EXCLUSIVE: 'Criminal Minds' Fave Paget Brewster Returns for Good: 'It's Nice to Be Back on the Team'

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Paget Brewster is back on Criminal Minds!

The 47-year-old actress returns full-time as Emily Prentiss on CBS’ police procedural in Wednesday’s episode, and only ET has the exclusive first look at her grand homecoming, less than one week after Thomas Gibson’s final episode.

RELATED:  How 'Criminal Minds' Handled Thomas Gibson's Final Episode

Though Brewster, who last appeared as a series regular in 2012, has come back for an episode here or there, this will be a permanent stay. Her co-stars -- and even Brewster herself (“Wee! Very exciting!”) -- couldn’t be happier about the reunion.

“She’s been running Interpol for four years and now it’s just really nice to be back on the team full-time,” the actress said of Prentiss’ whereabouts over the last several years. “So far, they’ve made [Prentiss] powerful and good at the job and invested.”

Originally, Brewster was only slated to appear in six episodes this season, but she was quickly promoted “because she’s a fan favorite and we all love and miss her so much here,” executive producer Erica Messer explained.

RELATED: 'Criminal Minds' Is Bringing Back a Fan Favorite Full-Time

The Criminal Minds cast also spoke glowingly of new series regular Adam Rodriguez,who made his debut in the season 12 premiere as Luke Alvez.

“All of a sudden, you bring a new, great player you’ve traded,” Joe Mantegna said of the former CSI: Miami star, “and all of a sudden you bring back a player that was with the team back in the days when you were winning all the games and now you’re still doing it.”

Longtime star A.J. Cook explained why Criminal Minds is able to keep chugging along, even with changes in front of the camera.

“We’re finding new personalities that fit into this machine that works really well and we’ve been lucky enough to find those pieces,” she said.

Criminal Minds
airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

For more on Gibson’s final Criminal Minds scene and his character’s fate, watch the video below.

EXCLUSIVE: Adam Rodriguez on Filling the Void Left by Shemar Moore on 'Criminal Minds'