The Criminal Minds Season 8 premiere is still just over a week away, but thanks to a few choice words from showrunner Erica Messer, fans have a chance to peek into what’s going to happen in the episode.

Compared to other season finales of Criminal Minds, season 7 ended off on a rather calmer (and happier) note, with JJ getting married and Prentiss (played by exiting series vet Paget Brewster) getting ready to say goodbye to the team. 

“I’m not killing Prentiss.”

TVLine reports that showrunner Erica Messer called that a purposeful decision. Messer said: “That was a choice made early on. I think by Christmastime [2011], I said to the writers and producers, ‘Guys, we’re not doing a finale where we wonder who’s coming back. And I’m not killing Prentiss, so I’m not going to blow anything up and have that be the cliffhanger.’ Then it was just the challenge of writing a bittersweet finale where there was something to celebrate, and the flip side would be Paget leaving.”

When we come back to the series this season we will find that a bit of time has passed – 3 months in fact – and not everyone is where you would expect. Morgan and Garcia, who didn’t get the summer off last year as they were tasked with working the Ian Doyle case, will be found having a bit of time off. The pair end up in London of all places. On how they got there, Messer said, “Morgan took a temporary duty assignment with the Olympics, and Garcia tagged along, and they helped Emily settle into her flat.”

Messer continued, saying that that storyline “is a way to keep Prentiss alive, because right off the bat they’re talking about her with the team. She’ll be mentioned as you would mention a friend who doesn’t work with you anymore. We’re playing that.”

Meeting the new team mate

Having two people in a completely different country isn’t the only thing that will be different. By the time we see the team again, Agent Alex Blake (played by new series regular Jeanne Tripplehorn), a forensic linguistics expert, will already be established as a member of the BAU. But feat not, those fans that think Blake may not have what it takes to be in the BAU, as her qualifications include a career with the FBI since she was 24 years old, working her way up from there. It’s a quality makes her distinct with the rest of the team.  

Messer said, “Rossi probably comes close [to such a trajectory], but Hotch had a career before he was an agent, Morgan had a career. Reid was a boy genius, and JJ worked her way up in a completely different division.” 

Messer also said that Blake’s backstory apparently includes an interesting past with Section Chief Strauss “that sort of ended in a backstabbing incident. So when these two are face to face, Alex can talk to Strauss like no one else can. There’s this, ‘I know where the hatchet’s buried’ thing.” 

“..somebody is hunting the team.”

But though last season may have ended without a bang, this season is going to start out with one. Messer reports that, “At the end of the season premiere, the audience is going to realize that somebody is hunting the team.”

The Criminal Minds season 8 premiere airs on Sep. 26 at 9/8c on CBS. Are you planning on checking out the new member of the team? Is it going to be hard to say a final goodbye to Prentiss?

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Michelle Carlbert

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV