This was a somewhat smooth transition into a new season.
Loose ends were tied up, and a new BAU lineup was put into place on Criminal Minds Season 13 Episode 1.
Yes, the whole thing is pretty much by the numbers.
Who died after the two BAU vehicles are smashed by a tractor trailer? Of course, it was Stephen Walker, who had already been written off.
Too bad. I liked Stephen as the mellow voice of reason. Still, we hardly got to know him during the half-season he was in the unit. And, frankly, Rossi can fill the voice-of-reason role, albeit with considerably more attitude.
It was obvious that Stephen's wife Monica had been expecting this call for a long time, and she handled it fairly stoically. She said she blamed Scratch, but I'm betting she blamed the job as well.
So naturally who does Garcia call for help when the team goes missing? Hunky Matt Simmons, cast adrift from Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. You remember this late, lamented spinoff. It was all the gruesome deaths, but with pretty backdrops, not all warehouses, alleys and secluded farmhouses.
Oh, well, at least now Gary Sinise is free to head up another CBS procedural.
What does Matt bring to the BAU? He's handsome and smart. He's the second attempt to take the place of a certain Hot Stuff, whose departure is still being mourned at least until Shemar Moore's SWAT hits CBS in a couple of months.
Plus Garcia seemed to like him and didn't treat him as an interloper like she did Alves for much of Criminal Minds Season 12.
At least Prentiss had the decorum to wait until after Stephen's funeral to invite Matt onto the team. After an unspecified break for the team to unwind, the duration of which we'll find out next week.
Hey, the good news is that Mr. Scratch is gone. Yes, I'm sure he'll have a copycat disciple out to avenge him, but hopefully, that can be put off until Criminal Minds Season 16.
It took me too long to figure out what Scratch was up to. I mean, he specializes in drugging and hypnotizing people, but now he's turned to elaborate physical torture instead. It didn't add up.
It was good to find out that Scratch knew what the BAU was up to not because of a mole, but just bad electronic security.
Good thing Lewis woke up in for her one, although important, contribution, to the episode: explaining what Scratch had done.
Lewis also opined that Prentiss, having already been dead once, would see through Scratch's scheme, and, sho nuff, she did. Her biting Scratch's ear was a nice touch. And her team arrived just in time to save her.
And what a nice, inspirational speech Prentiss made at the end. Repeating "wheels up" over and over is sure to irritate all the Hotch fans who seem to think he had copyrighted that phrase.
The producers also addressed the elephant in the room. If Scratch is dead, then Hotch can come out of witness protection, and we can go back to the way things are supposed to be. But no. I suppose they want the drama on the screen, not behind it.
Also, it appears that, after Reid's time in prison, he will now become the poster boy for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. That's based on his anger and tunnel vision. I felt so much better after Alves had diagnosed that. That's one overarching storyline illuminated.
I suspect he's not the only one who's getting a bit burnt out. They all seemed to have that "I'm getting too old for this shit" kind of look.
Yeah, quite possibly some fans are feeling that way as well. So maybe it's possible to enjoy a few cases of the weeks without immediate jumping into a season-long storyline. Sure, dust off two or three fan favorites, or their evil spawn, but mostly let's try some originality. Make new fan favorites.
Now that the great psycho-killer breakout has been largely cleaned up, I hope the show doesn't get bogged down with unending subplots. As much as I like serial storytelling, it certainly isn't essential here. Let viewers drop in for the freak of the week, then drop out again, without feeling lost.
Another question is how long it will take to get the BAU back to being a fine-tuned machine again, how long to work in Matt. Then again, with enough character spotlights, maybe that isn't all that important after all.
To follow the rise and fall of Mr. Scratch, watch Criminal Minds online.
Are you glad Scratch is gone? Besides Reid, who else is psychologically wounded? Has Emily proven herself as a leader, or would you like to see someone else in charge (Hotch isn't an option)?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.