Criminal Minds Is Adding A New BAU Member This Week

By the time Thursday morning gets here, the main cast for Criminal Minds will look mighty different than it did just a year ago. Cast members have come and gone over the months, and the next episode will be the latest to introduce a new recruit to Team BAU, with actor Damon Gupton joining the hit drama as Stephen Walker. Everyone remember to be polite to the new guy, okay?

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Damon Gupton will make his big Criminal Minds debut for Wednesday night's "Scarecrow," which already sounded like it was going to be a notable episode even without any few faces. As Stephen Walker, Gupton will be a Special Agent who joins the Behavioral Analytics Unit after years within the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Program, where he served as a profiler. His expertise will no doubt come in handy as the team attempts to take down the chaotic Mr. Scratch for good. Not to mention the plethora of other cases they're faced with.

It's not made clear just how Agent Walker will show himself in, but the episode's synopsis (and clips) has its central crime scene set at a creek bed in Yakima, Washington. The remains of a dozen bodies are found in said creek, which definitely catches the BAU's collective attention. Perhaps everyone will meet up and get friendly in that grisly area's surroundings, or maybe Walker will show up in Quantico while the main squad is out.

It should be obvious to all Criminal Minds fans that Damon Gupton joined the show as a replacement for former cast member Thomas Gibson, who was fired earlier this year after an on-set altercation with a writer. Gibson's unplanned exit came relatively soon after longtime star Shemar Moore chose to leave the show, and viewers have only had seven episodes to get used to other new recruit Luke Alvez, played by Adam Rodriguez. Not that we have anything to worry about, since Gupton has proven himself a dependable co-star in series such as Prime Suspect, The Player and Bates Motel. He most recently crushed it for David E. Kelley's Amazon legal drama Goliath, with Billy Bob Thornton.

Beyond the additions of Adam Rodriguez and Damon Gupton, Season 12 of Criminal Minds has also made waves for bringing back Paget Brewster's Emily Prentiss on a regular basis, as well as the full-time promotion of Aisha Tyler's Tara Lewis; the latter has already seen her backstory strengthened with last week's episode. Here's hoping Stephen Walker can stand as tall as the rest of the team for the rest of the season and beyond. And considering the ratings took a flashy dip after Thomas Gibson left, in part due to the #NoHotchNoWatch campaign, Gupton bringing new viewers to the show wouldn't exactly hurt.

Criminal Minds airs Wednesday nights on CBS, but "Scarecrow" will be the drama's midseason finale. That said, fans won't be waiting too long for its return, as it will be back on Wednesday, January 4. To see when everything else will be joining it, head to our midseason premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.