the team is forced to get together and look for a connection. 

  Rossi is still grieving the death of his wife. Being the eldest and the core of the team, he is the most surprising character to have taken a toll from the cases, affecting his relationship with the team. By the second episode, they realize that the cases involved with a buried “kill kit” were all organized by a single person who had taken a break during the pandemic but before that, was active since 2005.

  The team knows they will need their old colleague, Garcia, to stop this organization. The third episode establishes the concept of this season. We realize that every time they catch a criminal, they get closer to finding the leader of a worldwide organization. 

   But you don’t need to watch the first episodes to know that this season is going to be intense. Simply by the looks of the chilling trailer, you can tell Criminal Minds: Evolution is sure to be loved by fans. Don’t miss new episodes dropping weekly on Thursdays.