This Wednesday on CBS’ Criminal Minds, Aaron Hotcher was sent away on assignment for temporary duty — in a move that will eventually tee up original cast member Thomas Gibson’s permanent exit.
In Season 12’s third episode, titled “Taboo,” Hotchner was revealed to be on special assignment at the Director’s request. Arriving to help the team during his absence was BAU member turned Interpol unit chief Emily Prentiss. Once again reunited with JJ, Rossi et al — as well as meeting new addition Luke Alves — Prentiss assisted in the hunt for an escaped serial killer, on top of the BAU’s normal case load.
Though Hotchner’s absence was originally only to last an episode or two, to accommodate what was at the time Gibson’s suspension in the wake of an on-set altercation (described below), this week in fact marked the beginning of his permanent exit, since he was eventually fired. As such, Paget Brewster’s short-term return has been upgraded to full-time, while Damon Gupton (Bates Motel) will be introduced later this fall as Stephen Walker, a seasoned profiler who will bring his spy-hunting skills to the BAU.
According to Gibson’s recent account of the “kick” that ultimately found him terminated from the show he called home for more than 11 seasons, while filming the second episode of Season 12 in late July, he questioned a line of dialogue, but was overruled by co-executive producer/writer Virgil Williams. Later, when Gibson was relating the differing of opinions to castmates, Williams “came into that room and started coming towards me. As he brushed past me, my foot came up and tapped him on the leg. If I hadn’t moved, he would have run into me,” the actor said.
Following that, “We had some choice words, for which I apologized the next day, and that was it. It was over,” Gibson said. “We shot the scene, I went home — and I never got to go back,” suspended as he originally was for two episodes, before eventually being fired on Aug. 12.
How do you think Criminal Minds will write out Gibson, by November sweeps?