In the final few seasons of Criminal Minds on CBS, Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) returned to the Behavioral Analysis Unit to fill the role of team leader left open by the departure of Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson). While overseeing her fellow agents — Jennifer “JJ” Jareau (A.J. Cook), Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler), Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), Matt Simmons (Daniel Henney), Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez), and Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) — as they hunted society’s most dangerous persons, Prentiss began to rely heavily on the experience and expertise of David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), longtime member of the team and one of the department’s co-founders. However, given Rossi’s age (Mantegna is currently 75 years old), the question of when Rossi would retire also became a topic of interest for the series in these seasons as well. In the final episodes of the show’s thirteenth season, Assistant Director of National Security Linda Barnes (Kim Rhodes) got her claws into the BAU. She questioned the efficiency of every member of the team, sans JJ who she appointed as the temporary team leader. When she was completely dissatisfied with the BAU’s performance, Barnes reassigned several members of the team, forcibly retiring and condemning Rossi to a life of writing his hit, best-selling books and their accompanying movie adaptations. (How horrible.) Since then, this topic has never been retired, and it’s getting awfully exhausting to continually revisit this.
‘Criminal Minds’ Already Had Rossi Confront This
Potential retirement was the primary fuel for Rossi’s story throughout the final season — also the main story and villain for the final season — as he became obsessed with finding killer Everett Lynch a.k.a. The Chameleon (Michael Mosley). Lynch tested Rossi’s skills and resolve, even putting him at risk when Rossi could not physically hold his own against Lynch. Rossi had to ask himself tough questions about his future with the BAU given the nature of their work. Despite the series proving Rossi should retire, not still in his peak physical years to face off against the heinous murderers they chase, he resolved to stay by the series finale and seemingly put this question to rest. Rossi would leave only when he could no longer do the job whatsoever.
‘Criminal Minds: Evolution’ Is Telling This Story Yet Again
In the show, during the years between the series finale on CBS and the beginning of the Paramount+ revival, Rossi had taken over as team leader when Prentiss accepted a promotion to Unit Section Chief to try to ensure her team would receive the funding and attention they need to continue their work. Additionally, Rossi’s wife Krystall (Gail O’Grady) passed away, leaving Rossi more focused on and obsessed with his work than ever. The result? Rossi’s obsession with the Sicarius case, the investigation into notorious serial killer Elias Voit (Zach Gilford), getting him kidnapped and held captive in the season’s penultimate episode. Once Elias had Rossi in his grip, the comments about Rossi’s age and efficacy began, much as they did with Everett Lynch’s taunts back in the fifteenth season. Elias makes several old jokes at Rossi’s expense but also remarks how easy it was to take Rossi down, saying he barely broke a sweat while doing so.
Sure, these are likely just things the writers threw in for a laugh, but it’s once again bringing up the question of how long, realistically, the series can keep Rossi (and, as a result, Mantegna) around as an agent of the BAU without finally facing the elephant that has been in the room for nearly eight years. Love it or hate it, Rossi is not the man he used to be, no longer having the physical attributes to put up a fight or chase down UnSubs. Evolution has offered some relief from this as much of the series has taken place in the BAU’s office and Quantico, unlike the original which saw the team constantly flying around the country, yet the question remains. And, it’s a question they keep pushing at us despite not being able to bite the bullet and get it over with.
It’s Time to Move On to Other Stories
Criminal Minds has more than proven that it’s time for action to be taken. This can only be revisited so many times, which the series has done far too often, and it’s become quite a nuisance. The writers can’t keep ignoring this or acting like it doesn’t apply to Rossi; they’ve shown us too often that it does. For example, why was Rossi in the field alone to question people about Voit in the first place, especially after he’s lost in fights to killers due to being overpowered on a somewhat regular basis? It doesn’t make sense, and it’s no surprise that it ended with Rossi kidnapped and left for dead.
Realistically, Rossi wouldn’t have much of a choice in the matter of retirement at this point, but this is television. So, that said, finally putting the inevitable question of retirement to bed doesn’t necessarily mean Rossi has to take his triumphant leave from the BAU quite yet. (None of us want Criminal Minds to lose the legendary Joe Mantegna.) While Rossi cannot operate on the same level as his younger fellow agents, the series can create a new role for him as a consultant or such. For instance, let Rossi take partial retirement, focus on putting together the remaining fragments of his personal life, and consult with the team on a regular basis — from the office, not the field — about their cases. Or, if they’re going to act like the rules don’t apply to Rossi, then quit bringing it up. No one was thinking about Rossi’s retirement until the writers started (and never stopped) shoving it at us on every occasion possible. Whatever the case, we need something different. Criminal Minds: Evolution needs to be an improvement on the original, handling everything a little differently to fit the title and adapt to a new life on streaming. Recycling tired stories like this is certainly not that.
Every episode of Criminal Minds: Evolution is now streaming on Paramount+.