The season finale of Criminal Minds ended on a humdinger of a cliffhanger when not one, but TWO SVUs carrying several BAU team members got caught in a deadly trap involving an 18-wheeler smashing into the cars before the episode cut to black, leaving the fate of several characters in limbo.
However, it might not be story that dictates who survived the crash, but... money.
Actors Joe Mantegna and Matthew Gray Gubler have signed deals to return for Season 13, reports Deadline, meaning we'll be seeing Rossi (Mantegna) crawl from the wreckage to take down more bad guys and Reid (Gubler), who was not in either car, hopefully reinstated to the BAU after his prison stint. But A.J. Cook, who plays Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, has not yet signed a deal, meaning JJ could be a casualty of Scratch's nefarious plans.
Cook and Kirsten Vangsness, who plays tech wiz Penelope Garcia (who was not in one of the SUVs), are holding out on signing new deals and requesting equal pay with their male counterparts, Mantegna and Gubler, according to Deadline. If this sounds like a repeat from 2013, it's because Cook and Vangsness took a similar stand when trying to renegotiate deals back then. But Deadline says the two actresses are more than willing to walk away this time if they aren't given parity with their co-stars.
However, Criminal Minds showrunner Erica Messer told TVGuide.com earlier this month, "We've certainly started seasons before with actors' deals not done, but they were always in a good faith negotiation place, which I feel like is happening this year as well."
Criminal Minds has a history of difficult contract negotiations. In 2010, producer ABC Studios engaged in some questionable behavior when the studio fired Cook and reduced the episode count of Paget Brewster, who later chose to leave. After outcry from fans and perhaps a little understanding of common sense, the two actresses were brought back on the show full time.
Criminal Minds returns for Season 13 this fall.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)