The final season of Criminal Minds is right around the corner! New episodes of the CBS series will start airing on Wednesday, January 8, and you’re going to get a double-dose of stories right away. Within these two hours, you’ll see more of the danger Everett Lynch (a.k.a. the Chameleon) presents to the team, in addition to the return of Jane Lynch as Spencer’s mom. There’s also a chance that there will be some closure from the Reid – JJ emotional cliffhanger at the end of season 14.
There’s a lot to go over with the upcoming season, so who better to talk about it with than executive producer and showrunner Erica Messer? Check out what she told CarterMatt leading into the new season below, whether it be about the Chameleon or the return of Jane Lynch. Also, be sure to come back after Wednesday’s premiere episode for the second half of our interview with Erica Messer!
Criminal Minds video: After checking out our interview, be sure to watch our video below all about the season 14 finale! Be sure to subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube and then also view our official Criminal Minds playlist. We will have more videos on the show coming up all season (posted after each episode), so don’t miss out!
CarterMatt – What was the experience like of filming the final episodes?
Erica Messer – It was really bittersweet. That’s the best way to put it. So many of us have been there from the beginning, and we all became very aware of ‘oh my gosh, this is the last time we’re going to be in the roundtable room, or on the jet, or saying UnSub.’ All of these little final moments kept coming up that this was the beginning of the end and it felt like this weird countdown. There’s a lot of reflection that was happening, talking about how far we’ve come.
Some of the actors grew up onscreen, so to see how far their characters have come and what happened in their lives is remarkable. AJ [Cook] became a mom on the show; I was a mom when starting the show, and I became a mom for the second time. All of these life moments are happening, people whose kids were in second grade when the show started and are now graduating college. There are so many little amazing moments behind the scenes, but those are the things that count so much. Those are the people you are with everyday. You’re witnessing these life moments for one another, good and bad.
It’s not just creatively or financially — our actors are always going to be known for these characters. They’re obviously more than just the characters they played, but they will always be those characters. This is TV history that we’ve made and we’re in some really rare air with shows that have been on for this long.
This was all about navigating emotions that go along with the end. On some days, someone could be like ‘I’m really grateful for the time we’ve had,’ and the next day that person could be just devastated that it’s going to end (laughs). A lot of that is happening! It’s wild.
I like to imagine that there was a whiteboard somewhere in the writers room with all of these ideas of things you wanted to get done. Were you able to accomplish much of what you hoped to, despite a smaller pool of episodes?
I think we did. There are always some amazing ideas that we aren’t able to do, and we never cracked the code on how to do a documentary crew following the team, so it almost feels like a live episode (laughs). We could never figure that out and I’m kind of bummed — it was an idea people were throwing around the first season!
We talked about what our wish-list was and it was all character-driven. Breen Frazier and Stephanie Birkitt got to do an episode that he had been wanted to do for a long time — “Saturday.” What does the team do on a day off? Do they ever get a day off? The intention of that episode was that it was truly a day off — you might have some of them teamed up so it wasn’t eight separate stories, but we really wanted to explore that. Eventually, it does become a little bit more like a Criminal Minds episode.
There’s no regrets. You can’t have them. We’ve done our best for a very long time and we’re so thankful that we had a chance to.
Everett Lynch has been described as the Big Bad for the season, and there are sneak peeks out there showing that Rossi is obsessed with linking cases and UnSubs to him. What sort of toll is this obsession going to have on him?
It’s a big driver for the final ten. We feel like it makes sense when you look at Rossi’s entire arc. From the very beginning, he was the godfather of the unit. There were guys who got away back then. He dealt with it differently then. When the Chameleon got the upper hand on him in season 14, he said ‘this was the first time the bad guy was faster than me and stronger than me. He could’ve killed me, and I never felt that before.’ His now-wife says ‘you didn’t say that he’s smarter than you, because he isn’t.’
That’s the beautiful thing about this show — Criminal Minds is all about getting into the psychology of the bad guy. Rossi’s expertise in these bad guys is unparalleled. What Everett Lynch doesn’t know in his arrogance and youth is that the worst enemy you can have is David Rossi, because he is so much better at this than anyone. The years that he has chasing bad guys should make him blush. The fact that he’s obsessed with this — you should almost expect nothing less from Rossi when he thinks it’s personal. By the end of the first hour, when an attack is physical to one of the members of the team, it’s sort of like all-hands on deck.
After what happened with Reid and JJ in the finale, where are we picking up with them now?
The premiere picks up six months after our last time with him — so six months since Rossi’s wedding and JJ said what she said — and, six months since Simmons’ wife said she was pregnant. Now, Simmons’ wife is very pregnant and Reid and JJ are awkward. We didn’t want to play that every week — I’m glad we jumped ahead in time. How awkward have they been? I don’t know, and I almost don’t want to know. They’re so good when they’re not awkward and I didn’t want to spend a lot of episodes seeing that.
They’re not who they were, this bums them out. This massive bomb was dropped and let’s unpack that.
What else should you look out for?
Within these two hours, be on the lookout for a particular meaningful conversation between Spencer and his mother Diana (Jane Lynch), who is experiencing a rare period of lucidity. She’s able to offer up a greater sense of perspective on his life, and it’s some of Matthew Gray Gubler’s finest work on the show.
What do you most want to see on the Criminal Minds season 15 premiere?
Be sure to share right now in the comments! Also, stick around if you want to get some other news. (Photo: CBS.)