Criminal Minds – the CBS hit crime drama about the members of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) – has officially come to an emotional end after 15 seasons. In the two-hour series finale, the team finally captured Everett Lynch – AKA “The Chameleon” – and said goodbye to one of the show’s most-beloved characters.
The first episode of the finale was titled “Face Off,” and it featured Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) telling the BAU that she had landed a new job that Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez) described as doing the “good work” of the BAU “without the gore.”
Guys, I have something to say. An opportunity has presented itself to me and it is in Silicon Valley,” said Garcia. “Global stratagem development. They’re a private research group that’s expanding their stratagem to include combating global environmental change.”
Garcia didn’t want to go anywhere because the BAU is her family, but Alvez reminded her that they weren’t bound by where they show up to work. Dr. Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler) told Garcia that if she had the opportunity to do something that she loved, then she should explore it.
At the same time, Rossi (Joe Montegna) and former partner Jason Gideon (Ben Savage) worked to find Lynch. They eventually succeeded in trapping him, and they thought they had killed him in a home explosion. But, Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) discovered that Lynch managed to escape through a secret tunnel.
The final episode was titled “And in the End,” and with Rossi thinking that Lynch was finally dead one year after The Chameleon nearly killed him, he started thinking about retirement. But, when the BAU realizes that Lynch is still alive, Rossi immediately gives up on that idea.
Meanwhile, Reid was in the hospital recovering from a hard fall that caused a brain injury, and he had hallucinations that included a visit from his mom Diana (Jane Lynch).
The team finally kills Lynch in a plane explosion after a wild chase, and then the episode fast forwards to one month later. The event was supposed to be Rossi’s retirement party, but it ended up being a going-away party for Garcia because she took the new job and Rossi decided not to leave the BAU.
So we’re at the beginning of the end,” said Garcia. “And this time next week we’re not going to be together like we have been for as long as I can remember. I want you each to know you hold a very special place in my heart. I want to freeze right now. I want to soak this in.”
The series finale also featured flashbacks with former cast members Morgan (Shemar Moore, Hotch (Thomas Gibson), Gideon (Mandy Patinkin), and Elle (Lola Glaudini).
Showrunner Erica Messer told Entertainment Tonight that they wanted to write the finale as fans of the show, and to thank fans for watching. She added that the most important thing to do was get the tone right, and not to go completely off-book and do something that doesn’t feel like the previous 325 hours of the show.