Criminal Minds: A.J. Cook Previews a JJ 'Like You've Never Seen Before,' Teases 'Cool' Reveal

This Wednesday’s episode of Criminal Minds (CBS, 9/8c) may be titled “Closing Time,” but it’s also time for one “JJ” Jareau to open up a can of… well, you know, as she takes her profiling game to the next, fierce level. TVLine invited series vet A.J. Cook to preview this latest evolution with her character, as well as tease a reveal that will come out of the hour as well. (Hint: It involves one of JJ’s BAU buddies.)

TVLINE | So, [showrunner] Erica Messer told me that [executive story editor] Rick Dunkle wanted to get you get away from the typical talk-down and more immersed in the action with this episode. Did he succeed on that front?
Boy, did he ever. Yeah, we’re going to see JJ in a way we’ve never seen her before, so I’m really interested to hear what people have to say after this. [Laughs] I had a blast doing it, so…

TVLINE | What kind of case is at hand?
I’m afraid I’m going to give something away, but… there’s this guy who’s trying to get his son back while going through this messy divorce, and he finds out he’s sick, so he is sort of killing people along the way. Things sort of come to a head toward the end where we figure out where he may be, with his son. The team darts off like superheroes, and we all split up, and I find myself face-to-face with this unsub.

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TVLINE | What sorts of firsts did the episode present you with as an actress?
There’s a huge fight scene at the end between me and the unsub, and it’s incredible. I’m a very physical person so I’ve sort of been asking them for a while to get me out there. We also actually find out some interesting things as to what JJ had been up to while she was away [for the back half of Season 6]. There’s a cool little moment between her and one of the other team members where you’re like, “Huh – who knew?!” I really liked that as well, finding out a little more about JJ and her relationship with one of the other team members. Ooh, how’s that for a tease!

TVLINE | Is it that she took, like, Krav Maga lessons with someone during her time away? Or is the fight scene a bunch of clumsy elbows to the jaw?
We’ll have to find out, won’t we? But yeah, it’s ugly…. [Laughs] But she holds her own. She holds her own.

TVLINE | There are photos of JJ with blood all over her – it must get ugly.
I can’t wait until it airs. I’m going to tweet a picture when it gets closer to the airdate, when I have permission. It’s such a great picture, and I’m sure it’s going to spark everyone’s interest as to how she got that way.

TVLINE | Might JJ diving deeper into the more dangerous aspects of the job cause more friction at home with Mr. LaMontagne?
Oh, that’s interesting…. People are starting to get nervous about that, that maybe the two are heading in different directions. We’re definitely going to see [Will and their son Henry] again, and I’m really excited for that storyline to play out, for the audience to figure out what is going on there.

TVLINE | Some people would rather JJ was single and “on the prowl”…
[Laughs] It’s funny because it seems to be split 50-50. There’s the women that love LaMontagne and just want to see him, and then there are these dudes who are like, “Yeahhhh, she needs to be a single woman!” I guess time will tell!

TVLINE | Erica said she doesn’t wish last season’s rash of transitions on any show, but that when all was said and done it gave Criminal Minds a fresh start, seven seasons in. Do you agree with that?
Oh, 110 percent. And particularly for me, because I feel like there was a rebirth of JJ, and it gave us the creative license to maybe change a couple things about her and make her a little richer a character. All of a sudden it was a blank canvas where we could do what we wanted and breathe new life into the show. Everyone was excited that everyone was back together again [for the season premiere], and that’s been a lot of fun for us to play.