'Criminal Minds' boss teases emotional Rossi episode and [spoiler!]'s return

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Bones isn’t the only one putting the spotlight on veterans this November.

On next week’s episode of Criminal Minds, Joe Mantegna’s Rossi is going to take centerstage in an episode that will find Rossi reconnecting with someone from his military past and will flash back to his days in Vietnam. “[We tell] the origin story of Rossi — not as an FBI profiler — but as the man we know today,” says executive producer Erica Messer of the episode. “It’s a special episode for Joe. He’s been asking us to do a story on homeless veterans, and we’ve never had the real estate to do it [until now].”

Finding moments of lightness — and touching stories — under the blanket of grizzly murder cases is not always easy, but Messer says revels in the opportunities. Case in point: In tonight’s episode, resident genius Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) steps out of his comfort zone to help Morgan (Shemar Moore) after the FBI’s softball team finds itself one man down. (Hint: He’s recruited as a bench-warmer but likely won’t stay one…) “Any time we can do those moments, I love it,” she says. “And the cast enjoys it too because it’s not a regular thing for us.”

What’s more common is seeing the team take on the country’s most gruesome foes. And yes, there’s plenty of that coming up, too. (Who ordered the bus full of high school-aged hostages? That one airs right before Thanksgiving.)

But the biggest burning question among fans as of late: When will the Replicator, who made his debut in the season premiere, make another appearance? Messer reports: “You’ll see him sprinkled until episode 16, but when that one rolls around, it’s game on.”

More immediately, look for another unmasking to happen soon: As EW told you earlier this week, there will be major reveals about Reid’s mysterious lady friend before the end of the calendar year — and that includes her true identity.

Read more Criminal Minds scoop here.

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