Criminal Minds season 13 is ending with two back-to-back episodes, and while the first is your run-of-the-mill case, the season finale will see the team trying to figure out what they can and cannot believe from an FBI agent, series star Kirsten Vangsness teased.  

Read on for part 2 of BuddyTV’s interview with Vangsness for hints about the finale and its cliffhanger, her thoughts on Barnes reassigning Garcia to Cyber Crimes and what’s been hardest about writing episodes.

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BuddyTV: Next week is the double-episode season finale. What can you preview about the cases?

“It’s so cool. We have the neatest guest stars on this one. I’m so excited about it. James Urbaniak is in it. A lot of things happen. …

“The first one [‘Mixed Signals’], we go to New Mexico. It’s your classic, all the favorite things that you like in a Criminal Minds episode about things being gross and scary.

“Then the second episode [‘Believer’], one of our agents in the FBI is locked up, and we are having to determine if he’s the bad guy or not. We’ve got Karen David in the season finale from Galavant and James Urbaniak from so many different things. It’s a Breen Frazier episode and it’s so good and ends in a cliffhanger. … I can tell you that I worked a lot of days for that last episode, so if that gives any indication. All of us worked a lot during that last episode. It was really fun, and I think it’s a really fun cliffhanger.

“And what’s so cool and amazing and magical is that it’s episode 299, so I can’t even believe that. I’m the luckiest person in the world.”

Can you say if Garcia is involved in the cliffhanger? Because last year, almost everyone else was in the car crash and then there was Garcia and Reid.

“That’s true. You’re making a really good point. [Laughs] I can’t tell you, but that is interesting that everyone else was involved in that cliffhanger. That’s all I can say.

“But it was really fun to do. This has been a really fun season. Just a lot of neat stuff. A lot of outside the box stuff that was really fun to play around with. All of us have had a blast this season.”

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The team just went through a rough time with Barnes trying to restructure the BAU. When Barnes reassigned Garcia to Cyber Crimes, she called out her loyalty to the team, but it wasn’t a good thing in her mind. Was that the worst reason she could have given for the move? Was it the worst place to send her, where there weren’t immediate, permanent results?

“Oh yeah, it was terrible. And also, she doesn’t have the agency that she usually does. And then on top of it, she has to answer to somebody who doesn’t trust her? She’s sort of a master of her own domain usually and I think works well without really being told what to do. She’s given a problem, and then she solves the problem.

“She has nothing but loyalty. She couldn’t not do that. She’s so a creature of habit. She loves where she works and she loves the people. … She has her rituals and her things and what she’s committed to, and that’s just how she is, and it’s not going to shift. So, when someone points that out, it’s like, ‘How do you cut off one of your own arms?’ She can’t do that.

“I mean I can tell you just playing that character, putting on the clothes, the other clothes that were so not Garcia, it was hard on her. She doesn’t like that. It’s not fun.”

And she could only have three personal items on her desk.

“Yeah. It’s not good for her. And in order for her to function, to do this job, she needs all these workarounds, and they kind of took away all the workarounds and she couldn’t be herself. She’s one of those people that if you took away all of that flair, she doesn’t know who she is.”

Can you talk about how Criminal Minds has taken time to show us how strong the female friendships are on the team? Something I’ve enjoyed is that even though the show doesn’t spend too much time on the agents’ personal lives, we still get moments showing that these people do like to spend time with each other off the clock.

“Yeah, the writers have a lot of work to do. They have to set up a crime and set up relationships and do all those things. There’s stuff that they don’t think about. I think the relationships of certain people, we have those relationships independent of the show, and as characters, we have different kinds of relationships.

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“It’s fun because as you’re doing a scene, a roundtable scene or something, and I don’t know, J.J. is distraught about something and Garcia sees it, as actors, you really want to sort of support your fellow people you’re doing a thing with. So, someone might make a face or do a move or do a thing, and you see it and you want to support it and kind of be like, ‘I see you doing this.’ Even if it’s not in the lines, we end up doing stuff like that, and then when they edit the show, they find these little moments and then they stick some in. Then what happens is one of the writers watches that episode and says, ‘Oh, that’s cool, look at that,’ and then they write a little line in. That’s sort of how that stuff builds.

“We’re all so interested in supporting each other as characters and making the most out of the moments that we have with each other. I think that’s a co-creation of everybody. I certainly have different relationships with those three women off-screen, but the thing that is in common is that we’re incredibly close to each other and incredibly supportive, but it’s just a different thing. It’s lovely that they do that because it’s super easy. Each one of them are so individual and smart and kind that it’s kind of amazing to think that there are so many different ways to be smart and kind and wonderful. I would say that all three women that I work with, really all the people I work with, but especially my girls, are like that.”

Can you talk a bit about writing episodes? Was one of them more challenging?  

“Whatever I’m writing feels like the hardest thing to write, and I hate it, and I have decided that I don’t know how to write and I’m terrible at it. So, every time is hard.

“I would say that the first time we wrote, when we wrote ‘Nelson’s Sparrow,’ what was hard about it — every episode me and Erica [Messer] have written together, we’ve had these constraints around it. So, with ‘Nelson’s Sparrow,’ we had to talk about the death of Gideon without showing or having Gideon the character there, unless we did flashbacks.

“And then when we did ‘A Beautiful Disaster,’ we had to do it knowing that we had to put these things in the episode. There had to be that his wife shot. It had to be that he was leaving the show, that these are the things that have to be there.

“And then when we did Matthew’s episode, we knew in the middle of that thing, of ‘Spencer,’ we knew that it had to start this arc and all of the things that had to be in it.

“So, I would say in terms of ease, the one we did this year was easier in a different way, because with ‘Full-Tilt Boogie,’ we didn’t have any rules. We didn’t have to do something within the show that had to happen that would then support the rest of the season. We could just write a good episode. Erica had originally said, ‘I want to write an episode about the opiate crisis,’ so the trick became, how do you write it and make the opiate situation the UnSub without completely demonizing the human beings that are participating in all the nonsense? So, I would say that this one was probably ‘easier,’ but it’s never easy when you do it. When it’s done, you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s done, that wasn’t that bad.'”

Criminal Minds season 13 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.