I’m trying not to die of joy due to recently released spoilers about episode seven. Reid- William Reid… you have some explaining to do…
I guess it’s safe to say that any episode that features Dr. Spencer Reid gets an automatic love note from me, seeing as I adore Matthew Gray Gubler. But the truth is that the Reid focus episodes are among the strongest written of the series. From ” Somebody’s Watching” through to ” Sex Birth And Death”, ” Revelations”, ” Jones”, and ” Elephant’s Memory”, they remain among my favorites. This one is also high up on my list. Of course, Reid episodes also have some of the strongest unsubs- and some surprisingly great performances. James Vanderbeek gave his single best performance in his life as Tobias in ” Revelations”. Luke Perry proves to be a revelation of a kind in ” Minimal Loss”. As someone who spent way too much time watching the original 90210 as a teen, I never thought much of Perry as an actor. This ( and his creepy turn on L&O SVU earlier this season) proved me wrong. Perry is quite compelling as Benjamin Cyrus. It’s easy to see him as a charismatic wing nut. He is charismatic. And quite scary in his quiet way.
Reid and Prentiss show up in Colorado to interview children with Children’s Services after a call is placed about child molestation and underage marriages. At first, Cyrus is cautiously welcoming, but when he is tipped off about a raid, the heavily armed cult he leads enter a shoot out with state police. This gets the actual child services killed, and Reid and Prentiss are de facto hostages of a cult with heavy duty weaponry and a leader with a deep messianic complex. The team freaks out when the news hits national networks, and they all head to Colorado.
Hotch decides to let Rossi lead the hostage negotiations ( and then a swoon worthy Hotch pissed off moment with the Colorado AG- awesomeness and sexy). Rossi and Hotch present the minimal loss scenario- try to save as many as possible, but they cannot save them all. The team know they not only have to profile the cult, but Prentiss and Reid as well. Rossi begins slowly as to build trust- being told that Prentiss and Reid are alright ease some anxiety momentarily. The one thing I noticed about Perry’s performance at this moment is the eerie calm he exhibits. Some actors miight be inclined to play it rougher and crazier. The thing about Cyrus is that he doesn’t ever appear crazy even when he clearly is a bushel short of a load. He is pleasant, obliging, even while being unco-operative. A tricky balance.
Trust needs to be earned, and Rossi tries his best to get the children out. But Cyrus instead decides to keep the kids as protection, and Reid and Prentiss observe the wine ceremony, the calm of Cyrus, the body language of Jessica, the girl that they were called to interview, and Jessica’s mother, and then the bomb drops. Cyrus announces that they have drank poison, but Rossi, seeing Cyrus’ calm, and Reid, seeing Cyrus’ reaction to the followers fear or anticipation, both call it as a bluff.
One small quibble- Jeff Fahey in a single scene? Indelible in that scene. Wish there had been more. As the former leader of the group, he was astonishing.
Our cult leader was born Charles McGrew, and has a record of child molestation. He was a ” model prisoner” after discovering God. Bad news- child molesters who survive general pop in prisons will never give up. And then the news breaks- there is an undercover FBI agent on the compound. Cyrus points a gun at Reid, who never breaks character, and Prentiss gives herself up. She gets beaten severely, nearly sending Rossi and Hotch over the edge, but Rossi’s rationality and Prentiss’ coded answers prevent the team from going in. Separated, Prentiss and Reid begin their specialties- Prentiss, being tended by the mother, begins to hint that she knows that the mother placed the call, and Reid uses his intellect to get into Cyrus’ good graces. Reid influences Cyrus’ decision making by playing the hostage negotiation handbook against Cyrus, and the bugs planted by the team allow them in on the plan. Rossi holds up his end of the bargain by playing along, and one child is set free. Trust is earned, after all.
Cyrus rounds up those who are not the true believers and frees them. Reid realizes that he needs to get a message out to the team to warn them of when they will go in, and tells Prentiss to wait for that signal. The team uses the food delivery to tell Reid when it happens. Prentiss uses the knowledge of bugs to get a message out to tell her when it will happen. Morgan uses a laser scope to tell her, and Reid gets Hotch’s written message on the food. Prentiss than confronts the mother and tells her that there will be a violent end and the only hope to save her daughter from Cyrus is to listen to her. The mother agrees to help after seeing the men prepping explosives, and gets the women and children out. Reid uses his eidetic memory of the bible to try and stop the insanity, but fails, and gets a couple of slams to the gut as payment for his actions. Fortunately, the team gets in and takes the men out before they can set off the explosives. But Jessica, a true believer, runs back in, and seeing Cyrus dead, she picks up the detonator. Reid and Morgan barely escape as the building explodes in a huge fireball. After, on the plane, Prentiss makes a point of telling Reid that her beating was not his fault, that it was her choice and she did not regret it.
Overall, one of the best episodes of Criminal Minds in the history of the series. Strong performances by Gubler and Paget Brewster, and stunning ones by Perry and Fahey, make it a keeper.