Thursday, 12 March 2009

"Criminal Minds" Subtext Season 3, No.12, a-k

This is where subtext fails. Not because of the re-introduction of Will, because damnit if not each and every one of JJ and Will’s interactions held JJ/Emily subtext. No, but because of the unequal nature of same-sex relationships in relation to straight ones. Subtext and homosexual undertones might be burning so bright it’s a little blinding, but unfortunately heterosexuality will always trump it (in today’s mainstream media). Heterosexuality does not need a leading up to, it does not need to show compassion, it’s supposed to steamroll over any possible ambiguity with explicit representations of “intimacy”, and this type of visual confirmation is supposed to be absolute truth. And there’s no way to fight back, because a same-sex couple isn’t allowed to engage in the same activities on prime time (unless it’s a supporting character, then only extremely rarely). The story of the episode (In Heat) is the reality of media made into fiction and personalised through one character. The gayness is there and is allowed to work as plot, but he can’t allow himself to kiss or engage in any romantic activities with men other than brief touching. It’s an acknowledgement and a refusal to act all wrapped into one. One hand caressing, the other slapping, very conflicting messages about alternative sexualities.

Heterosexuality is like imperialism, it comes bearing a flag, plants it with no regard to the natives or their history, and we are then supposed to accept it. What do we know about Will other than JJ doesn’t like to take a shower with him? Nothing, no hints, no indications, no nothing. I’m supposed to forget all the hints, all the subtext just because I’m given a boy/girl make-out session? It doesn’t work that way, but what it does is to bring some harsh truths into the light of day.

Romantic subtext and ambiguity would be a truly glorious thing if it weren’t for the basic inequalities between gays and straights. It’s like a race between Michael Phelps and a dwarf missing two limbs, it’s just not fair. I really wish the world was equal already so I wouldn’t have to be reminded of the inequalities and could just enjoy my subtext in peace.

Rant finished, I shall move on to the bountiful subtext moments of this episode.


No.12) Episode 3x17 In Heat
Will, a police officer from New Orleans who showed an interest in JJ when their paths crossed in season 2, appears once again. It is also quickly revealed that he and JJ have been in a “secret” relationship for quite some time. Throughout the episode JJ refuses to acknowledge their relationship to the team and looks all around uncomfortable. However one has to wonder if she is not struggling with more than her relationship with Will.

Here’s the list of moments;

12.a) The look on Emily’s face as Will shakes JJ’s hand. It looked like she stopped breathing for a sec. Your reasons for why are as good as mine.

[Emily spots Will]

12.b) Asked whether or not the team knows Will, JJ quickly replies, “Professionally”. And for some reason adds a nod towards Emily.

12.c) After having met up with Will and when the team are on their way inside, Emily is the first one in and up the stairs. Quickly removing herself from Will and JJ’s presence.

12.d) When Will briefly touches her at a crime scene JJ snaps, “Don’t!” And looks around her paranoid someone saw it.

12.e) In one scene Emily brings JJ a bottle of water. They complain about the heat and do the small talk thing. Emily makes a comment about Will being pleasant on the eyes. JJ looks completely stunned and incredulous.

[Lets do a little compare and contrast.]

[Above; JJ's reaction shot to Emily's comment about Will being good looking]

[This on the other hand is the way she looks at Emily]

[And just to drive the point home]

12.f) Not directly related to JJ or Emily, but well worth mentioning. Will’s friend who had just been killed, turned out to be homosexual but was so deeply closeted he had a fiancée. Will then asks Hotchner; “How did I not know Charlie was gay?” Who replies; “Because he didn’t want you to know”.

Appearance is not everything. You can live a het-life, but still be gay. The lengths to which some go in order to cover up their sexuality and true feelings are amazing.

12.g) JJ and Will argue about her not wanting the team/her friends know about Will. He says; “It doesn’t take a profiler to see who’s got one foot out the door in this relationship”. And when he continues pushing her, asking what she wants, she breaks up with him.

12.h) Right after having broken up with her boyfriend JJ finds Hotchner and delivers this insight into the gay unsubs mentality; “What if he let his guard down because he could finally be who he was. No judgements, no fear...What if the unsub is seeing freedom in his victims that he wishes he had for himself”.

12.i) After JJ’s said goodbye to Will and is ready to let him walk away Emily pops up at her side. What does she do if not tell JJ; “You should go for him”. A piece of horribly misguided advice that JJ takes. – Emily what have you done?!

12.j) JJ’s line; “When it becomes real people get hurt”. This from the woman who appeared to have no problems subtextually flirting with Emily, but as soon as Emily acknowledged her, she began to pull away.

12.k) At the end of the episode where we get a JJ/Will liplock, Emily, Morgan and Reid watch them. In a somewhat chipper tone Emily says; “I thought she was never going to admit it”. The cheerful tone somewhat contradictory with the look on her face and the fact that she can’t wait to get away from there. Reid and Morgan have no problems watching the kiss, Emily on the other hand walks away while they’re still talking to her.

[Excuse the fuzzy caps, but Emily's reaction to the kiss. Look at Spencer and Morgan's reactions as well]


As for whether or not this is the death of subtext on the show? Who knows, but what I do know is that it’s just been bumped from sweet fun care-free subtext into a tragic love story of missed opportunities. As the angst fan I am, I couldn’t be more pleased. I’ve enjoyed watching the subtext between JJ/Emily, but not until this moment have I actually shipped them. I most definitely do now.


(enhanced screencaps from Oracle of Quantico)


  1. I think ur reading waaaaaaay too much into the emily and jj thing. if bsomething was going on wouldn't it come to light by now? stop looking for something thata isn't there.

  2. Some of that actually can actually just be JJ not wanting to tell people about her and Will's relationship, bit there is a bit of subtext there. But whhat about the Reid/Morgan?

  3. You are so right. The subtext begins after Emily's first case and continues today (though has been severely lacking in season 5).

  4. yes i do agree it is just hard to thing the cuetset guys on the team have a thing but when reid was kidnaped by debaus and he was torching reid morgan said "i'll put his head on a stick" i mean i have friends but i woulde'nt put someone head on a stick and with the list when will is all angrey about jj he says emily am crazy about her she said dont

  5. There's no subtext here at're really reaching here. The whole JJ moments were her trying to keep her relationship with Will a secret because she wasn't ready to out them as a couple yet. Prentiss is essentially her best friend who's a girl. (I'd say Reid is the closest person to her)

    And to the other person suggesting Reid and Morgan: no subtext there either. Morgan is overprotective of his entire team. When Reid, Garcia, Hotch, and Prentiss were hurt, he reacted the way "Morgan" reacts. Even with Elle, when they found out she was shot in season 2, Morgan turned the car around - no hesitation. Not because he wants to make out with her. It's because she's important to him just like everyone else