'Criminal Minds' EP Erica Messer Calls Episode 300 a 'Love Letter to Fans'

Roger Catlin
Preview Cliff Lipson/CBS

FBI procedural Criminal Minds takes a sentimental journey for Episode 300, which falls on the 14th season opener.

In what executive producer Erica Messer calls "our love letter to the fans," flashbacks from seasons past will spotlight the current Behavioral Analysis Unit and may bring glimpses of long-gone cast members and un-subs.

'Criminal Minds' Executive Producer Erica Messer Teases a 'Season of Reflection'

'Criminal Minds' Executive Producer Erica Messer Teases a 'Season of Reflection'

She also talks about the series' milestone 300th episode, and how a shorter season changes things.

Aside from pushing your nostalgia buttons, those history lessons also aid in resolving the cliffhanger abduction of the BAU’s Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness). The latter is even showing a tough new side under duress, Messer says. "Here’s who she is with a gun to her head. She’s a different Garcia."

The drama’s longevity has allowed for many character shifts, says Joe Mantegna, aka BAU leader David Rossi. Even at the most superficial level: "First of all, my hair color has changed," he says. "I’m flying the silver flag." The actor joined in Season 3, making his episode tally 249 tonight — a stretch he compares to the time between kindergarten and high school graduation.

Coverage of the CRIMINAL MINDS 300th Episode Cake Cutting Celebration. Pictured L-R: Daniel Henney, Adam Rodriguez, Paget Brewster, Aisha Tyler, Erica Messer, A.J. Cook, Kirsten Vangsness, Joe Mantegna and Matthew Grey Gubler Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Daniel Henney, Adam Rodriguez, Paget Brewster, Aisha Tyler, Erica Messer, A.J. Cook, Kirsten Vangsness, Joe Mantegna and Matthew Grey Gubler.

"That’s a big chunk of your life," he says. As such, he’s glad he infused his Cubs-loving Italian-American character with many of his own traits. He even named Rossi after a cop he admired who testified at the O.J. Simpson trial.

As to the secret of Criminal Minds’ success, Mantegna points to believability. "At the end of the day, we are giving you a pretty honest portrayal of what these men and women have to do."

Criminal Minds, Season 14 Premiere, Wednesday, October 3, 10/9c, CBS

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This article also appeared in the Oct. 1 - 14 issue of TV Guide Magazine

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