There’s gonna be a new sheriff — or, you know, section chief — in town shortly after CBS’ Criminal Minds opens Season 9 (premiering tonight at 9/8c), and with him comes the answer to some big questions (as well as some new mysteries) about Agent JJ Jareau. A.J. Cook shared with TVLine a look at the coming season, which promises to drop intel on many of the characters we (think we) know and love. Plus: Which familiar faces are returning?!
TVLINE | From everything I hear, it’s pretty much B.A.U. at the BAU when Season 9 opens up. Were picking up where we left off, essentially. Hotch has stepped in to the acting section chief, since we lost Strauss, so we have that to figure out. But yeah, were jumping right back in, catching the bad guys!
TVLINE | Talk about what Camryn Manheim (The Practice) is doing in the first two episodes. She plays the mother of the UnSub, and it turns out she is very protective over her son – her son who happens to be killing women who look like his ex-girlfriend. It’s a two-parter [continuing Oct. 2),and Camryn is just great — it was lovely to have her on our set.
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TVLINE | Esai Morales joins the cast in the fourth episode, “To Bear Witness,” as new section chief Mateo Cruz. Erica Messer told me that with his arrival, we’ll to get some insight into the year JJ was away. Did you ever have questions about what she was up to during that “missing” time? I’ve always gone to the writers asking about who JJ is, so it’s really exciting for me that we’re going to get some answers. Season 9 is really about learning more backstory for all of our characters, and we’ll be doing a lot of that in a flashback format. But yeah, JJ’s getting a little attention because we just don’t know too much about her — and there is this “connection” between her and our new section chief, and that’s going to raise some eyebrows. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Did anything surprise you about what they’re doing with JJ? I am always up for anything. And to be honest with you, I don’t know the full story yet; I’ve only heard the broad strokes and little pieces here and there, but it sounds amazing. But the thing that’s amazing about our 200th episode [airing midseason] in particular is how JJ’s storyline in that sixth season is going to intertwine with pretty much all of our main characters. Our writers are brilliant — the wheels are turning and the sky’s the limit. Rick Dunkle, the writer [for 200], keeps dropping all these crazy hints and it’s killing me! It’s going to be action-packed, and it will be really cool to look back on Season 6 and be like, “Oh my gosh, I remember that. It all makes sense now!”
TVLINE | Regarding these flashbacks, Erica told me that in one episode we’ll see when Garcia first met Hotch. Is anything else concrete in the books? I don’t know all the details, but I think we’re all going to be getting a flashback story. We’re going to be doing a bunch of flashback and dream sequence-type of deals this year.
TVLINE | Are there any questions about other characters you want to see answered? We do a pretty good job with blending the procedural of it all and the character development, but there’s always room for more character stuff. I feel like there are a lot of questions. I feel like Jean[ Tripplehorn]’s character, Blake, we don’t know much about at all.
TVLINE | And before we go, one last tease about Season 9…. Oh, man…. We’re going to see a lot of familiar faces. [Gasps]