Criminal Minds' Kirsten Vangsness Previews the Arrival of 'Garcia 2.0' and An Emotional Reveal

This Wednesday on Criminal Minds (CBS, 9/8c), the case of the week is a personal one for Kirsten Vangsness’ Garcia when the BAU investigates the disappearance of a member (Army Wives‘ Brigid Branagh) of her survivors’ support group. Most curiously, the friend’s daughter went missing seven years earlier. TVLine spoke with Kirsten Vangsness about stepping front and center with, as she calls it, “Garcia 2.0.”

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TVLINE | What goes through your mind when first presented with “a very special Garcia episode”?
Honestly — and this is going to sound how it’s going to sound, but it’s the truth — they’re all very special episodes to me, so it’s funny when they say, “This one is going to be the special one.” It is special, and the good thing about it is we have some amazing guest cast in this. But you do learn probably the most about Garcia that you have since Season 3, when she got shot and all that. I was excited to read it.

TVLINE | Did any of these new reveals make you, as her portrayer, go, “Wow”?
Yes — the one about her parents and how they died. I knew they died in a car accident, but the fact that they died in a car accident while [SPOILER REDACTED] made me go, “Ohhh, that explains a lot about her.” She’s still a rebel but she almost constantly has this guilt about her being-a-weirdo-but-can’t-help-it kind of a thing. And like I said, we had the most amazing guest cast, including Jack Coleman (Heroes, as a member of the survivors’ support group) and Bridget Branagh…. They carry a lot of the show.

TVLINE | And you got to share scenes with both?
I did. Really, it’s a Garcia episode, but when I read it, I thought, “This is about them, the Jack and Brigid characters” — and in a great way. Yet it doesn’t pull away from it being a Garcia episode.

TVLINE | I hear that in this episode, Garcia is in “BAU sleuth” mode.
She is! She gets to do a lot of stuff that doesn’t usually do. She is in this in a way that you don’t usually see, although she’s still dressed like herself. She’s such the empath of the group, so you get to see her use that emotional “heart on her sleeve” thing. Pardon my French, but she actually gets to use it as her bitch! Usually she’s just the one freaking out, but here she presents the case to the team, she’s out in the field more than you have ever seen, and she helps take down the bad guy in kind of a way.

TVLINE | See, that shows that she has absorbed things from her team members over the years.
Yeah, but she’s still herself. It’s not like some “new-and-improved, hardened, dead-to-the-gruesomeness” Garcia. It’s just “Garcia 2.0.” She’s a little more involved.

TVLINE | What can you tease beyond this week’s episode?
Let’s see…. There’s romance in the air for Mr. Aaron Hotchner…. And there is nothing official yet, but I have heard tell of my boyfriend (Kevin Lynch, played by Nicholas Brendon) making an appearance in one of the next episodes.

TVLINE | Yeah, I was going to ask if he’s still around.
He is still out there — I wondered too. But I just let them write stuff, so I never know!