Interview: Kirsten Vangsness Talks Garvez and ‘Criminal Minds: Evolution’


Ahead of the upcoming Criminal Minds: Evolution premiere, Nerds & Beyond caught up with original series star Kirsten Vangsness, who plays Penelope Garcia.

Criminal Minds: Evolution catches back up with the FBI’s elite team of criminal profilers, the BAU. The team comes up against their greatest threat yet, an UnSub who has used the pandemic to build a network of other serial killers. As the world opens back up and the network goes operational, the team must hunt them down, one murder at a time.

Nerds & Beyond: It seemed like Penelope’s story was one that was the most wrapped up so to speak. What made you want to return for Criminal Minds: Evolution?

Vangsness: Returning as Garcia is a no-brainer because, look, she’s come up with this way of being right, these rules that she’s going to live life by which is like, I’m not going to be a doormat anymore; I’m going to set boundaries. I’m going to take radical responsibility for my life. I’m going to be a maker of the world that I want to see. And then, then something happens, and she doesn’t want to go.

But it’s like the path of least resistance. There’s a writer named Martha Beck, and she talks about chains on it and chains off. And sometimes the thing that’s the hardest is still the chains off thing, and that’s what this is. If she didn’t do it, it would haunt her. She has to, but it comes at a cost. Like all of us, when we make a choice to go back, we go backward. Remind yourself that it’s up to you to make sure that’s not a backward move, that it’s a forward move. And how do you make that a forward move?

Nerds & Beyond: As a Garvez fan I have to ask, will we EVER find out what happened on Penelope’s date with Luke in the season 15 finale?

Vangsness: So thank you for being a fan of that. One of my favorite things about Criminal Minds is that it lays things in and you might have to wait and wait, but it will pay off somehow or another. This season is 10 episodes. We’re shooting episode nine right now, and I can tell you, our relationship has evolved even during the pandemic. You will absolutely see acknowledgement of the time prior to this.

I can also tease that I have had many scenes with Adam [Rodriguez]. We’ve done a lot of scenes together and you can see how it evolves and people might for a second be like, oh. and then you’ll be like, Wait, no. This is what I can tell you. If anybody has ever liked or enjoyed watching Garcia on the show, you’ll enjoy it more because there’s more of me walking around doing things living. If you don’t like Garcia, you’ll have to fast-forward the show a lot more than you would have to before.

Criminal Minds: Evolution premieres its first two episodes on November 24 on Paramount+. CBS will also host a special broadcast of the first episode at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on November 24.

Haley joined the Nerds and Beyond team in 2019 as a Writer and Editor. Her main fandoms include Criminal Minds, Wrestling, and The Walking Dead. You can find her on Twitter @haleyanne_.

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