‘Criminal Minds: Evolution’ Boss on Gold Star, [Spoiler]’s Death & If Zach Gilford Will Return in Season 17

Zach Gilford in 'Criminal Minds: Evolution'
Spoiler Alert
Michael Yarish /Paramount+

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 16 finale “Dead End.”]

One case closes (sort of), another opens in the Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 16 finale.

Rossi (Joe Mantegna) helps to save himself, with the BAU finding him after taking Elias Voit/Sicarius (Zach Gilford) into custody and having his wife Sydney (Kiele Sanchez) talk him into giving up the location. But before they got Voit, he shot Bailey (Nicholas D’Agosto), who insisted upon being the one to try to negotiate after the serial killer used the phrase “Gold Star.” Whatever that is, it has Rebecca (Nicole Pacent) telling the Attorney General (Monnae Michaell) her legal and extralegal options: let him go (the safest way to keep the matter contained) or an implied order of terminate with extreme prejudice (with the likely deaths of Rossi and Voit’s family unavoidable collateral damage).

When Lewis (Aisha Tyler) questions ex-girlfriend Rebecca about Gold Star, all she can tell her is there are issues within the DOJ that she cannot and will not talk to her about. And at the close of the finale, the BAU is cleared before Voit is brought into an interrogation room, uncuffed, and left to wait until the door opens and in walks…

TV Insider turned to showrunner Erica Messer to try to get answers about that final scene, Gold Star, and more.

I am so intrigued by Gold Star. What can you say about it? Who knows about it? What from the season or possibly previous seasons should we be looking at for clues?

Erica Messer: I can’t say a whole heck of a lot about it right now because we are in the writers’ room for this second season [of Evolution] and Gold Star is shifting a little bit in our conversations, so I don’t wanna say anything that we then veer away from. But I can say that Voit clearly thinks knowing that phrase is going to be helpful for him in some kind of negotiating. And then the bigger mystery is, why does he know that? What is it that got our dear beloved deputy director killed? There’s not a whole lot of clues you could look for from previous seasons, but there will be some things that we introduced in Season 16 that will come into play regarding Gold Star for later.

Can you say who walked into the interrogation room? Was it the AG? Rebecca? Someone else?

I can’t say right now. We purposefully wanted to leave that cliffhanger feel of who could it be. Is it somebody we’ve never met before? Is it somebody who’s — we’ve never met the director of the FBI, we’ve only met the deputy director. So we have a plan and we hope the plan works, but we also have a lot of backup ideas that we’re talking about right now that we’re all super excited about.

Will we see that scene in Season 17?

That’s our plan. Our plan is Season 17 opens with Voit looking at who walked in the door.

Speaking of that, how much will we see Voit next season? Zach was so good that it would be a shame not to get as much of him as possible going forward.

Exactly! We love Zach so much and we love Elias Voit so much and we love his family. So this season we’re planning on using him almost the way Hannibal Lecter was used in Silence of the Lambs, that we have this brilliant mind, twisted profiler in custody and we don’t wanna talk to him. We don’t feel like we need his help, but because of the Gold Star of it all, we’re gonna need to talk to him a little bit more than we ever thought we would.

I can’t wait to see everyone interacting with him then, especially Rossi after what just happened.

Well, that one’s gonna be a minute. We always felt like, because this first year with Zach, the only cast member who interacted with him, other than when they were directing, was Joe as Rossi, and then this year we want everyone else to have a scene with him except for Rossi, because Rossi’s been a little bit traumatized by what happened. And if that’s what Voit wants, if he wants to talk to Rossi, we can’t give him that.

Will Gold Star be a through line for the entire season or just part of it?

We know for sure it’ll be part of the first half of the season and then it’ll probably evolve out of that a little bit. But right now we’re hoping to follow the path we did last year, which is five episodes and then do a mini cliffhanger and then come back. That’s our plan right now and that’s how we’re crafting Gold Star.

Are you looking at having another recurring UnSub, going back to just standalone cases, or a mix again?

It’s gonna be a hybrid again.

How might Voit’s network come into play? They’re still out there and he could use them as a bargaining chip. He knows where all these serial killers are. And last we spoke, you said they could come into play next season.

Yeah, we’re still figuring all of that out. But one of the things he threatened Ramona with in Episode 8 was, you should be worried about your family because if it’s not me who comes after them, it’ll be someone. So that threat is very much alive and will come into play this year.

Monnae Michaell, Nicholas D'Agosto, and Nicole Pacent in 'Criminal Minds: Evolution'

Michael Yarish /Paramount+

Did you always know that Voit would kill Bailey? I started to like him!

No. I know, this is the problem. We love Nick, who played Bailey, and we did not wanna do that. But we gave him such an arc this year that he basically feels like an enemy of the team and then nobody thought they would ever fall in love with Bailey. They’re like, oh no, this guy’s a jerk. And then sure enough, the tide turns in the last half of the season. You really like him, which is kind of sadly why he had to die.

Voit had to make an impact on the team. Rossi got captured. It was horrible what happened to Rossi. But ultimately he’s still alive and well. And he didn’t kill Tyler Green [Ryan-James Hatanaka], so what could he have done to make a big splash? Killing the deputy director of the FBI is a gigantic splash that this enemy of ours has made. But it was a really hard decision and we didn’t plan on it from the beginning of the season, but it felt, like I said, Voit had to make a big surprising move like that.

So had you been planning on maybe bringing him back for another season or had you been planning on keeping him contained to this season?

Because Voit and Sicarius and all that was such a big part of Bailey’s journey this year, he would’ve 100 percent been involved in that. But we’re still hoping we can bring Nick back to do maybe some flashback moments. We can play with structure a little bit more this time around being on Paramount+. So, we’re hoping that something could work out with Nick’s schedule and he can come do something like that.

Yeah, because he’s one of the few people who knows about Gold Star.


Criminal Minds: Evolution, Season 17, TBA, Paramount+