Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 2, Episode 3: Viewers Will Be Homesick For The Original Series


The return of Criminal Minds: Evolution brings the popular procedural series back with a heavily serialized element that’s perfect for streaming. While it’s great for fans to see the return of favorite characters from the original series plus the interesting newcomers, the revival is definitely different. That being said, the third episode of Evolution Season 2, “Homesick,” makes it clearer than ever before that Criminal Minds can’t ever go home again. Specifically, the series exposed this truth by revisiting an old format: the classic case-of-the-week.

Just as the last season did, Evolution Season 2 focuses on a larger story that arches throughout the entire season. This time around, the central case involves the killer known only as “Gold Star,” and the Behavioral Analysis Unit’s (BAU) only lead is Elias Voit (Zach Gilford), Evolution Season 1’s overall villain. But every now and then, the series and the team take a break from the main plot with an old-school case-of-the-week. Here, the BAU sends one or two characters off to create a profile and catch an “unsub” (short for “unknown subject”) before they can kill more people. This is the case for “Homecoming,” which follows the “Moving Day Murderer.” But as interesting as this side case may be, Episode 3 highlights the limitations of Evolution’s new format. As for the larger plot about Gold Star and the BAU working with Voit, the episode mostly treaded water after the killer told Luke Alvarez a triggering secret at the end of the episode.

The Moving Day Murderer Was Almost a Great Criminal Minds Case

The Episode Rushed Through Tara Lewis and David Rossi Solving the Throwback Mystery

The so-called Moving Day Murderer would break into homes where people just moved into, poison them with carbon monoxide and then suffocate them with plastic wrap. The unsub was a man named Kai Veneer, who killed these people in revenge for the deaths of his parents. They lived and worked at a place called the Cosgrove Inn, but an accident, in which a pipe broke and flooded the rooms with carbon monoxide, killed seven guests and shuttered the hotel. His father, unable to find work or a place to live, took his own life.

Kai would disguise himself as an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) employee, touring his victims’ homes on moving day. He would then bring his own tanks of carbon monoxide to poison his victims and some oxygen for himself. He was a scary villain, and his case was one that should’ve confounded the BAU. Except, it didn’t, because “Homecoming” didn’t have the narrative space for a protracted case of the week. The episode couldn’t even spare half the team for the case, sending only Doctor Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler) and David Rossi (Joe Mantegna). They barely did any investigating on-screen. All it took to wrap up this case was the two of them spit-balling a profile and making a quick call to Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness). The computer did the rest.

While focusing more on the serialized story at the subplots’ expense is typical of Evolution, this case truly was a missed opportunity. If the storytellers devoted more time to the Moving Day Murderer, this episode would’ve felt less like the series running in place when it came to the Gold Star case. In truth, this case-of-the-week only existed to let the main plot stall for time. There was almost zero tension during the Moving Day Murderer’s side of the episode, especially because his case was quickly solved after only a handful of scenes. In the original Criminal Minds, he would’ve needed at least half of an episode to wreak havoc and confound the BAU’s best before being arrested. The episode’s half-hearted throwback to the series’ classic format will make fans wish Evolution would just stick to its serial story instead of delivering a rushed case-of-the-week for nostalgia’s sake.

Tyler Green Is Criminal Minds: Evolution’s Weakest Link

Tyler Returns Only to Give Penelope Something to Do

In Evolution Season 1, US Army drone-spotter-turned-vigilante Tyler Green (Ryan-James Hatanaka) made sense in the story. His sister was killed by Sicarus (Voit’s alias as a seriial killer), so he infiltrated the killer’s network and informed Penelope about it. Besides adding more layers and stakes to the hunt for Sicarus, Tyler’s inclusion was the series’ way of continuing the “will they, won’t they” romantic tension between Garcia and Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez). But in Season 2, Tyler is now consulting with the BAU on a subplot that currently feels pointless.

In Season 2’s premiere episodes, Tyler was on a stakeout with Tara and her ex-girlfriend, Rebecca Wilson (Nicole Pacent). During that stakeout, which was just a chance for the two to talk about their relationship troubles, Tyler broke into the building they were watching. He discovered a series of passports for a man named “Sebastian,” who he apparently knew from his time in the US Army. Tyler then threatens Sebastian with a syringe full of a phony toxin, but his real plan was to clone Sebastian’s phone.

Ever since the stakeout, he stopped returning calls from BAU head Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster). To get around this, Emily has Penelope call Tyler because of their past romantic history. Penelope wants to get over Tyler, but he shows up at her place with the cloned phone asking for her help as the “Black Queen” (her former alias as a hacker). It’s pretty obvious that Evolution’s storytellers are forcing him and Penelope back together for drama’s sake. Given everything else that’s happening in Evolution Season 2, this romantic tension is both forced and unnecessary. This subplot’s only redeeming value was that it allowed Penelope’s actor, Kristen Vangsness, to do more than just sit at her desk and stare at a computer monitor.

The Sicarius Fallout Has a Devastating Effect on the Voit Family

Luke Alvez and J.J’s Sidestory Was the Episode’s Most Interesting Part

After Voit told Luke a secret, the latter freaked out and attacked the serial killer. Considering he was caught red-handed in the murder of a deputy director of the FBI and even accepting that he’s not exactly in the right state of mind, the idea that Voit can so casually refuse to help the BAU catch Gold Star stretches the suspension of disbelief. Using Luke’s outburst as an excuse, Voit claims he won’t help them further unless his family is brought to him. His wife Bridget (Kylie Sanchez) and two daughters, Hollie (Allison Nordahl) and Harlow (Mia Coleman), are currently living in a very underwhelming safehouse, awaiting entry into the Witness Protection Program. Luke and Jennifer Jareau (A.J. Cook) are sent to Delaware to ask for their help.

This storyline showcases the advantages of the new serialized format, because it allows audiences to finally see the aftermath and human toll that’s left in the wake of the BAU’s successful capture of a killer. For example, Bridget was devastated after learning that her husband was a monster. Harlow is an adolescent, but she’s taken to sucking her thumb again. Hollie is a teenager and, along with acting out and arguing with her mother, she’s taken to cutting herself. In an emotional scene, Bridge catches Hollie self-harming in the bathroom just before they both break down crying. Harlow joins them, saying she just wants her life to go back to the way it used to be. This was a massive improvement over the original Criminal Minds, which rarely made time for moments like these. Once a case was wrapped up in an episode, it and its victims were never heard from again.

After initially refusing J.J. to help by bringing her and the kids to see Elias, Bridget shows up at the BAU’s FBI headquarters. She agrees to help them but only if they expedite her and the kids so that they can get into a more permanent protective custody arrangement, complete with a new home and new names. Bridget also thinks it would be helpful for Hollie and Harlow to say “goodbye” and “anything else” they have to say to their dad. She also demands she gets to talk to Elias alone beforehand to set up some “ground rules” or he doesn’t get to see the children ever again. Bridget had agency in this episode, and it highlighted how once the credits roll on a Criminal Minds episode, the pain and trauma doesn’t end for the perpetrators’ families.

Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 2, Episode 3 Dives Deeper Into Conspiracy Theories

From the Deep State to Deepfake Porn, the BAU Is Tested by Real-World Horrors

In Evolution Season 2’s premiere, Voit talked about how easy it was to convince people to kill for him. This plays into Evolution Season 2’s larger theme about the damage that conspiracy theories and online trolling can inflict in the real world. For example, the secret Voit told Luke that made him lose his cool was actually about “BAU-Gate,” a dark net website with memes and AI-generated pornography of the unit’s members, especially J.J. She used to be a media liaison for the FBI, meaning that her public images were used as the basis for some disturbingly realistic graphic images. Luke tells her about this, despite Emily ordering him not to.

Additionally, Emily’s neighbor, Brian Garrity (Paul F. Thompkins) — last seen in Criminal Minds Season 15, Episode 4, “Saturday” — runs a conspiracy theory website about the “Deep State.” Worse, someone is leaking details of the Gold Star investigation to him. When Emily confronts him, someone takes photos of their meeting. At the end of the episode, Brian calls Emily and promises to tell her “everything.” At the agreed-upon time and place, she finds him being beaten by a trio of men, but he accuses her of the attack when uniformed police officers arrive. These highly relevant topics could be used for a powerful storyline if handled right in future episodes.

But most importantly, the episode examined why people fell into these conspiracy holes, and deconstructed that world’s allure and mystique. For one, Brian admits his ex-girlfriend got a restraining order