The BAU is back! “Criminal Minds” returns for a new series, “Evolution“, with several original stars stepping back into the universe on Paramount+.

On Wednesday, the premiere date for the series, which will consist of 10 episodes, was set – and it’ll be rolling out just in time for the holiday season: The first two episodes drop Thursday, Nov. 24, or Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately, the series won’t be steaming on Paramount+ in Canada.

Following the premiere, new episodes will drop weekly on Thursdays, until the midseason finale on Dec. 15. The season will then resume on Thursday, Jan. 12 with new episodes dropping weekly through the season finale on Thursday, Feb. 9.

“Criminal Minds: Evolution” picks up after the events of the franchise’s final episode in February 2020, set deep into the pandemic and its effect on the team members. In the update, the FBI’s elite team of criminal profilers come up against their greatest threat yet, an UnSub (Zach Gilford) who has used the pandemic to build a network of other serial killers. As the world opens back up and the network goes operational, the team must hunt them down, one murder at a time.

Original cast members Joe MantegnaA.J. CookKirsten VangsnessAisha TylerAdam Rodriguez and Paget Brewster return to reprise their roles. Gilford joins the ensemble as a recurring guest star in a season-long arc as the newest UnSub.

Showrunner/executive producer Erica Messer, who returns to oversee “Criminal Minds: Evolution”, teased where the characters will be when the series picks back up.

“Everybody’s got a nice journey this year. We start in the first two episodes really seeing Rossi in a new light and when somebody like that, the core of the team, is not in a good way there’s a ripple effect throughout every relationship that he has. We wanted to honour this journey of grief that a lot of people have been through, certainly since we’ve last seen them and we’ve put them onto Rossi’s shoulders. And Joe beyond delivers an emotional roller-coaster with Rossi,” she previewed during Paramount+’s virtual Television Critics Association press tour Wednesday. “That’s kind of how our season starts in terms of who is in the most crisis. I would argue it’s Rossi and then, the side effect of that is the whole team is worried and suffering with him and for him.”

Messer also addressed the absences of former stars Matthew Gray Gubler and Daniel Henney, the latter of whom is a co-lead on Prime Video’s “The Wheel of Time”.

“Our hope is that the team members we ended the series with on CBS will come back and play at some point but everybody does have other projects and timing [made it difficult]. We started filming in August and will be wrapped in December because it’s a 10-episode season so there was a short window to try to get all of our friends to play, and we weren’t able to make that commitment,” she explained. “But it’s a little bit more of a mystery what Reid and Simmons are up to. But they’re certainly not forgotten. Dr. Reid and I believe Matt Simmons’ desks are still there, still have stuff on it… They’re not gone-gone, let’s put it that way.”


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