After fifteen seasons and more than fourteen years on the air, CBS’s Criminal Minds has concluded on Feb. 19, in a very emotional and poignant series finale. Viewers said goodbye to the BAU members and learned more about where they would end up after the BAU. The nostalgia was made worse with flashbacks of past characters, who had left the FBI series years earlier.
One character who made an unexpected return was Jason Gideon, a former unit chief of the BAU. He had left the series in season 3, following actor Mandy Patinkin’s swift departure (later Patinkin referred to the show as his “biggest public mistake“).
Here’s a preview of the last season of @SHO_Homeland – premiering this Sunday at 9. Thanks for being such an extraordinary loyal audience, for all the years of our journey. See you on Sundays! pic.twitter.com/oy0kmadOKH
— Mandy Patinkin (@PatinkinMandy) February 7, 2020
Fans got finality to his character in season 10, when he was killed off-screen, a younger version of his character, played by Boy Meets World alum, Ben Savage, returned for the finale of the series.
Gidenon’s spirit, reminiscent of the investirgator in his early career, guided Rossi with advice about a case. The character’s return was highly unconventional, but created a higher level of closure during the finale.
It’s difficult to think of Criminal Minds without thinking about David Rossi, played by Joe Mantegna, but the character was only created in season 3, to replace Jason Gideon after his exit. When Criminal Minds began, Mandy Patinkin was the star of the cast, the biggest name on the cast list. As the leader of the BAU, he guided the other team members and he made final decisions about investigations.
— Mandy Patinkin (@PatinkinMandy) February 3, 2020
Gideon’s allegiance to investaging and profiling criminals began to wane after his girlfriend, a girl named Sarah Jacobs (played by Moira Squier) was murdered by Frank Breitkopf in the season 2 finale. The couple were together since the end of the show’s first season, but had known one another since they were young children.
Her death left Gideon shaken up and he felt guilt because she was murdered due to an investigation the BAU was conducting.
In season 3’s premiere episode, “Doubt”, Gideon’s holed up in his cabin to consider his life choices and his life so far. While investigating another case, he chose to release an unsub, and that choice led to Sarah’s death and the death of another young woman. He left the BAU and leaves Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) to discover that when he goes to Gideon’s cabin and finds his gun and a note.
Always good to be alongside my partner and friend for 8 seasons Claire Danes. Here’s our latest interview for the @nytimes. And don’t miss the first episode of our last season together this Sunday! https://t.co/mIxljZFCu6
— Mandy Patinkin (@PatinkinMandy) February 3, 2020
He writes that he had lost faith in happy endings, because of the work he’s done and Sarah’s death as a direct result of his work.
The public learning in 2012 that Gideon exited due to Mandy’s distaste in the show, there were rumors for years that the character might return to the show in some capacity. This hope was killed in season 10, when the remaining BAU members learned Gideon was murdered off-screen by a serial killer named Donnie Mallick (Ayre Gross).
The BAU was sent to investigate, of course, and the episode: “Neloson’s Sparrow” was heartbreaking. Gideon was found, shot to death in his cabin.
The final season of #Homeland premieres February 9 on #Showtime. Stars #ClaireDanes and @PatinkinMandy along with co-creators and EPs #AlexGansa + @HowardMGordon and director and EP @LeslilinkaG reflect on the past and what’s to come. #TCA20. pic.twitter.com/dHTJT42Nhs
— Homeland on Showtime (@SHO_Homeland) January 13, 2020
When Giden was killed off, Erica Messer, the show’s executive producer and co-writer spoke on wanting to give fans closure about his fate.
“Having it be this character, who we haven’t seen in forever but we’re going to see where it started with him, it just felt right to see where it all ends for him… It felt like a really nice way of honoring Gideon. We don’t kill off our heroes very often,” Erica said.
“All of our fans who’ve been watching for 10 years, all of us who’ve been working here 10 years and the actors who’ve been living these characters for 10 years — it was like, ‘Let’s give them some real drama,'” she continued. “When it hits home, it doesn’t get more real than that.”
He never did return, but we did see a send-off in the series finale.
Five years after his murder, a young Gideon pays a “visit” to Rossi, advising him on how to find Everett Lunch, aka the Chameleon. This isn’t the first time a younger version of a character was featured on the show, the first time was when Gideon died and viewers saw how the two used tow ork together in the early years of their careers. It was even revealed that Gideon named his son after Rossi, as his middle name was Stephen and Gideon’s son was named Stephen.
The series finale allowed the presence of young Gideon to be seen with present-day Rossi, and it was a first for the series as a whole. In the flashbacks, taking place when Spencer was in a coma, scenes from Gideon’s career at the BAU were shown as well.
I'm heading out today for the second leg of my DIARIES concert tour, singing from my new album CHILDREN AND ART and much more. Would love to see you at the theater! https://t.co/RgjAuW6COe pic.twitter.com/LLmt9xFx4E
— Mandy Patinkin (@PatinkinMandy) January 8, 2020