Stream or skip? The BAU profilers face a network of serial killers in Paramount+’s Criminal Minds: Evolution

Stream or skip? The BAU profilers face a network of serial killers in Paramount+’s Criminal Minds: Evolution

Criminal Minds was noted for being bloodier and eerier than the standard CBS procedurals of the 2000s, and even bloodier than the multiple CSIs. It also featured a cast that worked well together, even when big cast changes occurred over its 15-year run, such as when Joe Mantegna replaced Mandy Patinkin in Season 3. Two and a half years after the show’s network run concluded, a new season will premiere on Paramount+ with the majority of the show’s final cast and a case that promises to make those from the show’s network run seem small.

First Shot: “Yakima County, Washington, 2005” A automobile travels down a road in the dark.

The driver parks his vehicle near a hidden storage container on a slope. He removes a guy from the trunk while wearing night vision goggles and while wearing night vision goggles. The container contains a string of developed photographs and an abundance of sharp equipment. He then gets a large knife and begins slicing the victim to death.

In 2022, a guy using night vision goggles steals into a home in Bethesda, Maryland. He leaves the infant resting in his cradle, but ultimately murders the parents and abducts their adolescent daughter.

Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) learns of the killings and kidnapping in Maryland while Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler) searches the storage container in Yakima County, which holds 16 remains in varied states of preservation. Agent David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) has spent the last few months researching a murder in Virginia to determine if it matches the pattern of earlier deaths. After the loss of his wife, he has been more preoccupied with his work than normal. Due to the dissolution of the BAU, it has been difficult for her to reunite her old colleagues on a case despite her elevation.

Deputy Director Bailey (Nicholas D’Agosto) believes that Lewis’ discovery in Washington is a cartel occurrence, despite the fact that both Lewis and Prentiss are aware that it has all the hallmarks of a serial murderer. Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez) and JJ Jareau (A.J. Cook) are assigned to the case in Maryland, particularly because the daughter is still at large and hopefully alive.

Alvez pauses her British baking party to assist them when they realize that the social networking site built by their former colleague Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) was the link between the daughter and the teen girl slain in the Virginia case. Given the equipment and tactics utilized, Rossi argues that the killer is in his forties, whereas Garcia insists that the culprit is a teenager, given his link to the teen victims. Can both be justified? Also, how?

Michael Yarish/ Paramount plus

What Shows Does It Bring to Mind? The original 15-year run of Criminal Minds, which aired from 2005 to 2020, but with a continuous plot and somewhat more profanity.

Criminal Minds fans will love the return of the majority of the BAU members in Criminal Minds: Evolution. There are no traces of Matthew Gray Gubler or Daniel Henney, but the series feels more like a gritty continuation with an intricate plot than a CSI: Vegas-style spin-off.

This is a good thing. This group has well-established chemistry, which is obvious in instances when Garcia and Alvez are rehashing old episodes when he asks her for help and when Prentiss advises Rossi to let his friends in to help him cope with his sorrow. For example, we are not required to be formally introduced to the principles; instead, we receive a brief update on their current status before diving into the case.

Unlike the original series, however, this case spans many episodes: During the pandemic, a serial killer (Zach Gilford) sets up and trains a network of serial murderers utilizing tactics and equipment he has amassed over the last two decades. This network has been activated now that civilization has been reopened. So, while each episode will feature a fresh case, they will all be related to the man who stuffed so many people into that storage container in Washington. It’s almost like the procedural version of Justice League vs. the Legion of Doom on CBS (now Paramount+).

Obviously, despite the plot and the streaming-level profanity, the program is still a CBS procedural at its core, and there are ridiculous procedural bits, such as the grandmother of the stolen girl ranting about how she used to drive herself insane defending her now-deceased granddaughter. There are idiotic managers like Bailey to oppose. However, the plot is certainly intriguing, and the Criminal Minds ensemble is simply too talented not to be able to execute some of their greatest work with such a complex plot.

Skin and Sexuality: None.

Parting Shot: We observe the individual we think to be the ringleader of this serial killer network burying a similar case to the one found in the storage container and with the suspect in the Maryland and Virginia murders. We hear him quote Roald Dahl on the witching hour in a voiceover.

How could we not acknowledge Kirsten Vangsness here for Sleeper Star? As was typical throughout the original series’ run, she had the funniest lines in the pilot. In addition, Garcia is essentially a computer genius.

Most pilot-like line: When they briefly believe the man driving the car of the slain family is the murderer, he sees the bloody crime scene photographs and exclaims, “Oh my gosh, what the hell!” The response from Rossi is, “These are her parents. What’s the matter with you?” Rossi recoils, though, when he reveals that he bought the vehicle an hour before being stopped. Why would people believe him without question?

Our Request: STREAM IT. Has Criminal Minds: Evolution adopted the tried-and-true approach that let its predecessor reach over 320 episodes? Not at all With an expanded plot and the return of the majority of the original ensemble, the show will seem new to longtime viewers while remaining familiar enough to keep them satisfied.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes on cuisine, entertainment, parenting, and technology, but he’s not going to lie: he’s a TV addict. His work has been published in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, and Fast Company, among other publications.


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