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Criminal Minds: Evolution - Kingdom of the Blind - Review: How Many Gold Star Players Are There?

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If you haven’t watched today’s new episode of Criminal Minds: Evolution, you should take a pause here, watch the episode, and come back because this review will be covered in spoilers (WARNING: there's a short mention of self-harm in this review). 

First things first, that opening scene was…something. I don’t like that I was able to call that this woman was going to do something bad the minute I saw her, but DAMN, I wasn’t expecting that! This woman is Jade Waters and she’s out for some sort of revenge. She’s targeting a specific group of deputies, luring them in by pretending to need help on the side of the road, and once they’re distracted - BAM she attacks. SIDEBAR: I’d like to thank this episode for reinstating my fear of helping people pulled over on the side of the road in the middle of the night. 

The episode then continues with where we left off previously, where Emily is baited to go to visit Brian Garrity (gotta love conspiracy theorists) where he sets her up to be arrested. I laughed at the arresting officers here because let’s be serious: look at Emily and look at Brian - do we really think she’s the one that attacked Brian? Absolutely not, but this made me wonder how deep this “Gold Star” case really goes. 

“Kingdom of the Blind” - CRIMINAL MINDS: EVOLUTION. PICTURED: Liana Liberato as Jade Waters Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Later on we see Tyler show up to Penelope’s place asking her to hack into the phone he cloned from Sebastian, a person he believes holds a key in possibly solving this “Gold Star” case. However, Penelope is hesitant and rightfully so. She tells Tyler to do the right thing; bring this to the team and deal with whatever consequences come his way. 

Shout out to Rossi for picking Emily up, but, oh, hello subconscious Elias – I see you’re still here. Why are you refusing to leave David alone? And David, what part of you is keeping him alive within your mind and why? Emily enters the car so we won’t get those answers right now. The focus is back on Garrity and what his motives for setting Emily up could be. 

Back at the office, the team tries to figure out what the link could be between Garrity and the “Gold Star” case. As much as they’d hate to admit this, it’s looking like this case could be part of this whole conspiracy theory concept and Brian Garrity was only a throw away piece for a larger picture. Tyler comes in (and does exactly what Penelope tells him to do - good job) to talk with Emily and David about what he knows about Sebastian and how there may be information on this phone about “Gold Star”. Penelope is then called in to do what she does best. There was a bit of resistance from Penelope at first, but Emily gets her to agree to break into the phone. Penelope, you’re a real one! 

“Kingdom of the Blind” - CRIMINAL MINDS: EVOLUTION. PICTURED: Ryan-James Hatanaka as Tyler Green and Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Back at the prison, Sydney has agreed to meet with Elias, but on the condition that she speaks with him first before he gets to see his daughters. Elias, sir, you’re on a new level of sociopathic – I say this because the way he’s talking to Sydney it’s as if he believes that he would be out and able to live this normal life with his children. As she is updating him, she tells him their oldest, Holly, has been cutting herself and that triggers something in him. Is this Elias actually caring or did he just find another way to manipulate the BAU? Because he then says he’s willing to let his family go, but on another condition: he has to be able to hold them. Elias, what is your endgame sir?! 

We’re back to Jade’s murders and as much as the team doesn’t want to say this, it does appear to lead back to “Gold Star”. No, there were no gold star bullets found at the scenes, however, their badges were missing, the same as the murder of Isaac Sanchez’s (seen in 1701 Gold Star). We see Jade in the car giving herself a second eye (evil eye, but not the sacred one) tattoo when she hears about her murders on the radio she smiles (sickening). Tattooing yourself with your kills ma’am? At this point you’re a serial killer which means I have the same question for you that I had for Elias: what is your endgame?! 

Back in the office, Penelope is struggling to crack the riddle code on Sebastian’s phone and reluctantly, she asks Tyler for help in solving the code. It worked – she gained access to the phone and now it’s time for a deep dive. At this point I’m really hoping this helps the team get closer to closing this case, but in my heart I just know they’re about to open a can of worms. 

“Kingdom of the Blind” - CRIMINAL MINDS: EVOLUTION. PICTURED: Kiele Sanchez as Sydney Voit Photo Credit: Michael Yarish / Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

At the sight of one of Jade’s murders, subconscious Elias is back. It’s showing us, in my opinion, that no matter where David is or what case he’s working on, until this “Gold Star” case is solved, Elias will always be on his mind. It’s what makes the most sense to me, but let’s see how that plays out. 

Brian calling Emily asking her if she’s alright was wild, but let’s get into this conversation. He tells her that he had no choice but to blame her because they threatened his estranged wife (that’s kind, she has a restraining order against him but he still cares). She wants to know who “they” are and Brian says he doesn’t know who, but it involves a program called “Gold Star” and WHOA that conspiracy theory is looking more and more legitimate as we go on. 

We’re back at the prison and Elias is speaking with his daughters and he’s trying to put on this “father” persona, and it’s working on Harlow, their youngest, but Holly sees right through it. So much so, she hands him a letter she wrote to him letting him know that she knows who he is and what he’s done to some extent. In the letter she calls him a “serial killer”, “murderer”, (sweet baby Jesus) and when he tries to deny it she goes to show him she really is his daughter and tries to stab him (Elias, congratulations, you’ve passed on the murder gene). Now, after all of this, we see a different side to Elias. He seems to really care about what’s happening with Holly, even going as far as saying she needs to be saved. He’s getting frustrated when Alvez tries to redirect him and the way he’s saying “she’s in trouble”, “you have to intervene”, stay with me here, it’s as if he’s talking about himself more than Holly. Almost like a “it’s too late for me, but it’s not too late for her.” I could just be reaching, because this is Elias we’re talking about here, but come on, tell me you didn’t sense that too. 

“Kingdom of the Blind” - CRIMINAL MINDS: EVOLUTION. PICTURED: Zach Gilford as Elias Voit Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved. 

Tara and David are still going through Jade’s murders (at this point still not knowing her identity) and found out that both deputies were doing private security at Stuart House, where Aiden Keller (seen in 1702 “Contagion) was committed – ladies and gentlemen, the math is starting to math here; there is a connection to “Gold Star” but not in the way that we believed. 

Jade looks to be ready to take down victim number three, but is caught. Held at gunpoint, I wondered how she planned on getting out of this one and OOP– it turns out it’s her own father (I repeat, sickening). 

On the flight back, subconscious Elias returns and asks the question we’re all wondering at this point, are these revenge killings “related to ‘Gold Star’ or just a wild goose chase?” Both Tara and David learn of a kidnapping that happened in Salt Lake that relates to their case; the car involved belongs to Rick Waters, a retired deputy sheriff. Rick Waters has a daughter named Jade who also went to Stuart House – oh dear. They reach Salt Lake to the scene of Rick’s car abandoned and his dead body lying right next to it (damn, Jade). This is where we learn that Jade’s father wasn’t such a good man. It was a forced retirement and after his wife disappeared and Jade tried to report him for her murder, he had her sent to Stuart House. There are no records to make a connection which leads them to the realization they still need Elias’ help (no rest for your mind yet, David). 

There’s a scene where we see this person with a gold star bullet approaching Jade and (after I screamed) I thought she was a goner, but PLOT TWIST, it’s another player in the “Gold Star” game. His name is Damien and he’s the one who attacked Issac Sanchez, and took his badge. How many players are there? 

“Kingdom of the Blind” - CRIMINAL MINDS: EVOLUTION. PICTURED: Zach Gilford as Elias Voit Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Back at the office, the amazing Penelope is going through the phone looking for the payroll records to see who exactly was bankrolling these murders when she makes a discovery that (like I mentioned above) opens a can of worms. However, these worms do bring us closer to solving the case. We find out this strike team was set up to take out specific targets. “Gold Star”, however, had a different plan in mind and started taking out members of the strike team instead. Five members of the strike team and five targets, two of which they’ve already uncovered: Aiden Keller and Jade Waters (gotta love trauma bonding) and although they haven’t identified him with a photo yet, Damien is penned as the leader and head of this “Gold Star” operation. This is who they’ve been profiling the entire time and they need to find a way to talk to him again and oh dear…to this point only one person has spoken to him: Elias Voit. 

This man is never going to let this team breathe is he? 

I want to hear from you - what’d you think of the episode, “Kingdom of the Blind”? Share your thoughts below or connect with me on X/Twitter and let’s chat about it @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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