[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode ofCriminal Minds. Read at your own risk.]
JJ is MIA.
In the final minutes of Wednesday's Criminal Minds, JJ (A.J. Cook), who had been distracted and furiously texting Cruz (Esai Morales) all episode, gets kidnapped by a mysterious perpetrator unbeknownst (for now) to the rest of the BAU.
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"That's something I've had in my head for a year, actually: Somebody's being dragged into a room and put in handcuffs and you don't know who it is," executive producer Erica Messer tells TVGuide.com. "The hood comes off and it's JJ. I knew I wanted her to be the victim. Now it's how do we find her? Why was she taken? All those questions will be answered in the 200th."
The abduction not only cues up JJ's rescue in the 200th episode (Wednesday, Feb. 5, 9/8c, CBS), but it will finally reveal what happened between JJ and Cruz during her year in the State Department in Season 6 when they worked on a classified and very dangerous case. The mission involved the late Strauss (Jayne Atkinson), who appears in flashbacks in the milestone episode, and guest star Tahmoh Penikett as their co-worker Michael Hastings. Naturally, her kidnapping and Cruz's sudden promotion to BAU section chief earlier this season are related to said mission.
"The 200th is about filling in the blanks. She's gone and no one knows anything and they have to figure it out, and it all slowly reveals itself," Cook says. "It starts with Will [JoshStewart] coming in with Henry saying, 'Something's wrong.' The interesting thing here is Will doesn't really know anything either. JJ has so many secrets and they've been eating her up. It all comes to a head here. The one thing she did tell Will was, 'If something ever happens to me, ask Cruz. Because he'll know.' So he goes to do that ... but there's a problem."
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Because of that, the BAU will call in reinforcements in the form of Prentiss (Paget Brewster), who knows a tad bit more about JJ's past than the rest of the team. "For me, one of the best parts was having Paget come back and and seeing her beautiful face every day. It's going to be so exciting for the fans to see that too. She and I have a few great scenes together," Cook says. "You learn that they talk and they are true friends. ... JJ revealed a little more to her while JJ was getting her to safety after Doyle and that whole thing. It's really cool to see the inner workings. The writers did a really great job putting this huge jigsaw puzzle together."
Cook says she was "thrilled" when she heard the whole story line and believes that fans will be equally as satisfied with the reveal, as it will flesh out JJ's character and background. Viewers, she acknowledges, were a little thrown when JJ returned in Season 7 as a tough profiler with a mean roundhouse kick in her arsenal.
"This story is about showing how she became that person," Cook says. "It's interesting to see old JJ and the evolution of where she is now. After these two episodes, she's going to yet again be different. You can't go through this and be the same."
Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)