On February 19, we bid goodbye to one of the best procedural dramas on TV, Criminal Minds. After fifteen seasons, it was hard to believe that the beloved show was ending, and even harder to part with some of our favorite characters. In a two-part finale, called Face Off and In The End, the show wrapped up everyone’s storyline. Some of the characters has more satisfying ends than others, and the ending for Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), left some unsatisfied. So why did the writers make the choice to end her story this way?
Penelope was busy during the Criminal Minds finale– she really went through it. During the first episode in the two-parter, the team worked to capture The Chameleon once and for all, with most of the team hunting and interrogating and Garcia back at the office trying to find leads via the tech route. Per usual, it’s Garcia’s contribution that actually makes any difference, and the team ends up cornering The Chameleon, except he blows himself up before they can catch him.
During the first episode of the finale, it was mostly business as usual for Garcia. But for the second episode, Spence’s brain is hemorrhaging and he’s hallucinating. He sees Penelope in his hallucination and follows her around the office. He sees a lot of people who have died throughout the series. In real life, Penelope and JJ discover his body and bring him to the hospital. She and his mother (played by Jane Lynch) stay at his bedside.
Eventually, he recovers, and the whole team reconvenes for a party– but not to celebrate his recovery, to bid farewell to Garcia, who is leaving to work at a private Silicon Valley-based company.
Garcia’s ending left many fans wondering why, and theories abounded. Some fans speculated that this leaves the door open for a spinoff series following Garcia. Or, since many characters went their separate ways, the creative and production teams may be planning a reunion episode, or even a movie. It’s worth noting that Kirsten Vangsness actually co-wrote the episode, so she could have had an agenda for herself. Or maybe she and the other writers just wanted her character to have a peaceful ending.
Let’s face it: Penelope was the only reason the Behavioral Analysis Unit ever actually caught anyone. She always stepped in with information that, despite the rest of the team’s best efforts, completely overrode all the field research they did and actually led them to the suspect. Maybe, from a plot perspective, Garcia left because she was so important to the team, that she was actually a really valuable asset to any company. Working for a private company would likely increase her salary, but the fact that it’s an environmental research firm aligns with Garcia’s morals.
This is a tough question for all of Criminal Minds fans, but who will you miss the most? I think I will miss Penelope Garcia's character the most. She always had fun lines and was the computer genious who figured things out for the team. #CriminalMinds
— Susan Hempstead (@hempstead_susan) February 20, 2020