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Spoilers below for the Season 14 finale of Criminal Minds, so be wary about reading on if you haven't yet watched.
After 14 seasons, you think you know a show, and then kablam, it does the unexpected. Such shocks occurred on Criminal Minds' most recent finale, in which AJ Cook's JJ expressed almost-definitely-genuine feelings of love for Matthew Gray Gubler's Reid. It's not clear where things will go after Rossi's wedding, but a new rumor suggests that Reid/JJ shippers will actually be disappointed when the previously renewed Season 15 arrives. Looks like Reid will find a new lover.
Perhaps "new lover" is too strong of a phrasing to use at this point, but it could very well be a fitting descriptor. According to TVLine, Dr. Reid will find himself getting invested with a "fairly significant love interest" for Season 15, which will serve as the crime drama's final batch of episodes. Considering Reid isn't exactly known to be the biggest ladies' man on Criminal Minds, this could make for quite an interesting arc.
For those who are no doubt wondering, this love interest is indeed implied to be someone that is not Mrs. Jennifer Jareau. Nothing has been confirmed by stars or the network at this point, and nothing is technically set in stone yet. However, it seems as though Reid and JJ won't be diving into romantic waters right when Season 15 starts up.
That might run counter to what a lot of fans were assuming would happen after watching that Season 14 finale, when it seemed like 14 years of pent-up attraction were breaking out into the open. To recap: the episode had Reid and JJ taken hostage by a car-crashing unsub who was a fan of the game Truth or Dare.
When JJ was prodded to offer up her deepest and darkest secret, she gave a heartfelt admission about having always loved Reid, saying she'd always been too afraid to declare it before then. Her subsequent comment about it being "too complicated" was possibly the biggest understatement in the history of Criminal Minds. Though she said her confession was improvised on the spot, her poker face soon gave her true feelings away. So where in the world do things go from there?
Let's not forget that JJ is a married woman, with Josh Stewart's William LaMontagne as her husband. The couple has two kids, Henry and MIchael, who are actually portrayed by AJ Cook's real-life sons in the rare instances where they're seen. Is her love for Reid so strong that she'd be willing to risk destroying a loving marriage with a man that many fans agree has done very little to deserve such treatment.
Without regard to the potential new love interest, showrunner Erica Messer told TVLine after the finale that the final season will look into the personal ramifications of JJ's confession, saying:
We deal with [JJ's marriage] in the first two hours of the final 10 because that needs some explanation and some tender care, really, to have her be fair to everyone.
For Erica Messer, one of the most important elements in even tiptoeing along these lines with Reid and JJ is making sure that the characters are treated fairly by one another. Probably the last thing she wants is to have JJ to shut Reid down in a harsh way, or for Reid to try and force JJ into an awkward interaction. And then there's Will himself.
Erica Messer told Entertainment Tonight that the first bit of Season 15 will actually be quite uncomfortable between the two characters in the middle of this plot thread.
We didn’t want to play the 'will they-won’t they' or 'she’s got to make a choice.' It’s a little bit messier than that. When we meet them in the first two episodes of Season 15, what we learn is [Reid and JJ] haven’t really talked about it because it’s made that much of an impact. Six months have passed story-wise and it’s time they talk about it. It gets muddy. Her confessing that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love the life she has tremendously.
At the moment, it's just about impossible to tell what could happen next, but I think I can figure out the scenario that fans would like to see the least. JJ makes it clear to Will that she's been harboring feelings for Reid for over a decade, and they have uncomfortable conversations before deciding to split up. But before she can tell that news to Reid, he meets a new woman and they start up a new relationship together, which crushes JJ.
That's definitely the worst case scenario for how that situation could play out, at least for everyone but Reid's new woman. As far as best case scenarios go, that would probably depend on the mindset of the person reading this. Some fans out there have clamored for Reid and JJ to get together since they first shared scenes together, while others can't imagine them as anything but really good friends.
In fact, showrunner Erica Messer said that she was probably one of the people in the latter camp whenever the writers first started talking about bringing JJ and Reid a little closer together. Here's how she put it.
What’s funny about all of this is the pitch came to me from the writer’s room, and I’m so 'mother lion' about all of the characters, so my immediate reaction was, 'That’s not going to work, they’re siblings. No, they’re siblings, they’re siblings.' . . . We had longer conversations about it, and 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.
Following production on the final episodes of Season 14, Criminal Minds remained up and running to get the final ten episodes filmed and finished up ahead of Season 15's fall debut. So it hopefully won't be too much longer before we get more information about Reid's new "friend," and maybe even some visual evidence of her existence.
How will Criminal Minds bring closure to Reid and JJ's relationship? Find out when the 15th and final season makes its debut on CBS at some point this fall. Lots of great TV is still set to premiere before then, though, so don't give up.