Sunday, March 16, 2014

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 9 - 917. Persuasion - Review

In this episode of Criminal Minds we have dead people in Vegas, and Reid learns that his mom is doing better under some new medications.

'Persuasion' was written by Sharon Lee Watson, from whom I loved the season 9 episode 'Final Shot'. In this episode the writer went for intentionally misleading us when it came to who was the unsub. First there was the self-proclaimed 'Master of Diversion' Marvin Caul, who lived in an underground refuge for the homeless and those down on their luck. Helping him is Cesar, who is kind of the enforcer among the group, and the mysterious doctor Cesar works for. Watson tries to make us guess who the unsub is, but it never really works out because they spend way too much time on Marvin. We know, from past tendencies that the writers usually show us way too much of the unsub right from the beginning, so when we have lots of one guest character there it is a VERY good chance he/she will be the unsub.

Last, we have Finn, a young guy who seems to be a drifter, but who will turn out to be looking for his missing sister.

So, the team goes to Vegas to find out what happened to the two women found in the desert, what was weird about those deaths is that both died from drowning when the closest body of water is 60 miles away!

On the plane Reid leaves a message for his mother about meeting her and having chicken fried lobster (?). Love the close up on Reid's face as he is turning his back on the team and we can see Hotch shoot him a very impatient look.

Side note: Loved the scene with Rossi and Morgan at the dinner talking to the waitress. What I most liked about it is that the place looked real and the people there, including the waitress, really looked like everyday folks.

Reid talks to his mom's psychiatrist, who tells him she is doing much better under some new medications. Weird that Reid was surprised to know his mom had new medications. I would have thought that he would be kept apprised of any changes in his mom's medications. Even more weird is that Reid was not told that Diana went on a supervised field trip to the Grand Canyon. I have always assumed that Reid was responsible for his mother and as such made the decisions for her, after all he is her guardian, and the one who had her committed. Of course things could have changed and since things are better with Diana, maybe things like field trips do not need to be approved by Diana's legal guardian .

As far as profiling goes, this was thin, unlike 'Final Shot' which was second only to Jim Clemente's, - ex-FBI profiler, - episode 'Gabby'. The only piece of real profiling came from Morgan telling Rossi that no one goes to Vegas to be a strip miner, and Reid choosing how to interrogate Cesar and Marvin.

The mysterious doctor turns out to be Marvin, who is actually manipulating Cesar into killing for him. What doesn't work, unless I missed something, is Cesar, who is busy torturing a guy, stopping suddenly, as if he heard someone at the door, opens the door and talks with the doctor as if nothing was happening. The thing is, there is no one there, so is Cesar just insane, seeing and hearing people who tells him to kill? No, apparently Marvin had him under his control.

As I've said the profiling is barely there: the team gives the profile to the local cops, but how they got to make that profile seems coming out of thin air... a bit like when Garcia almost magically finds clues that solve the case.

Something else that got me confused was the sudden appearance of Sarah among the group of strip miners, (the people working the Las Vegas strip stealing wallets, money won at the casinos that was left unattended by tourists, etc,,,); they are con artists, and they live o  a 'fair' tax from their earnings. So why introduce the character of Sarah? She add nothing to the story except to get Finn  to confront Marvin, but Finn is there to look for his missing sister, that should be enough motivation for him

And Reid solves the case! He does thanks to the ME's report about the chemicals found in the victims, which shows that they drowned in contaminated water that you would find in storm drains.

I guess Sharon Lee Watson tried to mislead the viewers by having multiple possibilities for who the unsub was. She added even more mysteries by having Finn and Sarah joining the underground group. But all this was a bit too much. It got confusing, and I repeat, way too many characters involved; Cesar, Marvin, Finn and Sarah, it got to be a distraction. Why introduce Sarah, the reporter, in a scene and in the next one have her hunted by Cesar? What was Sarah's purpose? To be another victim? Anyone else in that group could have filled that role.

An extremely annoying habit the Criminal Minds writers have is that they write a scene where we see the full team, - which in this case included Hotch and Blake paired going to the tunnels to look for their unsub, - only to have some of them disappear, - in this case Blake loses Hotch - never be seen again until the next episode!

Again JJ and Morgan to the rescue! Doing the action! Hero! Thing! This too is getting old.

I know many are getting tired of JJ, and they have a point. Why not have Blake do the interrogation of Cesar with Rossi? Or Hotch? He had nothing meaningful to do in this episode...

Finally, JJ and Morgan were in the SUV with Hotch, which meant, they would not be the ones involved in the take down of the unsub! (Yes, in this episode Hotch had very little meaningful things to do as Thomas was busy with the post-production of his directed episode, and anyone paired with the-character-with-little-to-do gets to sit on the side lines too).

The episode gets really interesting after the team catches Cesar and Reid gets him to talk by remembering what happened in the tunnels, and then when we see what Cesar saw when he was talking to the doctor, we get to see that he was really talking to Marvin. Reid used something called Neuro Linguistic Programming to tap into Cesar's subconscious mind, which was what Reid was convinced Marvin did to control and have Cesar kill for him.

And Reid, clever Reid, got Marvin to admit the money Cesar collected as 'taxes' was for him, and that he was the doctor, and yes, he did kill Finn's sister Carrie, and Reid did it by appealing to Marvin's ego. I Love when Reid gets to show how clever and intelligent he is. How I miss Spencer Reid this season!

Funny line:
                                               Garcia: 'Hello, American heroes!'

Funny scene: Reid and Rossi walking into one of the tunnels where there is lots of water coming out of a rain collector, and Rossi tells Reid to remind him to call his shoemaker... This was a nice follow up to the episode 'Solitary Man' where Rossi refuses to go down in a ditch because it would mess his nice, expensive Italian boots!

                                               Reid: 'You've got a shoemaker?!'

Reid and Rossi are always fun together!

Best lines:
                                                Reid: 'Can you imagine my mom on a mule?'
                                                JJ: 'NO'
                                                Reid: 'It is like Hotch at the beach!'

I liked the last scene, with JJ, Reid and Garcia opening the box when he sees that no, his mom didn't forget him; she wrote him lots of postcards and she did send him 'The Grand Canyon' in the form of a small facsimile.

'Persuasion' was an OK episode that I enjoyed mostly because of Spencer Reid; Matthew Gray Gubler did a great job. I enjoyed the episode better on a second viewing though, but found it would have benefited from having less characters and having spent more time with the team. All in all I think is an eit was an enjoyable filler episode.

I give this episode a 7 out a 10, and that is mostly because of Reid, who I've missed a lot this season...

... and before some of you label me a Reid fan, I am actually a diehard Hotch fan and missed him in this episode!



  1. There were several things that really bothered me about this episode. Which made it unenjoyable.
    1. Over use of unsub/side scened
    2. Not enough profiling. Although Reid's portions were good.
    3. Disappearing Hotch/Blake... Guess writers for got how to write for them.
    4. Too much JJ/Morgan
    5. JJ/Morgan to the rescue yet again.
    6. SEVERE continuity issues with Reid and His mother's portrayal's based on previous televised cannon.

    Great review... Enjoyed the read....

  2. Nailed the review Merlin!

  3. I'm a Reid fan! I loved this ep! Great review... I missed Hotch too, Blake not enough because I don't like her so much. I still missing Prentiss...

  4. A good review.

    This episode was :-

    Good for the amount of Reid (professional, grown up and intelligent Reid at that).
    Disappointing for the disappearance of Hotch and Blake.
    Bad for the extremely obvious unsub - pegged from his first appearance.
    Very, very bad for the silly Reid/Diana fluff. If only I could dissociate myself from past character traits, development and history when watching this show - the current writers sure seem able to!


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