Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders showrunner Erica Messer purposely kept Season 1 focused on the IRT's globe-trotting cases, but that's all going to change in Season 2, which premieres Wednesday.
"We wanted to establish the case-of-the-week element [in Season 1], and now that we have, it allows us to get into these people a little bit more in Season 2," she tells TVGuide.com. "Now that you know the show, lets get to know the people."
The end of Season 1 certainly set the stage for it, introducing Jack Garrett's (Gary Sinise) wife Karen (Sherry Stringfield) as they sent their daughter off to college. In Season 2, fans will get to meet their son Ryan (Matt Cohen), a new FBI academy grad and undercover agent. "We have a nice way to start that off where Jack Garrett is at church with his family and you get to meet his oldest son," Messer says. "We'll get to see Ryan Garrett throughout the season and that's sort of new for us to have a recurring guest star and come play with the IRT a little bit."
Jack's family ties were an element Sinise was passionate about when he and Messer first discussed the role. "What I found interesting about this character is that he is a family man," Sinise says. "He's someone who married his high school sweetheart ... raised six kids."
And with the Garrett family being an FBI dynasty - Jack's father and uncle were also agents - that immediately provides fertile ground to explore work and personal dynamics. "It's pretty great because with that comes the natural tension and drama of a young agent not wanting to follow in his father's footsteps but at the same he's here because his father was here, wanting to be his own man but also understanding the importance of learning from his elders," Messer says. "It provides a nice backdrop for us to get into the family drama."
Jack's IRT underlings will get their day in the sun too. We'll learn why Mae (Annie Funke) got into the medical examiner field, watch Monty (Tyler James Williams) and Clara (Alana de la Garza) date -- different people, not each other -- and follow Simmons (Daniel Henney) back to South Korea, where he has a personal investment in a case.
Messer has a "long wish list" of things she'd like to explore in her Jack & Co. lives, including a flashback episode with Clara and her late husband Brad, but unfortunately, with only 13 episodes this season, most of them were left on the backburner. What did make it into Season 2 is "hopefully illuminating."
"I always feel it's fun to learn what got your heroes to the place that you've only known them in this place," she says. "So who were they before they got there? Why did they choose that? Why did they choose to be a medical examiner? What's that about? ... I feel like the more you get to see how our heroes' brains work, the more you understand them."
So will we see those other ideas come to fruition in a potential third season? "Maybe," she says. "We have to get a Season 3 first. Fingers crossed!"
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders premieres Wednesday at 10/9c on CBS.