Criminal Minds Season 11 will return on TV with two less characters in the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) as Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (AJ Cook) and Kate Callehan (Jennifer Love Hewitt) both opted out of the series due to their pregnancies. While Callehan's departure from the BAU was a clear cutting of ties, JJ will only be gone for a while as the writers incorporated the maternity leave of Cook in the script. Filling for their spots is The View host Aisha Tyler, who will play Dr. Tara Lewis. The premiere episode of Criminal Minds Season 11 will then see the character of Tyler lining up for the vacated spot of Callahan.
"She's a forensic psychologist whose expertise has been studying and interviewing serial killers once they've been caught to see if they are able to stand trial," shared Criminal Minds executive producer Erica Messer in an interview with Hollywood Reporter, referring to the role of Tyler in the Season 11 of the crime drama series.
The showrunner went on to say, "It's a different skill set than our team in the field touching these guys, but she's up of the challenge for that and really excited to join the best unit out there."
Although Messer could not guarantee that Tyler will be a permanent member of the Criminal Minds cast, she confirmed that fans and followers of the TV series could expect her to be present in the show for at least six episodes.
The executive producer revealed, "Aisha will be our female in the fold with the team and helping them solve the cases. We love her so much that we're hoping to extend her stay with us. The deal is not totally done yet so I can't really talk about it but we are hoping to have her in quite a few more episodes this season, not just the initial six."
Hence, the viewers will see Lewis working alongside Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner (Thomas Gibson), Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) and Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) in Criminal Minds Season 11.
Meanwhile, Cook is said to have a cameo appearance in Criminal Minds Season 11. As in the previous seasons, the baby of Cook's character, JJ, will also be her real life second child. Messer revealed this detail in an interview with TV Guide when she said, "You'll get to meet A.J.'s real little baby, Phoenix. Like what she did with Mekhai [playing JJ's first son Henry], she's having her actual child play JJ's child."
Criminal Minds Season 11 premieres tonight at 9/8c on CBS.