Criminal Minds Showrunner Goes Beyond Borders, Teases New BAU Team

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What's better than one BAU team that can save the day? How about TWO?!?

On Criminal Minds Season 10 Episode 19, we'll meet a BAU unit that works on a far more international level that the team we have grown to love over the past 10 seasons.

The new squad is led by Gary Sinise as the director, Anna Gunn as the global law expert, Daniel Henney as the Special Ops Agent and Walking Dead alum Tyler James Williams, who we saw in an exclusive clip from the episode posted yesterday on TV Fanatic.

How will this new team interact with Hotch, Rossi and Morgan? How will the two sides work together?

To get the answers, I talked with Executive Producer/Showrunner Erica Messer. She filled me in on what we'll see this evening, along with what we can expect if and when the spinoff becomes a series on its own. 

Gary Sinise on Criminal Minds Season 10 Episode 19

TV Fanatic: This sounds like a whole new world that we’re going to see. Can you kind of just start with just the origins of Beyond Borders?

Erica Messer: I love how you refer to the world of it because the truth is we are going to be able to go all over the world, and that right there is the biggest difference from the mothership. I think we have established after ten years of this team of ours at the BAU is the best of the best at catching the worst of the worst, and they do that within the United States when terror strikes home it’s the worst thing ever.

And it’s one of those things that you can’t really top that, you don’t even want to compete with that because these guys are the greatest. And so I thought the only way to do it is to take that same concept of a group of American heroes who work at the FBI who help other Americans, and they do it when those Americans are outside of our country. It’s a group of American heroes. It’s not a group that’s working out of Europe. No, they work out of the US.

All these things that I think were discussed in various versions all sort of fell to the wayside, and we said, “No, this is what works,” and it will work all over the world just like it will here because we will tell the real simple scary that Criminal Minds tells so well and make them relatable to our audience in a way that is a little different from the mothership because one of the most amazing things about the mothership is that it could happen to you.

For example, my older brother is never going to leave the United States. He’s a police officer and he has no desire to leave our country. Yet, my husband and I take our kid outside of our country and he fears for us a little bit, you know what I mean. So, he is in the majority that doesn’t use a passport, probably doesn’t even have a passport, and yet, he is very invested in those who travel because we are his family, and we are, too him, taking a risk leaving the country.

TVF: Does the group kind of have that family feel that we’re used to in the mothership?

EM:  Yeah. This team has been together for a while as well so they have a shorthand with each other and then an additional layer to that is that they know the BAU team. So there’s a comfort level there. You especially see it with Hotch, Rossi, and Gary’s character, that they know one another and Anna Gunn’s character and Hotch know one another well enough.

What we’ve established is the BAU is so busy [and] they’re traveling all the time, they don’t really have a chance to stop and have social visits with other people who are also traveling the world solving crimes. So, the idea is that they’re all familiar with one another and have a very supportive coworker type vibe about them, and the new team that’s introduced in this episode is small.

It’s Gary Sinise, Anna Gunn, Daniel Henney, and Tyler Williams, so we’re only meeting four of the characters. Presumably at a series level, we would be adding another character, but that’s the quality problem to have…so the goal will be to end up falling in love with these characters and their relationship to one another, and their family unit the way people did with Criminal Minds. It’s lightning in a bottle. It won’t be the same obviously because it’s ten years of a show that people have grown to love and love the characters, but I think we’ll be able to get there with the new cast as well.

TVF:  Assuming the spinoff goes forward beyond this episode, do you see it as having  a similar tone where there might be some light moments and then some darker moments like Criminal Minds does?

EM:  I see it walking that fine line that we do on the mothership where you can see the team laugh and smile until they know somebody’s in trouble and then they have to shift gears and get to work. So, those moments are few and far between and we love to have them, and they’re nice deep breaths that we can take so I think it’s really important to balance it out with some lightness. And I think the other difference would be where Criminal Minds has serial crimes ninety percent of the time, this show will have that but is a little more general in that when an American is in trouble abroad this teams comes to help you. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that a serial killer has you. It really sort of opens the stories up a little bit more.

TVF: Is the Beyond Borders team also based in the same city as our mothership?

EM:  Yeah. They’re on the Quantico campus as well, and they also have a jet, although we fly in the BAU jet in this episode.

TVF: Lots of jets to take care of...

EM: [laughs] Yeah. Exactly.

TVF: What are you thinking in terms of personal lives of the new team in the potential new series? How will you incorporate that?

EM:  I think there’s, again, always that balance that we can walk. I think it’s the fastest way to get to know your characters and be invested in them is to see what their home life is like, so I would encourage that we do that sooner than later in that first season because it’s always nice to see how somebody operates at home. We know how they are in the field, but let’s see what they’re going home to.

TVF: What is the case that is a part of this episode that brings all the different BAU people together?

EM:  There’s an unsub who attacked a family in Aruba two years ago and last year he attacked a family in Florida and this year he’s taken a family in Barbados. He evaded the international team in Aruba, the domestic team in Florida and now we’re not going to let him get away with it again so both teams are going to work together to find this guy. And he’s the family annihilator, and he has a timeline of like 24 hours from abduction to kill, so we’re on a serious clock to find them.

TVF: Are these like high profile families or…?

EM:   No. No, again, it’s the ‘it could happen to you’ thing. It was very important to me, especially in this first [episode], not too say that it’s some dignitary or something like that. This truly was based on a the family vacation that we took, where we landed really late in the Bahamas and the shuttle was already gone, and we took some other shuttle to get to the resort at eleven o’clock at night.

I was paranoid until we got to the resort because you’re in a place you’ve never been, and you’re just completely trusting that this person who’s driving you down these dark roads is a good person and is going to get you where you need to be. And it’s a lot of trust and faith that you have that you don’t realize until you’re that vulnerable, and so I just felt like it needs to be the average American family doing this. The dad is played by Tom Everett Scott and the mom is Bonnie Somerville.

Criminal Minds Season 10 airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS. 

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of Follow him on Twitter.

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Criminal Minds Season 10 Episode 19 Quotes

Garcia: You just said that Greg being a fighter is a good thing, and we both know that that is not true. The unsub is going to see it as a sort of alpha male challenge which is not good at all.
Monty: I know. But right now they need to feel hopeful.
Garcia: Okay. I hadn't thought of that.

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success - Henry Ford