Where is Will LaMontagne Jr.? Did Josh Stewart Leave Criminal Minds: Evolution?

CBS/Paramount+’s ‘Criminal Minds’ has an extensive history of shocking cast departures. Several beloved performers have bid adieu to the series throughout its nearly two-decade run, which makes the viewers concerned about the absence of the admired characters. The first two episodes of the police procedural’s seventeenth season, which is dubbed as the second installment of ‘Criminal Minds: Evolution,’ don’t feature Josh Stewart’s Will LaMontagne Jr., the husband of Jennifer “JJ” Jareau. Ever since the show returned as ‘Evolution,’ Will has made the ardent admirers of the series concerned about him. This time, the fears have turned out to be true in a different way! SPOILERS AHEAD.

Will’s Concerning Absence

Will LaMontagne Jr. is one of the most admired characters in ‘Criminal Minds: Evolution.’ His ever-present support for Jennifer “JJ” Jareau helps the latter to do her job regardless of its extent and pressure. JJ is able to remain committed to her profession and the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) because she knows that she can always find Will beside her. That’s also the reason why his current absence is concerning. As JJ deals with the mind games of Elias Voit, the highly dangerous serial killer who is seeking his freedom by helping the FBI find “Gold Star,” Will is not present to help her.

Even when JJ has to pretend to be talking to her husband, the agent calls her colleague Luke Alvez rather than Will. Although Will is absent in the first two episodes of the sophomore season, he is not dead. He is highly engaged as a detective, with several cases drawing him away from his wife. “Yeah, we really enjoyed that run last season and then this season again because it’s only two weeks from last season, and it’s sort of a bullet train of a year; we know that he [Will] is on an assignment, just like there’s always another case, just like we always have another case,” Erica Messer, the showrunner of the series, told TV Insider.

The show justifies Will’s absence by not delving into the personal lives of the BAU agent away from work. Like JJ and Will’s storyline, David Rossi and Krystall’s arc has seemingly concluded for now, with the veteran agent hallucinating Elias rather than his late wife. The emphasis on the mystery behind “Gold Star” succeeds in taking the viewers’ minds away from Will, at least for a considerable while.

Josh Stewart’s Departure From Criminal Minds: Evolution

Josh Stewart, who plays Will, left ‘Criminal Minds: Evolution’ ahead of the second season’s premiere. The actor announced his exit in January 2024. “No, sadly, my days of playing Will LaMontagne Jr. are over. You guys have been the absolute best,” he said while responding to a fan who asked the actor about his return to the sophomore installment. As of now, neither Stewart nor Paramount+ has revealed the reason behind the former’s departure from the police procedural. However, according to Erica Messer, the “timing” played a role in the performer’s exit, hinting at scheduling conflicts.

Messer also added that we might not have seen the last of Will in the series. “So we’re not going to see him [Stewart] this year, as he posted, but we’ll figure out what that means for future seasons, if we get future seasons. But for this year, the timing, none of it worked,” the showrunner said in the same TV Insider interview. The screenwriter’s words are significant since Paramount+ has already renewed the procedural show for its third season. Since Will is alive, it won’t be a surprise to see Stewart back in the series in its third installment. Having said that, Will’s death and Stewart’s permanent exit cannot be ruled out.

In the first season of ‘Evolution,’ Will deals with a cancer scare, which turns out to be an inflamed thyroid. Still, the detective is not completely away from death. “Next [season], hopefully, he’s going to be OK. But he’s not necessarily out of the woods forever,” Messer told TVLine. If Stewart doesn’t return to the series in the future, the showrunner can easily kill Will off. But we don’t need to worry about the character’s death in the current season since Messer confirmed that such a tragedy won’t affect JJ in the next eight episodes.

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