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In recent weeks, Criminal Minds has taken two big steps forward with the resignings of Paget Brewster and AJ Cook, but sadly, that positive mojo hasn't extended to CBS' negotiations with one of the other principal cast members. Special Agent Aaron Hotchner aka Hotch aka Thomas Gibson still does not have a contract for next season, and while good money still speculates an agreement will be reached, the delay is starting to cause problems with the writing staff.

According to Deadline, the scribes' annual summer preparatory meetings began last week, and without confirmation of Gibson's return, they're having trouble making any forward progress on the story lines for next season. It's not an issue with the individual episodes themselves so much as a problem with the show's overarching direction. Lines like, “Work up a profile on the unsub” can be given to him later, but dynamics between the cast members must be worked out as a team in advance. If he doesn't come back, then someone needs to take his job. That would alter the power balance, which would alter everyone's relationships.

Even without his deal in place, Gibson still presented at CBS' upfronts and met with foreign buyers. He's clearly looking to come back. It would just be better for everyone involved if that announcement came sooner rather than later.