The Women of Criminal Minds Celebrate: The Band Is Back Together!

What’s old is new — and improved — on CBS’ Criminal Minds, which on Sept. 21 will enter its seventh season armed for bear, with both A.J. Cook and Paget Brewster restored as series regulars.

At a Television Critics Association soirée last week, I huddled with Brewster and Kirsten Vangsness (aka Prentiss and Garcia) to cheer on Minds‘ fan-facilitated reunion, when before you knew it Cook (who plays JJ) joined in the revelry as well [see photo]. You kinda had to be there to feel the love going ’round, and that’s what I hope this transcript of our festive four-way delivers.

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TVLINE | Kirsten, did you even get a chance to miss Paget?
KIRSTEN VANGSNESS |
Yes. Hell yes. I got the chance to miss her in a big, huge way. I was already grateful and appreciative for both her and A.J. I didn’t need to be more so!

TVLINE | What is the feeling like on the set going into the new season — is it as if you “got the band back together”?
PAGET BREWSTER |
It felt like the band’s back together, yeah!
VANGSNESS | For me, having been there, it was sort of like, “Well, that was totally unnecessary.” It was what it was, and it was great to have Rachel Nichols there… [but] now [Paget and A.J.] are back because they need to be back. They’re a huge part of the show.

TVLINE | Joe Mantegna and I spoke about how the fans’ voices have been heard, which is nice to have happen once in a while.
BREWSTER |
And from what I can tell, for maybe the second or third time ever, as far as actually getting a network to change its mind about what it was doing. It’s certainly nice being on the good end of that! [Laughs] But yeah, unfortunately a mistake was made when A.J. and I were let go. Rachel [Nichols] did a great job, and then when we were brought back she was let go. So frankly, it was a lot of unnecessary firing, which is a shame, but… Rachel is going to be in huge movies [including Conan the Barbarian, opening Aug.19], she’s on the cover of Maxim, she’s totally hot….
VANGSNESS | What’s really cool is that [BAU Agent] Ashley Seaver was named after a woman who was dying that loved Criminal Minds, and that Joe befriended. Rachel has the legacy of being that character, which is important.

[A.J. Cook suddenly joins us, and the ladies clink glasses. As Cook introduces herself to me and smiles, I admittedly lose some coherency. See photo.]

TVLINE | Paget, where do we first see Prentiss this season? Is she still in France?
BREWSTER |
The first episode is a story about how I have to come back, and people are surprised by that. I mean, JJ and Hotch knew [about the faked death], but….

TVLINE | Are those who weren’t in on the ruse a bit peeved?
VANGSNESS |
Some of the gang is peeved, but I’m like, “Whee!” Garcia’s just happy.
A.J. COOK | [Overdramatically] Relationships will fall apart!
BREWSTER | It’s true. Relationships will unravel.
COOK | You’ve got to make it dramatic.
BREWSTER | You can’t go pretendin’ to be dead and mess your friends up and not get a little yelled at!

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TVLINE | One silver lining to all of this is that Prentiss got a helluva story out of it.
BREWSTER |
It was a great [exit] story, and fun to do.
COOK | [To Paget] You were so badass. I was so glad they gave you that story.
VANGSNESS | Listen, we have a totally new JJ, Emily has gone through this journey…. That is a testament to those two and their talent. They’re alchemists, coming back with, like, 10 new facets.

TVLINE | Yeahhh, JJ was one cool cucumber as she was slowly revealed in the season finale.
COOK |
With the legs, you mean? [Laughs] It was like Mrs. Robinson. Yeah, JJ’s come a long way, and that has been fun for me. Wow, you really are a fan of our show! You know what’s going on more than I sometimes do.

TVLINE | Will Timothy Murphy be back as Ian Doyle?
BREWSTER |
He’s back, yeah. Everybody loves Timothy Murphy!

TVLINE | And where do things stand with Hotch (played by Thomas Gibson)? The finale seemed to set up that maybe he’s moving on….
COOK |
It’s funny where we pick up everything…. You kind of see where everybody’s been for the last 3-1/2 months.
BREWSTER | No, it’s six months later — isn’t it?
VANGSNESS | It goes back-and-forth, remember?
BREWSTER | Oh yeah…. There is a passage of time, and the first episode is not linear. It’s a series of flash-forwards and rewinds to get us to where we are. It’s amazing.
COOK | It is a really well-written episode, yeah…. It’s so, so good.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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102 Comments
  1. okinawa says:

    So glad Paget and A.J. Cook will be back on the show. I was saddened of the departure of the rest of the cast. I love watching the show each week but without them I won’t.

  2. okinawa says:

    I am happy,happy,happy. Please September 21 hurry.

  3. EmilyIsAwesome says:

    I wish we could post pictures here so you could see the HUGE smile on my face. Great interview! Great group of Ladies! Great Show! I can’t wait until September.

  4. Sam says:

    “I admittedly lose some coherency” – LOL! Matt, that made me laugh so hard I spit soda on my keyboard! Love it!

  5. CMFanToo says:

    Hotch & Prentiss, Yeah!!! Bring it on!!! And bring on the crime, psychology, and the rest of the profilers. The writers are should be versatile enough to handle a little variety!!

  6. Katy says:

    Susan, you totally misread my entire statement. Ok the word ‘wrong’ was bad word choice on my behalf and I apologise – I should have used the word ANNOYING – but firstly, I was stating MY opinion – just like I am entitled to and so is everyone else. You sound like a very arrogant person who just didn’t get what I was trying to say. This is such a wonderful interview, and such a happy time for fans of the show, so to see so many negative comments just grates me. Again this is my opinion. There are so many people who are never satisfied – I said several times that I WAS upset to see the girls go and i AM happy that they are back. And your wording – “note how I say the word character” well, so did I – i used the character’s name – “i liked seaver, and Rachel Nichols” – I was not making a fact about one or the other but both – I appreciate how many people did not like the character – but I did and again this is my opinion and I am entitled to it. The point I was trying to get across – apparantly poorly – was why can’t we let sleeping dogs lie? It happened – it wasn’t rachel nichols’ fault that it happens nor the character of Seaver’s – and if people didn’t like her – either one – then fine, but I didn’t appreciate reading so many rude and negative comments under such a lighthearted and happy making interview.
    Also, I was not trying to compare the circumstances of the actor’s leaving the show, just trying to show that sometimes these things can work out, and I was willing to give the show a try, even though I would dearly miss AJ and Emily. And I never tried to define a fan or call one person more of a fan than others, but if you only watch the show for certain characters, then I stand by my statment that you’re a fan of the character and more than of the show. I am sorry if this upset anyone, but if you stop watching because your favourite character leaves, then you are not a 100% loyal fan. I never said that these people were more or less deserving than others, and if people think I implied this then I apologise.

    The whole point of my statement was to say how happy I was that the girls were back and that I didn’t like the fact that people were beign so negative. This is good news – so why spoil it with sour garpes? Fr once the fans have won – how often does this ahppen? The execs made a huge kistake – but thankfully, they realised this and rectified it. It may have taken time, it may have put fans and actors through the emptional wringer – but can’t we just all – as fans together of this great show AND of these great actresses – just all be HAPPY? How dare I voice my opnion, eh? Everyone else can, and people who don’t agree with me can say so – so why can’t I say how I feel? I truly am sorry to anyone who misread or didn’t agree with me. I wasn’t trying to insult anyone or cause anyone to be upset or annoyed – all I wanted was us fans to unite with teh happy news that happens only once in a blue moon – that we were upset, we complained and we won!!!!

  7. Ele says:

    Thanks for the great interview!!!!! I just love CM, can’t wait for the first episode of the season….plus we jet to see a bearded Hotch

  8. Tina says:

    I am incredibly excited for S7. The girls are back where they belong and our team is back together. I am def. against any type of inter team romance. It complicates things, takes away from the cases and before you know it it resembles a soap opera i.e. w/o a trace. Also Seaver doesn’t need any loose ends tied up. Let’s just let sleeping dogs lie and move on. It didn’t work out, from what I hear it happens in Hollywood all the time. Let’s just concentrate on the positive and look forward to what should be a great seasonp

  9. Myron Donnelly says:

    I am so excited to learn that all three of you will be back. I hope that this time it will be permanent! I always say, “If it works, don’t mess with it!”. Looking forward to this exciting new season!

  10. Suncatcher says:

    Great interview, Matt! It feels like the long darkness has finally ended on the CM set. I have been a huge CM fan since episode #1, season #1. When AJ Cook left, so did I. Will give episode #1, season #7 a try. Great work, Matt!

  11. Ann says:

    I appreicate the interview as I crave any CM news and/or updates!

    I’m glad the whole Prentiss return is going to take place right away rather than be dragged out over several episodes. I would rather the team get back to solving cases, and I’m dying for the Reid arc to play out! Besides, we’ll still have the fallout from Emily’s return and that will probably carry over into additional episodes since the ladies say “relationships will unravel.”

    Last season was becoming the Emily Prentiss Hour and it was too much. It’s better to give others some air time, too. I am open to more of Seaver as well. She was okay and Ms. Messer hinted that there was more story that could be told with that character.

    I’m against any/all character pairings on the show in a romantic way. I don’t watch CM for that! If any relationship is going to be explored more fully, I would much rather it was the friendship/brothers connection between Reid/Morgan!

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Great! Looking forward to the new season. My favorite show on TV.

  13. marie says:

    cbs finally woke up. I actually believe in miracles & this is one of
    them watching the whole band together again. thank you & kudos to all of you at cbs!

  14. Susan says:

    Katy, I’ll say it again, get over yourself. Just as you said that you are entitled to an opinion, as well as sharing that opinion, so do others. My opinion, and the opinion of others, is that the Seaver character was a poor character that as someone else stated really needed to go. If you want to perceive that as negative, then go ahead, but as someone else stated here it is an opinion, so deal with it. My point is that I believe that you did not have the right to define what a fan of the show is. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, and of course you should feel free to share it, but your opinion crosses the line when you start to say who is or isn’t a fan. Fans of this show come in all sizes, shapes, etc. Moreover, the fans of this show tune in for different reasons/characters. It has happened with other shows that when 1 or more characters leave, some fans stop watching. This is not necessarily a reflection on the rest of the cast that is remaining, just a personal taste issue with that particular fan and that does not make them any less of a fan.

    I am okay with the fact that you liked the character of Seaver on the show, my opinion is that it was a poor character for the show and I am happy that they have decided to scrap the character and go back to what they should have never dismantled in the first place. Season 6 was basically ruined for me because of that character. Now, that is my opinion and if you think it is arrogant or negative or whatever so be it, but it is my opinion like your opinion is your opinion. Not everyone is going to conform to not making what you have deemed negative comments. Personally, I believe that it is important that TPTB understand and appreciate the mess that they made of season 6 by letting AJ and Paget go. And while yes you are correct that it is not Rachel Nichols fault for how the Seaver character was presented, I believe that a stronger actress would have brought an element to this thin character that would have drawn more a connection between her and the audience, irrespective of what happened with AJ and Paget. Bottom line, I am thrilled that AJ and Paget are back and that there is an opportunity to move forward without stepping back into the mistakes I believe were made in season 6.

  15. Sheena says:

    Thank you CBS for listening to the real fans of Criminal Minds if you wouldve have continued to take away this amazing cast and family to us we definately would have stopped watching and supporting the show. So welcome back ladies and Thomas better stay apart of the cast! Criminal Minds #1 Fan

  16. marie says:

    I’m so glad to hear that JJ and Prentiss are back. I really missed them and it just wasn’t the same with the new girl. I just couldn’t get used to her as part of the team.

    As for the writers I think everything prior to last season was great.
    Can’t wait for the new season.

  17. Shawn says:

    So excited for season premiere!! My jaw hit the floor when I found out they were cutting Prentiss and JJ during last season. Felt network made a HUGE mistake. Great to see them back!!

  18. V says:

    Good to have the lovely BAU ladies back!!! They have great chemistry with one another and are such brilliant actresses. Criminal Minds went on a decline without them. Glad that Seaver is gone. The actress was very, very weak and had no onscreen chemistry with anyone. If she had been able to act, more people may have been able to accept the character. But with her 2 stock expressions and one tone of voice, she really dragged the show down. No offence to the actress, but hopefully everything will be great again without Seaver.

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