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Though Criminal Minds may be heading for its 15th and final season later this year, fans shouldn't go into it thinking that showrunner Erica Messer is slamming the brakes and slowing the action down for the crime drama's swan song. For example, Season 14 isn't even over yet, and Criminal Minds has already introduced viewers to the overarching big bad for the final batch of episodes: Everett Lynch. Here's how the mild-monikered killer entered the story.
Rather than following along with the BAU team in real time, "Chameleon" was instead told via very recent flashback, with Joe Mantegna's Rossi having a crisis of faith while relaying the sordid tale to his fiancée Krystall. You see, Rossi came about as close as he possibly could have to being one of Everett Lynch's victims, and is currently living with the knowledge that he failed to keep himself safe.
Everett Lynch is played by Ozark and Sirens star Michael Mosley, who had quite a memorable run as a multi-season killer on Castle. This unsub has a habit of going to different towns and gaining the favor of young women, proposing to them, and then cutting off their faces. Naturally, he's the kind of monster who likes to keep all that grisly skin around as a reminder of his heinous conquests. (Just like another highly disturbing Criminal Minds baddie.)
The episode's title is indeed a reference to the big bad himself, as Lynch goes through full transformations during his transitions between victims. He's going for different looks, different behaviors, different vocal patterns, and anything else that can make each personality stand apart from the others. That obviously means it's quite a bit harder to track him down, and his twisted family members didn't all make life easier for the Criminal Minds crimefighters.
His mother Roberta, a criminal herself, and is currently behind bars. (Seriously, how great would it be if Sharon Lawrence joined the show as a recurring cast member with Roberta?) From her intel, the team thought they had the jump on Lynch, but he actually had an upper hand all along and was aware of their impending arrival.
His daughter Grace, played by The Goldbergs' Alex Jennings, was implied to have been dead at one point in the ep, but it's later revealed that she helped Lynch set a trap for the BAU agents. The homicidal apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I guess. Major disasters were thrwarted, with the latest victim getting saved, and Grace getting arrested. Which means the only person left to take down was Lynch himself, and then no more worries, right?
Unfortunately, Rossi proved to be a less formidable opponent for Lynch than expected. After a brief chase, Lynch was totally overpowering Rossi, pinning him down and choking him. Though Rossi said his main goal was to stop himself from passing out, for fear of not being allowed to wake up, he couldn't help but fall unconscious. But despite delivering some minimal injuries, Lynch spared the supervisory agent's life.
It's very clear in the episode's final minutes that Lynch also temporarily beat Rossi in the mental game, having completely taken away his confidence. Rossi considers himself inferior to Lynch in terms of speed, age and strength, which is pretty daunting. He gets a boost from Krystall, though, who reminds Rossi that if nothing else, his brainpower dwarfs whatever Lynch has going upstairs.
So rather than giving viewers a cat and mouse game defined by brute force and physical prowess, Criminal Minds will seemingly pit Rossi & Co. against its serial killer Lynch in a battle of the minds. Considering Season 15 is still quite a few months away – though it is being filmed currently – it'll be interesting to see how the not-as-smart Lynch is still able to avoid capture for so long.
The episode, "Chameleon," marked the directorial debut for actress A.J. Cook, who was only one of several Criminal Minds stars to step behind the camera this season. Unsurprisingly, Cook was pumped to be able to be able to introduce Everett Lynch in such a way. And she'd recently hinted to TVLine that the show's final major big bad isn't meant to be taken lightly.
What I can say is he is a very worthy opponent, and this guy is going to be a slippery bastard. [Laughs] He’s going to be hard to get. He’s definitely going to fall under the category of 'most prolific serial killer on Criminal Minds.' He is something else!
Now, fans may remember it wasn't too long ago that Criminal Minds' 300th episode featured a killer who had murdered over 300 people, and that was thought to be the most prolific of all the show's deadly deviants. Maybe he'll get a little more help from daughter Grace and mother Roberta when Season 15 comes around.