‘Criminal Minds’ is back. Where are the characters now?



On the series finale of “Criminal Minds,” which aired between 2005 and 2020 on CBS, the lead characters celebrated the departure of Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), who left the Behavioral Analysis Unit to explore less-murderous pastures. But the rest of the team did not stay together for long. The higher-ups in the FBI decided the agents solve twice as many cases apart as they do together, so the team split up.

And that was that, until “Criminal Minds: Evolution,” a new series with 10 episodes on Paramount Plus, the first two episodes of which will stream on Thursday. All you need is one incredibly dramatic killing spree to bring the team back together. For a refresher, here is an update on the characters and what they have been up to.

Rossi, played by Joe Mantegna, joined the Behavioral Analysis Unit after the departure of Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin) back in Season 3. He took over the mantle of group mentor, with less of a calming fatherly presence than Gideon provided but significantly more ex-wives. As the series wrapped, Rossi rekindled a romance and was living a happy life with his ex-turned-wife Krystall Richards as he hunted serial killer Everett “The Chameleon” Lynch. We hope you did not get too attached to Krystall.

“Evolution” finds Rossi living out of a hotel room, eating sad microwave meals and working as Behavioral Analysis Unit section head, dealing with (or rather not dealing with) the death of his wife and obsessing over a serial killer who targets families. The murder board in his hotel room says it all. The rest of the team tries to support him but is met with anger and resentment. Garcia, who is off the team, hangs up on him when she tries to assist with a case because of his outbursts.

Prentiss (Paget Brewster) evolved as “Criminal Minds” changed. A character who was anything but stagnant, she joined the team after the departure of Elle Greenaway (Lola Glaudini.) Prentiss solved cases, faked her own death, headed up the London Interpol Office and then returned to the Behavioral Analysis Unit to take over as unit chief.

Now she has been promoted to section head and has far more duties on her plate, along with meetings in rooms decorated with FBI logos. She fights with the brass to get the Behavioral Analysis Unit the funds and resources the team needs to solve cases. So far, she has been unable to get the group back together in an “agents assemble” moment on a new private jet, since their old one blew up in the series finale.

A communications liaison turned supervisory special agent, JJ (A.J. Cook) had her whole adult life unfold on screen. She fell in love, had a baby, was kidnapped multiple times and confessed her love to fellow agent Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler). In the final season, after surviving yet another life-threatening injury, JJ and Spencer aired out their feelings and decided to remain platonic friends and colleagues.

In “Evolution,” JJ is dealing with solving cases while not having a unified team and still remains so focused on the lives of her kids that she has guesses about the girls that her son may be secretly dating. Her marriage is rocky, with husband Will Lamontagne (Josh Stewart) feeling neglected by her work-life balancing act.

Alvez (Adam Rodriguez) joined the Behavioral Analysis Unit past its prime. The army veteran, nicknamed “Newbie” by Garcia, replaced Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), an impossible task. His adversarial relationship with Garcia developed flirtatiously. In the series finale, he asked her out on a date, which evidently did not go so well. Alvez still refuses to learn the names of her replacements, but he manages to drag Garcia back into the world of the Behavioral Analysis Unit.

In “Evolution,” Garcia is thriving. She hosts a baking club in her lovely home and is not bombarded with death and violence every single day. She used what she learned while on the team to create a social media platform called Soar for young people that is double encrypted to prevent stranger danger. Unfortunately, it was not as safe as she wanted it to be. Alvez delivers the bad news that Soar was used to target two families, pulling Garcia back into the game.

Dr. Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler), another late addition to the cast, joined the team temporarily in Season 11. She is still working for the Behavioral Analysis Unit and handling cases on her own. While the rest of the team is on the East Coast, Tara is out west, dealing with an abandoned storage unit in the middle of the woods full of victims and disturbing relics of a killer who was active as recently as 2020.

Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) was a “Criminal Minds” and Tumblr favorite for the entire run of the show. The boy genius-turned-regular genius was put through the wringer in his time at the Behavioral Analysis Unit and Gubler has not yet confirmed he will be in “Evolution.”

Another character whose return is unclear is Matthew Simmons (Daniel Henney), who joined for the final three seasons of the show. As the FBI deputy director puts it in the “Evolution” premiere, the agency is “not at liberty to discuss their assignments” and “if and when they return is entirely up to them.”

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