When we last saw our friends in the BAU at the end of the Season Eleven finale, they were left reeling from the news that thirteen serial killers had escaped from prison.
As the season premiere begins, we soon discover that, with the help of Luke Alvez, new cast member Adam Rodriguez (who you might recognise from the much missed CSI: Miami), they've recaptured all but five.
Alvez is a "man-hunter" and was working undercover seemingly helping a man and a woman trying to escape the country and flee to Mexico -- subsequently, said plan doesn't go their way, and they're arrested -- when Rossi turns up on the scene to try and recruit him.
News comes in of a victim -- still alive -- with the word 'BAU' carved into his stomach, thought to be the work of the Crimson King a.k.a Daniel Cullen, and Alvez is suddenly REALLY fired up. A little glimpse into his back story soon tells us that the matter is personal for him, as he lost his partner as a result of trying to catch him previously.
Further examination of the victim, named Brian, by Lewis (recently promoted to series regular, Aisha Tyler) and Hotch (Thomas Gibson, who is soon to exit the show after an altercation with producer Virgil Williams) reveals one dramatic difference. While Cullen liked to inflict as much pain as possible upon his victims, the carved writings on Brian are shallow, hesitant and not his style at all. Immediately, they call in the rest of the team.
Whereas Lewis was kept very much in the background of most proceedings last season, this time around, she is the star cast member. Talking one on one with Brian, she gets him to open up about his DID -- Dissociative Identity Disorder -- and the two girls who were his alters. After attending a summer camp for DID sufferers, he says the two girls "moved away."
Questioned about the trauma he's suffered, he recalls getting home from work and finding his door unlocked. The next thing he knew, he was knocked out and woke up on a table, a gas mask over his face. A white smoke, which tasted of bubblegum, filled the mask, and his kidnapper asked him his name. When he answered "Brian", the man said "no", then began cutting, at which point he passed out. Asked if he can recall any of the other people at camp with him, he says he's not sure, but Lewis suggests she gets a list which he can look at to see if it jogs his memory.
Flying in to join Lewis and Hotch, the rest of the team soon figure out that the real unsub is Peter Lewis, a.k.a. Mr Scratch. Coming to the conclusion that he would plan for every outcome and variable that could mess up his plans, they have Garcia look into mysterious activity and missing people in the area. One name that comes up is Jennifer Jareau, and, since her address is listed as Rossi Avenue, the team are being baited and reeled in.
Hotch and Lewis go to the address and find a woman there with the word 'HOTCH' carved into her forehead. Chelsea, the woman in question, is suffering a dissociative break, and it's soon revealed that she attended the same camp as Brian, which leads the team to believe Peter isn't the copycat, and instead, someone with DID that he dosed is.
Moments later, the team -- Lewis, in particular -- realise that Brian is the copycat, and, as an officer visits him and begins to read off a list of names from his phone, he strangles the officer before saying the words "try not to flinch" and leaving with the phone.
Moving away from the case a little, Hotch and Alvez have a chat, during which Alvez opens up about the death of his partner and how he wants to kill Cullen. This doesn't appear to sit well with Hotch, who believes criminals should spend the rest of their lives in prison as failures rather than dying as heroes or martyrs.
Arriving at the hospital, the team find the officer dead, with the word "BYE" carved into his forehead. Brian delivers the phone to Lewis, who isn't inducing the arrival of an alternate but creating one through his victims. Wanting to find out more about Brian's past, when his parents arrive, Lewis and JJ find out about the torture and pain Brian had suffered prior to being adopted. He created his two alternates as a way of coping with the pain.
Further investigation of the arm spreader in which Brian was found leads Alvez and Reid to a sex shop in the area where the sales assistant identifies the the spreader but also reveals that they -- two of them -- were ordered using Reid's name. He also changed Reid's address and used his social security number.
Alvez believes Lewis has Cullen, and it turns out he's right. He tells Brian that Cullen, restrained and looking a little worse for wear, thinks he's the Crimson King and walks away. As the BAU, led by Lewis and JJ, arrive on scene, he's halfway through carving the word 'IMPOSTER' onto his chest and only stops when JJ and Lewis repeatedly recite the words his alternates used to tell him: "No one is going to hurt you like that ever again." Brian stops and drops the knife, and, as he's handcuffed and led away, he looks back at his victim and says, "What have I done?"
As for Cullen, as he's arrested, Alvez squares up to him, almost yelling at him to remember his name and what he did to his partner, but the inhalation of the smoke appears to have greatly hindered his ability to tell them anything truthful.
Invited to join the team full time, Alvez shakes hands with Hotch, and the episode draws to a close with Hotch reading Lewis' file and Lewis looking at the file on Desmond Holt. As the screen fades out, Season 12 is shaping up to be quite a ride...
What did you make of the premiere? Are you excited to have Rodriguez join the team? Comment below and let us know!