A series of cast shake-ups happened to "Criminal Minds" going to its Season 12. Shemar Moore's departure was announced last season. But, Thomas Gibson's suspension and eventual firing came totally unexpected to everybody.
Going out, coming in
Gibson was actually directing the second episode of "Criminal Minds" Season 12 when he got into an onset altercation with writer/producer Virgil Williams. That was the second incident of the same nature for Gibson but with another producer.
Prior to that however, it was announced that Aisha Tyler who plays Dr. Tara Lewis in the series, was promoted as series regular presumably to replace the gap created by Moore's exit from "Criminal Minds" Season 12. In addition, Adam Rodriguez was signed on to play a new character named Luke Alvez.
Prentiss' return as series regular
Paget Brewster, FBI Agent Emily Prentiss in the series, was initially asked to guest in a multi-episode arc for "Criminal Minds" Season 12. But, in light of Ginson's sudden departure from the series, it was recently announced that she was made a series regular again.
Foremost in the minds of "Criminal Minds" Season 12 fans with all the pre-season cast shake-ups is who will replace Gibson's Hotch as the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) leader. Majority of the speculations seems to point out to Prentiss as the one filling in his shoes. It is not until recently that a confirmation of some sort was given.
This came in the way of an interview that Kirsten Vangness, who plays Penelope Garcia in the procedural drama, gave recently. She said that it was great to have Brewster back in the show. She revealed that she found out about her return in "Criminal Minds" Season 12 at the same time that everyone else did.
Vangness then gushed about Prentiss heading the team making a lot of sense. The actress, who plays a tech genius in "Criminal Minds", added that since the first episode that Prentiss has been in charge, everything has been lovely and delightful.
With regards to Luke Alvez who will be replacing her best friend Derek Morgan (Moore) in the team in "Criminal Minds" Season 12, Vangness revealed that her character will instantly dislike the newcomer. But, she will be able to warm up to him eventually.
The first episode of "Criminal Minds" Season 12 will kick off with Alvez, the FBI Fugitive Task Force leader, joining the BAU in capturing one of the 13 serial killers who escaped from prison in last season's finale. It will be entitled "The Crimson King" and it will be aired on September 28 on CBS.