Writers for “Criminal Minds” love to throw twists into the plot and “Persuasion” was no exception. Airing on Wednesday, March 5, the show brought the team to Las Vegas to investigate the deaths of two women who were drowned and whose bodies were later dumped in the desert.
“Persuasion” opened in a diner in Sin City, where a young drifter came in looking for a job, but then tried to pickpocket another customer. Marvin, another diner, witnessed the attempt and offered the novice some advice on how to lift a wallet successfully. Finn accompanied the master of deception to the underground abode he shares with other grifters, and was introduced to the life of a “strip miner”. Marvin told him of his plan to save enough money to rent a grand locale to stage his comeback as a renowned magician.
Cesar, who governs the clan in the name of an unseen man referred to as “doctor”, demands a percentage of the take each week on tax day. Anyone withholding money or being otherwise deceptive meets an untimely death, which was the fate of the two women found dead in the desert.
Finn had actually come to Las Vegas to find his sister, who disappeared after telling him that she was going to work for a magician.
A female reporter who tried to infiltrate the group to scoop a story was reported missing, and autopsy revealed that the water that drowned the two earlier victims came from an underground source, which led the BAU to the tunnels beneath the city. When a third body discovered in the city was found to be related to the case, it allowed the team to narrow down the location of the den of thieves. Questioning of tunnel residents led them to Cesar, who had a criminal record but didn’t appear to fit the profile of the unsub. The man referred to the mysterious “doctor” during interrogation, and Spencer gained Cesar’s trust by saying that he also works for the doctor, thereby able to extract more clues as to his identity.
Those clues and Dr. Reid’s genius and knowledge of the city alert them that the man they’re looking for is Marvin Caul, a magician who missed out on the big-time. The man who had been befriended Finn was the unsub.
Finn had fought earlier with Cesar when he tried to kill the woman after finding out that she was a reporter. He was able to escape the tunnels with the injured woman, while Marvin tried to convince him that he needed to kill her to save their lifestyle and livelihood. Finn refused, and after recalling that Marvin wasn’t present when Cesar demanded the weekly payment from the others, he realized that the magician was the “doctor”, and also the man his sister had referred to. Just as Finn pulled a gun on him, enter the BAU, who talked him down by fabricating a story that his sister had been found dead elsewhere of causes unrelated to this case. The power of persuasion indeed.