Criminal Minds: Evolution – Gold Star | Contagion

Alright people, grab some popcorn and a comfortable seat because this season is about to get real and I’ve got a few things to say. Criminal Minds: Evolution is back with back to back episodes for the premiere. The first episode, “Gold Star”, begins two weeks after the events of last season’s finale. A man called Bertoli walks into a police station holding a limp, lifeless woman, is covered in blood, and sobbing. At the instant realization of who just walked in, guns are immediately drawn – why? They seem to know this man and he is clearly in need of help, why are guns drawn? A close up of the body reveals that this woman was not only shot, but her eyes were missing. I BEG YOUR PARDON!?!?!

“Gold Star” – CRIMINAL MINDS: EVOLUTION. PICTURED: Zeke Alton as Don Bertoli and Heart Hayes as Gwen Bertoli Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Now I’m awake and scared, but we continue on. As the men examine the photos of this dead woman (with missing eyes – YIKES!), they say they’ve never seen anything like this to which a voice responds “I have” and it’s Emily Prentiss. She has the men confirm her suspicions as she goes into detail about the gun’s bullet having a signature five-point star etched on to it. This, we come to find, is the signature of a serial killer, the person actually responsible for killing this woman and not the blood-soiled man, Don Bertoli, who is currently sitting in interrogation. See, I knew that man didn’t do it, but now this new information has me thinking, who is “Gold Star”?

Penelope Garcia’s birthday party was cute; they were playing some version of “Cards Against Humanity” I’ve never seen, however, my focus was on David and how as he was leaving he tried to brush off what happened to him; his abduction by Elias Voit, a serial killer. He goes into his car and listens to the radio and they mention Deputy Director Bailey’s death, and – JUMPSCARE – Elias pops up. This happens a few times throughout the episode and it makes me wonder what this could mean. Is he suddenly doubting himself because Elias was able to kidnap him? He says he’s ready to get back to work and I don’t see how he has his colleagues fooled because, no sir, you are visibly not ready.

“Gold Star” – CRIMINAL MINDS: EVOLUTION. PICTURED:  Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia, Aisha Tyler as Dr. Tara Lewis, Adam Rodriguez as Luke Alvez, Joe Mantegna as David Rossi and A.J. Cook as Jennifer ‘JJ’ Jareau Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

We’re back in the interrogation room with Don and he is not speaking. The man is still so shaken up after what happened with his wife and could you blame him? Prentiss needs to keep the team up to date so she meets with Tara Lewis and tells her what she finds out about “Gold Star”. Now my mind is thinking, what’s the connection with Bailey? and the pieces of the puzzle start to create the picture: Prentiss tells Lewis about a previous task force she’s worked on similar to the “Gold Star” M.O. leading both her and Lewis to believe that he’s not only government trained, but has strayed, is on a personal mission of his own, and his attacks are emotion driven. Have you ever encountered someone on a personal vendetta? Never ends well for those on the receiving end.

“Gold Star” – CRIMINAL MINDS: EVOLUTION. PICTURED:  Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia, Ryan-James Hatanaka as Tyler Green, A.J. Cook as Jennifer ‘JJ’ Jareau, Joe Mantegna as David Rossi and Paget Brewster as Emily Prentiss Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

We finally get that scene from last season’s finale and we see who walked in to speak with Elias and why. Director Ray Madison is revealed as the person who met up with Elias and it’s exactly what we thought; he’s there to find out how much Elias knows about the government investigation code named “Gold Star”. I don’t know, this serial killer having all this control over the DOJ isn’t sitting too right with me. To make a deal with the devil, or in this case, an extremely sociopathic serial killer, this must go pretty deep within the DOJ. What the heck are they hiding? The team, without the support of the DOJ, starts to profile “Gold Star” and the race begins to find his identity before Elias is granted his deal from Director Madison. Well, that’s short lived and by the end of the episode the BAU is forced to work with Elias to find out who “Gold Star” is. What could possibly go wrong?

The second episode of the night, “Contagion” is where things start to get real for the team. Working with Elias was proving to be difficult. Their hope was to have him get him to talk so that he could implicate himself and Elias isn’t letting up. JJ and Alvez come up with the plan use Elias’ family (and the fact that they want nothing to do with him) as a way to possibly get through to him. I thought this plan was interesting because this man was willing to kill his wife to get away (thank God he was out of bullets). Did they really think this was going to work on a sociopath?

Rossi and Prentiss follow a lead on what could potentially be another “Gold Star” murder. Rossi is still seeing Elias in his subconscious, but here, I wonder what brings it on. Previously I thought this could be Rossi processing the kidnapping, and hell, it still could be, but here Elias is telling him he should trust his gut and that the person they are currently chasing isn’t “Gold Star”. Despite Rossi being the one to see people who aren’t there, Prentiss is the one losing it on this case. I am so glad Rossi called her out on it because, Prentiss, really? Let’s not get messy with this one.

“Contagion” – CRIMINAL MINDS: EVOLUTION. PICTURED: Joe Mantegna as David Rossi and Paget Brewster as Emily Prentiss Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Now guys, deep in my heart I knew this wasn’t “Gold Star”. There was no way it could be that easy (right?) but, the way Elias’ words play out with the scene of Rossi, Prentiss, and team following a lead of who they believed to be him, it looked like they might’ve found their man. There’s a standoff until the suspect moves to kill his victim but is killed before he could. I’m certain I stopped breathing for that entire scene because WOW. So, did we really catch “Gold Star”? NOPE! Penelope calls to confirm that there is no way Aiden, the suspect killed, could be him because he was voluntarily committed in a mental institution and only just got out. Wrong serial killer here.

“Contagion” – CRIMINAL MINDS: EVOLUTION Adam Rodriguez as Luke Alvez and Zach Gilford as Elias Voit in Criminal Minds: Evolution Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

The final scene of this episode (dramatic pause, deep sigh), wow. It looked like something flipped in Alvez; he disregarded JJ’s advice to not go near Elias. “What am I missing?” he asks to Elias to which he says he has a secret that he will whisper and it’s up to Alvez to believe it or not. We don’t hear what he says but judging by Alvez’s reaction, it was BIG. What the hell did he say to Alvez? There’s no way that was the end of the episode right? RIGHT?!

I want to hear for you – what did you think of the two-episode season premiere of Criminal Minds: Evolution? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or let’s chat about it on X/Twitter – @chenfordhugs.

Valerie LaRoche

Hello! I’m Val. I’m a writer, actress, photographer, and producer from New York. I enjoy going to the bookstore, the gym, and for walks in the park. If I’m not doing any of those things, I’m home studying film and television.

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