Review: Criminal Minds: Evolution

Molly Ziesenheim, Editorial Editor

Criminal Minds: Evolution | Official Trailer | Paramount+

Criminal Minds: Evolution, starring original long-time cast members Joe Mantegna, Paget Brewster, A.J. Cook, and Kirsten Vangsness, follows the Behavioral Analysis Unit profilers as they work to put an end to a hidden network one killer at a time. The new episodes are part of a reboot, picked up by Paramount+ in 2022, of the hit show Criminal Minds which ran from 2005-2020.

The show picks up two years after we last saw them. Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) has moved up the ranks of the FBI to Unit Chief of the Behavioral Analysis Unit and finds conflict with her new boss, Deputy Director Baily (Nicholas D’Agosto). Agent Dave Rossi (Joe Mantegna) deals with the aftermath of a personal loss that builds up into anger resulting in him lashing out at other team members. Former BAU member, Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) is revealed to have started a new job, living a murder-free life. However, she returns when the team needs her skills to help uncover the season’s focus psychopath, Elias Voit (Zach Gilford). 

Unlike the original seasons, this season follows one main case that covers all ten episodes. The show trails the COVID-19 pandemic, during which serial killer Elias Voit trains a network of serial killers using methods and equipment he has collected over two decades. When society opened back up, this network was set into motion. Each episode contains a new case, but all of them are tied to this one killer: Voit.

Following the tradition from the original fifteen seasons, each episode opens with a gruesome crime followed by a philosophical quote voiced over by a cast member. Aimed at die-hard fans, the first two episodes drop clever Easter eggs, including one directed towards Luke Alvez (Adam Rodríguez) and Penelope Garcia shippers.

Criminal Minds: Evolution keeps up its thrills and twists that made viewers fall in love with the series in the first place. As a bonus, it dives deeper into the personal lives of beloved characters like Jennifer Jareau (A.J. Cook) and her family. The show contains difficult conversations among colleagues and provides a more personal feel than the first fifteen seasons.

Showrunner Erica Messer took advantage of the opportunity to elevate the beloved show with amazing camera work including anamorphic lenses creating captivating and detailed scenes. With the season finale having just aired on February 9, 2023, this new season is not something you want to miss whether you’re a new watcher or an OG stan.