What Is Criminal Minds: Evolution's Gold Star? Showrunner Reveals 'Hannibal Lecter' Arc Coming For Zach Gilford's Voit In Season 2

Spoilers ahead for the season finale of Criminal Minds: Evolution, “Dead End,” so be warned if you haven't watched!

After nine episodes centering on its season-spanning UnSub Elias Voit, this season of the quasi-revival Criminal Minds: Evolution delviered a tumultuous finale that finally saw Zach Gilford’s mastermind serial killer getting arrested, with his family finally learning of his sinister double life. The episode also heightened the mystery surrounding the super-secret government project dubbed "Gold Star," and showrunner Erica Messer revealed Season 2 will explore that deeper mystery while using Voit for its take on Hannibal Lecter. 

Gold Star came up when Deputy Director Bailey was trying to negotiate for Rossi’s safe return, and it quickly became clear their previous history was important enough that no one could actually talk about it with others potentially listening in. And whatever the project was, it looks like Voit is the only person left with intimate knowledge of it, as he callously shot Bailey dead in the moment to create just such a situation. 

Now that Voit’s been arrested, with Rossi once again safe and sound (if still seeing visions of his dead wife), Erica Messer tells Variety that Gilford's twisted villain is still going to play a part in the upcoming season, with his Gold Star info giving him a Hannibal Lecter-esque hold over the BAU agents. According to Messer:

Well, we’re hoping to have Zach a lot in the season, and sort of treat him — the simplest way to say it — as our Hannibal Lecter. He knows information about gold star. The team is already a little bit hip to it, because Lewis and Prentice told Rossi that gold star wasn’t in the report, and it should have been because Bailey was acting weird when he said it. So they’re already sort of hinting at. What is gold star? Voit knows what Gold Star is, because he said it out loud, and they heard him say it out loud. So he is using that knowledge as power in his captivity.

It’s clear that whatever Voit knows about Gold Star is important enough to those in the government to keep him safe and content while in custody, presumably to stop him from sharing with others. (Although perhaps finding out more will be the BAU's goal.) It's not clear if Messer's reveal means he'll be the crux of the plot for Season 2, but even if not, his continued presence is more proof that Criminal Minds: Evolution is different from its CBS counterpart by way of serialized plotting. Not only did this season focus on mainly one UnSub storyline, with the weekly cases all connecting back to Voit, but now that story will bleed into future episodes in a big way.

Zach Gilford has definitely been killing it as Elias Voit, pun unintended, and seeing the aftermath of everything will be one storyline that is hopefully explored in Season 2. Despite his horrible ways, he tried to keep his wife and daughters safe for as long as he could, but it ended up just not being enough. The final episodes of Criminal Minds: Evolution were fun to watch to see what his next move would be, and now that he’s been caught and his family likely not wanting anything to do with him, it will make him even more determined to do whatever he has planned. And it wouldn’t be surprising if that somehow involved whatever Gold Star is.

Meanwhile, whether Reid and Simmons will return is still up in the air, since Matthew Gray Gubler and Daniel Henney are busy with other projects. It’s always possible that they could make short cameos in the form of video calls or something similar, but hopefully, fans can still look forward to them being brought up from time to time. I wonder...do they know what Gold Star is all about?

Watch all 10 episodes of Criminal Minds: Evolution now with a Paramount+ subscription! An estimated premiere date for Season 2 has yet to be announced, but it’s still possible it could be part of the 2023 TV schedule, so keep a look out!

Megan Behnke
Freelance TV News Writer

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.