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Post Mortems

Criminal Minds: Kirsten Vangsness Talks Penelope/Luke Reveal — Plus, Grade the Evolution Premiere

Criminal Minds Evolution

The following contains spoilers from the first episode of Criminal Minds: Evolution, now streaming exclusively on Paramount+.

Criminal Minds: Evolution made its debut this Thanksgiving Day with a double helping of episodes, to be followed by weekly releases.

The first episode opened with a flashback to 2005, where an UnSub was dragging the latest of many victims into a partially buried shipping container in Washington State — inside of which he proceeded to torture/kill the man. We then leaped forward to 2022, where a home invader abducted a teen daughter after killing her parents in their sleep.

Criminal Minds Evolution TrailerDr. Tara Lewis gets a call when the shipping container is discovered by some kids, and she takes stock of its grisly contents. Prentiss as Section Chief is unable to do much with Tara’s discovery, given FBI Deputy Director Bailey’s inclination to write it off as a cartel thing. When Emily brings up the overworked BAU — especially given the absence of Reid and Simmons — Bailey notes, “Sorry, I’m not at liberty to discuss their assignments. If and when they return is entirely up to them. Sadly we don’t have a say.”

Rossi has been BAU Unit Chief, though for the past year he has been “obsessed” with an UnSub subbed the “family annihilator,” working cases in Virginia and now Maryland. Amid some terse exchanges between him and Luke, and then him and Garcia, it is Rossi has been dealing (or not) with a great loss for “almost a year.” And while it is never stated outright in Episode 1, memories he flashes back to late in the episode strongly suggest that his wife Krystall died.

Criminal Minds Revival PhotosAs for the rest of the agents we know, Luke is basically holding down what’s left of the actual BAU fort, where Prentiss’ old office now doubles as a workout room; JJ is coming home late (and bringing work with her), though she does find time to marvel at/fret over the fact that son Henry has his first girlfriend. And Penelope Garcia…? Well….

She of course announced her decision to leave the BAU in the CBS series finale, and since then she has “banned 24-hour news” and “doom-scrolling.” Four people have been hired and failed to do her job, but the latest turn in Rossi’s investigation demands her computer savvy, especially since the social media site at hand is one that Garcia made hacker-proof. So Luke is sent to ask/beg her to take a look-see “behind the curtain” and see what she can find to link the two teen vics.

And with Luke’s arrival at Garcia’s doorstep, one dangling thread from Criminal Minds‘ CBS finale is lightly addressed.

If the pandemic perhaps muddied your memory of the show’s February 2020 send-off, Luke had asked Penelope out to dinner, and she gladly accepted. So… how did that pan out?

One of Garcia’s gal pals apparently was curious, too, whispering something in her ear after hunky Luke crashed their anglophile baking party.

“It was one dinner, three years ago,” Penelope told her friend. “We thrive as frenemies, however.”

But is that the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Or could there be more to the story?

“How do I explain this…?” said Kirsten Vangsness when TVLine inquired about the Garcia/Alvez update. “You guys, it’s going to take a minute to explain the ‘One date, three years ago.’ You’re going to get some satisfaction.

“But between that satisfaction,” she excitedly avowed, “there’s a whole other thing — there’s much other satisfaction — that no one including I would have called.

“And it is time,” Vangsness cryptically asserted. “Thank you television, it is time for this to be happening. No one will be sad. You’ll think, ‘Aww, man…,’ and then, ‘Wait, what?’ And that’s the most I can tell you about it.”

What did you think of Evolution‘s premiere, Reid and Simmons’ mysterious assignment, and the “satisfaction” promised by Vangsness?