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Wheels Up — How to Watch ‘Criminal Minds: Evolution’ When It Returns in All Its UnSub Glory

When Criminal Minds went dark in February 2020, plenty of fans did not want to see their beloved show end. As it turns out, the actors and creatives on board the series at the time weren’t ready to say goodbye either. So, after 15 years of seasons, 324 episodes and now a two-year hiatus, Criminal Minds is back — this time as Criminal Minds: Evolution.

It wouldn’t be a true revival without at least a couple of significant changes though, would it? From casting mysteries and a bold new premise to where to watch Criminal Minds: Evolution when it debuts, read on to learn everything you need to know about this anticipated show.

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When and Where Can I Watch Criminal Minds: Evolution?

When Criminal Minds: Evolution debuts on November 24, it will be on Paramount+. For fans keeping track, that means the premiere date is actually Thanksgiving. Talk about something to be thankful for, huh? The first two of 10 episodes drop then, with new weekly episodes continuing each Thursday until the midseason finale on December 15.

The back half of Criminal Minds: Evolution then returns to Paramount+ with more weekly episodes beginning January 12. The season finale hits the streaming service on February 9.


What is Criminal Minds: Evolution About?

As we mentioned, Criminal Minds: Evolution will no longer be on CBS, but moves over to stream on Paramount+. That jump means there will be some extra swears, but the creatives promise these episodes won’t contain extra gore or violent images. At least no more than the old show featured.

The shift also means the 10-episode arc will be more serialized than ever. It follows an UnSub named Elias Volt (Zach Gilford, of Friday Night Lights fame) who has amassed an entire network of serial killers during the pandemic.

“That [story] really came to me during the pandemic,” showrunner Erica Messer told reporters, including SPY at a Television Critics Association panel with the cast. “I just thought, I know why I’m watching some of these true crime things, because I can’t — sadly can’t turn it off. I am fascinated by all of it. And I thought, gosh, what are serial killers doing right now? Are they using this time to study the greats and read up on this stuff?”

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Courtesy of Michael Yarish /Paramount+

Who Stars In Criminal Minds: Evolution?

It’s wheels up for Joe Mantegna as David Rossi, Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia, Paget Brewster as Emily Prentiss, A.J. Cook as Jennifer “JJ” Jareau, Aisha Tyler as Tara Lewis, and Adam Rodriguez as Luke Alvez when the series returns.

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Image courtesy of Michael Yarish / Paramount+

What About Matthew Gray Gubler and Daniel Henney?

Unfortunately for fans, the actors aren’t physically a part of the Evolution world when this show returns, but that doesn’t mean their presence isn’t felt.

“Our hope is that the team members that we ended the series with on CBS will be able to come back and play at some point. But everybody does have other projects,” Messer said. “We started shooting in August, and we’re going to be wrapped in December because it’s a ten-episode season. So there was like a short window to try to get all of our friends to play, and we weren’t able to make that commitment,” she continued.

“It’s a little bit more of a mystery what Reid and Simmons are up to, but they’re certainly not forgotten. Dr. Reid and I believe Matt Simmons’ desks are still there, still have stuff on it. Like if any of you went back after March 2020, you still have stuff on that desk that was there for two years. So we’re definitely playing that, they are not gone-gone. Let’s put it that way.”


Will This Show Honor the Original Criminal Minds Ending?

Hopefully, Criminal Minds fans are caught up by now and this won’t be a spoiler, but at the end of the series, Kirsten Vangsness’ Garcia character retired from the BAU to focus on less bloody ventures. That means her presence in this continuation needs a bit of an explainer, right?

“Garcia, had actually left to go work for an environmental company, so we knew that was going to be built in,” explains Messer. “But we also wanted to establish that this team was going to be together fighting bad guys and having to find a replacement for their beloved Garcia.”

Sounds to us like she’s irreplaceable, but we suppose we’ll find out more when the series debuts.

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Image courtesy of Monty Brinton /Paramount+

What Have the Rest of the Characters Been Up To?

While Paramount+ is keeping a tight lid on things for now, it does sound like the pandemic hasn’t been kind to Rossi, and he’s not in a great place when we return.

“We start in the first two episodes really seeing Rossi in a new light,”  Messer says. “When somebody like that, the core of the team, is not in a good way, there’s a ripple effect throughout every relationship he has. We wanted to honor this journey of grief that a lot of people have been through, certainly since we’ve last seen them, and we put that burden onto Rossi’s shoulders,” she continued.

“And Joe, I mean, beyond delivers an emotional roller coaster with Rossi. So that’s how our season starts in terms of who’s in the most crisis. I would argue it’s Rossi. And then the side effect of that is the whole team is worried and suffering with him and for him.”


Are Any of the Actors Directing Episodes of Criminal Minds: Evolution?

According to Mantegna, he directs the third episode of the series. He isn’t the only actor jumping behind the camera, though: Cook, Tyler and Rodriguez each helm an episode of the season.

“It’s nice that the four of us who have done episodes in the past have gotten another shot,” he said. “It was wonderful to get another opportunity to be the person that steers the ship for those eight shooting days that we do [per episode].”

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Image courtesy of Michael Yarish / Paramount+

Is There a Trailer for Criminal Minds: Evolution?

Not yet, but you can bet we’re keeping our eyes peeled.


Can I Watch Criminal Minds: Evolution For Free?

Paramount+ has a seven-day free trial, so if you still haven’t signed up, you could technically wait until next year, sign up for the free trial and binge all 10 episodes at once. But then you run the risk of being spoiled, not to mention that Paramount could cancel its free trial service anytime before February. Therefore, your best bet if you want to watch <em>Criminal Minds: Evolution</em> is to subscribe to the basic five-buck-a-month plan and then cancel it when you’re done.


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