Criminal Minds‘ 200th episode officially got underway this Wednesday night, during the final seconds of No. 199.
As an otherwise typical episode (about a vigilante killer as well as Rossi’s reunion with his former Marine Sergeant) came to a close, JJ’s after-work walk was cut short when a gloved hand grabbed her from behind, muffling her scream, while her cell phone tumbled to the pavement.
As previously reported, the CBS crime drama’s milestone episode (airing Feb. 5) will, among other things, shed light on Jareau’s time at the State Department, which took place off-camera during Season 6. “The person who has her captive is someone that she met three years ago when she was on assignment,” showrunner Erica Messer previews.
One distinct aspect of Episode 200 is that it puts JJ (played by A.J. Cook) in great and harrowing jeopardy, as much an UnSub’s helpless victim as the usual guest star.
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“The people who have her are known for horrible torture techniques, so the threat is there, that something could happen to our sweet JJ,” says Messer. As such, “It was really interesting to watch one of our main characters have to do something that our guest cast does every week, which is scream and cry and be tortured. And so disheartening. To ask one of our heroes to do that was, I think, very uncomfortable for us to watch.”
Episode 200 also, and starting almost immediately once it begins, will flash back to JJ’s time away from the BAU, offering insight into her abductor’s origins and agenda. That narrative device affords opportunity for Paget Brewster to reprise her role as Prentiss in new flashbacks — yet she also resurfaces in the present timeline, so dire is the threat to one of the BAU’s own.
“I believe Hotch’s line is, ‘Let’s call in reinforcements,'” Messer shares, “and then you cut to London, England and this amazing office, and Prentiss is there in charge, like the queen looking over her domain. It’s pretty great. She’s a driving force in the episode.”
Guest stars for the episode include, as reported by TVLine, Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse) and Farah Tahir (Warehouse 13, Dallas).
When TVLine spoke with Messer, she had just turned in the producers’ cut of the landmark hour, which she says plays every bit like the special installment it should be. “It looks like a movie,” she raved. “The production values are insane.”