When talking to TV Insider, showrunner Erica Messer said: “I can’t say a whole heck of a lot about it right now because we are in the writers’ room for this second season and Gold Star is shifting a little bit in our in our conversations, so I don’t wanna say anything that we then veer away from. But I can say that Voit clearly thinks knowing that phrase is going to be helpful for him in some kind of negotiating.”
Messer’s comments only fuelled fans’ anticipation for the next season and has aided them in cooking up theories on what Gold Star could be and what we could see in the upcoming season. So we thought we’d discuss some of the top theories for season 17.
What is Gold Star?
Voit uses the phrase “Gold Star” as a bargaining chip when talking to Deputy Director Bailey. Bailey’s shocked and fearful reaction suggests that whatever Gold Star is, it is a secret that the FBI wants to keep buried. Bailey’s subsequent decisions: to enter the field to speak to Voit despite not being a field agent and rejecting JJ’s request of at least checking the perimeter of the property first in case there’s a bomb. As well as his final comment to Voit “By my math, there’s only two people who know about [Gold Star]…you and me,” further highlighted that Gold Star was so secretive that only a few people know about it.
Voit’s then decision to kill Bailey so he’s the only one who supposedly knows the truth – even though we know the Attorney General and Rebecca Wilson (Nicole Pacent) know what the phrase means – suggests that Gold Star is much bigger than anything viewers have encountered so far. Thus it makes sense that Voit wants to keep the phrase as a bargaining chip now he’s facing a lifetime behind bars.
There are various theories as to what Gold Star could be, starting with how in real life Gold Star is a reference used in the military to let people know that a service member died while serving their country. The FBI offices where the BAU is located has a wall with gold stars for agents that have been killed in the line of duty, something the show reflects on in the finale as we saw Bailey added to it, which suggests Gold Star could be linked to deceased agents of the Bureau or agents we think are deceased but could be alive, like they did with Prentiss back in season six. Fans who support this theory think it would be a valid justification to bring back Matt Simmons (Daniel Henney) from his special assignment. But whether or not this is the route Criminal Minds: Evolution is planning to explore, it can’t be argued this could be a valid starting point, allowing the show to bring back old characters and pay homage to the original series.
Another popular theory is likened to the fact we already know Gold Star has governmental ties. There’s arguments to be made that it could be a super-secret government organization, like B613 in Scandal. Or that it could be a failed government experiment, where Voit’s family or the Lennox family were part of a government experiment where they tried to create the perfect assassin. This could be a valid theory when taken into consideration the meticulous way Voit has worked throughout the season, particularly while making his kill kits which had a military feel to them. Also, if the government were manufacturing assassins they wouldn’t want that to become public information. Additionally, before he dies, Voit’s Uncle Cyrus (Silas Weir Mitchell) says killing is in his blood which could potentially be a reference to his parents who we know died in a fire that Voit may or may not have started. It could mean the next seasons’ focus being the BAU hunting down the rest of the failed assassin experiments.