Though Criminal Minds spent many seasons wrapping up its finales with a tight and neat bow, showrunner Erica Messer has flipped the script in recent years, capping things off in danger-filled cliffhangers. When Season 13 ended, Kirsten Vangsness' Garcia was being kidnapped just as Reid was forced to agree to help the Messiah. Messer has revealed that when Season 14 kicks off, audiences will get to see how this traumatizing incident has affected Garcia's personality, which is just one way the new episodes will start exploring these characters' personal lives a bit more. In her words:
We wanted to play that Garcia is going to be affected [by the finale/premiere]. She's been abducted and held captive, and that's not a place we've seen her before. And what she does in order to survive is, again, not something that character has truly played. Obviously we don't want our sunshiny Garcia to be depressed for the season, but to have it resonate with her in a way that we normally don't get to play. That takes us for about five or six episodes.
Not to say that Criminal Minds characters all go through soft resets between every episode, especially in the past couple of years, but it's definitely true that the show doesn't allow for personal problems and issues to fester in ways that they do in real life. Many of the things that Garcia and the team have done would weigh extremely heavily on someone, but because this is a network drama with an established storytelling format, the characters rarely get to express that more vulnerable side of themselves. But we'll be getting to see Garcia lean more into her post-trauma depression and other emotions, and I'm very interested to see exactly how she saves herself from such a dire situation. Earlier this year, Kirsten Vangsness told me how much she enjoyed Season 13 as a whole, so she is presumably enjoying a chance to show more layers of her character's personality.
Garcia isn't the only character we'll see new shades from, either. Erica Messer also told TVLine that Criminal Minds will dig a little deeper into the relatively unexplored backstory for Adam Rodriguez's Alvez, among other things.
We're doing a bit of a backstory with Alvez, because when he joined us in Season 12, there was really no opportunity that season. We had a lot going on that year, so his backstory kind of got pushed. We are diving into that this year, and it sort of explains why he's a bit of a lone wolf. Even though he plays well with others, we're going to see in Episode 6 why he's willing to not play by the rules for a minute. Really, each of Episodes 2 through 9 will have a moment where we are with one of our heroes in their home life in some way.
That should be a treat for fans who have been enjoying many of these characters for a decade or more. Obviously the more exciting elements of Criminal Minds involve the sadistic unsubs and the complicated hoops the BAU team has to jump through in order to let justice prevail -- and don't you think that the show will suddenly scale back the devious insanity of its criminals, as Season 14 will feature the drama's most prolific serial killer yet. (Not to mention celebrating its 300th episode in history-honoring ways.) But in the meantime, it's nice to know we'll be learning new details about such well-established characters.
Criminal Minds Season 14 is set to debut on CBS on Wednesday, October 3, at 10:00 p.m. ET. To see what other new and returning shows will be popping up soon, head to our fall TV premiere schedule.