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Tara Lewis

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Tara Lewis
Criminal Minds character
First appearance"The Job"
11x01, September 30, 2015
Created byErica Messer
Portrayed byAisha Tyler
Jessica Watkin (young)
NicknameLewis, T (by Gabriel)
TitleFBI BAU Supervisory Special Agent
FBI Forensic Psychologist
OccupationFBI Special Agent
FamilyAlbert Lewis (father)
Unnamed mother (deceased)
Gabriel Lewis (brother)
SpouseDoug Fuller (ex-fiancé)
Seasons11, 12, 13

Dr. Tara Elizabeth Lewis is a fictional character in the CBS crime drama Criminal Minds, portrayed by Aisha Tyler. Lewis is a Forensic Psychologist and a Supervisory Special Agent of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit. Lewis first appeared in "The Job", originally serving as a temporary replacement for Agents Kate Callahan (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Jennifer Jareau (A.J. Cook) while they were both on maternity leave.[1]

Aisha Tyler was originally planned to be in the first six episodes of Season 11 but the producers "loved her so much" that they extended her role and she then appeared in 18 episodes (12 more than originally planned) that season.[2] Tyler was then promoted to Series Regular in Season 12.[3]

Development[edit | edit source]

After the end of Season 10, showrunner Erica Messer had stated that she wanted to have "a fun guest star" while both Jennifer Love Hewitt and A.J. Cook were on maternity leave during Season 11. Messer said that her original plan was not to replace both Hewitt and Cook, and said that there was "an opportunity there to have fun for a few episodes".[4][5] In an interview with TVGuide, Messer expressed her interest about bringing back characters from previous seasons instead of adding a new character to replace Hewitt permanently on the show. She explained, "I feel like when you look at 10 years of people we could bring back, it would be fun to do that." Messer added that bringing back old characters would allow the show to focus on the team without having to service a new regular character.[6]

On June 22, 2015, it was announced that Aisha Tyler had been cast in a recurring role as Dr. Tara Lewis to temporarily replace both Hewitt and Cook.[7] Messer stated that Tyler's character was only meant to appear in the first six episodes of Season 11 with the possibility of extending her role. In September 2015, the producers decided to extend her role and Tyler then went on to appear in twelve more episodes that season.[2] In July 2016, Tyler was promoted from her previous recurring status to series regular.[3]

Characterization[edit | edit source]

Lewis' character is described as a psychologist with an eye on forensic psychology and its application toward the criminal justice system. Her dream was to study psychopaths up close and personal – and her psychology background, combined with her experience in the FBI, brought her face-to-face with monsters. Her job was to stare them down and interview them, in order to determine if they were fit to stand trial. In the process, she made herself find the humanity inside these broken men (and, sometimes, women) in order to learn if there was a conscience behind their brutal crimes.[7]

Tyler described her character as "fun and she's funny and engaged and passionate, so I think she connects with the team in that way. She means business for sure." During Tyler's first season on the show, Tyler wore a "pixie wig". Tyler had requested that her character have short hair when she joined the show as it would suit her character and also for the audience "to see that Tara Lewis is different from me and any of my other dramatic roles."[8]

Background[edit | edit source]

As a child, Lewis had to travel around the world because of her father Albert's service in the U.S. Army. She also had a mother who died of breast cancer and a brother named Gabriel. As a child, she and her family moved to Germany. There, she was harassed by a bully named Martin Gumbel, who made fun of her name and drew a swastika on her locker. When Gabriel reported it to the school administration, Gumbel and his friends sought revenge by beating him up. As a result of the incident, Lewis admired her brother for always standing up for her, while he started calling her "T".

As an adult, she had high intelligence alongside Gabriel, though Gabriel forsakes it in favor of getting rich, while she went to Dartmouth College. Lewis eventually had to help Gabriel through the aftermath of one of his scams and tried to get him to change his ways, but her efforts were unsuccessful, leading to an estrangement between the two. She joined the FBI as a forensic psychologist, who extensively interviews a number of psychopathic criminals to determine whether they were fit for trial or not. Through her job, she has seen a number of depraved minds up close and personal. Before joining the BAU, she came from the San Francisco FBI field office. More recently, she is engaged to a man named Doug Fuller, which caused her some personal distress after other women began flirting with him.

Due to her spending much of her childhood traveling around the world, Lewis become fluent in both French and German.

In "The Witness", Lewis tells Reid that when interviewing serial killers, she tries to find something she can identity with when she talks to these killers in prison to establish the therapeutic alliance, which, in this case, is key to establishing that relationship between psychologist and killer. For example, when she interviewed Archie Sutton, a.k.a. "The Truck Stop Strangler", an infamous serial killer, of which Lewis' mother and the killer's mother attended the same elementary school and both liked fossils as kids.

In "False Flag", Lewis becomes upset after the Unsub, Melissa Miller (Zelda Williams), tells Lewis that she believes the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was staged. Lewis then reveals to the team that she was present at Sandy Hook on the day of school shooting. She tells the team that she provided counseling to the parents of the shooter's victims and that she also saw the victims' bodies, which severely traumatized her.

Storylines[edit | edit source]

Season 11[edit | edit source]

In the season 11 premiere, "The Job", the BAU is two profilers down. Hotch starts interviewing applicants for the open spot on the team. He briefly speaks to Lewis, a forensic psychologist whose skill set is not quite what they're looking for in the BAU. Lewis tells Hotch that interviewing serial killers is one thing and hunting them is another, "For twelve years, I've studied these men after they were caught. Now I want to catch them." Lewis gets a chance to prove herself during the case when Montolo, the Unsub, calls Home on Phil's, the victim, phone once they arrive at their destination and Hotch has her pretend to be the victim's wife. She tries to relay the message that he needs to get his head down so they can get a shot on Montolo, but instead, Phil grabs his gun and turns to shoot the UnSub. After Lewis' work on the call, Hotch tells her that she has the job.

Season 12[edit | edit source]

In "Mirror Image", Lewis' brother Gabriel is abducted by Peter Lewis (Mr. Scratch), who brainwashes a man named Desmond Holt to take Gabriel's place. Upon realizing this, the BAU launch a search for Gabriel after finding out that Desmond is posing as him. Tracking down an address rented by Peter under an alias, Lewis and Luke Alvez find a TV screen showing Gabriel being held captive by Peter. By the time the BAU find Gabriel at a warehouse, Peter has escaped after setting up a booby trap with a device that fires nails from the ceiling. Despite this, they are able to rescue Gabriel. In "True North", while Reid is in prison, Lewis is given an opportunity to visit Reid and act as his personal psychiatrist since she has a Ph.D. Lewis gives Reid a cognitive interview; it is during that interview when Reid reveals he stabbed Nadie to death. However, she later tells Prentiss that she believes he manufactured the memory in a desperate attempt to find an answer to his circumstances. She resumes the interview on the next day, and Reid seems to remember the murder a little more clearly, recalling someone spraying a fine mist in his face during the attack in the hotel. This matched the M.O. of Peter Lewis, a serial killer by proxy who had been taunting the BAU since his escape from prison, and who was the BAU's prime suspect in Nadie's murder. However, when Lewis presses further, Reid remembers that the person who was with him and Nadie in the hotel was not Peter, but a woman. In the season 12 finale, "Red Light", the team gets a new lead on Mr. Scratch's current location. However, their SUVs were disabled by spike-strips and struck by a semi-truck. The SUV Lewis was in took most of the impact, and as a result, she nearly went into shock due to internal bleeding in the adjacent Season 13 premiere.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Douglas Wolfe from TV Fanatic in 2015 said the introduction of Aisha Tyler's character, Dr. Tara Lewis, was "the saving grace, and a reason for hope for this season".[9] Meredith Jacobs from Buddy TV wrote that the character of Tara Lewis was "good, as is Tyler in the role, in a way that I want to see more of her but I don't feel is in any way taking away from the regular team members." and also said that "Tara brings something new to the show that we haven't seen quite that much of before".[10] In 2016 while reviewing "Mirror Image", Angela Niles described Lewis as "eager and dedicated to the job without taking away from any of the others’ skills, and comes off as a likeable, supportive team member." and said that her character had "remained something of a mystery" during her first two seasons on the show.[11] Jay Ruymann from Tell-Tale TV said that "Criminal Minds has not made a better decision in the past decade than casting Aisha Tyler as Tara Lewis."[12]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Meredith Jacobs (June 22, 2015). "'Criminal Minds' Season 11: Aisha Tyler will recur as Hotch looks to replace Kate". inquisitr.com. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rawden, Jessica. "Criminal Minds: Aisha Tyler's Character Might Be Around More Than We Thought". cinemablend.com. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wagmeister, Elizabeth. "Aisha Tyler Promoted to Series Regular on 'Criminal Minds'". variety.com.
  4. Huggins, Sarah. "How 'Criminal Minds' Season 11 will handle A.J. Cook's pregnancy". screenertv.com.
  5. Abrams, Natalie. "Jennifer Love Hewitt not returning for 'Criminal Minds' season 11". ew.com.
  6. "Returning Fall Shows: Where We Left Off – Criminal Minds (CBS)". TVGuide. August 10, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 HIBBERD, JAMES. "Criminal Minds: Aisha Tyler joins season 11 in recurring role". ew.com.
  8. Eng, Joyce. "Criminal Minds: Meet Aisha Tyler's "Smart, Foxy, Badass" Dr. Tara Lewis". TV Guide.
  9. Wolfe, Douglas. "Criminal Minds Season 11 Episode 1 Review: The Job". TV Fanatic.
  10. Jacobs, Meredith. "'Criminal Minds': Is Dr. Tara Lewis the Right Person for the BAU?". Buddy TV.
  11. Niles, Angela. "Criminal Minds - Mirror Image - Review: "Imposter"". Spoiler TV.
  12. Ruymann, Jay. "Criminal Minds Review: Mirror Image (Season 12 Episode 7)". Tell-Tale TV.

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