Criminal Minds season 12 saw Hotch leave the BAU to go into witness protection to keep his son safe from Mr. Scratch. That left the team without a Unit Chief for a few episodes, as his cover was that he was on temporary assignment. But once the truth came out, so did the need for a new leader — and Hotch chose Prentiss to take over the job.
While Prentiss wasn’t sure if she was going to take the job — she had a life back in London — by the end of “Elliott’s Pond,” she decided to stay. “Thank God,” as JJ put it when she heard it. Here’s why this was good news.
Prentiss Has the Experience
In her time away from the BAU, she was Unit Chief at Interpol. She’s had the job before, and so there’s no reason to think that she can’t be the team’s leader at the BAU just because it’s a different agency. Plus, she knows (almost all of) the team’s strengths and weaknesses from working with them for years.
Rossi Doesn’t Want the Job
Rossi may have the seniority on the team, but as he himself put it when announcing that Hotch spoke to the Director about his replacement, he’s “allergic to paperwork.” Filling in temporarily is one thing — like what we saw when the story was Hotch was on temporary assignment — but taking over permanently is a different story.
Also, Rossi did seem to have a more laidback approach than Hotch did (or Prentiss does.) In “The Anti-Terrorism Squad,” he said “we fly” when Hotch would normally say “wheels up,” and that’s not exactly something that fits with the tone of Criminal Minds on a weekly basis.
It’s What Hotch Wanted
When Hotch resigned, he requested that Prentiss be the new Unit Chief. With Hotch gone, the best thing they could do was honor that request. Besides, he obviously chose her because he thought she could handle the job and the responsibilities that come with it.
They’re Not Bringing in Someone New …
The worst thing that Criminal Minds could have done was bring in yet another new person to coincide with Hotch’s permanent departure. We were introduced to Luke Alvez in the season premiere, with the team down a member after Morgan’s exit last spring, and while there is going to be another new agent joining the team very soon, it’s one thing to have another new team member and another to have another new team member who is also their new boss, especially after the guy who had been in charge for years left without giving them notice, due to the nature of how he and Jack entered witness protection.
Promoting within the team eliminated a new person the others would have to adjust to while also adjusting to someone else in charge. Everyone was happy to hear that Hotch wanted Prentiss to take over and then later, once she made her decision, that she was staying.
In his toast as the team celebrated Prentiss’ official homecoming, Rossi put it best: “I’ve seen a lot of great agents pass through those doors and a lot of them have moved on. Now, most of this team has been together for over a decade, but I promise you, that doesn’t happen often. I’ve heard the rumblings about how lucky we are, and it’s true, but the truth is it’s what happens when we’re not on a case that has defined who we are. We stand beside one another, through good, through bad, because we’re family … To Emily, our friend and new Unit Chief. Welcome home.”
That’s who the BAU is, and the best thing they could have done was not try to force a major change on them as they were dealing with Hotch’s departure with someone from the outside coming in to be the new team boss.
… At Least Not as Unit Chief
As Prentiss mentioned in “Mirror Image,” she managed to increase the budget to hire a new agent and was going to use the free time without a case to review resumes. She’s looking at the future of the team and what it needs. And right now, they could probably use another profiler (which they’ll be getting) since Luke came to them from the Fugitive Task Force.
Prentiss Is Settling in Nicely in the New Role
She may have seemed a bit wary to give being team leader a try before she accepted the position in “Elliott’s Pond,” but once she did, as was seen in “Mirror Image,” she was settled into the office and already getting to work. She was looking to the team’s future with the addition of another agent and reading resumes to bring someone on board that she chooses.
She also took a leadership role during the investigation, even as her first official case as Unit Chief hit close to home, with Mr. Scratch kidnapping Tara’s brother.
And while anyone from the team could have advised Tara before she entered the room with Desmond and had to treat him like her brother, it’s significant that it was Prentiss who did so.
It was especially great, in her first episode as official Unit Chief, to have Prentiss telling the team as they headed out to save Gabriel, “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m getting tired of losing to this rat-faced son of a bitch. He’s not going to take anyone else away from us. Not on my watch. Am I clear?”
What do you think? Was Prentiss your choice as Hotch’s replacement as Unit Chief?
Criminal Minds season 12 airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of CBS)