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Does Elle's Criminal Minds Storyline Deserve Better Closure?

While there's much to praise about "Criminal Minds," the long-running crime procedural rarely seemed to do justice to departing characters. Admittedly, the series' creative team had few opportunities to perfect the formula given the relative consistency of the show's main cast. Another factor that likely made swan song storylines a challenge is the fashion in which some actors left the show. Mandy Patinkin and Thomas Gibson's respective departures were as tumultuous as they were sudden. Yet, even when a character's exit was planned, their leavetaking just seemed ... off.

Such was the case for original cast member Lola Glaudini and her character Elle Greenaway. Glaudini, a New York native, starred in the series for Season 1 and a handful of early episodes in Season 2 before deciding that life in Los Angeles, where "Criminal Minds" was filmed, wasn't for her (via CinemaBlend). While her departure paved the way for fan-favorite Paget Brewster joining the show, Glaudini's Greenaway deserved a better farewell than the one she received.

Elle Greenaway experienced multiple traumas with the BAU

In the 2005 series premiere, "Extreme Aggressor," Elle Greenaway is an agent working out of the FBI's Seattle offices, specializing in profiling sexual predators. She meets the Behavioral Analysis Unit when the team is investigating a series of murders attributed to the Seattle Strangler. During the investigation, Greenaway works closely with Patinkin's Jason Gideon, the BAU's senior agent. The case comes to an end after Gideon and Greenaway locate and confront Tim Vogel, the Seattle Strangler. The killer takes a shot at Gideon, grazing the agent's arm, which forces Greenaway to employ deadly force and shoot Vogel dead. By the next episode, Greenaway is officially a member of the BAU.

Over the course of the first season, Greenaway proves herself to be an essential part of the BAU. In the ninth episode, "Derailed," the character experiences the first of many traumas, which helps set the stage for her departure. In the episode, Greenaway is traveling to Texas via train when someone jumps in front of the speeding transport to commit suicide. While the train and its passengers wait for the matter outside to be resolved, another passenger, Ted Bryar, has a psychotic break. Ironically, Bryar was heading to Dallas with his doctor to appear at a conference as an example of a patient who recovered from previous psychological maladjustments.

Bryar steals a security guard's gun, killing him in the process. Since the files Greenaway was working on during the train ride clearly identify her as an FBI agent, Bryar takes her gun and handcuffs her to a seat. Eventually, through some impressive ingenuity from Gideon, Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) boards the train in a ruse that leads to Bryar's arrest. Though Greenaway survives the ordeal with little physical damage, the experience of being a hostage affects her mentally.

The Fisher King's attack sent Elle in a downward spiral

Trauma finds Greenaway again in the Season 1 finale, "The Fisher King, Part 1." The episode focuses on Randall Garner, a survivor of a home fire that killed most of his family and left his body disfigured. Driven to insanity by his grief and his appearance, Garner targets the BAU directly. Though he initially taunts the BAU with clues and riddles, Garner takes a more direct approach when he breaks into Greenaway's house, shoots her, and uses her blood to leave the BAU a message on the wall. In the Season 2 premiere, "The Fisher King: Part 2," Greenaway is saved by doctors, and Garner kills himself during a standoff with Reid.

If the events in "Derailed" undermined Greenaway's sense of security, Gardner's attack and home invasion left the agent's world completely shaken. Her temperament undergoes noticeable changes. She no longer feels safe in her home, and she begins lashing out at her colleagues. Greenaway's downward spiral hits rock bottom in Season 2, Episode 5, "Aftermath," when she confronts and kills a serial rapist who avoided arrest on a technicality. Greenaway herself avoids punishment for the crime because she alleges the shooting was in self-defense — when in truth it was done in cold blood. In the next episode, "The Boogeyman," she surrenders her badge and gun to Hotch (Gibson) and informs him of her immediate resignation.

Elle started as a profiler and left as a murderer

And just like that, Supervisory Special Agent Elle Greenaway is gone. While her name would pop up now and then in later seasons, the character never returned on screen again, save for an appearance in a dream Reid had in the series finale. Compared to some other of the series' departures, Greenaway's exit seemed to have a logical conclusion given her crime. However, something still feels amiss in the lack of follow-up.

Even though the series ran for 15 seasons, viewers never learned what happened to Greenaway after her resignation. An FBI agent who suddenly quits her job in the middle of a psychological crisis that led to her murdering a suspect seems like a storyline fit for, well, "Criminal Minds." Unfortunately, the series' writers never explored what happened to her. She was simply gone, disappearing during a moment of extreme personal turmoil that was never truly resolved.