This Wednesday night at 9/8c, CBS’ Criminal Minds will kick off its two-part Season 9 finale, which showrunner Erica Messer says boasts “the most action-packed two hours that we’ve ever done.
“The stakes are insanely high,” she continues, “because the whole team is in jeopardy in a way they’ve never been before.”
But before you fear the worst, as Season 9 draws to a close, hear Messer out on what all is — and isn’t — on tap for the next two Wednesdays.
Part 1, titled “Angels,” takes the BAU team to a small town in Texas, on the trail of what appears to be a serial killer who’s targeting prostitutes. “It presents as completely right up our alley,” says Messer. “It looks like torture, but the cause of death is a gunshot wound, which doesn’t really make sense. One points to sadistic behavior, while the other points to putting somebody out of their misery. So, what are we dealing with?”
Simply said, and without spoiling much of anything, “Somebody is trying to cover up a bigger crime,” Messer reveals. And then as Part 2, “Demons,” unspools, and Hotch & Co. delve into the questions of who and why, “We end up not being in as safe an environment as we’d hoped,” she warns.
On board for the “Angels”/”Demons” one-two punch are Esai Morales, reprising his role as BAU section chief Mateo Cruz, who last was seen being terrorized with JJ in Episode 200. “Cruz’s friend is the one who bring us to Texas, and then when everything hits the fan at the end of the first hour, Cruz and Garcia join the team on the ground,” says Messer, who wanted to give viewers an update on Morales’ character. Guest stars, meanwhile, include Brett Cullen (Person of Interest, pictured at right) and Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica) in roles that “allow them to be bad together, sort of one-upping each other with how bad they are.”
A year ago, Messer was robbed of some suspense-building when CBS aired Criminal Minds‘ two-parter back-to-back on the same night, leaving viewers to mull the shock of The Replicator targeting Strauss for the duration of one entire commercial break. But this time around, she gets her proper mid-finale cliffhanger. “The last two minutes of [Episode] 23 are going to leave you like, ‘Oh my gosh — what just happened?!’” she hopes. “If we left the season like that, people would be freaking out. But they’ll only have to wait a week.”
Amidst the season-ending case and the high stakes that come with it, a bit of time will be carved out to touch on some personal matters for a BAU agent or two. “Rossi and Blake each share something about their lives that we never knew,” Messer teases, explaining: “I’m a sucker in that I love to write about what makes our characters tick, and the stories these two share are really heartwarming and give a lot of insight.” Specifically, “I think people will connect with Blake in a way they hadn’t before.”
As Part 2 draws to a close, next Wednesday at 55 minutes past the hour, viewers can expect… well, “Everybody taking a deep breath,” Messer assures. Meaning, though shy of another festive party in Rossi’s backyard, Season 9 will not leave us with any semblance of a life-or-death cliffhanger. “The out of our first hour is so great, you really can’t top it,” the EP notes. Instead, “I wanted our team to be like, ‘OK, we survived that one. Now let’s get some rest.’ There’s no cliffhanger, I promise!”
Helping set the soothing segue into summer and ultimately Season 10 is a new tune from songstress Lily Kershaw, whose music has memorably been featured on Minds in the past. “She happened to have a song that wasn’t on her album but which she had recorded, and it’s just perfect,” Messer raves. “You’ll know it when you hear it.”