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    Inside The “Criminal Minds” Finale

    And the identity of the Replicator, whom they've been chasing all season is... Spoilers ahead.

    The BAU stalker, or "The Replicator," first appeared in the Season 8 premiere.

    The timing linked the killer to recent Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) hire and beautiful genius Dr. Alex Blake (Jeanne Tripplehorn), but the connection was murky.

    What the audience knew by the end of Episode 1 was only that someone creepy was taking photos of the team and developing them in the always-creepy light of a darkroom.

    Has anything not-unsettling ever happened in a television darkroom?

    Showrunner Erica Messer told BuzzFeed that the writers of the show have known a lot more than that since the start of the arc.

    Jim Clemente, a former FBI profiler and a writer-producer on the show, explained the writers' room–genesis of the killer.


    As Messer started to write the second episode of the two-part finale, Ticona Joy, the Criminal Minds researcher, researched the show itself to make sure that everything established earlier about the Replicator paid off.


    Joy's research helped make sure that nothing got left out. Remember this stolen glass?

    In the finale, Derek Morgan's DNA is found in a small figure eight carved into Erin Strauss' wrist. The DNA came from this wineglass stolen from Morgan's table in Episode 9 (the finale is Episode 24).

    Messer said producers on the show wanted to cast someone with international recognizability as the murderous FBI agent; they cast Mark Hamill.

    Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

    You may recognize those baby blues from Star Wars.


    In an interview with BuzzFeed, Hamill said, "Usually you don’t have an arc like this where they set up something over a period of many, many episodes. As soon as I started watching these episodes, I said, 'Oh, I gotta do this!'"

    Hamill was encouraged to accept the part by his daughter, Chelsea, a Criminal Minds fan. "She said that I didn’t even need to take [a] meeting; I should just say yes right away over the phone," he said. (Hamill took a meeting.)

    Rick Dunkle, the writer-producer who wrote the "Brothers Hotchner" portion of the finale, says they weren't trying to pull any punches at the end of the season.


    "All of the hints that have been laid in throughout the entire season pay off," he said, adding that there was some "surprise that it wasn't a cliffhanger."

    Part of that payoff was having the antagonist die at the end of the episode.

    Of his character's death at the hands of David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), Hamill said, "Usually, the way you’re disposed of is in direct correlation to how much pain you’ve caused the protagonists, so in a way I thought I got off fairly easy, because at least it was quick."

    Messer said, "The challenge is always, we catch bad guys in 43 minutes, so how do we stretch it out over a whole season?"

    Answer: Just like that. Mission accomplished.

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