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‘Criminal Minds: Evolution’: Zach Gilford on playing this season’s ‘Complex’ UnSub

The BAU agents face off against a man who may be their most insidious opponent yet criminal thoughts: Development. The revival of the long-running CBS series debuted on Paramount+ on Thanksgiving Day. The first two episodes re-introduced viewers to the returning members of the team (most of the original cast are back) and this season’s big bad: an UnSub who’s spent the pandemic building a network of other serial killers.

Zach Gilford plays the ultra-scary Elias Voit. He spoke to Showbiz Cheat Sheet about what drives his character to kill and how the new works criminal thoughts investigates “who these monsters really are.

[Warning: This article contains spoilers for Criminal Minds: Evolution Episodes 1 and 2.]

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When we meet Elias Voit for the first time Evolution, It’s 2005 and he’s torturing a young man in a shipping container. 17 years later someone has finally discovered his collection of more than a dozen victims. The BAU’s Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler) is certain they are dealing with a serial killer – one who appears to have been operating undetected for years. (criminal thoughts premiered in 2005, so apparently Voit was out there killing people throughout the show’s original timeline.)

Meanwhile, across the country, BAU boss David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) works on a case where several families were butchered in their sleep. Then another killer starts murdering people by severing their spinal cords. At first, none of the cases appear to be related. But by the end of Episode 2, the BAU team begins to suspect that the UnSub responsible for killing the victims found in the shipping container is even more dangerous than it initially seemed. He doesn’t just kill people himself: He gives orders to others.

So what drives Elias Voit? According to Gilford, he just can’t help it.

“Unfortunately, I think people who do things like this have urges that they can’t control,” he said. “There is something about him that is beyond his control without serious, serious advice. And he hasn’t picked that out yet.”

Voit can also operate for years without getting caught. He’s got these rules that he follows and he’s so strict,” Gilford explained. “And I think not getting caught is a huge motivator.”

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But there’s another side to Voit, and that’s something the show will explore in depth throughout the season, Gilford says.

“What we’re doing that we’ve never really been able to do before criminal thoughtsThat means we go home with the unknown and see who these monsters are when they are people and they live in the world and they have jobs and the people around them are,” Gilford said. “And the deeper we dig into his life, I think the more evident the struggle he has with what he’s doing.

As a result, Gilford said he advocated for his character in odd ways.

“You wrote such a complex character that I find myself, and maybe just because I’m playing him, rooting for him and saying, ‘Come on man. You can’t get caught. You can not. Just stop. Just stop killing; Just back off and then do your thing.’”

New episodes of Criminal Thoughts: Evolution are available Thursdays on Paramount+.

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