Kirsten Vangsness and Aisha Tyler Talk 'More Relationships,' Zach Gilford's 'Monster' Serial Killer in 'Criminal Minds: Evolution' (Exclusive)

Fans of Criminal Minds have been eagerly awaiting the brand new revival series, Criminal Minds: Evolution, and it is finally here. Launching Thursday, Nov. 24 on Paramount+, the new show finds the FBI's Behavior Analytics Unit hunting down a serial killer who has grown and adapted to the new societal norms forced on the world by the Covid-19 unit. Recently, had a chance to chat with Criminal Minds stars Kirsten Vangsness and Aisha Tyler, who explained that the new season focuses a lot more on relationships amid the BAU's search for the "monster" villain, played by actor Zach Gilford (Netflix's Midnight Mass).

When we asked Vangsness if Evolution "ramps up" what Criminal Minds fans came to love about the series, she told us, "I think it's absolutely fair to say. And here's the thing that I feel at peace, really at peace with as someone who has a hard time watching things that are super, I think, how does your mom say it, Aisha? Gooey?" Tyler then shared, "Oh, gooey. My mom is like, 'I can't, it's too gooey. I like the show, but it's too gooey for me.'"

Vangsness continued, "And my mom's the same way. When I first started the show, she was like, 'I've bought a 14-inch black and white television. I heard you're on it. I will watch it from the hallway.' And literally like that. So I'm kind of in that same kind of space.... It's not that it's more, our showrunner Erica Messer was very clear about she didn't want to make it more violent. You stay in those moments more. So it's creepier and like Aisha was saying, there's more horror like that jump scare kind of a thing." 

The actress went on to offer, "But also there's more relationship, there's more time with the characters. So much more. It feels like you're behind the scenes of the characters. We get to do stuff that we always dreamed of, almost stuff that you imagine at character work. And we spend so much time with each other in real life."

She then joked, "So it's sort of like you could rationalize that us drinking champagne in my hot tub is bonding exercises. Let's just say. We do a lot of bonding exercises as a cast. And we have, even when the show was canceled, we didn't know it was going to come back. We continued bonding exercises. So all of it sounds sexy and I kind of mean it and I kind of don't. And so there's more of that. You get to experience more of all of the things. And it's set up for streaming. So we know everybody was binging the show anyway. Now it's set up like that."

Vangsness also offered a tease of Gilford's Elias Voit, saying, "It's really difficult to be around somebody who's so charming and such a good actor. And so we want him around all the time. But also we're trying to catch you, so you don't go do this again. It's a very confusing experience. He's incredible... and it's like a worthy, what is that, foil? Am I using that word right Aisha?" Tyler chimed in, "Yeah, I think that's right. A worthy foil."

Vangsness continued, "Yeah, to everything that's now elevated. You need it. Who's the person that's the right fit for us? That doesn't feel... that feels like that's a tricky thing to be like you're the scary, scary and we want to see you. We're so interested... I think that the show always sings when we really point out that monsters are created by monsters. That we're talking about behavior that any one of us could do based on the given circumstances or our primary caregivers or whatever."

She added, "At the end of the day, we only are what our actions are. So you get to watch this whole constellation of Zach's act, the character he's playing of Elias's voice actions that don't always necessarily just line up with terrible. And I think it's super compelling and he knocks it out of the park."

Tyler then offered, "This is really about how do you build a serial killer? How are monsters made? Right? And we didn't have the time to tell those stories in any detail before. Because the show was on broadcast only 40, 42 minutes long. Now we've got an hour. We lean into what might create a serial killer? What experiences might turn someone into a monster? And so for people who love the criminal profiling of the show, they're really going to get a lot of juicy stuff about that.

She continued, "I think that people who love their relationships of just all of us, those moments at the end of shows that we used to slip in of like, 'Oh, they're all having dinner together. Oh, someone's doing that.' We have so much more of that, too. So I think it's hitting all the buttons."

The first two episodes of Criminal Minds: Evolution are now streaming on Paramount+. Fans can also relive all episodes of the original Criminal Minds series on the streamer as well. Those interested in trying out a free trial of Paramount+ can do so by clicking here. Stay locked to Pop for more from our interview with the Criminal Minds: Evolution cast!