For some Criminal Minds fans, the resurrection of J.J. (A.J. Cook) and Reid's (Matthew Gray Gubler) romantic feelings in the Season 14 finale and first part of Season 15 felt like a shot. For a dedicated group of shippers, known to the internet as Jeiders, it was hope that the two FBI colleagues, who have always had a special connection after going on one date in the first season, might finally explore a romantic relationship.
The two did confess to having more-than-friendly feelings for each other, but those emotions and urges weren't to be acted on. While J.J. was the one to instigate the whole conversation by confessing while she was held at gunpoint that she's always loved Reid, she was also the one that was happily married with two kids. She meant what she said, but she didn't mean it enough to ruin the life she had already built for herself, and Reid, who clearly loved J.J. back completely respected that. Finally having the conversation allowed him to move on and find potential happiness of his own.
"It was such a strange thing, and it was even more strange that it kind of came back to light in the final few seasons of the show," Cook told TV Guide while promoting the Criminal Minds summer marathon on WeTV. "I applaud them for doing that because that's not necessarily a safe move. It was scary for me, but I looked at it as, 'That's life, man.' Life is messy and complicated and they obviously do have a real love for one another, whatever category that falls into."
Cook's trepidation came from J.J. having to reveal such a deeply harbored secret and the potential that secret had to wreck the happiness that she had fought hard for over the course of the show. The idea of jumping into something romantic with Reid still makes her nervous, and she admits it would have been a different show if they had explored more of the relationship back in the early seasons of the series.
"Every person has their own opinion on it," Cook said. "I had to make it real and I wanted to do it right, and I wanted to do it justice. Hopefully, I did. Still to this day, it gives me knots in my stomach because that's such a big deal, and I protect JJ so much. The fact that it's out there — I want to protect her! I think it was all handled really, really well in the long run. Who knows what would have happened if that first date way back in Season 1 — if they turned into something way back then? I think it'd be a very different show. It still makes me nervous to this day."
What doesn't make Cook nervous, along with her co-stars Kirsten Vangsness and Joe Mantegna who joined her in the interview, is the idea of going back to Criminal Minds. All three seemed more than willing to go back to set after admitting they hadn't fully accepted that the show is over yet.
"It ended at the time when we usually had our hiatus anyway," Mantegna said, before saying the cast was still hanging out before social distancing practices went into effect. "The parade is still going on in some aspect."
It's still going on for fans as well, who can watch the show all summer on WeTV. The Criminal Minds summer-long marathon begins Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday, May 23) through Labor Day (Monday, September 7), on WE tv airing back-to-back episodes every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET and every Monday from 4 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. PT.