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Criminal Minds: Evolution Review: Deeper, Darker Revival Ain’t Your Grandma’s 42-Minute Procedural


As a title, Prison Minds: Evolution refers not simply to how a brand new UnSub upped his sport in the course of the pandemic, but additionally the modifications that the sequence itself has undergone for its rebirth on Paramount+.

Reporting to date on Prison Minds: Evolution has often labeled it a “revival,” however having screened the primary two episodes (of 10), I can attest that, sure, it is that. After which some. We catch again up with pleasant faces nonetheless fixing crime for the FBI’s Behavioral Evaluation Unit, however the very acquainted, predictable rhythms of the 42-minute procedural that aired on CBS for 15 seasons/320-plus episodes are gone, not less than within the early goings.

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Criminal Minds EvolutionAs an alternative, scenes and moments get to breathe because the crime drama stretches its legs on streaming. Time is made to verify in on the brokers at dwelling, and never in some “very particular episode” method. Tough conversations amongst disagreeing colleagues are had, as an alternative of glossed over following a industrial break. Kill scenes will not be a lot extra graphic, however extra intense.

However most notably, not everyone seems to be doing so nice post-pandemic.

When Evolution premieres on Thursday, Nov. 24 (with its first two episodes), it’s clear that it has not been enterprise as regular for the BAU these previous few years. Emily Prentiss (performed by Paget Brewster) as Unit Chief is often locking horns with bureaucrats who worth anti-terrorism efforts far, far above the searching of pesky serial killers. Due to funds cuts, investigations are now not group efforts (and don’t even ask concerning the jet); as an alternative, after we decide again up with the likes of David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) and Dr. Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler), they’re one-man bands that may solely hope to match notes with a cross-country peer over a late-night telephone name. (Rossi specifically has apparently been a bit obsessive about a serial slayer of households; have been that the one demon he’s coping with….) And but they, together with JJ Jareau (A.J. Prepare dinner) and Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez), proceed to battle the nice battle. Although in some circumstances, to the detriment of private relationships.

Criminal Minds EvolutionBrokers Spencer Reid and Matt Simmons are conspicuously MIA (however do benefit mentions), whereas keyboard warrior Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) is, very a lot by design, wholly divorced from the BAU, having traded these darkish, darkish workdays for one thing a lot lighter and brighter. This newfound calling has emboldened the character in an overdue method, so watch out for those who attempt to bark orders at her.

The promos for Evolution trumpet the truth that the brand new, season-long UnSub, Elias Volt (Friday Evening Lights‘ Zach Gilford), spent his pandemic grooming acolytes of a form, scattered throughout the nation. The BAU, nevertheless, doesn’t have entry to Paramount+ press releases and trailers! As an alternative, the brokers at first are stymied by some seemingly unrelated circumstances, till the curious contents of a hidden transport container slowly, regularly begins connecting some dots.

I’d not go so far as to say that Prison Minds: Evolution is the product of “What if Prison Minds and a status cable drama had a child?” However that wouldn’t be too far off. It’s simply splendidly completely different, in assorted ways in which longtime viewers might not have realized they needed. From the camerawork to the usage of anamorphic lenses, to, sure, the utterance of the occasional expletive. (You simply know who will get one of many first cusses.) Showrunner Erica Messer clearly noticed a chance right here to take a recognized amount and elevate it, so as to add texture and tough edges that the regular rotation of Instances of the Week didn’t afford her.

At one level whereas screening the early episodes, I shared on the TVLine workers Slack, “Guys, the Prison Minds revival has NO enterprise being this good.” Nevertheless it kinda is?

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: Prison Minds has advanced.


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