Posted by Grant Hermanns @Grant_H
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Grant Hermanns

Warning: Spoilers for Criminal Minds lie ahead.

CBS has a history of keeping their procedural shows running solid for long runs, with CSI lasting for 16 years on the network before ending last year, and hit series NCIS currently entering its thirteenth year on the air. But one of their most talked about and successful series still on the air is the darker and grittier procedural Criminal Minds, which follows the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) as they work to profile their serial killers or UnSubs and stop them before they can continue their reign of terror.

The show has been in the spotlight recently after star Thomas Gibson (Aaron Hotchner) was fired for getting into an altercation with a writer/producer of the series (with whom he'd fought with before), leaving the BAU team without a leader for the rest of the season. A few days following Gibson's termination, it was announced that previous star Paget Brewster would return to the series in a regular role as her character Emily Prentiss, having left the show to explore a potential comedy career on television after the show's seventh season.

She has since appeared a few times in a recurring role on the show to reprise her character, while appearing in other series like Dan Vs., Drunk History, Community and Another Period. But now that she has returned to Criminal Minds, not only will it be interesting to see how it will affect her comedy career, but also how it will affect the future of the drama series.

What Job Will She Have?

When Prentiss left the series in season seven, she had gotten an offer to run Interpol's London office and had accepted, leaving the BAU and only returning intermittently if their cases would somehow cross over, or if she was on vacation and wanted to visit the team. But with her big return to both the series and the BAU team, it begs the question of what happened to her and her London job? She really seemed intent on starting a new life for herself, with former co-workers Derek Morgan and Penelope Garcia saying in the season eight premiere that Prentiss was doing fine in her new London home and job.

But with her return, does this mean she is leaving her London job just because Gibson is leaving? Or does she return for a more personal reason that will keep her stateside and with her BAU family?

The most probable scenario for her return is to fill Hotchner's position as leader of the BAU team and also help guide newcomer Luke Alvez as he begins his career with the department. Not only would the team get her back in a major way, she would also not be taking too far a step down in terms of jobs go, as Hotchner was basically the leader of his office after the murder of his former superior.

What Happens To Hotchner?

Though he has been officially fired from the series, two episodes have been filmed starring Gibson's character still leading the team without any sign of leaving. But with each season being comprised of a minimum of 20 episodes, the twelfth season is merely 10% done and now must go in a completely different direction in order to address Hotchner's exit and Prentiss' return.

CBS announced shortly after Gibson's termination that the "creative details" for Hotchner's exit will be announced at a later date, but the fans are still asking just what's going to happen to the 54-year-old leader. The most likely arc for having a character leave the series is the job has worn the character down to the point of retiring and spending time at home with the family.

This would be a pretty believable plot to explain Hotchner's exit, as not only does he have a nearly teenage son, but he lost his wife to the job and has undergone much family turmoil thanks to his career. While it will be interesting to see what exactly CBS and the writers plan to do with Hotchner, it will still be sad to see the fan-favorite actor go.

How do you feel about Gibson's termination? Are you happy Prentiss is back? Let us know in the comments below!

[Source: Variety]