Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 2, Episode 6 Review: Joe Mantegna Takes Rossi To The Edge


Throughout Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 2, the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit has been in the crosshairs of some as-yet-unrevealed threat. In “Message in a Bottle,” David Rossi finally finds the “North Star” that can help the unit stop “spinning [their] wheels” and finally make some headway in the Gold Star investigation. And he does it by confronting the character haunting him since the end of Season 1. This episode is a step forward for Rossi, and a win for both actor Joe Mantegna and the fans.

Rossi has been “haunted” by visions of Zach Gilford’s suspected serial killer Elias Voit. In Evolution Season 1, Voit almost killed Rossi by locking him in a shipping container. Of course, the team saved him, but since then Rossi has been suffering from visions of Voit taunting him as he does his work. This isn’t the first time Rossi has seen a person who isn’t really there, and it finally pays off for him and the BAU. Meanwhile, Emily Prentiss is dealing with being arrested for an alleged assault. Her response to this more minor trauma is getting hilariously stoned from edibles, while a wild goose chase tied to Tyler Green finally justifies the character’s place in Criminal Minds, beyond simply being a romantic roadblock.

Criminal Minds’ Prentiss and J.J. Get Wasted – For Good Reason

What Could’ve Been a Pointless Aside Becomes a Great Moment

In Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 2, Episode 3, “Homesick,” Prentiss was arrested. Her neighbor, an online conspiracy theorist named Brian Garrity, accused her of assaulting him in a parking lot. It was a frame-up and, frankly, an absurd plot point that never made much sense. There is no world outside of a television show in which a high-ranking FBI agent would be arrested for assaulting anyone on their word alone. The charges were dropped, but the point of the exercise was to leak the story and sideline her. Thankfully, the writers dismiss this problem before the end of “Message in a Bottle.”

The saving grace for this storyline is that it leads to Prentiss taking a day off to get baked with J.J. Jareau. Actors Paget Brewster and A.J. Cook are able to play the characters as more emotionally open and free to talk about their work. Specifically, Prentiss talks about all the people who’ve departed the BAU. Beyond just referencing fan-favorite characters no longer in the series, the two women talk about how working for the BAU is a job that takes far more than it gives. After all, Prentiss had to fake her death and left more than once, before she eventually came back as the unit’s new leader. In her THC-induced state, she wants to exit the BAU yet again — this time for good.

Thankfully, J.J. — who was “kicked out” of the BAU — talks her out of making that decision, at least while stoned. These scenes are not only great character moments for Prentiss and J.J., but they also serve as a kind of meta commentary on how these two women were treated over the many seasons of Criminal Minds. In reality, cast changes like those are often made to lessen a TV show’s budget. Yet, as J.J. tells Prentiss, they are “stronger” for fighting to stick around. This could’ve felt like wasted time in Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 2, but instead it serves to bond the characters and celebrate their accomplishments.

Criminal Minds: Evolution Lets Rossi Confront Elias Volt

Rossi Is Becoming the Character Criminal Minds Fans Remember

With Prentiss on the sidelines, David Rossi has to take over as leader of the BAU — but his unaddressed trauma is getting worse. At one point, while addressing the team, he sees almost a dozen different versions of Voit standing around. In an excellently shot scene, Rossi relives being buried alive in an elevator as the walls horrifically close in on him. In another scene his entire office shakes, showing viewers how his unaddressed issues after his experiences with Voit are upending his entire world. Aisha Tyler’s character Dr. Tara Lewis even catches him in the office holding a loaded gun with his finger on the trigger.

Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 2, Episode 6 opens with a sequence in which Voit escapes custody, and the many character deaths make it obvious it’s a dream. Still, Lewis tells Rossi to go and face Voit one-on-one — which is bad real-life advice but perfect for a TV show. In a show of power, Rossi gets the guards to turn off the cameras in Voit’s cell… but rather than intimidate him with violence, the two actually work together on a profile. Gilford does an excellent job balancing the playful menacing nature of Voit with his “fanboy” affection for Rossi, who has written a number of books about his cases. He even successfully profiles Rossi, at least that he’s being haunted by Voit.

Mantegna delivers an excellent performance in this episode. More than once, Rossi seems close to tears. Not just a single man-tear, either, but full-on sobbing. Throughout his face-off with Voit, the confident and disciplined Rossi viewers know begins to come


back. And like Prentiss with J.J., the scene in Rossi’s office with Lewis is a great character moment. The two are able to “just be quiet” together until Rossi feels safe enough to open up to her. Still, Voit’s assertion that the “North Star” clue he used to entice two of the Gold Star killers to meet him in person was a bluff might be a ploy. Because as it turns out, Rossi and original Criminal Minds character Jason Gideon may have inadvertently created them.

Criminal Minds Makes Alvez, Green and Garcia’s Love Triangle a Rectangle

Evolution Finally Gives Garvez Fans a Glimmer of Hope

When Criminal Minds: Evolution debuted, fans hoped that Luke Alvez and Penelope Garcia would be together. After all, in the original Criminal Minds finale, they went on a date together. Instead, Evolution introduced Tyler Green, a former soldier and vigilante who became Garcia’s love interest. Garvez shippers hoping Season 2 would correct that mistake finally have a reason to hope. Teresa Campos is being stalked, and whoever is doing it is trying to frame Tyler. Thus, “Message in a Bottle” brings Teresa into the BAU — where she, Tyler, Garcia and Alvez have to work together in a humorously awkward investigation.

The real perpetrator is Sebastian Gasper, a former associate of Tyler’s from his mercenary days. Tyler clones his phone, making him a target for the people who paid a team of crooked law enforcement officers to kill the kids from the Steward House, who make up the Gold Star program. Instead of going rogue like he usually does, Tyler is able to help the BAU arrest Gasper, hopefully bringing them closer to the other side of this deadly conflict. This finally makes Tyler useful to the show beyond Criminal Minds’ romantic subplot. And while interviewing Teresa, Luke admits he still loves Garcia. The two have a flirtation that Garcia jokes about at the end of the episode, noting that things were awkward enough between them all.

Along with adding some lightness to the episode, the storyline finally allows both Tyler and Garcia to move past one another. Throughout the season, Garcia has been tongue-tied and nervous around Tyler. Through her conversation with Teresa, Garcia seems to begin to get over this. It also gives Tyler and Alvez a chance to puff out their chests, be tough guys and, eventually, start to smooth their antagonistic relationship. And Garcia has much more to do beyond mere hacking and being uneasy around her ex. At the very least, Tyler Green’s place as a consultant in the BAU is starting to make sense.

Criminal Minds: Evolution Continues to Examine Conspiracy Theories

David Rossi and Jason Gideon Could Be the Reason Gold Star Exists

From Brian Garrity’s online videos about the “deep state” to the Sicarius network from Season 1, the danger of conspiracy theories has been a recurring theme in Criminal Minds: Evolution. While talking with Rossi during “Message in a Bottle,” Voit compares conspiracy theories to quest-based video games. He notes the people who fall victim to conspiracy theory are looking for someone to blame for some problem in their lives. Just like in games, they search online for clues until they find a “boss,” which leads to more clues and more bosses. Yet previously, he also noted that any “good conspiracy theory” consists of lies wrapped in truth.

Since Voit seems to be a fan of Rossi’s, it’s possible he knew what he was doing when he pointed the two Gold Star kids, Damien Booth and Jade Waters, to “North Star.” Voit claimed it was a bluff, pointing them to the person responsible for the abuse they suffered at Steward House, the sadistic children’s home from the Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 2 premiere. As the BAU noted, the way these kids were treated seemed like it was a program designed to create serial killers. Rossi suddenly remembers a white paper he and Gideon wrote years ago on that very topic.

Someone seems to have it out for the BAU, and if Rossi and Gideon’s paper was the inspiration for the Gold Star program, that would explain why. The Gold Star killers are just half the equation. Someone paid Gasper to kill them, presumably to hide what they’ve done. Whoever that is would have to be very powerful… and on a possibly related note, viewers have not seen the Clark Gregg’s FBI director since the first episode. After six episodes of Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 2, it feels like the BAU is finally investigating the right case, and the characters take impressive strides forward.