Fandom: Criminal Minds
Spoilers: Spoilers to Seasons 2 & 3.
A/N: Emily/JJ has become so very obvious during the past few months, and such an obvious paring deserves a ship manifesto. Big thank you to Shay for her input and suggestions. <3
The Way to a Criminal Is Through His Mind
Criminal Minds is a CBS crime show that premiered in September 2005. The show revolves around the FBI's Behavior Analysis Unit (BAU), a team of profilers whose job is to catch serial killers all over the United States by profiling them.
Ratings-wise the show is a clear winner: it has been one of the best rated shows every Wednesday since its premier. But within critics it is clearly under-appreciated, and this is mostly because people tend to categorise it as a typical procedural. In my opinion, however, Criminal Minds is quite a lot more than that and cannot possibly be straightforwardly categorised. It is not another Law & Order, and it is nothing like CSI, or any other crime show out there for that matter. Criminal Minds is in a category of its own.
Being a sucker for crime shows
The Not-So-Unknown Subjects
Supervisory Special Agent Emily Prentiss joined the team in mid-Season 2. Emily's parents are highbrow diplomats, which made Aaron Hotchner, their team leader, especially doubt her sincerity in terms of joining the BAU. Eventually her name is cleared, however, and she proves herself more than worthy of the team's respect.
It was clear from the beginning that Emily is an incredibly good profiler (it is already evident in "Empty Planet", the episode where Emily first makes an appearance), and that she truly belongs with the BAU. She has an ability to empathise with the victims, to create a connection with them and to make them trust her.
...obviously, we are talking about the live victims here. Ahem.
We know bits and pieces about Emily's background. As was mentioned earlier, her parents are political figures, and most probably due to this Emily has stated, twice, that she loathes politics. For the same reason she seems to be rather well off, living in a rather big flat near the Capital Dome in Washington DC. It is probable that her relationship with her parents is not the best possible: in "Sex, Birth, Death", one of her reasons for hating politics is that it "tears families apart". Also, her interaction with her mother seems rather strained in "Honor Among Thieves".
Emily spent a lot of time in Middle Eastern countries growing up, she went to Yale, and, besides English, speaks at least three languages (Arabic, Spanish, and sort of Russian).
Emily is a self-proclaimed nerd. She also says that, unlike most people, she is good at compartmentalising, which makes it easier for her to deal with the horrors the team faces everyday. At the same time, however, she has more than once wondered what exactly separates them from the killers they try to catch, since they are catching the unsubs (Unknown Subject) by attempting to identify with them.
On a completely shallow note, then, Emily also often dresses in fantastically butchy clothes & accessories (cargo trousers! Army boots! Jeans! James Bond watch!), and her swagger has been known to distract fangirls all over the globe.
The Media Liaison
Unlike the rest of the team, Supervisory Special Agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau is not actually a profiler. Her specialty is media relations, which means she works as a unit liaison – a link between the team and the rest of the world. Her job also entails picking the cases for the team from all files that come to her desk. Despite perhaps feeling like an outsider at times, in "North Mammon" JJ states that becoming a profiler is not something she particularly wants: she likes being the one the families and people can turn to. The team is extremely important to her, however, and she has actually compared it to family.
When the show premiered, JJ's role was pathetically small, but towards the end of Season 1, and especially from Season 2 onwards, her role has become just as essential as the others'. Now she spends more and more time in the field with the rest of the team, and on many occasions she is able to take part in the actual profiling, as she has picked up the basics along the way & has good observational skills.
JJ is not the opposite of Emily only when it comes to looks. Their backgrounds could not be more different: JJ grew up in a small town called East Allegheny in Pennsylvania which, according to her, was "too small for a bowling alley". She was captain of the varsity soccer team in high school and got an athletic scholarship, because that was the only way to college. She hated the small town mentality and simply wanted to get away from it all.
Other small tidbits that we know about her are that she is scared of woods, owns everyone else at darts, used to collect butterflies when she was little, and is a huge fan of the Washington Redskins.
Wardrobe Swapping and Dirty Text Messages
I had a clear theory in my head when I began working on this manifesto and watching through the 2.5 seasons worth of episodes that have aired so far. The way I saw it, the development of the Emily/JJ ship is a nicely straightforward one. What I mean by this, is that things start out slowly but surely, they develop and become more and more obvious, and eventually culminate to the femslashy magnificence that is most of Season 3.
I am happy to say that, as the following will hopefully prove to you as well, I was not too far off from the truth.
Bring on the Femslashy Goodness, I Say
Season 1 is, understandably, a femslash light season. JJ's role being fairly small and Emily's absence are obvious drawbacks, and we need to wait till halfway Season 2 before things start heating up.
It is obvious from the moment Emily joins the team that sparks are flying. In "Lessons Learned" (Emily's first real episode with the team) JJ says, smiling brightly, that she has been briefing her on protocol, thus it is clear they get along well. Also, in general, the two have never fought or bickered in any way; there seems to be a mutual respect and understanding between them.
"Sex, Birth, Death" (two episodes later) establishes a characteristic of the Emily/JJ relationship I like to call 'the eyeshag factor'. The more you pay attention to their communication and interaction, the more you realise the constant eye contact between them. The eye-shagging becomes more and more overt by the episode, and by mid-Season 3 it reaches the 'we could just as well be having sex right now' stage.
While the chemistry between Emily and JJ is definitely detectable right after Emily's first appearance, it is not until "Revelations" that we get our first glimpse at the obviousness of this paring.
JJ and Reid get separated while chasing down an unsub on the grounds of a remote farm, resulting in the kidnapping of Reid and JJ needing to gun down a pack of vicious dogs. When eventually the rest of the team arrive, Emily and Derek Morgan (one of the profilers) find JJ in a state of shock.
Emily is immediately by her side, her hands reaching for the blonde, but not quite touching. And when they need to ask JJ about Reid and his whereabouts, Emily is the only one who can get through to her:
Morgan: JJ, where's Reid?
JJ: [not listening] [The dogs] just completely tore her apart. There's nothing even left-
Emily: JJ, look at me. Look at me.
[JJ finally turns to Emily]
In it simplicity, this moment is loaded with femslashy subtext: JJ is able to break through her state of shock only when she hears Emily's voice and looks her in the eye.
The femslashiness of the episode culminates in a scene where JJ is angsting alone in the room when Emily shows up (JJ's hips are canted in a very sexy manner as she leans over a sink; how Emily is even able to form coherent sentences is beyond me). Emily seems to know exactly how to handle the other woman, and the look in her eyes is nothing short of gentle. She also seems to be a person JJ feels she can talk to:
JJ: Emily. [Emily turns back] How come none of this gets to you?
Emily: What do you mean?
JJ: [in wonder] You came off a desk job. Now suddenly you're...in the field surrounded by mutilated bodies and...you don't even flinch.
Not only are JJ's eyes roaming all over Emily and giving a whole new meaning to "eye shag", but she actually calls Emily by her first name. Up to that point, no one has done that, since most of the time the team refer to her as 'Prentiss'. Also, since then only Reid has used Emily's first name, and even that was not to her face.
The name detail might not be so significant if it did not work the other way around as well: in the entire two-and-a-half-season-long run of Criminal Minds, no one has referred to the media liaison by her first name only. No one but Emily, that is. In the Season 3 episode "Scared to Death" Emily slips and suddenly introduces JJ as simply 'Jennifer'.
Emily has a history of such, somewhat revealing, slips. In "Jones" the two women are interrogating a man who supposedly raped a woman in the past. When he denies everything and claims he does not have a clue what they are talking about, Emily says something interesting:
Emily: Someone accuses me of rape, I'm gonna remember her name.
Yes, it could simply be a figure of speech, but to me it sounds more like a Freudian slip. And a rather obvious slip at that, too.
The events of "Revelations" seem to do the trick, since the interaction between Emily & JJ at least doubles. In "Fear and Loathing", during a profile briefing, JJ suddenly receives a text message. She reads it, glances at Emily (who is behind a pillar, so we cannot actually see her face) and stands up, smiling. Sending dirty text messages during briefings, Emily?
Similarly, "Distress" could just as well be called "Can't Take My Eyes off You: the Emily/JJ eye shag fest", while "Open Season" has JJ overtly WINKING at Emily in a bar – and not to mention JJ's keen interest in Emily's family stories when everyone else seems to be ignoring her completely. Also, in "No Way Out, Part II" Emily continues with the innuendoes:
[after a woman asks her whether it is wrong to love a serial killer]
Emily: [unhesitatingly] You don't choose who you fall in love with.
I would give my right arm to see JJ's reaction shot to that as she is standing right next to her. In any case, Season 2 wraps up with an extremely nice promise of what is yet to come.
It's Canon, Baby!
Season 3 is the season of the gay. It is a season that has shed all doubts of the relationship between Emily and JJ being anything but the femslashy, lesbian type. And this trend kicks off right away in the season premier.
Although "Doubt" was actually filmed during Season 2, it works perfectly as the Season 3 premier when it comes to the Emily/JJ ship. The utter lack of personal space, as well as the frequent eye shagging, continue, and we get another carefully worded hint of exactly what team the two play for:
[walking extremely close together on a college campus; seriously, they could be holding hands]
Emily: It's a weird age. You wanna be treated like an adult, but you're still used to someone else solving your problems for you.
JJ: [glancing at Emily, chuckling] All I remember is trying to figure out who I was.
In other words: "In college I had a torrid love affair with my female roommate and I've been a skirt chaser ever since." Emily probably gets the drill, since she looks downright jealous when a female student suddenly hugs JJ after the blonde has admitted that they have someone in custody.
In "Birth and Death" the team is severely splintered as Hotch applies for a transfer, Gideon (another profiler) simply takes off, and Emily resigns. When, eventually, Hotch and Emily go and rejoin the remaining three members, Emily's eyes are only on JJ – and vice versa. And they grin like idiots.
The same episode ends with Emily being hit around the head with a plank of wood, causing a small head wound. When the team rushes in to save her, JJ is at Emily's side, asking if she is okay. It looks like she wants to touch Emily, her hand reaching towards her, but eventually she decides only to brush her arm. I bet she figured she would just wait until they got home in order to properly console the other woman.
There are three special cases of Criminal Minds, a sort of a holy trinity of Emily/JJ episodes. "Revelations", especially with its overt eye sex, is the first corner of the triangle, the second being "Children of the Dark". This is also an episode that—in my mind—carries the name of "Emily & JJ Come to the Conclusion That They Will Have Kids".
Not only do the women spent almost the entire episode together, but this episode also brings the femslash between them on a whole new level. It is 40 minutes of eye shagging, invading the other's personal space, and pure flirting.
But the reason why Emily/JJ is so canon after this episode takes place in the end. Emily bonds with a girl, Carrie, who survived a violent attack by the unsubs – an attack which also left her an orphan. When, on the way home, Emily angsts about Carrie going to live with her distant relatives, JJ suddenly makes an appearance and sits opposite her:
[suspiciously romantic piano/violin music starts playing]
JJ: [quietly] Are you okay?
Emily: [not very convincingly] Yeah.
[long pause & eye shagging]
JJ: They're good people. Carrie's family.
Emily: Good. [more eye shagging] I'm glad.
JJ: [totally flirting] I think it's a good idea, though.
Emily: What's that?
JJ: [softly] You...kids...I can see it.
Emily: [uncertain smile] Yeah?
JJ: *nods in a very flirty way*
[Emily smiles & THE eye shag off all eye shags takes place]
If this was not a primetime show on American network television, JJ's line would have been "You...me...kids." There is no way that dialogue and the flirty looks can be misinterpreted; and they could just as well be having sex in the middle of the plane, the eye shagging is so, very obvious.
As if the episode was not femslashtastic as it is, there is yet another intriguing—and completely gay—attribute of the Emily/JJ ship that becomes apparent: wardrobe swapping. Yes, Emily & JJ visit each other's wardrobe on a regular basis, it seems.
Emily sports a nice, purple shirt in "No Way Out, Part II", the same shirt JJ can be seen wearing in "Children of the Dark". But it does not end there. Emily's green shirt from "Doubt" is on JJ in "Lucky", and Emily is obviously wearing JJ's jacket in "Birthright", because it looks way too small on her, and JJ is wearing it herself in the very same episode.
One can wonder what happened to JJ's own shirts and Emily's jacket. Or, why exactly JJ happened to be at Emily's place in the morning when she needed to get dressed in the first place.
It Is All about the Touching
After "Children in the Dark" the interaction between the two women seems to be more familiar, more intimate. Emily touches JJ more (usually rather unnecessarily), like for instance in "Seven Seconds", and in group scenes their eyes find each other's on regular intervals, "About Face" being a lovely example of the latter. It is worth noting that the profilers very rarely touch each other, so the fact that Emily's hands seem to constantly be on JJ speaks volumes.
Emily also becomes more protective of JJ, and the beginning of this trend can clearly be detected in "Lucky": the team raid the unsub's house, but at first nothing can be found. When a noise can be heard coming from the basement, Emily & JJ—who had been standing in the kitchen—join the rest of the team at the end of a hallway. But although it is JJ who is closer to the doorway and in all probability should come down the corridor first, it is actually Emily who leads the way, JJ trailing close behind her.
Emily's protectiveness continues in "Penelope", an episode that brings a whole new dimension to the already obvious femslash content. "Penelope" is also the third episode of the holy trinity, because if someone still had any doubts before this, after seeing "Penelope" those doubts most certainly flew out the window.
Garcia, their computer tech, is shot in the beginning and whisked off to a hospital. JJ and Hotch find out first and are the first ones in the hospital waiting area, soon followed by Reid. But while JJ has pretty much been fretting and keeping to herself, the moment Emily arrives, her demeanour changes: JJ does not even pay attention to Rossi who arrived with Emily, but her eyes dart to the other woman, and the two are next to each other in an instant.
A little while later one of the most revealing moments between Emily and JJ takes place. JJ is sitting in the hallway, deep in thought and a look of sadness on her face. Suddenly we learn that Emily sits beside her. She studies JJ's profile for a moment, clearly knowing exactly what the other woman is going through, and then she does the one thing that, in my mind, cements Emily/JJ as canon: Emily takes JJ's hand.
And a collective squee of the fangirls could be heard around the world.
For me, probably the best thing about the hand holding is its effortlessness: Emily takes JJ's hand like it is the most natural thing in the world, and JJ's hand grabs Emily's in a way that gives the impression that she has done it countless times before. And we all know she has. I mean, please.
Due to the WGA writers' strike only twelve episodes of Season 3 has been filmed so far. This obviously means that some storylines were left hanging, and that the season ended rather abruptly (there is only one episode left as this manifesto is being written). But, in terms of Emily & JJ, the show’s ending did not disappoint.
While "True Night", the episode immediately following "Penelope", does not have many Emily/JJ scenes (besides JJ being distracted by Emily's sexy strut past her desk), "Birthright" brings on the subtext again.
Besides the usual way-longer-than-necessary eye contact and wearing each other's clothes, we get physical contact which is nothing short of intimate: when JJ turns down the invitation to go for drinks with the rest of the team, Emily walks to her, puts a hand on her shoulder and rubs her arm in a loving manner while going "awww". And JJ acknowledges the gesture by almost leaning to it.
The interesting thing is that Emily is the only one who expresses her disappointment and actually physically touches JJ; the others do not even seem to care. I bet Emily will make it all up to her later on.
After wading through all the episodes and analysing them to the best of my ability, I was extremely delighted to realise that my theory actually holds. The relationship between Emily and JJ starts building up slowly (just as any relationship, really), like such episodes as "Revelations" and "Open Season" demonstrate, but the pace soon speeds up.
By the beginning of Season 3, their relationship seems, if not established, then clearly on its way to that. Such flirting, longing looks and physical contact take place during the first half of the season that you would have to be blind not to see it.
Eye shagging, no personal space, unnecessary touching, pure flirting... It is all femslash 101 – no matter what way you look at it.
Immerse Yourself into the Fandom
A Few Ficrecs
Bend and Not Break by theclosetalker
Like This Insubstantial Pageant Faded by fewthistle
Plane Whispers by purplebrat
Predilection by Harper
Sorrow Is an Enemy by fewthistle
Target Practice by LeeT911
Three Things Jennifer Jareau Knew She Shouldnt Do by fewthistle
The Heart Knows by atfm
Videos & Art
All For Believing by lysachan (shameless self-promotion, but what can you do when there are practically no vids out there?)
Nobody Knows It by ohsoleil
Unbound by freya86
Wallpapers by Shaych
cm_femslash - Criminal Minds Femslash community
criminalxminds - A General Criminal Minds community
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