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The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

Criminal Minds Evolution is a criminally underrated reunion

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

!Spoiler Alert!

If you haven’t seen the show yet and you don’t want to read any spoilers, I would skip this article.

I’ll be honest, I was a little worried about “Criminal Minds: Evolution.” I loved the original “Criminal Minds” CBS series that ran from 2005-2020, but often when a movie or a show gets brought back or gets a sequel, it can disappoint (e.g. “The X-Files”). Thankfully, CME didn’t disappoint and I think it was well done. CME was able to maintain the integrity of the original show, keeping the tone and pacing that viewers loved and not going out of left field, but still adding interesting side plots and characters that fit.

“Criminal Minds: Evolution” takes place three years after the last episode in the original series and we see a slightly different Behavioral Analysis Unit that has faced the COVID-19 pandemic. Returning cast members include Paget Brewster (Emily Prentiss), Joe Mantegna (David Rossi), A.J. Cook (Jennifer “JJ” Jareau), Aisha Tyler (Dr. Tara Lewis), Adam Rodriquez (Luke Alvez) and Kirsten Vangsness (Penelope Garcia). Two notable absences include Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays fan-favorite Spencer Reid, and Daniel Henney, who plays Matthew Simmons.

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This new BAU faces off against not just one serial killer, but a whole network of serial killers built during the pandemic and masterminded by Elias Voit (played by Zach Gilford). Voit aka Sicarius activates his followers like a cult leader and supports them with “kill kits” buried around the U.S. Voit, whose real name is Lee Duval, masquerades as a loving father of two who works in the tech field, while in actuality he has killed over 50 people from 2005-2020. 

Between trying to unravel this mystery and fighting against the FBI brass, we get to see more character development in this 10-episode series. Some notable plotlines include Rossi, in the wake of his wife Krystall’s death, becoming obsessed with Sicarius and struggling to deal with his grief. The show explores Prentiss’s new role as section chief (Rossi is now the unit chief of the BAU), JJ and Will’s marriage hitting a rough patch, Tara having a girlfriend and Garcia enjoying her life post-BAU. We learn more about why Garcia, our favorite technical analyst, has left the FBI to live a happy, non-murdery life (which is totally valid). 

Now onto my review of the series:

Although I was annoyed CME was going to a streaming platform – I hate having to pay for the 500 different services that exist nowadays and content being inaccessible otherwise – I surprisingly enjoyed having the show on Paramount+. Characters could actually swear and there was a noticeable feel of freedom that isn’t available on cable television. Some things were a bit more graphic, but the overall show didn’t feel scarier than the original. The show still has a fast-paced, chock-full script that tries its best to give everyone a moment to shine, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. 

Also, as much of a #Jemily shipper (and I’ll die on that hill) as I am, I did enjoy seeing more of JJ and Will’s relationship, from the ups and downs, and how if you truly love and respect your partner you can thrive. With a show that has a big cast, there isn’t enough time for much character development or subplots outside the main plot line of solving that episode’s crime, so it was nice to see more of JJ. In terms of the other relationships presented, I didn’t really like them. I initially liked the Tara and Rebecca romance, but it frustrates me that they would introduce a seemingly happy queer, diverse relationship and then have them break up in the end. Maybe it’s just me, but to give us (the LGBTQ+ community) a romance that is not represented often in the media and then for the relationship to basically blow up by the last episode feels unnecessary. I just want, for once, to see onscreen a happy, healthy queer relationship that doesn’t end in tragedy, death or queerbait. I also didn’t like the romance between Garcia and vigilante-turned-material-witness Tyler Green. Not only did it feel out of character for her, but the ethical problems of getting involved with someone who is deeply involved in the Sicarius case is pretty muddy.

Although this is an unpopular opinion in the community, I honestly could care less that Spencer Reid wasn’t a part of this new series. Although I did like the character, I wasn’t devastated when I found out he wasn’t coming back for CME. Honestly, based on the amount of traumatic events Reid went through, it makes sense he would need a break. I also think the new show would have to somehow address more in-depth the whole JJ and Reid situation more in-depth after she randomly proclaims her love for him despite being married with two whole ass kids and a husband. That plotline almost ruined the last season of the show because it was so incredibly unnecessary and out of character. Also what makes CME great is that it isn’t reliant on just one character – it is an ensemble show and the dynamics and chemistry between all of them makes it enjoyable outside all of the crime. Even though my dream of #Jemily didn’t come to fruition, I would’ve watched the show no matter who came back or not. 

CME ends on a cliffhanger where we see Voit sitting in an FBI interrogation room in an orange jumpsuit and the door opens, but we don’t see who he is looking at. Presumably, it is the attorney general wanting to talk to him about the classified and mysterious Gold Star project. I’m guessing the AG is going to let him out scot-free to ensure he won’t tell anyone about the project. But, why is it so important that this serial killer a) somehow found out about this super secret project and b) is worth releasing a man that has killed dozens? 

A second season of CME has already been confirmed by Paramount+, so we’ll learn who Elias was meeting and I’m curious to see what happens next, especially in terms of what Project Gold Star means. I do hope the writers would allow one of these characters, outside of JJ and Will, to have a happy relationship, so fingers crossed. I do think the idea of Reid being an unsub, similar to the way the intern Zack Addy from “Bones” turned evil and murdered people, to explain his absence from this first season of the reboot would be kinda cool and I think this theory is popular with fans.

Honestly, I feel like someone is going to die next season and I think that should be something they explore next season. There never felt like anything was at stake in CME and in this show and the original, it was always other side characters who died. We know anytime there is a “life and death” situation, the show is going to air towards “life.”

All episodes of “Criminal Minds: Evolution” are streaming on Paramount+.

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