Joe Mantegna Says ‘Criminal Minds’ Season Finale Is a Roller Coaster Ride

Joe Mantegna, left, and Thomas Gibson of "Criminal Minds" (Photo: CBS)

Despite reports that all the cast members of “Criminal Minds” have signed new contracts for the CBS series, the promo for the two-hour, Season 8 finale teases: “Their worst enemy will be revealed, but not everyone will live to see it.”

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So does that mean a member of the Behavioral Analysis Unit team actually dies … or is there another hidden meaning?

“I am one of those people that never goes to fortunetellers, or reads my horoscope, because I hate that,” says Joe Mantegna, who plays profiler David Rossi, deflecting the question. “My feeling is if I knew what was going to happen tomorrow, maybe I wouldn’t wake up. I don’t live my life that way. I don’t plan what is going to happen next. So I think there is a reason to wait for things to happen and to see how it is going to happen.”

All season long, the members of the BAU team have been stalked in their personal lives and on their cases by an unsub, known by them as The Replicator. In the finale, The Replicator targets one of the team — from the promo it looks as if it is Alex Blake (Jeanne Tripplehorn) as she is tied up in chains — as his next victim.

“It does get personal,” Mantegna tells xfinityTV. “We have exposed a lot of the personal lives of the characters, so what happens — particularly in this two-hour episode — is that we tap into that. If you have a show that has legs like ours does, you want to go that extra mile, you want to spend a little extra on the episode, you have a little more going on, more visuals, more everything. The same thing with the personal aspects of it. You dig a little deeper. You want to end the season so people go, ‘Wow! That was a ride we took.’ It is almost like you are on a roller coaster and they saved that last, big hill until just before you get to the finish. I think we do that.”

Watch a Sneak Peek of the Two-Hour Season Finale of “Criminal Minds”:

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There is also personal time for Hotch (Thomas Gibson) in this episode with the return of his girlfriend Beth Clemmons (Bellamy Young) and his brother Sean (Eric Johnson), who we haven’t seen since Season 1. Hotch and his son Jack (Cade Owens) are in New York visiting Beth when he gets a call from Sean, who needs help. So the BAU team heads to Manhattan to investigate a string of deaths tied to apparent ecstasy overdoses, and it turns out that Sean is more involved than he lets on.

“Sean had already been in the show prior to when I joined,” Mantegna says. “For those fans who had seen that episode, it is a familiar thing. It is nice that we can resurrect a character you have seen before. In this case, somebody close to one of our characters — Hotch’s brother. I always enjoy that when these characters come back.”

In addition, Mark Hamill guest stars as John Curtis. Normally when a well-known actor guest stars on a series, the immediate thought is that they are the bad guy, so there is a good possibility that Hamill is The Replicator.

But, of course, Mantegna isn’t giving that up, only saying, “Mark Hamill plays a scientist, a guy who is very educated. It was great to have him there. First of all, he is kind of an American icon. And he is a wonderful guy, so we had a good time with Mark. I think to bring in an actor like Mark Hamill just ups the profile of our show in a way. It is fun for us and it gives him a chance to get out and stretch and play another kind of character.”

As for answers as to whether or not The Replicator is captured, if someone on the team dies, and if the episode is a cliffhanger, viewers will have to tune in to see how it all plays out.

“I think people will be satisfied with where we go with it,” Mantegna teases. “They might be a little shocked, and go, ‘Wow.’ The one thing I can guarantee you is that nothing is going to blow up where all of us are gone.”

With Season 9 already confirmed, Mantegna has a couple of story ideas he wouldn’t mind seeing. Since David Rossi was married three times, and two of his exes are still unaccounted for, there could be a story there. [The third ex-wife we met this season in the episode where she asked to see him again because she was dying.]

But what is closest to his heart was the episode called, “The Fallen,” which dealt with Rossi’s past in the military, in which Mesach Taylor starred as his commanding officer during the Vietnam war.

“And then you saw him today and why was he homeless on the streets,” Mantegna says. “I really enjoyed that because I have a passion for our U.S. military anyway, so I wouldn’t mind revisiting that character. We left him at a care facility for homeless veterans. Maybe there is a follow up to that.”

The “Criminal Minds” two-hour season finale airs Wednesday, May 22 at 9/8c on CBS.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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