Earlier this year, in a move that had both the fans and the cast of Criminal Minds up in arms, a bombshell was dropped: AJ Cook would no longer play Jennifer “JJ” Jareau in season six. On top of that, Paget Brewster, who plays Emily Prentiss, would have less screen time. With that move, Criminal Minds would effectively lose one female role and cut down a second by half — out of three women. None of the four male leads would change.
In a show that, despite being incredibly procedural, has a great cast and great characters that made the fans care enough to tune in week after week, this was unacceptable. Both AJ Cook and Paget Brewster expressed their disapproval of AJ being let go and Paget’s reduced screentime on their twitter accounts, making the fans at least feel like we weren’t alone.
Tonight, in their second episode of season six, Criminal Minds aired AJ Cook’s final episode, appropriately titled “JJ.”
From the get go, the episode started off on a wrong note, with the defense department wanting JJ to work for them. She’d previously turned the promotion down, happy where she was and with her job. In the end, the decision came from on high, with Hotch stating they liked to pull moves like this, as it “makes them feel like they’re in control.”
If there was any consolation in this episode, it was that it was obvious nobody involved wanted this. Not the writers, and not the cast. JJ’s final farewell was incredibly self aware, but incredibly respectful of AJ Cook and the role she’s had on the show for the past five years.
It’s not enough to make up for the fact that the show will be one and a half women short this season, but it softened the blow. I still cried my eyes out for the last ten minutes, though.
Thank you for five wonderful years and one of my favorite female characters on television, AJ Cook.