In 2020, crime drama fan-favorite “Criminal Minds” wrapped up its 16th and final season. Now, after possibly the briefest hiatus in TV history, “Criminal Minds: Evolution” is back with a special 10-episode reboot to drive home the one truth of TV: No good television series ever truly dies.
First premiering in 2005, the original “Criminal Minds” series enjoyed 16 seasons of success by following the fictional action-packed work of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), a team that specializes in hunting serial killers through behavioral profiling. The new “Criminal Minds” reunites the team that brought the series to a close, leading them into an intellectual battle with perpetrators, the kinds of which they’ve never encountered before. “Criminal Minds: Evolution” may be a reboot, but it’s completely new: It’s vicious, it’s eerie, it’s mature, it’s elevated — and there’s nothing about it that fans won’t love.
“Criminal Minds: Evolution” presents viewers with a team on unsure footing. The team comprises Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler, “Ghost Whisperer”), Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez, “CSI: Miami”), Jennifer Jareau (A.J. Cook, “The Virgin Suicides”), David Rossi (Joe Mantegna, “The Starter Wife”) and Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster, “Friends”). Following the breakup of the team due to bureaucracy and budget cuts, all special agents start off working alone and on the road until one huge network of connected cases brings them together. In the second of two premiere episodes, the BAU team uncovers an international team of serial killers working together to plan and brainstorm their own individual crimes, sharing malicious tips, tricks and tools through an online network forged during the lockdown years of the pandemic. While the team at its finest would have had no trouble tackling this obstacle with full force, in its current era of uncertainty, the team struggles to unite amid personal hardship — like a rocky marriage or the loss of a loved one — and typical FBI office drama. Each member of the BAU is struggling to bring their profiling A-game, and that’s hard for fans to watch. However, it only makes us crave their success even more, and gives this new “Criminal Minds” an element of raw emotion that’s necessary to set it apart from the original.
Perhaps no one brings the emotion to “Criminal Minds” quite like fan-favorite Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness, “Dave Made A Maze”). A series regular since the very first “Criminal Minds” season, Garcia’s storylines have grown increasingly intricate and integral to the show since her premiere episode, and she has established herself as one of the true main characters of the “Criminal Minds” series. Her importance to the show is greater now than ever before, and though she has since retired from FBI life and quit the BAU, she still gets thrown back into the madness of “Criminal Minds: Evolution” — because, without Garcia, there would be no “Criminal Minds.” The second episode of “Criminal Minds: Evolution” focuses heavily on Garcia and her life away from the dark and traumatic crime-fighting at the BAU, giving viewers a glimpse of her in her own quirky and beautiful space while also re-establishing the unbreakable connection she has with her former team. Garcia, with her colorful personality and humor, has always been the BAU agent who brought the warm and fuzzy moments to the show, while also regularly saving the day with her computer skills and hacking expertise. Continuing to let her shine and shifting the spotlight her way in “Criminal Minds: Evolution” was a perfect choice and ensures that the so-far spectacular reboot will carry on in the right direction.
So far, “Criminal Minds: Evolution” has done everything right: They’ve given viewers back their core characters and fan favorites. They’ve introduced minor conflicts in the form of government bureaucracy and characters’ personal struggles. They’ve created a unique central conflict, something that pulls real-life events into a twisted, yet intriguing plot line. What all of these changes amount to is a newfound style rooted in maturity and growth. From the creepier crimes to the tensions between team members and the new style of storytelling that documents it all, it’s clear that “Criminal Minds: Evolution” is pushing itself to create a better-paced and more coherent story — a goal at which it’s so far been successful. The series reboot has established a more serious tone and higher stakes, creating conflict that is sure to keep fans on the edge of their seats. Things are not operating under ordinary circumstances, and that in itself, along with an engaging plot and beloved characters, generates more than enough anticipation to push the series forward.
Daily Arts Writer Annabel Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.