Criminal Minds kicked off Season 13 with two major deaths, including one of the team’s own.
The first heartbreak came early on when it was revealed that Agent Stephen Walker didn’t survive the SUV crash that ended last season in a jaw-dropping cliffhanger.
“Most cliffhangers, as you know, that we’ve done don’t result in a fatality or certainly a fatality of anyone we know on the team, so this was a first for us, to start Season 13 with that,” showrunner Erica Messer told TV Guide.
Walker’s death is the capstone on Scratch’s torture of the BAU team after he forced Hotch into retirement, nearly killed Tara’s brother and had a hand in Reid’s prison stint last season.
He ended the season premiere by trying to torture Prentiss into revealing Hotch’s witness protection location – but Prentiss was one step ahead. Her ability to reason out of Scratch’s induced delusion led him to being cornered by the team and inevitably dying as he tried to escape off a loose fire escape.
“Any supervillain needs to really affect a hero, so we had to go t with him and we chose to end our Scratch story in our premiere instead of dragging him out to Episode 300, which we talked about last year,” Messer said.
After the traumatic events of the season premiere, which was an immediate pick up from the finale, Prentiss is sending the team on vacation for six weeks to catch their breath, including new team member Simmons.
As for Season 13 super villains, Messer isn’t too anxious to find a big bad just yet.
The team is going to go back to solving regular cases before they have another terrifying Big Bad to deal with.