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Criminal Minds: Evolution - Message in a Bottle - Review: North Star is Revealed and It's....

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With Emily out of the game, David Rossi is now leading the Gold Star case, but he may not be up for the task. After a gruesome nightmare, he goes to meet with the team and, yup, subconscious Voit is still present, seemingly in the room with them as they’re discussing how to deal with him and here is where the team finally sees just how not okay David is. 

Tara goes into his office to have a talk with him, but finds him with his gun in his hand and finger on the trigger, which could be nothing, however, with how David has been acting, I’m glad she didn’t take it lightly. She tells him about a detail of the case, but disregards it to focus on David. David reveals that Emily was the person he trusted to talk to about what was happening with him, and with Emily gone, Tara offered to be there for him. This was a beautiful breakthrough for David. Knowing that he could trust Tara, he tells her that talking to UnSubs in his mind helps him with his profiling, but Voit has somehow taken over (well, duh) and he’s talking to Voit all the time, even when he doesn’t want to. Tara suggests therapy but David protests (seriously what is it with men not liking therapy?). Tara asks him how he dealt with this in the past to which he reveals visiting them in prison helped. Tara tells him he must do the same with Voit; he has to visit him in order to clear his mind of him (oh, David isn’t going to like this). 

“Message in a Bottle” - CRIMINAL MINDS - EVOLUTION. Pictured: Joe Mantegna as David Rossi and Aisha Tyler as Dr. Tara LewisPhoto Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

J.J., worried about how Emily is handling restricted duty after everything that has happened, or well hasn’t happened, with the Gold Star case, goes to check on her. She’s staying at Penelope’s for a bit and when J.J. arrives, the place is a mess and Emily, well, she’s not quite herself. She’s not making much sense and J.J. is thinking she’s just had a few too many to drink but then realizes it’s something else: Emily is high. 

J.J. enjoys some of Emily’s snacks while trying to get through to her after she says she’s going to leave the FBI. However, as J.J. takes a seat on the couch she realizes that (oh no) one of Emily’s snacks weren’t just snacks. She has been snacking on edibles and they are now both out of commission, but still able to have a heart to heart. Later on we learn that Emily is reinstated, but she isn’t sure she wants to come back. She feels like she should be like her old colleagues (Jason Gideon, Aaron Hotchner, and Derek Morgan mention – loved it) who left. That she should leave before she loses herself, loses loved ones, or loses her sense of honor. This moment between Emily and J.J. was wonderful to see. The vulnerability of being women in the FBI and just how important the job has been for them and to be there for one another. J.J. tells Emily that they don’t quit. 

“Message in a Bottle” - CRIMINAL MINDS - EVOLUTION. Pictured: Paget Brewster as Emily Prentiss and A.J. Cook as Jennifer ‘JJ’ Jareau Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

In last week’s episode, we learned that Tyler knows someone who may be in trouble and this trouble could be linked to the Gold Star case. Her name is Teresa, and she’s Tyler’s ex-girlfriend (Penelope, this may get awkward). She shows Alvez pictures sent to her that someone took of her. Alvez shows her a list of Gold Star players, but she doesn’t recognize any of them. Maybe this isn’t Gold Star related? (Sike, of course it is). 

Penelope runs a test on Teresa’s phone and it turns out it was hacked and the hacking pattern was similar to the one Tyler did with David’s phone (Tyler? What did you do?). Because of the GPS tracking shown, we learn it wasn’t Tyler who actually hacked Teresa’s phone, but someone wanted to make it seem like it was. Penelope figures out that it must be someone they both know. In order to not make things awkward (let’s be honest, it’s going to be awkward either way), Penelope talks to Teresa and Alvez talks to Tyler. While they’re trying to figure this out, Alvez tells Tyler that Teresa says this started a week ago and it suddenly clicked for Tyler who could be behind this: Sebastian Gasper. 

“Message in a Bottle” - CRIMINAL MINDS - EVOLUTION. Pictured: Joe Mantegna as David Rossi Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Sebastian is brought in for questioning but doesn’t offer anything. He later reaches out to Tyler to meet him and to come alone (that’s never a smart idea). He wants Tyler to bring the cloned phone to hand it over; once that’s done, Teresa will no longer be stalked. Tyler meets with him with conditions met and gives up the phone, but PLOT TWIST – once Tyler hands over the phone, Sebastian draws a gun. Tyler quickly figures out that it wasn’t about the phone but more about what Tyler could have possibly seen on the phone and those running the Gold Star program are not happy with that. They wanted him gone and Sebastian needed to show proof of that (the audacity). Thankfully, Tyler did the smart thing (he’s been on a roll with this and I love that for him and the FBI) and had back up. The FBI comes in and apprehends Sebastian. 

David goes to see Voit in prison, and he got more than he was looking to find. In last week’s episode we learn that Voit gave Damien and Jade a code name, North Star, and the BAU believed that this was another player in the Gold Star game. Voit tries to convince David that North Star doesn’t mean anything, but is more of a “loaded term” that anyone could make their own which is why he gave it to them. Damien and Jade want answers and this North Star, to them, felt like it was a connection to the answers they think they’re looking for. David isn’t accepting this though, so Voit offers another direction. He spins the question back on to David and asks him what North Star is to him. David says a definition relating to constellations, but Voit says that it could also be a direction, a start. 

“Message in a Bottle” - CRIMINAL MINDS - EVOLUTION. Pictured: Joe Mantegna as David Rossi and Zach Gilford as Elias Voit Photo Credit: Michael Yarish /Paramount+ © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

David is now paying closer attention (and here’s where things get real and I got chills). Voit continues and says he has no idea who is involved in the Gold Star program and that he checked, but figured David might know. He then says “maybe this is why I’m haunting you [...] sounds like this Stuart House place was the perfect crucible to create serial killers. Who would have given them that idea?” and it hit David instantly… 

Back at the office, David gets the team together to discuss a book that was drafted by him and Jason Gideon nearly 30 years ago. This book was based on a hypothetical theory about what would happen if you take children from troubled homes, remove them and put them in an even worse environment where they could be evaluated for psychopathy (makes sense why it was never published). This, they believe, may have gotten into the hands of someone who then used it to create the Gold Star program. This unpublished book is where everything started and where David came to realize that the North Star is…the BAU. 

I want to hear from you - what’d you think of the episode, “Message in a Bottle”? 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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