SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details from the series finale of Criminal Minds.
After 15 seasons, CBS’s long-running procedural created by Jeff Davis is coming to an end. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the gang at the BAU said farewell tonight with back-to-back episodes. Like many series, it ended with a gathering of the cast, glasses of champagne, and tearful speeches. But before they get to the goodbyes, Rossi (Joe Mantegna) and company had to hunt down one more psychopath before popping bottles and toasting the end of an era…and that psychopath was “The Chameleon.”
In the first episode of the two-parter, titled “Face Off,” our favorite BAU denizens are looking for the aforementioned “The Chameleon,” aka Everett Lynch (Michael Mosley), who has an affinity for cutting his victim’s faces off. It’s been almost a year since he almost killed Rossi, and at the top of the episode, he is trying to figure out how to track Everett down — with the guidance of the spirit of a young Jason Gideon (Ben Savage — who is kind of perfect for a young Mandy Patinkin).
We find out that Everett is shacking up with a new woman, Marilyn (Alex Jennings) and her daughter Olivia (AlexAnn Hopkins) — and we all know that he just wants to kill the mom and slice her face off. As for Olivia, we find out later that he is just wanting her as a replacement for Grace (Alex Jennings), who he murdered.
Meanwhile, the team — with Spencer (Matthew Gray Gubler) leading the charge, as usual — realizes that Everett’s incarcerated mom Roberta (Sharon Lawrence) is just “appearing” helpful to them, but she has her own agenda. She is sweet-talking her way to parole and wants to get revenge on her own son for killing her granddaughter. On top of that, Everett is looking for his real Dad. Needless to say, this family has a multitude of problems.
JJ (A.J. Cook) and Tara (Aisha Tyler) interrogate Roberta and find their suspicions true. Meanwhile, Penelope (Kirsten Vangsness) sets some internet trip wires to see if they can find any leads to Everett. Before we know it, “viola!” They have tracked down someone by the name of Orlando Gaines (Nick Gomez) in Reno who may have a lead to the face-cutter.
Rossi and Spence head out to meet with Orlando, but he is one step ahead of them. He gives Everett a call and says, “Hey dude, some FBI-types are looking for me.” He also gives Everett an address for a man named Delvin Weaver (Graham Beckel) who, we learn is — wait for it — his father!
Cut to Roberta paying a visit to Delvin and they exchange words. Turns out this family is way more messed up than we initially thought. Delvin tried to kill him when he was baby. He tells her, “Bringing him into this world was your decision, not mine” — which triggers Roberta to later pull out a gun and shoot him multiple times in a screaming rage. All the while, she keeps each strand of hair intact and looks as classy and stately as a classy cast member of the Real Housewives of Orange County.
When the team arrives on the scene, we learn from Spence that she shot him 14 times, which means she reloaded during her fit of rage. And if that wasn’t enough, she stabbed him over forty times. Roberta really has some things to work through. That said, the next target on her list is Everett.
But before that, Rossi and Everett have a chat in private. They bargain on what Everett needs to be a better man. (It should be noted that during this heart-to-heart, JJ has Everett in her crosshairs from afar). Rossi tells him “You’re not your father’s son”, to which Everett responds, “I’m still my mama’s boy.”
Before the episode ends, Everett attempts to make Olivia his Grace surrogate, but he is met by Roberta at gunpoint. The team is outside of the house and they are prepped to take both of them in. The episode ends with Roberta forcing Everett to set Olivia free. Before we know it, the house explodes and knocks Spence out, and he is extremely disoriented.
Spence goes home and tries to figure out why the house exploded and how a personality like Everett blew himself up. Then it hits him. He didn’t blow himself up Earlier in the episode, Penelope discovered a series of tunnels under Everett’s house. He realizes that Everett killed his mom and then escaped via the tunnels, which means he’s still alive. After his revelation, Spence passes out.
This leads to the final episode of Criminal Minds, appropriately titled, “And In The End” (which was written by Executive Producer Erica Messer and Vangsness). It’s here where we get a bunch of cameos from familiar faces — mostly footage from previous episodes. For Spence, it’s A Christmas Carol situation, where he is visited by “ghosts” from his past. The only difference is that he is in a coma.
Since the explosion, Spence has been laying on the floor in his house and he relives moments with Derek (Shemar Moore), Hotch (Thomas Gibson), Elle (Lola Glaudini) and Gideon (Mandy Patinkin). It’s obvious that this is footage from when they were actually on the show. But while navigating the office, he follows Penelope into a room, and when she turns around it is Chief Strauss (Jayne Atkinson), who was murdered earlier in the series. She lets him know that his brain is suffering from intracranial hemorrhaging and his brain is struggling to survive. That said, all we are seeing is happening in his head.
“What you see is up to you,” says Strauss. He has to choose which way to go. Throughout the episode, he has to decide if he wants to return to Earth or travel the great unknown. We see him run into the evil George Foyet, aka The Boston Reaper (C. Thomas Howell), and later, after Penelope and JJ discover him and bring him to the hospital, he has an emotional reunion with his deceased girlfriend, Maeve (Beth Riesgraf).
Meanwhile, everyone thinks all is AOK with Everett dead. Krystall (Gail O’Grady) tells Rossi he seems more at peace with Lynch dead, and he says he is ready to retire. Back at HQ, the ladies are nursing a hangover after a lady-bonding sleepover, and all is laughs until they realize Everett isn’t dead (it took them long enough to figure that out).
Rossi meets with them and once he learns the news, he sends more security to his house to watch over Krystall. Again, Everett is one step ahead of them, and he kills the security sent to her and uses his chameleon abilities to pose as a security guard that was sent there to guard her.
Back at the hospital, Jane Lynch reprises her role as Spence’s mom, and she and Penelope stay at his bedside as he goes through some scary convulsions. All the while, in his mind, Maeve is asking him what road he wants to take. Stay with her or go back to “the blue marble.” He eventually wakes up and is stable — and all is back to normal! Well, for Spence, at least.
Back at Krystall’s house, Everett starts to talk creepily about his mom, leading her to realize that this guy is not a security guard. He takes her hostage, and this sets us up for the final standoff between Everett and the BAU get-along gang.
Everyone meets at the airport, where Everett is holding Krystall at gunpoint and ready to take her on a plane to get her the hell outta Dodge. Like a good man, Rossi says “Take me!” After a quick self-deliberation, Everett agrees and takes Rossi — sans bulletproof vest.
As they begin to fly away, there’s a gunfight on the plane. Rossi manages to open the door and fall out wounded while Everett continues to fly away. It turns out that Rossi was wearing another bulletproof vest and he wasn’t harmed! The team begins opening fire at the plane and it doesn’t take them long to hit the gas tank and they see the plane get set ablaze. The plane explodes and Everett goes down in a psychopathic inferno.
Fast forward a month later and Rossi and Krystall are having a party. One by one, the gang arrives — Emily (Paget Brewster), Matt (Daniel Henney), Luke (Adam Rodriguez), JJ, Tara, Penelope and a fully recovered Spence. They each give us what’s on the horizon for them now that the band is breaking up. In addition to Rossi retiring, it a party celebrating Penelope’s departure to a new job.
There’s a champagne toast and Penelope gives a heartfelt speech that leads to a lot of tears — no doubt some of them were real. We see them dance, drink, cry, laugh….and Luke asks Penelope on a date!
Cut to the next day at the office and the team runs into Penelope trying to sneak out without saying goodbye. She feels the party was the perfect goodbye. They have one last cup of tea together and Penelope says one final farewell. As she walks through her work station by her lonesome, she shuts down the computers and hides a note in the desk. What it says, we will never know. True to series finale form, she begins to walk out of the room and turns around for one last look before turning off the lights and saying goodbye to the BAU forever…or until there is a reunion show or spinoff.