Generally when I’m writing a review of a season, I look back through my archive to see what I said about previous seasons. To be honest I should probably stop doing that because it often leaves me struggling to find anything new to write. That’s equal parts my fault for writing such good reviews (pardon my boasting) and the shows’ faults because generally very little changes from season to season. Re-reading my season 5 review of Criminal Minds, I think I was actually spot on with my descriptions of the series, the characters and how it all fits together. Thankfully for this review the producers of the show decided to shake things up a bit. Good for having something to talk about, not so good for the show unfortunately.
As I mentioned, the very same day I posted a review praising the “for finally settling into a great team dynamic and for how strong the [three] female characters are”, the producers decided to get rid of two of them. A.J. Cook (JJ) was stolen away in the second episode, and although Paget Brewster (Prentiss) lasted most of the season, and was given a juicy storyline, she too was sent on her way. No one was thrilled with this – the fans, the cast, or seemingly the writers who delivered some pointed lines of dialogue about how unfair it was that JJ be stolen away from the team. But, the money people had apparently spoken and off they went.
While the writers may not have wanted to lose the characters, they dealt with it admirably, making sure that their absences were addressed by characters. Personally the characters vocally and visibly missed their friends, each character having a different but entirely appropriate reaction and correspondingly adjusting the relationships with other members of the teams. Professionally, the team had to deal with redistributing resources, leading to some very interesting material for Garcia as she stepped outside her comfort zone into JJ’s shoes.
Unfortunately the addition of new agent Seaver (Rachel Nichols) didn’t work so well. I just think she was written too much of a miracle agent – straight out of the academy and just about perfect. Her background as the daughter of a serial killer was an interesting idea, but nothing really seemed to come of it. I just wanted her to be a little bit more unstable or something, she simply wasn’t interesting to watch and didn’t seem to form any kind of relationships with the rest of the team. She felt lifeless.
Plot wise, most of the stuff from my season 5 review still stands – diverse concepts and settings make most episodes interesting and even the most unremarkable stories are elevated by good casting and dialogue. I continue to find these seemingly unimportant episodes more interesting than the larger stories that the team get personally involved in, although Prentiss’ storyline was better than Hotch’s last season. There did seem to be a few faltering character plotlines that didn’t seem to go anywhere – Reid’s headaches and Strauss’ background for example seemed to disappear, maybe they’re set ups for next season.
Overall, while I think everyone can agree that getting rid of not one, but two of your foundation characters in a season, is asking for trouble (particularly two female characters which draws its own criticisms), I was impressed at how well it was integrated to the series. Thankfully however, both actresses will be back again next season and I’m looking forward even more to seeing how their returns will be dealt with by the team. It’s certainly one way of keeping things fresh as you enter season 7.