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What Really Drove Criminal Minds Con Artist Roberta Lynch To A Life Of Crime

There was certainly no shortage of the dark and diabolical during the 15-season run of "Criminal Minds." Week after week, the creative team behind the hit crime procedural delivered a new unknown subject, "unsub," to both challenge the Behavioral Analysis Unit and chill the bones of viewers. As dedicated fans know, some of the best unsubs featured in the show are played by well-known actors who took the writers' words to another level. Veteran actors Mark Hamill, Tim Curry, and C. Thomas Howell turned in some amazing performances during their respective times as unsubs.

When viewers saw award-winning actor Sharon Lawrence's name in the opening credits of Season 14's "Chameleon," they knew they were in for a treat. In the episode, Lawrence plays Roberta Lynch, a con artist turned murderer who corrupted her young son and encouraged him to follow her into a life of crime. Over the course of three episodes, Roberta's crimes culminated in the explosive destruction of her family.

Roberta used her young son as a tool in her cons

When viewers meet Roberta in "Chameleon," she's already in prison serving time for the murder of her boyfriend decades earlier. Her backstory is largely told through her son Everett's (Michael Mosley) flashbacks. As a young boy, Everett was used by his mother to help con unsuspecting men into marriage. Whenever the men outgrew their usefulness, or their bank accounts dropped too low, Roberta would take Everett and disappear. She'd then invent new identities for herself and her son before embarking on the next con. Everett's exposure and involvement in his mother's schemes prevented him from developing an identity of his own, though he grew to love the con game.

At some point in Everett's adult life, he had a daughter named Grace. One day, while Roberta was supposed to be watching her granddaughter, Grace almost drowned in the bathtub. The near-tragedy fractured the relationship between mother and son; Everett took his infant daughter and left his mother. Sometime after their falling out, Roberta killed her boyfriend, whom she was presumably conning, and was sent to prison. While she was spending her days behind bars, Everett continued the family legacy and began including his daughter in cons. Unlike his mother, though, Everett didn't simply con women out of money — he killed them and removed their faces to keep as trophies.

In prison for murder, Roberta is a seductive alpha

When Everett Lynch's murders stack up, local law enforcement calls in the BAU, who immediately jump in their jet and begin developing a profile. As the team begins to close the net on Everett, they question his mother in prison. Roberta meets the two agents with a cold, yet seductive demeanor that clearly marks her as the alpha in the room. She offers the BAU little help, proudly telling them they'll never catch her son. At the end of "Chameleon," Everett is on the run, Grace is arrested, and Roberta remains in prison.

The final season of "Criminal Minds" is focused largely on the Lynch family. In the aptly named season premiere, "Under the Skin," Everett returns and successfully breaks his daughter out of prison. In the next episode, Everett kills Grace and takes his daughter's face as a memento. Roberta is devastated when she's told that her son killed her granddaughter.

In the series' penultimate episode, "Face Off" (also aptly named), a year has passed since the death of Grace, and Roberta has been released from prison. She reaches out to the BAU allegedly to help them locate her son, though in truth she wants to find and punish Everett personally. To that end, Roberta finds Everett's father. She questions him about their son and where he might be hiding. When she's gathered the information she wanted, Roberta pulls out a gun, and in a screaming rage shoots her ex 14 times and then stabs him over 40 times. For Roberta, killing Everett's father is partial justice for the younger man's murder of Grace.

After the death of her granddaughter, Roberta was out for revenge

Eventually, Roberta tracks down her son, who is holding a young woman hostage in a house Roberta grew up in. With a gun trained on Everett, Roberta (with help from the BAU) convinces him to release the hostage. When a tearful Roberta falters slightly, Everett seizes the moment to subdue his mother and set off an explosion in the home's basement. Though Everett escapes, Roberta dies as the house explodes. Everett would later die in the series finale.

As she was never the true unsub of her episodes, little is known about Roberta's past. During the conversation with Everett's father, she says that Everett takes after him since he also likes to hurt women. As the man makes no effort to deny the thinly veiled accusation, it's likely safe to assume that Roberta suffered some type of abuse in at least one relationship. However, without the benefit of a BAU profile, viewers will never know what initially drove her to become a masterful con artist. The true circumstances surrounding the murder of her boyfriend are also unclear as the crime is denoted as domestic violence. 

Roberta's motivations are much clearer when she kills Everett's father as revenge for the death of her granddaughter. One thing, however, is certain. Roberta's con artist life set the stage for her granddaughter's murder and the death of her son — the final unsub in "Criminal Minds" — as well as the horrors inflicted on their dozens of victims.