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Major spoilers below for the latest episode of Criminal Minds, so be sure to watch first!
With its final ten-episode stretch, CBS' Criminal Minds still has some loose ends to tie up for its many main characters, and many fans were hoping this would finally be the year that Matthew Gray Gubler's Spencer Reid and A.J. Cook's JJ Jarrow finally hooked up (and possibly more). Those hopes got rear-ended in the Season 15 premiere after JJ got shot, and the fourth episode, "Saturday," further doused that would-be flame by introducing Max, a new love interest for Reid as portrayed by Rachael Leigh Cook.
While the sparks weren't necessarily burning hotter than the sun's surface, Reid and Max did have quite the meet-cute. It was almost hard for it to stand out above Paul F. Tompkins' bizarre cameo as Prentiss' litigious and paranoid ex-neighbor, but once JJ gave the go-ahead, it felt okay to root for the new coupling just a little.
How Reid And Max Met
Upon telling his therapist that he's having urgent dreams where he's being targeted by a violent killer, Reid is advised to step the hell away from his job for a while so that his brain can decompress things. Easier said than done, of course, as evidenced by his near-pleading with JJ to give him the impetus to return to the office.
Then came a bespectacled kid who noted Reid's strange haircut and slender neck, who was soon revealed to be the nephew of Rachel Leigh Cook's Max, who wasn't initially quick to learn of Reid's positive qualities. In fact, she was quite suspicious of Reid, both when it came to her nephew and when it came to Reid's intentions of having a "normal" conversation. (How amusing was it when he didn't get to explain his dream situation.)
After Max's sister arrived and removed the child from the situation, while also relaying Max's lack of a love life, she and Reid really started to hit it off, and Reid managed to do something besides think about work all day. Their afternoon together seemed like it would get cut short after Kristy went into labor and Reid fled to the hospital, but of all people, JJ was the one that turned him around.
JJ's Encouraging Words To Reid
Everyone gathered at the hospital awaiting news on the newest member of the extended BAU family, including Reid. But after Simmons came out and announced the birth – as well as the fact that she was named Rosemary after Rossi – JJ took Reid aside to quiz him about his change in clothes and demeanor. It was clear she suspected something was up.
Keepings things as guarded as one does when talking to a current or one-time crush, Reid explained away the day's events by saying he had "a conversation." Below is the dialogue that followed, through which JJ convinced Reid to head back out to find Max.
JJ: Ooh, a conversation. Whoever this conversation was with, she put a smile on your face I haven't seen in a really long time. [Pause.] You know, there's only so many people that can fit in a delivery room, so...
REID: I'll wait. I should say hello to the baby.
JJ: And you will. You know, a week from now, the baby will still be a baby, and it will have two very tired parents that will want your help. . . . Go.
I think it's safe to say that Reid dashed away gleefully. He did indeed reconnect with Max by the episode's end, and it's assumed that he will continue finding comfort in her more pointed edges. Fans are definitely going to find something to talk about by way of JJ's reaction to the whole thing, which was a mix between prideful friendship and wistful longing.
Considering Erica Messer has already talked about how the season finale won't be ending on any huge game-changing moments, least of all in the Reid-and-JJ department, this episode was almost definitely the final blow to fans' hopes for the two characters to run away together. Here's hoping Rachael Leigh Cook's Max can continue making extremely quick and positive impressions of viewers in the few episodes that remain, so that she may balance the scales away from JJ by any means necessary.
With six episodes left to go, Criminal Minds airs Wednesday nights on CBS at 9:00 p.m. ET.