A.J. Cook, Esai Morales
Erica Messer wants to set the record straight: JJ and Cruz are not having an affair on Criminal Minds.
"I'll say it again: They did not and are not having an affair," the showrunner tells TVGuide.com. "It only seems like they are."
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And don't JJ (A.J. Cook) and Cruz (Esai Morales) know it — the former especially. On Wednesday's episode (9/8c, CBS), Cruz returns to the show for the first time since he was suddenly named BAU Section Chief last month much to the shock of JJ, with whom he worked at the State Department on a top-secret case. As seen in the exclusive clip below, JJ makes it clear that she wants to tell the rest of the team about their history, lest rumors abound.
"She's so paranoid," Messer says. "She doesn't want them thinking they're having an affair. Rossi [Joe Mantegna] already noticed and Garcia [Kristen Vangsness] gives them a look here. ... And he's just like, 'Who thinks that?' But ultimately he tells her she knows they can't, and they don't say anything. But for anybody who's worried JJ's having an affair with him, they clear that up at the beginning of the episode."
But don't think JJ will be avoiding Cruz to quiet the chatter. The two will actually pair up for the case, which takes the team to Virginia after skeletons are found in the backyard of a home. And it won't be as awkward as you'd think. "They actually work together really well," Messer says. "The episode itself is structured to do a lot of interrogation because there are three suspects and they work together interrogating one of the suspects. They're good in a professional way. There's nothing weird there. It's one of those things where if they're focused on something, in this case work, the elephant in the room is far from their minds."
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That's because at the forefront is not only the case, but a potentially shocking revelation from Rossi. The case turns into a study of race relations in the South back in the '60s, leading Rossi to cop to actions he now regrets.
"It's a really interesting play on racial relations in past and present," Messer says. "Joe was so on board with it. He showed that Rossi is flawed. He basically says, 'I did things I'm not proud of when I was young and I've changed. I don't think that behavior's OK now, but when you're a kid, you make mistakes and you do dumb things and you go along with the crowd and I did all of that.' And you wonder for a minute, 'Did he really do these things?' And you don't know for sure. The team doesn't know. Morgan even asks and Rossi says, 'We've got to get into [the suspect's] head, so I'm playing him.' But it's answered at the end of the episode if he did it or not."
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What's not answered though is exactly what went on between JJ and Cruz at the State Department. That will come in the 200th episode, which will also be the next time viewers see Cruz again, and when Prentiss (Paget Brewster) returns to help locate JJ, who will get abducted in the previous episode.
"It's all hands on deck and they have to figure out why she's missing," Messer says. So will Cruz finally come clean about their past then? "That's classified! Let's just say the team gets to figure out that missing year of JJ's career."
Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)