Criminal Minds: Evolution Season 2 Episode 6 Review – Message in a Bottle

Finally, we get an episode of Criminal Minds that focuses on the debilitating effects of working for the BAU.

Rossi has PTSD, Emily is feeling the pain after being (temporarily?) demoted, and even Tyler’s ex-girlfriend, who is inexplicably tied to Gold Star, can’t believe how much pressure she’s under as a result.

The walls are closing in on the entire BAU team, but most specifically, Rossi and Prentiss and “Message in a Bottle” went to great lengths to show that.

Rossi’s Nightmares Bleed Through to Hallucinations

To say Rossi is struggling would be an understatement.

The opening scene was short of anything we’ve actually witnessed with the BAU, but it could have gone down like that at any time.

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The BAU works with the worst of the worst, and this time, Rossi is forced to work with Voit, who has killed 62 people and stuffed him in an underground trailer, submitting him to his worst fears and, possibly, death.

How is someone supposed to get over that and return to the same place that started it? Well, we knew it would not be easy, but Rossi was determined to prove it just might be.

He was wrong.

As this season progresses, he’s getting significantly worse. That came to light when Prentiss was temporarily sidelined, and Rossi was forced to face his team, who needed him to be competent and in control.

Confiding in Prentiss was progress, but she was suffering a setback as well. Rossi needed a logical and compassionate hand to pull him through the other side. Tara provided that hand and the way forward he needed.

Rossi and Voit Talk Man to Man

Cameras off, Rossi entered the same cage that haunted him in his nightmares. This time, the monster was still behind bars. And although Voit claims not to be a fanboy, it’s that very trait that helps him to push Rossi to a breakthrough with the case.

It’s a damn shame that Voit chose to funnel his knowledge and creativity in the wrong direction. He wasn’t given much choice with the guidance he had growing up, but imagine if he had managed.

He really could have been a top member of the BAU team instead of working so hard to end them.

Voit recognized a pattern of Rossi’s, which is to carry ugly perpetrators of past cases along for the ride well after they’ve been caught. Tommy Yates, “The Womb Raider,” was one such unsub that Rossi wrote about.

If it seemed familiar to Voit, he took it a step further by suggesting that it wasn’t really Voit who was haunting him but how Voit could help him reach the truth of Gold Star instead. Voit is merely his totem.

Voit’s exploration of Dave Rossi saves Rossi in the wake of Voit’s terror and a shocking case, seemingly manipulated by Voit. It’s a crazy circle, but it all comes back to Rossi’s own work with Gideon years before.

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A Long-Forgotten Theory

It was unclear how much of the theory Rossi and Gideon established was released, when or how, but Voit used it as a carrot to manipulate a bunch of kids who had horror stories of their own.

He pointed out how conspiracy theories are built upon a gaming mindset, quest games, to be exact, and that each level reveals new clues ultimately leading to the big get, in this case, North Star, aka the BAU.

North Star is where it all starts. Drop a clue and see if they can connect the dots. Revenge-driven killers wanted something to blame for how they are like they are.

Rossi’s work with Gideon meshed into the torture of Stuart House, and it all began to make sense. Surely, the kids were being used as lab rats for government control programs. Well, they’ll break the cycle by taking down the BAU.

How will Rossi tie the ends together to ensure the truth of his study is separate from what has become of it in the wrong hands?

I have no idea, but I bet it won’t be long before Rossi and his team figure out what to do with this development.

Prentiss Spirals Hilariously

If Rossi was going down a dark path, Prentiss took the lighter one to immerse herself in after her latest setback.

Naturally, after Rossi killed Prentiss in his dreams, he wanted someone to check on her to make sure she was OK. His gut was telling him something he didn’t like, so it needed to be investigated.

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Prentiss wasn’t in trouble, though. She was drunk and high and somewhat determined to resign from the BAU.

When JJ arrived, Prentiss was giggly and obstinate and eating potato chips with chopsticks.

She also had what appeared to be a baggie of cheese curls which just so happened to be edibles. JJ ate one or more of those and suddenly thought chopsticks were all the rage.

Relying on Each Other

Criminal Minds: Evolution has done a decent job showing us how much this team relies on one another. They always have, but in the short time we’ve had so far, there have been parties and game nights.

There is a lot of love here. Their friendships are as important as the cases they solve.

JJ and Emily talked about those who had come before and left, perhaps not having the fortitude of those left behind. But while Emily sees the job as continually taking from her, JJ sees it as what the job has given to them — each other.

It worked very well to spark new hope in Prentiss, and it afforded JJ the opportunity to call out her friend and mentor for not sharing what she knew about BAU Gate.

Prentiss’s job is not to protect but to be truthful and have the backs of her team. I doubt she’ll let that happen again.

Who is Teresa Campos?

On Criminal Minds Season 17 Episode 5, Brian Garrity made it seem like “Teresa” was his get-out-of-jail-free card.

Honestly, even after we discovered that Tyler dated her right before Penelope and was targeted by Sebastian, whose phone Tyler cloned, I still don’t see how Teresa otherwise ties into Gold Star so as to be on Garrity’s tongue.

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I think her involvement was more important to the writers in alleviating the tension between Penelope, Luke, and Tyler.

It was shocking to hear Alvez say he loved Penelope, and she knew it as much as it was to imagine that their one awful date would deny them happiness if they had explored it further.

By adding Teresa to the mix, they’ve given Luke another avenue to train his puppy dog eyes. Luke and Tyler even found reasons to coexist and possibly become friendly, if not friends.

Why Sebastian was key to any of this? I’m still unsure. Did you catch that? Did it make sense to you?

This was the best episode of the season so far.

By showcasing the damaging effects this type of work has on those involved, it allows characters who rely on each other to lift one another up when they need it most.

Let’s hope solving this case brings peace to everyone involved, even a shred of decency to Voit, who would have been an entirely different man had he chosen the right path and not the way shown to him by his uncle.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on X and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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