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Mega-spoilers below for Criminal Minds' final episode ever. Be warned!!
For years, Criminal Minds fans have been big proponents for certain characters hooking up – JJ and Reid shippers, you know what I mean – with Shemar Moore's exit a few years back basically destroying all hopes for Derek Morgan and Kirsten Vangsness' Penelope Garcia to get together. (I guess Derek's marriage did that, too, though not for everyone.) In any case, Garcia hasn't had the same kind of chemistry with anyone since, but the series finale let the sparks officially start flying between her and Adam Rodriguez's Luke Alvez.
Criminal Minds dropped some somewhat sad news on fans (and characters) with the reveal that Garcia would be leaving the BAU in order to put her computer skills to work for a non-profit organization that almost definitely won't involve as many corpses. During her super-festive farewell party, Alvez showed how thirsty he was (literally and figuratively) by asking her out on a date in the midst of getting refreshments. She agreed, which no doubt sent viewers into light tizzies.
Showrunner Erica Messer spoke with CinemaBlend ahead of the series finale and explained the decision behind bringing two main characters together at last.
At the end, Kirsten and I were talking about it, and she was like, 'It could be fun if Alvez asked her out.' And you're expecting her to be like, 'No!' because she's been kinda mean to him, and then she instead surprises us with an 'Okay, sure!' It's something that we'll never see, but it leaves the audience wondering where did they go and what did it look like? Did they go out more than once? Are they a couple now? All of that. Anything we could do to let you run with your own Choose Your Own Adventure ending.
Previously, Garcia had a habit of answering Alvez's questions as if he was her worst enemy who also happened to be a telemarketer. Really, though, it was much more akin to the way schoolchildren are often mean to those they are attracted to, which allowed room for fans to speculate about Garcia and Alvez getting together. Almost dying a few episodes back certainly could have inspired Alvez to take more chances in his personal life.
I can't imagine anyone saw Garcia and Alvez getting together under these exact circumstances, but it's basically the only way it could have happened outside of fan-fiction. Here, Erica Messer talks about the rule the writers had about not allowing BAU agents to co-mingle romantically:
We had like an unwritten rule that we weren't going to have BAU team members date. We didn't want it to get messy or turn too much into a soap or something, so we just never did that, we never truly went down that road. They were all best friends, and they were in the trenches together. There was maybe the idea of JJ and Reid: 'In another time, in another way, maybe that could have happened, because I love you and have that much respect for you.' But it didn't happen, and that's sort of acknowledging what we didn't do as storytellers on that series.
Workplace romances on TV very rarely go smoothly for both parties and their organization, and it's probably best that Criminal Minds didn't make its characters go through the wringer with in-office break-ups and other relationship-centric events that could cause extra stress for those in the field. Also, I dare not think about what might have happened if JJ started dating Reid years ago, considering what happens to people he gets close to.