Criminal Minds: Get to Know the BAU's New Team Member
Jeanne Tripplehorn | Photo Credits: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.com
There will be a new face joining Criminal Minds' Behavioral Analysis Unit this fall.
Jeanne Tripplehorn joins the cast in Season 8 as Alex Blake, a veteran FBI agent who specializes in linguistics. She fills the void of the departing Emily Prentiss after Paget Brewster opted to leave the series at the end of last season. Some viewers may be suspicious of the new character, but executive producer Erica Messer tells TVGuide.com that that's just fine — apparently a few of the team members will share that feeling.
"When we meet Alex Blake, it is also Morgan [Shemar Moore] and Garcia's first time meeting her because they have actually been away on temporary duty in London," Messer says. "It allows Garcia [Kirsten Vangness] to ask all those questions that the audience would want to know."
Read on for more of Messer's thoughts about Alex's back story, viewer backlash, and whether or not any romantic sparks will fly between Alex and her co-workers. Plus: Get some dirt on this season's first unsub!
You originally said you didn't want to replace Prentiss right away. What changed?
Erica Messer: At the end of last season, we were all kind of feeling like we [should] let the loss of Prentiss sink in a little bit, much like it did when Mandy [Patinkin] left. We thought, given the history of the show, that's what we'd be doing again. But it's not just up to us. There's a whole lot of people at the studio and network who really wanted us to hit the ground running with a new character. So, that's what we're doing, and Jeanne Tripplehorn is fantastic.
What can you tell us about her character?
Messer: Her character's name is Alex Blake, and she has a history with the bureau as an agent. Her specialty is linguistics. She is the expert linguist that people like Reid [Matthew Gray Gubler] learned from.
Do they have an actual history?
Messer: They do. In addition to being a supervisory special agent, she also is a professor at Georgetown University, and Reid has even guest-lectured at her forensic linguistics class before. So they have a nice professional history together.
How do we meet Alex?
Messer: It has been a couple of months. Prentiss didn't just quit the day after the wedding. It was a process. [She was] transferred elsewhere, [the team] was doing interviews for months to find the right fit. It all took a lot of time. So, when we meet Alex Blake, it is also Morgan and Garcia's first time meeting her because they have actually been away on temporary duty in London. When they return, the rest of the team has already been on a case with her, but it's Morgan and Garcia's first time meeting her and working with her. It allows Garcia to ask all those questions that the audience would want to know.
Is there an element of Garcia not trusting the new kid?
Messer: Yeah. [Alex] is really smart and capable and very credible, and I think there's a threat to that. This team existed without her, so it's not like she's come to save the day. Buy she is a very smart, capable woman joining the team. It's not [necessarily] distrust, but it's just, "I need to get to know this person who's going to be sitting at this table with me for the next however many years." There's a very real dynamic there from both Morgan and Garcia. Those things happen when you first meet a coworker.