Criminal Minds: Evolution stars Kirsten Vangsness, Adam Rodriguez & Zach Gilford tease a season like no other

Get the inside scoop on the new season of Criminal Minds: Evolution as stars Kirsten Vangsness, Adam Rodriguez, and Zach Gilford tease game-changing dynamics and the hunt for Gold Star!
INTERVIEW: Kirsten Vangsness, Adam Rodriguez & Zach Gilford tease Criminal Minds: Evolution season 2
INTERVIEW: Kirsten Vangsness, Adam Rodriguez & Zach Gilford tease Criminal Minds: Evolution season 2 / FanSided Entertainment

A new season of Criminal Minds: Evolution has arrived and this season is truly unlike any we’ve seen before. 

After spending an entire season tracking down Elias Voit and bringing him to justice, the BAU find themselves forced to work with the serial killer they’ve just put behind bars in order to find Gold Star – an unsub like any the team has faced off against in the past. 

Needless to say, no one at the BAU is happy about having to work alongside Voit and he’s not about to make it easy on them, something made abundantly clear in the first two episodes of the season. So just how will the team adjust to having to work alongside a serial killer in order to bring down an even more dangerous criminal?

Well, as the stars of Criminal Minds: Evolution teased when we sat down with them ahead of the season premiere, it’s going to really shake things up and challenge the team like never before.

Hidden Remote: Over the years we've seen the BAU team put into so many different difficult situations, but nothing quite compares to what the team is faced with this season with literally being forced to work with this killer that they just spent a whole season tracking down.

Can you tell us a little bit about how this storyline and the hunt for Gold Star is going to impact the team, in particular Penelope and Luke, this season? 

Kirsten Vangsness: I think that the coolest thing about this is that it really makes everybody question the things that I think we are so sure about. Like, we're so sure about [things usually], we don't snap.

[The team] really starts to question those things. And when those things get questioned, you really see people's integrity because, you know, people are always gonna veer off. We're all gonna go in a little bit of toddler brain sometimes. But like it's how you get back on course that counts. So there's a lot of getting thrown off base and getting back on course.

Adam Rodriguez: I think that's one of the best things about sort of making this transition to the show being more serialized now is that over the course of so many seasons, we've earned all of the things that are the fabric of these relationships. And so when one of us does go off the rails, or we need somebody to pull us back in, now we have the latitude to do that. We didn't before when the episodes were all self-encapsulated, you pretty much have to course-correct before the end of that episode or it gets lost forever.

Now, we can have these moments where you see us be more fully human if you will, more flawed and more relatable. You get a chance for those relationships that have been built and earned to see the other people that are in that space existing be real friends and be real coworkers. [You get to see them tell each other,] "Hey, you gotta get your shit together" or as a friend, like, "Hey, I'm here for you and what do you need?", and we can really see those moments play out.

I just love that about where the show is at right now. I'm hoping that the fans are loving it as much as we are because it's refreshing and it's invigorating. We would have all been happy to do this job wherever it would exist, for as long as we could, you know, squeeze it out. To have the chance to do it now on Paramount+ and to be doing it in a serialized way gave us all a new lease on life. 

I feel like the show is brand new for that reason. I mean, even we were all averse to this new title, Criminal Minds: Evolution. We're like, it's the same show, same people. But as the show goes on, I love that subtitle now because it is exactly what the show is. It is a more evolved new version of what we were doing before.

Zach Gilford: No, I think definitely as a fan who's watching your characters, like you said, things are so self-encapsulated. Maybe you have something that happens in an episode but then it's done. But being able to see your characters go through something for three, four or five [episodes] a whole season and how that works and how your BAU members, your friends help you through it or don't, or fail you or, or are there for you. It's so much more satisfying as a fan to see that as opposed to just like, a little nugget of it, and then we're on to the next murderer.

Rodriguez: And it's all earned. The emotions are all earned versus sort of forced for the sake of getting it in for the short time you have on a network episode.

1609 - Memento Mori
CRIMINAL MINDS: EVOLUTION- “Memento Mori” - Zach Gilford as Elias Voit in Criminal Minds: Evolution, episode 9, season 16 streaming on Paramount+, 2023. CREDIT: Bill Inoshita/Paramount + © 2022 ABC Studios Inc. an /

Hidden Remote: It really is fun to see the show evolve. It really has been such an evolution for the show. Zach, speaking of evolution, this season we get to see you have the chance to play off of the cast in new ways that the storyline last season didn't really allow. What has it been like to play these different dynamics and interact with the cast in the way Elias does this season?

Gilford: It's been fun in every respect. I didn't get to work with barely anyone at all. Last season, [I worked with] Joe in the last two episodes and that's it. [This season,] I got to know everyone and there's just such an amazing group of people.

This season, it's really fun to be there, and where my whole approach is just to get under their skin and needle them. Last season, had this been my character's arc, it would have been a little harder, but now because of the relationships I have with them, I kind of know where I can go with them and I know some of the buttons to push and it's fun.

New episodes of Criminal Minds: Evolution release Thursdays on Paramount+! Be sure to check out our complete interview with the Criminal Minds: Evolution cast above!

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