Season Twelve. On May 6th, 2016 CBS announced the renewal of Criminal Minds for the 2016-2017 TV season, with a standard initial order of 22 episodes. The season premiered on September 28, 2016.
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- Joe Mantegna - David Rossi
- Matthew Gray Gubler - Dr. Spencer Reid
- A.J. Cook - Jennifer Jareau
- Kirsten Vangsness - Penelope Garcia
- Damon Gupton - Stephen Walker (episodes 8-onwards)
- Aisha Tyler - Dr. Tara Lewis
- Adam Rodriguez - Luke Alvez
- Thomas Gibson - Aaron Hotchner (episodes 1-2)
- Paget Brewster - Emily Prentiss (episodes 3-onwards)
|Image||Title||Airdate||Writer||Director||Season Episode||Series Episode|
|"The Crimson King"||September 28, 2016||Breen Frazier||Glenn Kershaw||1||256|
|Agent Luke Alvez joins the BAU team as they are tasked with capturing a serial killer in Tempe, Arizona, who escaped from prison with twelve other convicts.|
|"Sick Day"||October 5, 2016||Virgil Williams||Larry Teng||2||257|
|Arriving home following a child abduction case in Los Angeles, painful memories resurface for a shaken JJ, who breaks down and recounts the story to her husband.|
|"Taboo"||October 12, 2016||Karen Maser||Alec Smight||3||258|
|With Emily Prentiss having rejoined the team, the BAU investigate the discoveries of two dead women in Florida and realize they are looking for a killer with a peculiar disposal method.|
|"Keeper"||October 26, 2016||Bruce Zimmerman||Sharat Raju||4||259|
|The BAU travels to the Appalachian Trail in rural Virginia in search of a serial killer who is operating along that route. Meanwhile, Reid is faced with a dilemma regarding his mother.|
|"The Anti-Terrorism Squad"||November 9, 2016||Stephanie SenGupta||Tawnia McKiernan||5||260|
|The BAU is called to investigate the murders of two families in Minnesota, with one person being left alive for both attacks. As the team delves further into the investigation, they discover a startling link between both survivors, which could provide a motive for the killings.|
|"Elliott's Pond"||November 16, 2016||Erica Messer||Matthew Gray Gubler||6||261|
|The BAU is called to investigate the strange disappearance of three Delaware children who were out riding their bicycles, and suspect it might be connected to an unsolved disappearance that occurred over thirty years ago. Meanwhile, the team receives a startling update on Hotch's absence, and Prentiss is faced with a stunning decision.|
|"Mirror Image"||November 30, 2016||Breen Frazier||Joe Mantegna||7||262|
|When a man claiming to be Lewis' brother reveals that he knows secrets about the family, the BAU investigate the whereabouts of her actual brother, who Lewis had lost contact with.|
|"Scarecrow"||December 7, 2016||Karen Maser||Christoph Schrewe||8||263|
|When the remains of twelve people are found lying on the bed of a creek, the BAU travel to Yakima, Washington, to find the killer before he kills someone else. Also, experienced profiler Stephen Walker from the Behavioral Analysis Program joins the BAU.|
|"Profiling 202"||January 4, 2017||Virgil Williams||Rob Bailey||9||264|
|While Rossi is teaching a profiling class with Prentiss and Stephen, he receives a phone call that leads him to believe that someone from his past has returned.|
|"Seek and Destroy"||January 11, 2017||Erik Stiller||Diana Valentine||10||265|
|The BAU is called to San Diego to investigate a string of deadly home invasions that are occurring in upscale neighborhoods, and suspect the crimes are being committed by a gang.|
|"Surface Tension"||February 1, 2017||Bruce Zimmerman||Oz Scott||11||266|
|The BAU is called to Tampa, Florida, to investigate when bizarre hieroglyphs are found on the bodies of suicide victims, and realize they are dealing with a very unusual killer. Meanwhile, Reid decides to take his mother out of a clinical study early to bring her home with him.|
|"A Good Husband"||February 8, 2017||Jim Clemente||Laura Belsey||12||267|
|The BAU is called to Palm Springs, California, to investigate the discovery of heavily damaged male bodies. Meanwhile, Reid struggles with juggling between the demands of his job and caring for his mother.|
|"Spencer"||February 15, 2017||Erica Messer and Kirsten Vangsness||Glenn Kershaw||13||268|
|The BAU teams up with the International Response Team when one of their own gets involved with a disturbance in Mexico.|
|"Collision Course"||February 22, 2017||Stephanie SenGupta||Alec Smight||14||269|
|The BAU is sent to investigate the cause of a rising uptick in deadly car crashes involving drivers and pedestrians in Bradenton, Florida. Also, Reid receives some bad news.|
|"Alpha Male"||March 1, 2017||Karen Maser||Rob Bailey||15||270|
|When several young men and women are disfigured in acid attacks in Philadelphia, the BAU set out to find the culprit. Also, Reid begins to settle into his new surroundings.|
|"Assistance Is Futile"||March 15, 2017||Virgil Williams||Leon Ichaso||16||271|
|When a mother suspects that someone close to her is an unsub, she turns to the BAU for assistance. Also, Reid begins to adapt to prison life in order to survive.|
|"In the Dark"||March 22, 2017||Dania Bennett||Diana Valentine||17||272|
|While investigating a series of murders taking place both day and night in Burlington, Vermont, the BAU come to believe it is the work of two serial killers with drastically different M.O.s who are operating simultaneously. Also, the team worries about Reid's safety in prison.|
|"Hell's Kitchen"||March 29, 2017||Erica Messer||Simon Mirren||18||273|
|The BAU is called to New York to find an unsub who abducts his victims and keeps them in the sewers. Also, Reid makes a decision that will affect his interactions with the other prisoners.|
|"True North"||April 5, 2017||Bruce Zimmerman||Joe Mantegna||19||274|
|The BAU travels to Arizona when the bodies of three people are found tethered onto stakes. Meanwhile, Lewis receives a shocking revelation from Reid while visiting him in prison.|
|"Unforgettable"||April 26, 2017||Stephanie SenGupta||Carlos Bernard||20||275|
|When a friend of Stephen's is among several federal government employees to die of apparent heart attacks, the BAU investigate to see if there is more to their deaths. Also, Reid begins to worry about his trial.|
|"Green Light"||May 3, 2017||Erik Stiller||Alec Smight||21||276|
|When Reid's mother mysteriously disappears, he asks the BAU to investigate if she was abducted while he remains in prison.|
|"Red Light"||May 10, 2017||Breen Frazier||Glenn Kershaw||22||277|
|Caught in an impossible situation, Reid must face an old nemesis. Meanwhile, Derek Morgan comes to the BAU with a lead that might help them find Mr. Scratch.|
The first half of the season predominantly focused on the BAU tracking down and recapturing thirteen serial killers, who all escaped from prisons across the U.S. during the events of last season's finale The Storm. The team particularly focused their efforts on serial killer by proxy Peter Lewis.
Two new agents were introduced in this season as main characters. One replaced Derek Morgan, who was written out of the show last season, due to Shemar Moore's decision to leave. Showrunner Erica Messer clarified that the team will continue to cope with Morgan's departure and that this will initially affect their relationship with the new agent. The character, Agent Luke Alvez, is portrayed by Adam Rodriguez, introduced in the premiere episode, and was previously a member of the FBI Fugitive Task Force. The second agent is Stephen Walker, who is portrayed by Damon Gupton and was previously a member of the Behavioral Analysis Program, the FBI's counterintelligence division; he was introduced in the eighth episode.
Paget Brewster reprised her role as Emily Prentiss as a series regular. In addition, Aisha Tyler reprised her role as Doctor Tara Lewis, filling another series regular role. Lewis was a recurring character introduced in the previous season.
Aaron Hotchner no longer appeared in the series after Thomas Gibson was dismissed due to an altercation between him and episode writer Virgil Williams. His absence was written into the season (as a by-product of Peter Lewis' escape), but he still appeared in the season's first two episodes as Gibson already filmed his scenes for them. Hotch's role as BAU team leader was filled up by Prentiss.
Jane Lynch reprised her role as Reid's mother Diana for the season's eleventh, twentieth, and twenty-second episodes, all for what Erica Messer described as "a fun, Reid-heavy story-arc", which was dealt with in the season's last nine episodes. It also featured the return of another unsub from the past. Lost alum Harold Perrineau guest-starred as a recurring character, former FBI agent Calvin Shaw, who was found guilty of killing an informant; Perrineau's character was integral to this arc. Tatum O'Neal guest-starred in the sixteenth episode as Miranda White, a mother who suspects her son of being a serial killer. The episode was described by Rodriguez as "the most gruesome episode" he has ever seen.
Shemar Moore reprised his role as Derek Morgan in the season finale, where he brings in a lead that could be instrumental for the team in bringing down Peter Lewis. The season ended on a cliffhanger (the first since Season Five), when the BAU suffered a vehicular ambush committed by Peter, with the fates of many of the team members unknown.