'Criminal Minds' season 12 episode 2 spoilers: JJ struggles with the case; Thomas Gibson's last appearance as Hotch

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This week’s episode of “Criminal Minds” will prove to be a monumental one. Aside from Thomas Gibson’s last outing as Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner, A.J. Cook’s JJ gets stuck in the middle when she struggles to deal with the case at hand for the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU).

Apparently, even after years and years of working for the BAU, JJ still has a hard time dealing with some predicaments. Titled “Sick Day,” the mother of two breaks down upon taking the case of two kids that were abducted and it seems that her maternal instincts have had her contemplating on the matter more seriously.

In a short clip from the episode, husband Will, played by Josh Stewart, tries consoling her and offers to have a conversation so she can let it out. But clearly, the communications liaison officer turned supervisory special agent is fumbling in getting the trauma out of her system. In some promo stills for the same installment, it appears that the team went on a bit of an action binge with JJ, together with Adam Rodriguez’s SSA in training Luke Alvez, trying to enter a burning building. The chapter appears to also mark the return of Paget Brewster’s Emily Prentiss.

In the bigger scope of things, it turns out that Hotch’s replacement will not be someone from the existing BAU squad. Instead, the newest recruit in Special Agent Stephen Walker, played by Damon Gupton, is seemingly groomed to take the unit head spot. However, since the seasoned profiler will don the FBI offices starting only in episode 8, it will be interesting to see how the team works without Hotch from episodes 3 to 7 until they eventually settle down with a new leader.

So many shake-ups have been going on in the long-running police procedural just in a span of a few months starting with veteran cast member Shemar Moore, who played Derek Morgan, exiting the series earlier this year. It was then followed by the addition of Rodriguez, the firing of Gibson, the return of Brewster, and finally Gupton’s arrival.

In the premiere episode of the show’s latest outing, Hotch was still very much involved in the action especially with his shared history with now fugitive, Mr. Scratch, played by Bodhi Elfman. But as previously reported, Gibson’s exit will be executed with a supposed special assignment for the veteran profiler until it is executed that he has decided to leave the job to attend some family issues.

In retrospect, the same scheme was also pulled off by “Criminal Minds” when Mandy Patinkin suddenly decided to discontinue appearing on the show. The reason may have been addressed properly on the onset of the absence of his character, Gideon, but his arc was still later delved deeper into until it was revealed that he had died.

“Criminal Minds” season 12 airs every Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET on CBS