Adam Rodriguez isn't Shemar Moore. But different doesn't have to mean worse.
Rodriguez's Luke Alvez gets prominently introduced on Criminal Minds Season 12 Episode 1. It's quickly established during his takedown of one of the escaped serial killers that he's a bad-ass, a former Army Ranger who doesn't mind getting a lot more physical that the other current members of the BAU.
And you can see that he's got a slow boil right below the surface.
And he doesn't feel he's a good fit for the BAU.
I can't sit around brainstorming about these guys. I need the chase.Luke
Rodriguez's time on CSI: Miami also helps him to toss out pseudo-scientific jargon with ease, so he fits right in with those brain stormers.
But, missing her Derek, sweet Garcia gives the cold shoulder to the hunky new guy.
I don't discuss my personal life.Garcia [to Luke]
But later in the episode, when Alvez makes a request of Garcia, you can see her melting ... a little bit.
The other star of this episode is Tara. It seems that that character is still being developed, from a strict academic early last season to a kick-ass lawman (lawwoman?) during the finale's prison break.
But she hasn't enjoyed the decade-plus of growth which most of her fellow BAU agents have.
In this episode, she is able to help Brian, the first victim of the Crimson King, to have a memory breakthrough. She then enlists him to help the BAU locate others with dissociative-identity disorder.
Well, that seemed like a good idea at the time. But Brian was just a timebomb sent by Peter Lewis, Mr. Scratch, the brains behind the Criminal Minds Season 11 psycho breakout.
Brian kills a cop and escapes with a list of others with his same condition that Lewis could torture.
Tara rightfully feels guilty, but J.J., the unit's designated mom, is able to console her. Later on, the two team up to (s)mother Brian into surrendering.
The rest of the cast was, well, there. Other than Hotch doing a little philosophizing, in his stoic, block-of-granite way.
I try not to think about the ones I couldn't catch. I prefer to think about the ones I'm gonna save.Hotch
Somewhere between May and now, the Criminal Minds powers-that-be must have decided that doing a greatest-hits show for half of the season was a bad idea.
Early on, Rossi establishes that eight of the 13 fugitives had already been apprehended. Apparently they lost their hiding skills during their time inside.
Still, it seems that Bodhi Elfman's Mr. Scratch promises to be this season's Big Bad for the foreseeable future. But I'm sure there are a couple dozen new nutcases to keep the BAU busy during Criminal Minds Season 12.
This episode can't help but feel like a transition with all this summer's behind-the-scenes drama. Paget Brewster should be back again, full time, soon.
I won't kick about whatever strong, mumbley type that's hired to replace Thomas Gibson around Criminal Minds Season 12 Episode 3 (at least not yet).
To explore the series' long, complicated history, watch Criminal Minds online. There's a drinking game there somewhere (Asphyxiation. Drink! Or Skewered with swords. Drink!)
How did you like Adam Rodriguez as the new hunk? Has Tara grown on you yet?
Don't you wish they would check their cells at the door at their next dinner party so the whole episode could be as light as the first and last five minutes of each show, without the dark middle part? It's like a reverse Oreo.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.