For those of you who don’t already know, the next episode of the long-running CBS crime drama Criminal Minds (airing Wednesday March 16 while this coming Wednesday, March 9 will air a rerun) will be the last for Agent Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster). This is the second cast cut this season which has led many faithful viewers to take a negative opinion of the changes, expressing that they will no longer be interested in watching the show. Looks like Charlie Sheen is not the only one angry at CBS.
Earlier this season JJ (Agent Jenifer Jareau played by AJ Cook) left the show, causing many viewers to lose interest. While viewership has stayed fairly strong, it is doubtful that fans’ loyalty will not waiver after multiple changes in such a short amount of time. The good news is that JJ will return for Prentiss’s last episode; the bad news is that the return is only for the one episode.
This is not the first time that Criminal Minds fans have experienced cast changes. Two original characters left within the first few seasons and the show has certainly survived. The difference between past cast changes and this season’s is that viewers have had much longer to become attached to the characters.
Some speculation has been made of the fact that both of the cuts were made to female characters. After JJ’s departure a new female character, Agent Seaver, joined the show for some episodes throughout the season (and has been bumped up to a series regular) but the character is young and inexperienced and therefore will have difficulty filling the shoes of the tough and experienced characters of JJ and Prentiss. In fact once Prentiss is gone, the team’s gender ratio will be four men to two women, and only one of the two women being an agent. So fans are understandably wondering why CBS decided to cut the characters that they did; why were two strong female role models seen as more expendable to the show?
The only reasons that have been given for the cuts were budget reasons and that the new spin-off Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior influenced the creators to look at the original show and its evolution. Basically they decided they needed to shake things up. Viewers disagree; saying not to fix something that isn’t broken. Freshening up a series is certainly a good way to keep it from getting stale but the changes have to be made carefully and often gradually in order for viewers to stay loyal. It is likely that a new agent will be added to replace Prentiss, but hopefully that will mark the end of the cast changes. These cast cuts seem to be a little bigger and more sudden than just freshening up. CBS is taking a leap and we will soon see if they land on their feet.
Setting aside viewer reactions to the changes, the show is giving Prentiss an intense send-off. Fans have been wondering how and why the beloved character will leave her position at the BAU and the recent launch of the plot has led to speculation that her character may be killed off. The plotline was incited a few episodes ago as a growing subplot, but the latest episode finally focused on the Prentiss storyline. Whether or not you are happy about Prentiss’s departure, the story has been thrilling. Prentiss’s nemesis from her previous job has escaped and is hunting down her and her former colleagues and now her BAU team is involved as well. Prentiss will leave the show with a bang, but whether this will be at the wrong end of a gunshot is yet to be determined.
If you have not been watching the past few episodes you can view them online and make sure to tune in to the exciting conclusion and Prentiss’s final episode March 9that 8pm CT.
Source: “Criminal Minds Cast Shakeup: ‘We Hope Paget stays with the show,’ Says CBS Boss” article on eonline.com