I Actually Thought Criminal Minds Was About To Kill Off Some Major Characters

Spoilers below for the latest episode of Criminal Minds, so it would be wise to be completely caught up before reading.

As we close in on Criminal Minds' final episodes, the feelings are fully setting in that the CBS crime drama will leave primetime before the month of February is finished. As such, perhaps my brain is organically opening up to possibilities that some drastic moments will occur before all is said and done. (Such is the effect of obsessing over shows like Gotham, I guess.) Case in point: the episode "Ghost" actually had me convinced that Adam Rodriguez's Luke Alvez and Daniel Henney's Matt Simmons were legitimate goners.

Don't get me wrong, that belief had only set in for an extremely temporary amount of time, especially since Criminal Minds' showrunner Erica Messer had already confirmed the season wouldn't be ending with any world-shaking changes. (And also that last week had such a cheery-minded ep.) Granted, she didn't deny that the FOURTH episode would deliver some jaw-dropping deaths, but alas, everything ended with all the BAU agents still in the land of the living, though perhaps a big more bruised and battered.

criminal minds luke and matt

Criminal Minds gave its core squad a copycat killer in "Ghost," although that wasn't exactly the through-line that held strong throughout the episode. The copycat killer wasn't exactly interested in mocking other murderers for the sake of mimicry, but rather to draw Matt and Luke out for a planned abduction. Turns out he was actually a Chicago mob enforcer named Louis Chaycon, whose most comparable criminal was the longtime rapist and serial killer Israel Keyes. (Not exactly a compliment.)

It turned out before they got involved with the BAU, both Matt and Luke were separately responsible for Chaycon's capture in, at which point his brother was also picked up for harboring a fugitive. In prison, a gang suspected the brother of working with police, and he was tortured and then beaten in front of Chaycon, thus inspiring the revenge scheme that got Matt and Luke handcuffed and beaten inside of an empty building.

Only as the episode was reaching its crescendo did Criminal Minds build up my fear that Matt and Luke would pay the ultimate price for their authoritative sacrifices. It was revealed that Chaycon's lead henchman Fleabag (not to be confused with the far more witty Fleabag) was inherently responsible for the brother getting murdered, at which point Chaycon got his most lethal form of revenge. Perhaps that's when I should have expected everything to work out, since the ep proved that Matt and Luke weren't actually responsible for any intentional wrongdoing.

Instead, I got a little paranoid that Louis Chaycon had crossed too many lines at this point, and wouldn't have any problem with eliminating the proof of his mistake with ruthless efficiency. I mean, this dude made someone else light his cigarettes, so clearly he's important enough to take out characters we've known for years, right? I was already set up to write about their funeral in next week's episode.

Instead, though, the characters got themselves loose and took advantage of the attention-lacking criminals, just like it always happens in these kinds of situations. Just like I should have known it would happen all along. But was I so crazy for thinking Criminal Minds would kill off a lead during its 15th and final season? Just think about all the major TV characters that DID die during the time that Criminal Minds was on the air. Game of Thrones seemingly killed off more people than the massive number of unsubs the BAU has faced.

Think about it: Criminal Minds is one of the rare TV shows that hasn't ever killed off a main character on-screen during the midst of an episode. It has killed off a pair of former leads, but under very specific circumstances.

Mandy Patinkin's Jason Gideon was murdered off-screen in Season 10, which was seven years after Patinkin exited the show, with Ben Savage filling in for flashbacks to Gideon's younger days. In Season 12, actor Damon Gupton was brought in (partially to fill the void left by the fired star Thomas Gibson) but his character, Agent Stephen Walker, was killed off as part of the cliffhanger finale. Though Walker was technically pronounced dead in the Season 13 premiere, actor Gupton had already been fired by the show, so he didn't officially appear.

In the end, I can't tell if the lack of previous Criminal Minds deaths should have made me more paranoid about characters dying soon, or less paranoid. The silver lining, I suppose, is that there are only a limited number of episodes to still be worried about anything, but that has its own downside.

Criminal Minds airs Wednesday nights on CBS at 9:00 p.m. ET. Let me know in the comments if you guys also thought Matt and Luke were doomed!

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.