‘Criminal Minds: Evolution’ Boss on Voit’s Partner & Rules, BAU vs. Bailey & More

Aisha Tyler, AJ Cook, Joe Mantegna, and Kirsten Vangsness in 'Criminal Minds: Evolution'
Q&A
Michael Yarish /Paramount+

The BAU is getting closer and closer to getting a win over UnSub Elias Voit/Sicarius (Zach Gilford), who’s running a network of serial killers …once they get past the halfway point of the season on Criminal Minds: Evolution.

So far, the profilers know that they’re dealing with a network and they’re working on narrowing down who they might be looking for based on the kill kits still out there. They also might have some found help in the latest UnSub — who actually infiltrated the network because his sister went missing 15 years ago and he has his eye on Sicarius, they discovered in “Moose.”

But these killers aren’t their only problem: Deputy Director Bailey (Nicholas D’Agosto) wants to shut down the BAU and has now removed David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) as team leader; fortunately, Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster), as section chief, was able to appoint herself as his replacement.

Showrunner Erica Messer teases what’s ahead.

Prentiss is now going to be Section Chief and Unit Chief. And normally I wouldn’t worry, she can handle it, but Bailey’s a problem. How is she balancing both jobs?

Erica Messer: Prentiss is incredible. I love her so much. She’s so strong. When she just lays into him like, “you’ve never been in the field, you’ve never done what I’ve done. Have you?” I just [cheered her on]. She is the character who can handle this in a political diplomatic way. She’s just so experienced and so smart and is very, very aware of a power dynamic and a power struggle and she can spot it a mile away and her profiling skills really come in handy when she’s having to deal with inner office politics. And I think we see that reflected so beautifully in her relationship with Bailey.

That “hedge fund manager with a badge” was just perfect.

Right? I know. I was cheering her on for that.

Bailey’s trying to shut down the BAU and he succeeds in bringing in the Domestic Terrorism Unit and gives them the credit in the last episode. How much is that going to continue in a similar way?

It’s gonna be a couple episodes of Bailey continuing on that arc of sort of being an enemy of the BAU. Then big things shift and change and he grows a lot as a character and as a colleague of the BAU.

I didn’t think that was possible really after these first few episodes.

I know. That’s the thing. You want to hate him because he feels like an enemy, and so how will the audience ever like this guy? We wanted to go on that journey versus just having him for 10 episodes be our enemy. That felt redundant. And so giving him an arc felt like the right way to go.

Zach Gilford and Nathan Ray Clark in 'Criminal Minds: Evolution'

Michael Yarish /Paramount+

Thank you for casting Zach as Voit. The casting of UnSubs has always been so good on Criminal Minds.

Oh, thank you. He’s amazing, isn’t he?

So good. Voit, so far, has been able to follow his own rules, even going so far as to use a Hal lookalike. When will we see that change?

We are gonna notice a big shift in him the later half of the season. I’ve structured this year to be the first half of the season in the battle between the BAU and Elias Voit, Voit is winning, and then in the last half of the season, the tables have turned and now the BAU is winning.

As you know, because you’ve seen the show, it’s not often that we can have a bad guy beat our heroes, for very long anyway. This is something that we were never able to do in a 22-episode order because we could never have a bad guy be defeating us, week after week after week, and so even with this, looking at a 10-episode arc, I didn’t want to be defeated week after week. There have to be some victories along the way. In the later half of the season is when Voit starts devolving a bit, but we’re along for this incredible ride before that happens.

Do his rules come into play when it comes to him devolving or is it something else?

Oh, his rules really, really are a huge part. They’re a blessing and a curse for him.

So about this UnSub who paid his way to the front of the line of the network… What can you say about him and how much of a problem he’s going to be both for Voit and the BAU?

Just hang on tight, you’re gonna get your answers soon about him, and it’s one of those just unexpected necessary partnerships that Voit had to do. Voit doesn’t like to have partnerships. He’s done really well on his own for a very long time. As we saw, he’s been doing this since 2005. So the fact that he has to rely on anyone else for this network angers him, but these things are expensive and as we saw, he’s got a family to care for and he doesn’t have free money to go towards securing this network.

He’s sort of forced to be in partnership with somebody, but he doesn’t like that. He likes to have control over everything and everyone. And so the fact that there’s this guy saying, “yeah, I’ll give you your money, but I’m not gonna be like the rest of him. I’m not gonna put a gun to my head,” that’s not good for Voit. He doesn’t want to have somebody with free will like that. So it’ll become an interesting dynamic that gets played out in the next couple episodes.

I was wondering if Voit would use the BAU to get rid of the partner, but because he won’t put a gun to his head, that would be a risk.

Exactly. You’re onto something. More to come before the midseason finale.

Will we see Voit focusing on one member of the BAU?

This season? Absolutely…. We could all take guesses as who it is, but I don’t want to give anything away

I was thinking JJ (AJ Cook), because of how determined she was in Episode 3.

I know. He sees JJ and Alvez [Adam Rodriguez] walking away from the tackle, so they’re on his radar now, which is scary. But Voit wouldn’t get away with this for so long if he wasn’t really smart and doing his research. So the BAU is for sure on his radar now.

The vigilante Tyler (Ryan-James Hatanaka) we just met — how much of a role does he have going forward? Will we see him and Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) come face-to-face in the next episode?

You are, and he has a really big role for the rest of the season. He and Garcia obviously have started out on the wrong foot because you don’t want to trick her in any way or lure her back to something that she was OK to be away from. So she has a lot of emotional stake in this new relationship with this guy.

Will we see any UnSubs from the original run this season?

Not this season, but we’re not ruling it out.

And how about any other characters from the original run?

Yes, [but] I don’t want to spoil it.

Garcia and Luke are back to “will they, won’t they” so what’s next?

It’s a story that we can pursue because we’re on streaming, let’s put it that way.

Criminal Minds: Evolution, Thursdays, Paramount+