How Criminal Minds Is Setting Up Its Slightly Different Final Season

criminal minds rossie leading bau team
(Image credit: CBS press)

This week brought the disappointing, if not altogether unexpected, news that CBS is calling it quits with the long-running crime drama Criminal Minds, which has featured some of TV's most disturbed killers. In setting up its truncated Season 15, Criminal Minds will deliver a most formidable villain for the BAU team to go up against, and showrunner Erica Messer has shared more details about what fans can expect to see as Season 14 comes to a close by setting up the final season.

A Happy Season 14 Finale?

Before viewers can put their peepers on the evil-tainted Season 15, Criminal Minds still needs to cap off its current run of episodes, and Erica Messer makes it sound like things won't be altogether horrible for the entire team. Claiming that the finale will be a must-see episode for various reasons, Messer said this to TVLine:

Obviously we have our bad guy of the week, but there's also the good stuff in life --- like Rossi getting married, and... all kinds of things in between.

Criminal Minds isn't going to ruin Rossi's wedding by having an unsub crash it and kill someone, right? That would be one of the worst ways to set up the final season, at least for everyone who wants to see Rossi and Krystall tie the knot peacefully. Of course, if this wedding scenario does go off without a hitch, then that probably means disaster will strike everyone and everything outside of the ceremony.

A Time Jump

Criminal Minds' Season 14 finale apparently won't wrap up with Rossi's wedding, and it will also avoid closing things out on a major cliffhanger in which fans are forced to worry about the fate of beloved characters. Rather than lots of physical mayhem, Erica Messer implies the episode will be more conversational on that front.

There are discussions that haven't been said aloud before, so that's an interesting emotional cliffhanger, versus SUVs exploding. It's a really full episode, and then we jump ahead in time, to kick off the final 10.

Unfortunately, the showrunner doesn't get very specific about the parameters of the finale's time jump, so we can't tell how drastic it might be. It's possible the show will only skip ahead the few months that account for the show's between-seasons hiatus. Alternately, Criminal Minds could take a more shocking leap by moving the narrative years into the future, should the storyline call for it.

One Last Major Big Bad

Erica Messer confirmed that Criminal Minds will once again dip its toes into more serialized storytelling with the rest of its upcoming episodes. (A "little more" is how she put it.) Marking perhaps the most notable element of the serialized style is the yet-to-be-revealed villain that'll serve as the final overarching big bad. Messer even uses a very interesting comic book comparison when talking about the killer.

As Rossi says, 'He's younger, faster and stronger.' He's a bit his Joker. But as [fiancee] Krystall reminds him, the one thing that unsub isn't is smarter than David Rossi. He's a worthy adversary because he does have a lot of things on his side, including being a truly twisted individual.

Rossi, Prentiss and the rest of the BAU agents have dealt with seemingly bazillions of disturbed individuals over the years, sometimes running into the same freaky bastards years later. So it always takes the worst of the worst to make it through multiple episodes without being brought to justice. But even if this new foe has the advantage when it comes to age, speed and strength, it'll likely be Rossi's brains that likely help the Criminal Minds squad come out on top.

Erica Messer also teased that Season 15 will delve into some of the characters' personal stories, and in ways that will likely surprise fans. Considering these are the final episodes, viewers might very well get to see big advancements in these characters' lives. Maybe more marriages? Pregnancies? Deaths?

Criminal Minds will continue down its Season 14 path every Wednesday night on CBS at 10:00 p.m. ET. Using our 2019 midseason premiere schedule, keep track of all the new and returning shows hitting the small screen soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.