It was the biggest twist of the season. In the finale of Criminal Minds season 14, an emotional episode that saw both a wedding and a hostage situation, JJ Jareau (played by A.J. Cook) told her longtime coworker, Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Grey Gubler) that she had loved him all along. I repeat: JJ loved Reid all along. As in, for fourteen whole seasons, JJ has been making eyes at Reid and we did not even notice.
In fairness, she had to be quite literally held at gunpoint to admit it. And judging by the expression on Reid's face, he had no idea, either. The only allusion to romance between the two in the entire series was a throwaway moment in season one when Gideon gives Reid football tickets, and Reid asks JJ to go with him on what sounds awfully like a date. Said date is, frustratingly, not mentioned again until the beginning of season 14, when JJ mentions that she brought Garcia along on the "date." Garcia, do you even realize what you did? (I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Can't be mad at Garcia for long!)
Flash-forward to fourteen whole years later (or is it less in the Criminal Minds universe? Probably?), when JJ, with a gun pointed at her head, turns to Reid and says, "I’ve always loved you, and I was just too scared to say it before. And now things are just really too complicated to say it now. I’m sorry, but you should know."
Reid shoots the un-sub, but I can't say I noticed much of what happened after that over the pounding in my own ears. The un-sub is dead, the agents are free—whatever, no surprise there—but JJ loves Reid. JJ, who happens to be married. With kids. Later, JJ tries to walk it back—"I needed to say something that would get his attention and I needed to say something that would get your attention, so I just wanted to throw him off balance," she insists—but then he asks if she meant it and they share a Look, which confirms to both of them and all of us that, yes, she totally meant it.
Let's rewind a second. Here's what we know about JJ's romantic life: She meets her husband to-be, Detective William LaMontagne Jr., in season two, and dates him in secret for a while. Then she gets pregnant in season three, and he proposes; their son, Henry, is born in season four, and JJ names Reid his godfather (!). In further seasons, JJ and Will have another kid, and get married not once, but twice (in fairness, the first time was with a ring with their son's birthstone?). All seems well with the couple, and Will pops up over and over again at random points—when JJ gets home from work, when they get into an emotional tussle over her workload, that kind of thing.
As for Reid's romantic life? Well, he seems mostly dispassionate about the whole thing. There's Lila (Amber Heard!), who he meets in season one and has that sexy pool kiss with; there's also Maeve, of course, his mystery-woman-turned-love-interest whose violent death at the hands of a stalker (in front of Reid, natch) proves difficult for him to process. (Reid later says that he might have had kids, if Maeve hadn't been killed). I myself have also been in love with Reid for approx. 14 seasons, but that's neither here nor there.
Season 15, of course, is the final season of the series—it's just ten episodes long, and starts midseason—which begs the question: Why introduce a buzzy storyline like this if JJ and Reid don't end up together?
TV Line spoke to showrunner Erica Messer about just that; in the interview, Messer was candid about the origin of the storyline and what was next for the duo:
I thought, well, you know these people have been in the trenches together — not literally, obviously, but as far as work goes, it’s life or death quite often, and who are we to say who gets close and who doesn’t get close? I’ve talked to plenty in law enforcement, and there’s a bond there that defies a traditional definition. And so, I just kind of fell more in love with the idea that, yeah, it’s messy and it’s weird, and “I’ve loved you for a long time,” like, that’s just the truth ... We’re going to dive into that in the first two hours [of Season 15] because we can’t leave everybody hanging and then pretend it didn’t happen. It’s definitely a huge driver for the first handful of episodes that will help add layers to those characters again.
And why the last-minute reveal, when the series is so close to being over? This, too, Messer explained:
We already knew we would have to keep chasing [The Chameleon] and that’s great for a final 10, but emotionally, what are we coming back for? This felt like a really interesting, surprising way to go. Like you said, it wasn’t anywhere on your radar, and I think most fans will feel that way.
So, there you have it: Season 15, which is set to air in the winter/spring midseason slot, will bring (some) answers with it.
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