‘Criminal Minds’ Revival: Why We’re Looking Forward to the BAU Working Just One Case

    It’s just been over two years since Criminal Minds ended its 15-season run on CBS, and the series has already been (officially) revived, with six members of the cast returning for a new series on Paramount+.

    But this time, David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster), Jennifer “J.J.” Jareau (A.J. Cook), Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez), and Dr. Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler) will be tackling one case over the 10 episodes, whereas the original run mostly had the team dealing with standalones.

    The team will “come up against their greatest threat yet, an UnSub who has used the pandemic to build a network of other serial killers,” the logline reads. “Now, as the world opens back up, the network goes operational, and our team must hunt them down, one murder at a time.”

    Given what we’ve seen from how the series has handled recurring UnSubs in the past — and with executive producer Erica Messer also back — we think this is the right call. Read on for why.

    C. Thomas Howell in Criminal Minds

    Karen Neal / © CBS / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Criminal Minds Has Done a Great Job With Recurring UnSubs

    While there have certainly been some memorable one-off UnSubs, there’s something extra chilling about the ones that loom over the team for multiple episodes — or seasons! The Reaper (C. Thomas Howell) has to top the list. After all, we watched him go from supposed victim to unmasked serial killer, and it certainly says something that what stands out about him is not the fact that he stabbed Hotch (Thomas Gibson) multiple times but rather when he went after the agent’s family, leading to one of the most tense and heartbreaking calls on TV.

    While it will probably be hard to top that — Cat Adams (Aubrey Plaza), The Replicator (Mark Hamill), Mr. Scratch (Bodhi Elfman), and Everett Lynch (Michael Mosley) are noteworthy as well, but even what they did to the members of the BAU can’t touch the Reaper — having the space of 10 episodes might allow the new case to come close. We can only imagine the pain and horrors the new UnSub —the one who has built the network, since it will all lead back to that one — will inflict and how the profilers might be personally affected with a case that has to be something to be drawn out over 10 episodes. Plus, with the series moving to streaming and multiple killers with different MOs at work, who knows just how dark it might get? We could be looking at quite the graphic crime scenes, which could certainly make for a memorable case.

    A Single Case Works Better With This Format

    With only 10 episodes, it seems like the only choices were UnSubs-of-the-Week or one case; it’s hard to imagine the series being able to do both, as it has in the past, even if the episodes don’t have to be about 40 minutes due to commercials. Season 15 was 10 episodes, with Lynch hanging over the team (especially Rossi) like a dark cloud and we couldn’t help but keep wondering what he was up to.

    However, this is the best of both worlds: individual cases that all connect back to one, meaning that solving one murder should give the BAU clues that will help them shut down the UnSub’s network.

    If done right, this format over the 10 episodes should allow for plenty of suspense (without that dying down as the BAU tracks down an unrelated UnSub-of-the-Week and the Big Bad helpfully takes a break from their torment), as well as twists and turns. And — this might just be us hoping this will be the case — it could lead to connections back to old cases (who knows who’s part of that network!) to build to quite the finale.

    Kirsten Vangsness, Aisha Tyler, Matthew Gray Gubler, Adam Rodriguez, A.J. Cook, Joe Mantegna in Criminal Minds

    Richard Cartwright / ©CBS / Courtesy: Everett Collection

    Then there’s the matter of the effects of the case on the team; perhaps this way there will be time to examine that in a way that wasn’t always possible during the original run, with other, standalone cases to work and agents taking time off when needed (then being checked on in between leads, interrogations, and takedowns).

    It Would Help Explain Why Garcia’s Back

    Criminal Minds ended with Garcia leaving the FBI behind for non-profit work. “She’s the eyes of the audience, really. She’s the empath. She’s the one who usually says if something’s gross or good or bad, so if we’re writing the series finale and we want to show this show is something that goes on and on and on, the good guys are still out there helping, we want the audience to pull away. Since Garcia’s the eyes of the audience, you pull her away, that makes more sense,” Vangsness, who co-wrote the finale with Messer, explained to TV Insider at the time.

    The star also imagined that Garcia in the future would “be making her dreams come true even better and better with more and more clarity” and would “figure out more streamlined ways to make the world and the universe a happier, more peaceful, more friendly place,” as well as “probably have a really hot Latin boyfriend named Luke.” (The finale saw Garcia accept Luke’s dinner invite.)

    Assuming all that remains true, this case with quite the network of serial killers is the perfect way to have Garcia back as the BAU’s tech genius, assuming that’s the role she’ll play, without ignoring her original finale ending. Because even if they found the perfect replacement for her, there’s no one like Garcia and it sounds like they’re definitely going to need her for this.

    Criminal Minds, TBA, Paramount+

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