Is Jennifer “JJ” Jareau Dead? Is A.J. Cook Leaving Criminal Minds: Evolution?

Image Credit: Michael Yarish/Paramount+

Portrayed by A.J. Cook, Jennifer “JJ” Jareau is an important character in Criminal Minds’ and the continuation series ‘Criminal Minds: Evolution,’ which effectively serves as the 16th season of the main show. JJ is a Supervisory Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. Previously, she was a liaison officer with the local police and media. If the events of episode 5 have made you think about whether JJ is dead and Cook is leaving ‘Criminal Minds: Evolution,’ here is what you need to know. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Is Jennifer “JJ” Jareau Dead?

With episode 5 serving as the mid-season finale before Criminal Minds: Evolution’ goes on the holiday hiatus, certain aspects of the narrative were developed in such a way that they come to a tipping point in this episode. We are told that JJ’s husband, Will, may have cancer in the previous episode, making us wonder whether Josh Stewart is leaving the show. However, in episode 5, he is diagnosed with a simple case of an inflamed thyroid. Afterward, JJ and Will promise that they will let each other know about their respective problems. Given JJ’s profession, this scene fills us with trepidation about what lies ahead for the character.

In episode 5, the BAU investigates the death of several female government employees. The killer, Benjamin Reeves, is revealed to be suffering from Oedipal Complex. As a result, he dresses up his victim like his mother, US Senator Martha Reeves.

Image Credit: Michael Yarish/Paramount+

When the BAU arrests Benjamin, he claims that he is Sicarius, but with Tyler’s help, the BAU figures out that Benjamin isn’t Sicarius but the one paying the more experienced serial killer to learn his methods. Benjamin also mentions the existence of a second shipping container in Whitfield, Georgia, filled with the bodies of Sicarius’ victims.

The first container is discovered in the season premiere, which sets off the plot for the season. After Benjamin murders his mother and goes into hiding with Elias Voit, the authorities track down the container. Before JJ goes in there, she tries to call Will, but it goes straight to voicemail, filling us with even more sense of dread. When JJ and Luke Alvez walk into the container, they discover it’s a trap. They try to get out, but there is an explosion, and their bodycams go dark.

Is A.J. Cook Leaving Criminal Minds: Evolution?

Even though the narrative of this episode makes it seem that the writers are setting up JJ’s death, she is most probably alive. Showrunner Erica Messer and her team are not likely to kill off one of the main characters of the series this early in the revival, especially with Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Matt Simmons (Daniel Henney) not being part of the cast.

Cook stated in various interviews that she considered not reprising her role after learning that Gubler would not be in the show. But as she agreed to be part of the revival series, it’s highly unlikely that she would leave it this early.

Cook’s real-life children play JJ’s children in the show. The actress revealed to Collider that she directed one of the episodes of ‘Criminal Minds: Evolution.’

“I love directing so much,” Cook stated. “To be there from the ground up, building what the thing is gonna look like, is pretty exciting. They usually try to write us pretty light in the episodes that we direct, but this season, there’s only 10 episodes, so they can’t really write one of us out for a full episode. This year was a little more challenging, in that there’s a pretty strong JJ storyline in the episode that I directed. I hadn’t had to act and direct, at the same time, that much before, so that was a bit of a challenge. But you surround yourself with really good people around the monitor, and you’re like, ‘Did that work? I don’t know. I can’t watch it.’ It takes a village. It was definitely a little more challenging this time around, just because I had to wear multiple hats and still make the day.

Given that the episode Cook was speaking about here hasn’t aired yet, it is pretty safe to assume that JJ is alive. Otherwise, Cook wouldn’t have that many reasons to direct herself.

Read More: Is Luke Alvez Dead? Is Adam Rodriguez Leaving Criminal Minds: Evolution?

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