How powerful can the human mind be? That’s what tonight’s Criminal Minds, “Persuasion,” asks, and Reid proves that he can manipulate even the master of deception.

The BAU heads to Las Vegas to investigate mysterious drowning deaths, and Reid ends up in a battle of the mind.

Looking for a Job Application?

Finn tries unsuccessfully for the third time to get a job at a restaurant in Las Vegas, and when he fails to lift someone’s wallet, he catches the eye of Marvin Caul, Master of Deception. Finn tells him he’s looking for his sister, and Marvin takes him to his place: the tunnels. “Welcome to Paradise,” Cesar greets him, and Finn learns that there is an established order to these tunnels. Someone needs to vouch for a person if they want to stay, and everyone also has to pay on ‘tax day’ or the Doctor will be angry. Yes, Cat Man, that includes you too.

Marvin takes Finn to a party to give him a first-hand look at how he charms a crowd, and Finn watches as he makes a man forget the number four. I think that glass the guy’s drinking from helps too, Marvin. However, when Romeo the Magician takes the stage and ‘turns’ a woman into balloons, Marvin’s reaction to that, and Finn’s questions later about contacting him to see if he knows anything about his sister says it all. He does not like this guy.

When Finn hears a scream, Marvin tells him Cesar will take care of it, and though Elijah tries to talk him out of it, the Doctor tells Cesar to kill him. Sorry, Elijah, being friends means nothing here.

Don’t Break This Code

The BAU comes to town after two women are found in the desert, and their cause of death is drowning. At the dump site, 2/10 is graffitied on a sign, and while they originally think it’s a hit list, when a third victim is found, this one strangled with the same 2/10 at the site (this time very publicly in the city), Reid puts the pieces together. It’s a hobo code from the Great Depression: 2 eyes and 10 fingers. Thieves are present. Steal and this is what happens.

With that, it’s time for the profile. They’re looking for a sociopath who takes revenge on people he believes stole from him. The first two victims were left in the desert to hide them from law enforcement, but also as a message to anyone thinking about following in their footsteps. They’re looking for a strong, charismatic leader who doesn’t tolerate dissent, and violating his rules leads to death. The first two victims drowned because he left them to drown when the tunnels flooded; he didn’t have that choice with the third one. 

When Garcia performs one of her usual miracles and finds a text from the first victim revealing she had been planning to leave the tunnels with the third (and the second had just leased an apartment before she was killed), they realize why the UnSub is really killing these people: for planning to leave. When a reporter working on a story about the homeless in the tunnels goes missing and her phone is found in a dumpster, the BAU heads to the tunnels to look for her. They catch Cesar, but Finn, Marvin, and the journalist are gone.

Who’s the Real Master of Deception?

Is it Finn, who turns out to know all about Marvin because his sister told him that if she went missing the ‘Doctor’ was responsible and turns the gun on Marvin instead of the journalist? Who else is happy to see that Finn isn’t so easily manipulated? (Is anyone else having flashbacks to Ashton Holmes’ Revenge character?) Finn’s sister was Marvin’s trigger; she was going to leave him to work for Romeo.

Is it Reid, who’s on the top of his game statistics-wise and manipulation-wise this episode? After they bring in Cesar (Sorry, Detective Paul, you’re on the other side of the law on this show), they realize there’s no way he could have the concentration and skill set to pull everything off. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” Reid realizes. The Doctor manipulated him, and Reid does the same thing, pretending to work for the Doctor.

That’s how they find Finn and Marvin, and Reid gets Finn to put the gun down by telling him that they found his sister’s body and she died of an overdose in Phoenix. Once they lead Finn away, Reid turns his mastery on Marvin and tells him that he’s been a fan of his since he saw him perform in 1977, and plays him perfectly to get him to confess and tell him where Finn’s sister’s body is. Marvin asks if he really saw him perform, and Reid tells him he wasn’t even born yet. Reid’s awesome, guys.

Even Off-camera, Diana Reid Is Awesome

Unfortunately, Jane Lynch is busy, so we don’t get to see Diana Reid on-screen. Instead, Reid finds out she’s doing so well that she’s on a supervised field trip to the Grand Canyon, and while he’s happy that she’s getting better, he also feels like she forgot about him. After all, this is the woman who used to write him letters every day. But Diana hasn’t forgotten about her son, and when the team arrives home after the case is over, Garcia brings him a package; his mother sent him a sculpture of the Grand Canyon and a series of postcards. She actually rode a mule on a tiny trail and paid for it, which Reid calls as crazy as Hotch at the beach. But which is crazier? (And can we please see Diana on screen again sometime?)

What did you think of “Persuasion”? How much did you love seeing Reid manipulate the “master of deception”? Head to the comments with your thoughts.

Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of ABC Studios.)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.