Lynette Rice
April 18, 2018 at 10:00 PM EDT

Spoiler alert! Don’t read this unless you’ve watched Wednesday’s season finale of Criminal Minds.

In tonight’s episode, an FBI agent who’s really a member of a serial killer cult threatens to kidnap Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) if the BAU doesn’t release her creepy leader. Considering how CBS has yet to say whether it wants a 14th season of Criminal Minds, it was a pretty optimistic move by Executive Producer Erica Messer to end the drama with a cliffhanger. So we asked her why!

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: A cult with serial killers! Where did you get this idea?
ERICA MESSER: I know! It’s crazy-town. We knew we wanted to take it to an unexpected place. The idea of a cult is something that’s been done before, but the idea of a specific cult of people who are not only willing to kill but might actually have joy in doing it felt very unique to Criminal Minds, especially in terms of a 300th episode, which we are heading into. We got excited and decided that would be a tease at the end of episode 299, so in 300 we could really run with the why now of it all.

300 episodes! It seems wrong not to renew Criminal Minds when it’s about to celebrate such a huge milestone.
Exactly! That’s how I feel.

Michael Yarish/CBS

You must have felt confident enough about a renewal because you ended with a cliffhanger.
I feel that we have been such a good show for CBS for so long, and we have such a loyal fan base who has been with us through ups and downs. It would almost be a crime to not allow us to finish out our show. That’s how strongly I feel, they wouldn’t let us just go off and into the sunset like that. I’m profiling CBS to say I don’t think they would be that cruel. [Laughs]

Well, Criminal Minds hasn’t received an early pickup for years now.
It’s been years and years of that, actually. [Earlier Wednesday, CBS announced the renewal of 11 series]. The last time we got the early order was going into season 8. It’s been for different reasons over the years. Sometimes there are a lot of actors who are up for renegotiation. Sometimes there are issues between ABC and CBS studios as partners in the production of the show. This time we have our actors ready to go and our producers and writers are all lined up. I’m sure CBS has many reasons why they are holding back on a pickup. It’s business.

So you haven’t received any indication of a 14th season?
Zero. It’s so funny. After 13 years of being on one show, people assume I have a stress-free May. And I say, oh no. We wrapped March 28. I won’t know until they are in New York. That’s when I get the call.

Michael Yarish/CBS

At this point, would you consider adding anyone for a new season if the show were renewed for a 14th season?
No, I think we’re doing great. We added Daniel Henney last year. We are at a really good place right now. A nice, diverse cast. Half women, half men. This is a really great group. I would love to see it stay as is.

If you have a 300th episode, will it be a one-hour or something longer?
I was planning on a one-hour to kick off the year unless they told me otherwise. I really want it to be a big reward for all of us who have been loving this show for 300 episodes. I feel hopeful. The thing is, it’s not like I’m sitting here saying, “We’ve run out of stories! We’re plum out, got nothing else to tell.” It’s not true! We can keep on going.

Want to know what other shows are on the bubble? Click here to read our annual Deathwatch roundup.

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