‘Criminal Minds’ Interview: Kirsten Vangsness Says You’ll See ‘Things That Aren’t Very Garcia-Like’ When She Returns Home

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'Criminal Minds' Interview: Kirsten Vangsness Says You'll See 'Things That Aren't Very Garcia-Like' When She Returns Home

Garcia’s heading home to visit her stepbrother and take care of a difficult family issue in Criminal Minds‘ “All You Can Eat,” and BuddyTV got a preview of the situation from series star Kirsten Vangsness. Garcia’s going to be busy this week, helping the team solve the “really disgusting” case remotely.

Read on for part 1 of the interview to find out why Garcia doesn’t really lean on anyone during this trying time, what’s different about the Penelope you’ll see in this episode and Vangsness’ thoughts on why Garcia gives Luke such a hard time.

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BuddyTV: We’re getting a look at Garcia’s family this week. What can you preview about the episode, and why does this happen now?

“It’s weird, because you know when you do a show for 13 seasons, you have all these different writers who drop these little pieces of information about your character. Probably season 4 or something, they said that the way she got the name Garcia was her stepdad. And then they wrote this episode, ‘Penelope,’ and they explained that her parents died when she was 18, but it was sort of like left hanging. We knew she had a stepdad. We also knew that her parents died. … And then there was another episode where they said something about how Garcia had five brothers. So, Karen Maser, who wrote this episode, sort of took all those things. She went back and she looked at all the episodes that had little pieces of information about Garcia and then ended up writing this story.

“A long time ago, there was a two-parter, ‘Lucky’ and then ‘Penelope,’ and it was where my character got shot and you learn about how her parents were killed by this drunk driver. [Then] there was this episode called ‘Black Queen’ and you hear about how Garcia was sort of like the bad girl.

“Then in this episode, we kind of learn how she was involved in what happened with her parents and how they died — not that she was responsible for it. The guy who killed them, he’s up for parole. … She’s going back to San Francisco to help her brother, who is played by Sebastian Sozzi … because [Carlos] is the one who is really passionate about making sure that he doesn’t get released and the other brothers decide not to go to the trial. So, you only get to see one of her brothers in this episode. Maybe later, you’ll see more.

“It actually goes back in time. You get to see young Garcia, who is played by Tara Robinson. And then there’s a guy named Chris Dougherty, and he plays Jesse, who is the drunk driver who killed her parents. … Amy Rosoff is in it, she plays the sister and we’ve got a really great scene together.”

With the team working a case at the same time, do we still see Garcia have someone there for her as support, even if it’s just a phone call or two?

“You know, they check in on her, but I think that that’s one of the really sad things about the episode. She doesn’t know, I think, how to go to — she’s a bit of a weirdo. She could fully lean on Morgan when Morgan was there, but I don’t think it would be authentic to the character if she could just do that with anybody, and she doesn’t really have anybody like that anymore. So, I think the whole time, she’s kind of floundering, and she throws herself into her job, and she’s good at her job, which is why she gets really fulfilled by it.

“It ends in a very hopeful way. I really like this episode for her. I think it shows a little bit of hope. They check in on her, absolutely, but she doesn’t really let herself receive any kind of solace from the group. And she’s not really doing a lot of case stuff in it. She calls in a couple times, I think, but that’s it.”

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Does Garcia’s experience in this week’s episode change her at all? Will we see anything different about her in the remaining two episodes of the season?

“Yes. Definitely this episode you see changes. Actually, when you say that, I’m like, ‘Oh, man, did I do enough carryover into the next episode? I don’t know if I did.’

“What was interesting about this episode is that there are definitely some things that aren’t very Garcia-like. She’s usually so forgiving and so open about people and there’s a reason. There’s certain people that are close to their families and they see their families all the time and that’s how they experience their family.

“Garcia, you don’t ever hear or see her family and she moved far away. I don’t think she feels super-connected to them, because she was a stepsister, and she did come into the family later and her brother that we see, Carlos, he’s younger than her, so they were the only two that were left in the house growing up when her parents passed away. I think she kind of goes back and she’s trying to fit herself into this family dynamic that she never really fit into anyway.

“Then there is the element of the guy coming up for parole and Garcia not wanting that and having to negotiate between what her family wants, but it’s not her family. She’s an orphan. So, you see her do some uncharacteristic turns, for sure. But I do think it ends in a classically Garcia way.”

The team has gone through some changes in recent seasons. Can you talk about how Garcia has handled that and how she makes things easier or harder for new team members? There was Luke, the new guy, and then Simmons didn’t have an adjustment period this year because she just welcomed him in.

“I think that Simmons, because she’s already worked with him, it kind of made sense. I sort of do what all actors do, [which]is you look and see what’s in the writing and then you kind of go, ‘Oh, I can do this within those parameters.’ With Simmons, because he’s always just been upstairs, that floor upstairs, and they’d worked together as a team, I think there’s a shorthand.

“Even if they don’t write things in, I give myself fun stuff to do as Garcia and I think Garcia has a crush on Luke Alvez and doesn’t know how to handle it. Because she has to rationalize — it’s gotta feel weird to have a crush on somebody when your best friend used to work there and you had a crush on them and you don’t want to replace your best friend, so she has to kind of do that ‘you have high-octane cooties’ with him in order to function.

“She’s a fantastic unicorn, but she’s also an incredibly flawed character. She’s got all this confidence and yet socially, she kind of puts all these walls up and does all these things.

“I would say as a character, the way that the team has shifted, it’s really amazing. We feel, all of us collectively I think feel like this is the most solid we’ve ever run and felt as a team — not to say that the other inceptions of the show weren’t great, but this is where we’re at now. I think the characters, it gives us a lot to chew on, and I know as people we have a lot of fun working together, so it’s a win-win.”

Stay tuned for part 2 of the interview to find out what Kirsten Vangsness teased about the season finale.

Criminal Minds season 13 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

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