After 14 seasons of mutilation and the term "un-sub" being thrown around approximately every four minutes, beloved crime procedural Criminal Minds' 15th and final season is nearly upon us. The last season will have just ten episodes—most thus far have had at least 20—and will heavily feature longtime Criminal Minds stars Joe Mantegna, Matthew Gray Gubler, Kirsten Vangsness, Paget Brewster, and A.J. Cook, along with a handful of recent cast additions, as well as longtime guest star Jane Lynch.
Unlike its first 14 seasons, the final season will begin airing in CBS' mid-season slot—think early 2020 (more details below)—rather than in the fall of 2019, as was initially expected. Here's what else we know about the last season of the show that made everyone in America double-check their doors were locked before they went to sleep (as any longtime viewer knows, the suburban family is the least safe of all!).
We have a release date!
On November 11, CBS finalized its winter TV lineup, meaning we finally have an air date for the much-hyped last season. January 8, 2020 will see the two-hour season premiere of season 15 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. It'll then air for one hour every Wednesday evening at 9 p.m. That means it's regaining it's coveted Wednesday 9 p.m. slot (it was bumped from that slot three years ago, per Deadline).
The official Criminal Minds Instagram also shared a post about its now-finalized release date:
The first photo is here.
AJ Cook, a.k.a. JJ, shared the first photo from the new season, writing: "Final season of #criminalminds 😳. I have the BIGGEST knot in my stomach right now. Just know that I’m right there with y’all. Serious #anxiety."
This is clearly a reference to the JJ-Reid drama that showrunner Erica Messer has made clear will play out at the beginning of season 15. Messer told TV Line: "We deal with that in the first two hours of the final 10 [episodes], because that needs some explanation and some tender care really to have her be fair to everyone. I think 100 percent that Reid loves her, too, so that’s where it’s hard."
There's clearly a spark between these two in the photo, even if JJ's body language is a touch defensive. The actors are clearly well aware that fans are waiting with bated breath for the next chapter of the surprise romance between the longtime co-agents; Gray Gubler teased this behind-the-scenes photo, presumably during filming.
You can also see a little teaser of the next season in this trailer for CBS' winter lineup:
Jane Lynch will be in it!
Oh, thank God. Lynch has played Reid's genius mom on and off since the very first season; her character, Diana, suffers from schizophrenia, and Reid had Diana committed when he became an adult. In season 12, Diana was kidnapped, and after she was saved by the BAU (because, of course), she and Reid had an emotional reunion. That's the last we saw of Diana—until now!
“I see a happy ending in store for Reid, which is something that we’re all looking forward to, including with his mom,” Gray Gubler told Parade.
The cast is super sad to say goodbye.
I mean, wouldn't you be? This show has been running longer than Friends did, for crying out loud.
They even got matching rings to commemorate their time on the show.
The series will center around tracking down The Chameleon.
The key to the final season will be Rossi's much-anticipated showdown with The Chameleon, played by Michael Mosley. Rossi "will be concluding the 10 episodes with a showdown with [the Chameleon]," said showrunner Erica Messer in a January interview with Deadline.
Daniel Henney told TV Line: "Overall, I'd say [Season] 15 has more of an arc through the episodes than previous seasons. Our unsub, Chameleon, is played by Michael Mosely, and he's definitely into some gruesome, creepy stuff."
So, business as usual, then!
Old heroes and villains could return.
Ooh. In the same interview with Deadline, Messer teased that stars in the form of old un-subs and old cast members could return for a final goodbye.
"We have one in the works right now who’s a very memorable villain, but I don’t want to say too much if it doesn’t work out with casting ... I am very hopeful that we can honor all of those characters who have been beloved and with this team, with the audience for years, but I don’t know what that’s going to look like."
She also mentioned that she'd be reluctant to kill off any of the most beloved and long-standing characters. "I know it’s a drama, but I’m less likely to injure or write someone off in a way that says they’re not breathing anymore," she said. (Full interview is here.)
The cast members most in demand by fans would likely be Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner, played by Thomas Gibson; Derek Morgan, played by Shemar Moore; and Jason Gideon, played by Mandy Patinkin. For two of those three actors, coming back would be complicated—Gibson was abruptly fired from the show over anger-management issues (Gibson denies that he was violent, as the network claimed), and Patinkin has described his tenure on Criminal Minds as his "biggest public mistake," adding that the show "was very destructive to my soul and my personality" and suggesting that it shouldn't have been made in the first place.
Shemar Moore is a different story. Moore has returned twice for guest spots and, plot-wise, showrunners left the door open for him to return in the future. It sure seems like he maintains a good relationship with the show and its network—but he's also the lead on S.W.A.T., which is currently airing, so scheduling conflicts may have arisen. (Ironically, until season 15, S.W.A.T. had replaced the Wednesday slot that Criminal Minds used to occupy. The audacity!)
The final episode is titled "And In The End..."
Don't mind me, it's just some dust in my eye! I'm fine!!
The final episode has already shot; the series wrapped up in May.
Reid has a new love interest.
I wish that love interest were me, but it's not: Rachel Leigh Cook, who you might remember from She's All That and Josie and the Pussycats, will guest star as a love interest to Reid. This is a plot point in and of itself, given that it turned out at the end of season 14 that JJ had been in love with Reid all this time (and who among us hasn't been!)—but, also, she's married and her husband is coming back. So that'll be a whole thing.
Said Messer to TV Line of JJ's confession: "We can’t … pretend it didn’t happen. It’s definitely a huge driver for the first handful of episodes that will help add layers to those characters again.”
There will be drama.
One of the show's current leads, Aisha Tyler, told TV Line that the finale of the show would be “massive, explosive and transformative," and full of "really good surprises." Messer also said that it would be a "tearjerker."
The women of the show did a gorgeous shoot.
I mean, look at them on this Watch! cover.
And, okay, the men did a nice one too.
Matthew Gray Gubler's maniacal grin (almost un-sub-like, you might say) is pretty fitting here, no?
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