'Criminal Minds' Boss on How JJ's Bombshell Confession Kick-Starts 'Bittersweet' Final Season (Exclusive)

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Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Wednesday's season 14 finale of Criminal Minds.

What will JJ do now?

On Wednesday's season finale of Criminal Minds, titled "Truth or Dare," JJ (A.J. Cook) made an unexpected confession, revealing a secret she's long kept hidden for years that, now that it's out, will potentially jeopardize her relationship with the BAU, her family and worst of all, one of her closest friends. The season closed with Rossi's (Joe Mantegna) celebratory wedding to Krystall (Gail O'Grady), but it was JJ's surprise declaration -- made under duress, to be fair -- that will leave audiences desperate for answers as the countdown to the final season begins.

Held up at gunpoint, JJ's life was threatened by a dangerous unsub; if she didn't reveal a deep, dark secret not even her loved ones knew about, her life would be gone in an instant. Fearful for her mortality, JJ followed orders, telling Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) that she has "always" loved him, but was always "too scared to say it before." Considering the fact that JJ is seemingly happily married with young kids, this moment fundamentally changes everything. 

"It will definitely be explored," showrunner Erica Messer tells ET of JJ's bombshell, explaining why they decided to explore the relationship further. "Ultimately, it goes down to the relationships that people have been watching and seeing how they’ve grown over the years. There’s something real in people who have worked together for a super long time -- certainly in law enforcement, where it’s life and death. Some people would say it’s like going to war together. You have a bond with people that can’t be defined. It’s one in times of incredible stress. We wanted to be able to acknowledge that but also be completely aware that this is going to be a bomb for a lot of people."

When the writers came to Messer with the initial idea to bring JJ and Reid together in a more substantial way, Messer admitted she had her reservations.

"I was really concerned about it. The writers’ room pitched it to me and I was like, 'No, we can’t do that,'" she said. "The more we talked about it as a team and the more we talked with Matthew and A.J. about it, it was like, 'This could work. This makes sense and here’s why.' It’s something that we wanted to explore in the final 10 [episodes] and allow ourselves insight into our heroes and allow them to grow from this revelation."

One thing fans won't see is a traditional love triangle brewing between JJ, Reid and JJ's husband, Will (Josh Stewart), as a result of her confession, which, for the record, only JJ and Reid are aware of.

Criminal Minds
CBS

"We didn’t want to play the 'will they-won’t they' or 'she’s got to make a choice.' It’s a little bit messier than that," Messer hinted. "When we meet them in the first two episodes of season 15, what we learn is they haven’t really talked about it because it’s made that much of an impact. Six months have passed story-wise and it’s time they talk about it. It gets muddy."

"Her confessing that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love the life she has tremendously. Without giving away too much of the actual dialogue that’s coming up, she’s been defined by the love in her life and the love in her life is Will and the kids, it’s Reid, it’s her friends, it’s the work that she does," she previewed. "There are a lot of things that define people and [Reid] is one of those things to her. Maybe if she had never met Will in season two, things would’ve been different. If in another time and place... There’s heartbreak to that but you would want to know that in a friendship or relationship. It’s complicated."

Filming is already underway for the final season of Criminal Minds. Messer shared that she has an idea as to where she wants each of the core characters to end up in the series finale. 

"I have every character written out and a wish list for each one. It’s hard because I don’t know if we get it all done in 10 episodes," she admitted with a chuckle. "It’s also hard to imagine these guys won’t be in our living rooms every week. It’s a bittersweet assignment. It’s a big deal and I want to stay true to the series and also to the fans and to the characters."

Asked if old familiar faces who have since left the show could make their way back to bid one last farewell to the BAU, like Shemar Moore, Messer played coy.

"There’s talk of all of that, but we’re dealing with what’s right in front of us, which is we’re able to have Jane Lynch guest star [as Reid’s mother] for an episode in the final 10. The characters who have remained here, who have been doing the work day in and day out, it’s honoring that, but also, we want to acknowledge the history of the series," she said. "We’re trying to find ways to make all of those things happen."

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