Criminal Minds Review: Farewell, J.J.

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The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit has always seemed like a family, making the departure of A.J. Cook from Criminal Minds even more controversial than a typical TV casting move.

Wednesday, the family bid farewell to agent Jennifer Jareau in the fittingly-titled "J.J." Like Cook's many fans, Hotch and the rest of the BAU didn't seem too happy about it, either.

After shining in last week's season premiere, Cook did so again last night in her swan song, an emotional sendoff that probably overshadowed what was a typically solid episode.

Hotchner and JJ

Hotch is not pleased about the DOD poaching JJ.

The team is called in when a girl, Kate Joyce, is reported missing on vacation in Atlantic Beach. Her friends say she never returned to her hotel after leaving the club with two guys.

Syd and Jim are suspected of harming Kim but aren't talking and it's been days. The clock's ticking before the two, who haven't been charged, are released. The team goes to work.

Morgan interrogates Syd and downplays him. Prentiss let's Jimmy see Syd getting food, and determines he's just a follower in all this. Hotch notices Jimmy's depersonalizing Kate.

But the big breakthrough comes from J.J.

Looking at pictures, she notices Kate's phone, which was found in her room, in the back seat of the car. This is the catalyst that leads them back to the room and on to the inlet.

It turns out Jimmy didn't kill Kate, but he did leave her in the water. Fortunately, she's found alive, clinging to a buoy, and at the hospital, her dad praises J.J. for saving his life.

Meanwhile, the Department of Defense tells J.J. she has must leave. Like Criminal Minds fans petitioning for Cook to stay, Hotch tries to go over the director's head to no avail.

He tells her it wasn't his call, she won't be replaced and that he hopes to get her back. It's an emotional goodbye as she leaves the exit interview in Strauss' office speechless.

JJ Photo

We'll miss you and wish you all the best, A.J.

It's nearly impossible to evaluate last night's show as we would a typical episode, given the pall J.J.'s exit cast over it. This speaks to the popularity and depth of the character.

Will she be replaced? Can she be replaced? It seems like such an unnecessary change to us, and while it may not be devastating to the show, J.J. leaving certainly doesn't help.

Is there a new J.J. waiting in the wings somewhere? Or Criminal Minds flesh out its existing characters more instead? There's certainly room to do that, with Morgan for example.

Still, you get the feeling watching Criminal Minds, more so than most procedural shows, that the cast as a whole was greater than the sum of its parts. This void won't be filled easily.

The show has its work cut out for it going forward, especially after the way she shined these past two weeks. In honor of Cook's exit, here are some of our favorite J.J. moments:

  • In last season's "Risky Business," when we learned the painful fact that her sister took her life when J.J. was 11, after the team solves a case of teen suicide.
  • In the second season, when the abduction of students from her hometown struck a chord with her, and we learned not only about her past but how she values her role.
  • Way back in the first season, when serial killer Jacob Dawes tried to exercise a privilege only her friends have. You're not my friend. Heart, soul and a little attitude.
  • When she kissed her "secret" BF, Det. Will LaMontagne, in front of her colleagues.
  • When she took out James Colby Baylor in truly bad-ass fashion.
  • When she asks Reid to be her son's godfather. It was poignant.
  • Last week's hostage-negotiation, working the personal angle.

What's your favorite JJ moment? Was last night's episode a fitting sendoff? Will the show be able to overcome her departure? Sound off on Criminal Minds here.


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (187 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


Did you ever hear of the saying "don't fix it if it's not broken?" I won't even watch the new CM, only reruns, because JJ is not on the new ones, and Garcia's role has all of a sudden changed, and Emily's presence is dwindling by the episode. CBS is making changes for no reason whatsoever, why????? I will ALWAYS watch the reruns... forever, but will NOT watch the new ones


I thought AJ Cook created one of the most subtly complex characters. Sooner or later the capitalists ruin everything.


I like JJ very much, as I do all the people in this show. But I don't think her leaving will really affect the show very much. Isn't the other chick leaving too?


Just watched new episode "Coda". I'm still totally surprised the network doesn't see that the new character Ashley/Rachel adds NOTHING to the show. The addition actually degrades the quality of the show, bringing it way way down. This is a huge blind spot. Maybe they want to totally focus on the Spin-Off which, by the way, I'll not be watching again. Once was enough to know it just doesn't have the pizzazz of the original CRIMINAL MINDS. It is a pale substitute and appears to be a wanna-be original C.M. I have no interest in it. Darn. I wish they'd bring back AJ and offer Paget a great package if she'd stay as a main character, and then lose Rachel Nichols. If the quality doesn't come back up, I wonder if they might lose some of the more seasoned actors, as any down-sliding will certainly negatively reflect on them. Can only hope. --- Joy


Bring JJ back. You let one get away and now you are messing up the show again. The little blond you are bringing on is no JJ and will never help the show.


CBS is unraveling the characters and destroying the show. Family feeling is gone already. And it just doesn't work to have one character (Garcia) take over another character's (JJ) role. Fractures the authenticity of what was, and fractures the family. New character's status in BAU is totally unbelievable. Plus, the actor' skills are so far below the rest of the ensemble, it's startling. She needs to pay some more dues by working with actors of her own caliber. It's a bit embarrassing actually. Meaning I'm embarrassed for her while watching the show. I'm a performer (musician) too, and I know it's really really bad to let the audience feel sorry for you. Anyway, the whole show now doesn't add up any more. I watched the spinoff and found it nothing special. Same old same old. And none of the characters are as compelling as the original. I also find it disturbing to see Penelope on this one. It's too weird. And how could she be so familiar with all these profilers already. She couldn't. And, I'd think a lot better of Kirsten had she turned this down. The spinoff definitely cannibalized the original show. So Kirsten has two jobs and AJ and possibly Page come out with no job. I am so saddened by all the recent turn of events. CBS is most certainly not respectful of women -- and they had the best! Also, to not listen to their constituency as it were, is unconscionable. Seems like a lot of male posturing and needing to be right. And they couldn't be more wrong. Oh yes, if they get rid of Hotch, forget it. I a so very very sorry to see all this happening to the best show in TV. --- Joy


Bring jj back..they're not a family without her at all! Don't let prentiss go either cuz it looks like you're about to do that with prentiss's past coming back. And its okay to bring in seaver cuz I think her and reid would be awesome together but she can't be apart of the team..make her a side character that she fits in their personal lives..(reids) point 1 keep jj..point 2..keep every character that is on this show. ..point 3 give reid a relationship with someone..oh added point.(morgan shirtless more often plz)..bigger picture being, put these points into your show and wahlah ratings will soar higher then they ever have been


I'm annoyed they axed JJ and cut Prentis's screentime, to save money, and then added Seaver, who's debut was heavy-handed and melodramatic. Quite honestly it also seems like they are removing all of the women, and it's a relief Garcia is still there.


What is wrong with this picture. They cbs take an exceptional series and destroy it JJ is the best actor on this series she shows emotion and empathy and is greatly appreciated by the viewing crowd. Why destroy a good thing hell a great thing. Be like all the rest of the channels and ruin your own creation there is no money reasons for her to leave other then she probably wouldn't sleep with the higher ups. What a shame.


Does anyone know of a petition we can sign to get the attention of CBS that its viewers, who need we remind them, pay their salary, wants JJ's character returned immediately? Please post anything anyone knows that we can do to get their attention. No one else can fill her shoes and it is all of them together that makes this show so good. I hope this is a sign it is on it's way down in ratings.

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Criminal Minds Season 6 Episode 2 Quotes

(Reid grabs a bottle of antacid from Prentiss' desk and takes one)
Prentiss: Again with the dairy?
Reid: I can't help it. I love dairy.

Prentiss: I don't think it's about the case.
Garcia: Do you know something?
Prentiss: Do I know something?
Garcia: She just repeated the question. You always say that's a sign.
Morgan: Do you know why JJ's in there?
Prentiss: I have no idea.