Criminal Minds 713: Snake Eyes

The episode opens with footage of a flurry of activity inside a casino! Will there be a murder inside one of the most-surveilled places on Earth? That would certainly be an easy one to solve, wouldn't it? So probably not. Maybe I spoke too soon - we cut to an office were a blurry man who may or may not be Dean Cain-

Beats a man to death with an award! Then he walks out onto the casino floor, using his jacket to obscure the bloodstains that cover his shirt. Irony rears its ugly head when maybe-Dean tries to hide from security guard attention by playing a slot machine, only to wind up winning! Although it's a strangely small amount. Check it-

He scored three 'Triple Stars', and according to the machine-

That combination gives a 10000-1 payoff. Wouldn't a quarter bet mean a $2500 payoff, rather than just five hundred?

We don't see how possibleDean deals with the attention, because the show immediately cuts to Penelope, who's woken by the sound of her bedazzled phone ringing off the hook. Excellent work, prop people. It's JJ on the phone, calling Penelope in on a Sunday - meanwhile, Xander is showering in the next room. Garcia explains that she's super hung over since she drank an entire bottle of wine after a fight with Xander the night before, and doesn't remember the rest of the night. Things then take a turn for the 'Penelope is a horrible person' when Xander shows up at the door, bearing flowers he bought in hopes of apologizing for the fight they had.

Garcia slams the door on his face in hopes of keeping him from seeing the shower occupant, who turns out to be Derek! This means that Penelope isn't awful after all, she's just going through another one of those wacky Three's Company-style misunderstandings that this show so rarely does. When will these crazy kids stop with all the hilarious shenanigans and just tie the knot? I'm asking only because that would theoretically give Xander more to do on the show, since he was already robbed of a spin-off. But I promised I wouldn't mention Suspect Behaviour until the end of the season, so let's move on.

The team runs down the case - a mob-connected floor manager was beaten to death in his office, and an 8 of Hearts along with 8 one-dollar bills were left around his body. The team has been called in because of the mob connection. No one mentions the fact that there's doubtless video footage of every second the killer spent in the casino, including entering and leaving the victim's office. There's plenty of time for a super-early Prentiss Award-winning line, though!

That's the opposite of true. Collateral damage is basically the worst thing that can happen to the mob, because it attracts police attention. You'd think Joe Mantegna, of all actors, would know this. Couldn't he have passed that terrible line off to someone else? Why was the line in the episode at all? Are the producers afraid that if only mobsters are in danger there will be no stakes? Wait, why am I asking that? The show already massively adjusts reality so that hookers are almost never the victims for that exact reason.

Then we cut to Dean Cain - turns out it was him, after all, calling his wife to announce that he's parlayed that five hundred dollars from the slot machine into an epic gambling run! He's leaving a message on her phone, though, so it's possible that she's dead, and that was the 'stressor' that led to the floor boss getting killed. Things then get weird when Dean - who's planning to leave the casino with his 30K - is taunted by his reflection in a bathroom mirror-

His worse nature convincing him to keep gambling? Looks like it! Also, did you notice the mistake in the picture? If not, the answer will be at the end of the review!

You know, this might be the most screenshots and video I've ever had before the opening credits of an episode. Also, is this scene set earlier? Because it's not clear if he's been gambling this whole time, and this is supposed to be happening on Sunday morning - if it is, he's going to have a hard time leaving the casino, since the cops have doubtless locked the place down, just in case the killer is still inside the building.

I guess we'll find out after the opening credits!

On the plane they finally get around to explaining that the camera footage was tampered with, so that there's no record of anything that happened in the casino around the time of the murder. How convenient... They also discuss favorite gangster movies, but Joe demurs from weighing in, feeling that  he can't be impartial, since he starred in a number of them.

Over at the casino we learn that yes, Dean is still gambling, which means that the cops haven't taken any steps to secure the crime scene or interview witnesses. Maybe he's gone to another casino? A woman in a red dress approaches to  flirt up Dean something fierce, suggesting that she's some manner of hotel 'professional'. Then Dean's friend arrives, and it's time for some exposition. The friend mentions that Dean had some 'dealings' with the dead man, and Dean explains back that he's on the luckiest streak of his life - even though he just got fired for punching a supervisor - and if he can just put together fifty thousand dollars for an upcoming poker tournament, he'll gladly enter it! Although I don't know how he's not there already - we saw him with 30K, and he seems to be winning pretty consistently. As the scene ends he bets five hundred dollars on a 'hard eight' and wins it, so that's another five thousand right there.

Reid and Emily check out the victim's office, and discover that the crime was likely one of opportunity. After all, very few people planning to kill someone wind up doing it with a bowling trophy. Unless, of course, Dean brought a gun, but wound up disarmed in a struggle, then beat the man's head in with a trophy and took the gun with him when he left. That would kind of shoot their theory to pieces, wouldn't it? Reid points out something obvious - while the disc was removed from the office's security system, there should be a backup for the entire casino's security feed. The casino security man confirms this, but explains that the floor boss' office wasn't wired into the central security system - he wanted some privacy in his office, which can only mean that crime frequently went on there. Left unexplained is why the backed-up security footage from the hallway hasn't revealed the killer's identity. Unless the mob is covering for Dean, this aspect has yet to make sense.

Joe and JJ swing by a strip club to talk to a mob snitch, hoping that he'll have some information about the victim's enemies - I'm not sure why a local FBI agent isn't handling this interview. After all, aren't Atlantic City FBI Agents experts in local mob politics? Won't having a couple of strangers from Virginia show up and start muscling people just screw up the ecosystem? In any event, the scene ends before the guy spills any info.

Back at the Casino Dean's (thankfully not-dead) wife shows up and runs off the prostitute. She's disappointed to find him gambling, and doesn't believe his claims that he's on a lucky streak. At no point does he actually show her the kind of cash that he's made - I think 40K in a matter of hours would be a pretty good convincer - and after hearing his plan to enter the poker tournament she demands a divorce and then storms off.

We catch the tail end of Greg's conversation with two local mob bosses - apparently you can just have them come into an FBI office and ask them not to fight each other, and that will be fine with everyone. Then the rest of the team arrives and offers an info dump. The victim had no cameras in his office because he liked to lend money to degenerate gamblers - and likely one of them killed him! So I guess there wasn't any tampering with the main system after all? Doesn't that mean that there's video of someone walking into the victim's office (possibly alongside the victim) and then walking out alone? Who cares if you don't have footage of the actual murder - simple logic dictates that the last person to leave the room before the body was found is probably the killer. How can you not find a picture of him?

Things aren't going great for Dean - with his confidence gone his luck disappears, so he follows the prostitute out into the parking garage and beats her to death when she rejects his advances. Well, smacks her face into the car twice, actually - but apparently that's sufficient to kill her. Dean then tosses some bills on the ground around her (because otherwise who could guess it was the same killer?) steals her money, and runs off. No one sees any of this, because apparently there's no such thing as a more unsecured and lower-trafficked area than an Atlantic City Casino parking lot.

The team is there in a flash, and Derek notices the lack of matches on the ground. So who lit her cigarette if she didn't have a lighter? It must have been the killer! More importantly, if she was a smoker, how did she not have a lighter? The press is already there at the crime scene, talking about the 'circle of eight' killer striking again. Who gave that detail to the press? Since the first murder was inside a super high-security area there's no way press people would have seen the body... is the show saying the AC police are incompetent/corrupt? Again, why am I even asking?

More with Dean and his pal at the bar - the pal points out that Dean knew both of the victims, but doesn't make any kind of an important connection. He then encourages Dean to keep going with the tournament. He even hands over some money for Dean to use on the video poker console they're sitting at, and it immediately pays off big-time! Dean's figured it out - in order to get good luck, he just has to kill someone! He's off to the table to bask in the fortune he's one by stealing the hooker's soul!

Simultaneously, the team is giving the profile to assembled detectives - the killer is a gambler, who likes the number eight. Thanks, guys. As the team tries to figure out why the killer went from killing a low-rent thug to a high-priced call girl (they intuit he must have won big between the two events) Dean buys a gun and shoots a gas station attendant, hoping to reclaim the luck he lost when the hooker's soul ran dry. For the record, that's three people he's killed in high-traffic, well-surveilled areas. Just saying.

Victims four and five come in rapid succession, as Dean's friend asks him if he knew the dead gas station attendant - since the other two victims had been passing acquaintances of Dean. This gives Dean the realization that the gas station attendant's luck didn't work because he had no previous relationship with the guy! Of course, he didn't have any previous relationship with the hooker, either, so this doesn't really track. Dean's not thinking straight, though, so it's totally understandable that he would murder a high-roller who had just cashed out, use the money to buy his friend the watch that the guy had always obsessed over, and then shoot his friend in the back to regain his luck.

Also note that this episode is set in January. In New Jersey. That's a pretty optimistic depiction of the locale. If you were incapable of faking slush, why not set this episode in Vegas? Or perhaps Laughlin? Really anywhere there's gambling and a lack of snow in winter.

We don't actually see the high-roller killed, so it's left unexplained how Dean managed to get a guy carrying in excess of fifty thousand dollars (I'm assuming - because of the poker tourney buy-in) alone enough to murder and rob. I guess that's just another preposterous contrivance we'll be chalking up to this episode's plot.

While the team examines the body (concluding that the killer felt remorse about this one since he was shot in the back and then sat up in a corner) they get word of the guy whose neck was broken in his hotel room. A plot hole magically appears when they announce that although the dead guy was robbed, the killer took exactly fifty thousand dollars with him, leaving twenty behind. Now, the team needs this information so that they can search for high-stakes games in the vicinity of the friend's body and discover the poker game, but it makes no sense that they're able to find it out. How could they possibly know that the high-roller had exactly 70K? Even if there was a receipt of his cash-out in the room, that doesn't let them know how much other money he might have had with him in the room. More importantly, if Dean took exactly 50K and was essentially flat broke before that moment, how did he manage to buy his friend a multi-thousand-dollar watch and still have the poker buy-in?

The producers certainly weren't careful this week.

The team tries to figure out how to get into the poker game in order to spot the killer, and finally Joe agrees to put up the money so that Reid (who's banned from Nevada casinos because he both has the ability to count cards and is super-stupid about disguising that fact) can play in the tournament. I guess the plan is for Reid to play and look for someone who fits their 'profile'. Their profile being 'a gambler who likes the number 8'. Seriously, that's the entire profile at this point. On the upside, though, they've identified the guy he felt guilty about killing, so I guess it's just a matter of time before that guy's loved ones point a finger at Dean.

Here's a better plan than the team's 'enter the poker tournament' scheme: wait for the tournament to start. Bring in the cops to shut it down. Interview all of the players until you find out who doesn't have an alibi for any the FIVE murders that happened in the last three days. Since it's almost impossible to not have an alibi for five different times in the past three days, only a couple of the players will fit your criteria, one of them being Dean. There. I've solved the case for you.

While playing poker Reid notices that Dean has an 8-ball keychain, so he moves closer and starts provoking Dean by taunting him and reaching for the good luck charm. Reid is grabbed by the security guards, but his incredibly unprofessional behaviour has tipped-off Dean, who makes a run for it through the service entrance. Because the team didn't have the building surrounded. Because they are terrible at their jobs.

Seriously so incompetent that Dean has time to murder a waiter and change into his clothes before they seal the outside exits. Which, again, should have been sealed in the first place.

Having completely screwed up at their jobs, the team (as usual) turns to Garcia to save the day. Luckily she's found evidence of who the friend's best buddy was, and going through Dean's background they figure that he might be the kind of guy whose gambling obsession has driven him to murder. Which is a nice attempt to show off Garcia's skills, but rather than wasting time on guesswork, why not just text the photo to Reid and say 'hey - guy with photographic memory, is this the man you were sitting six feet away from two minutes ago?' Seems like that would be a little more accurate. Not to mention faster.

Derek and Reid find nothing at Dean's house (the wife said she was leaving town to stay with relatives, so that's where he's headed), but at the same time Joe is examining the casewall, coming to a conclusion. I'm coming to a conclusion of my own - there's something really weird going on with the 8 of spades left on that guy's chest.

In two pictures it's fine, and then in one there's a spade missing and another faded? How does that happen?

What has Joe figured out? That the closeness of people to Dean is directly equivalent to the luck that he imagines he gains by killing them! And how has Joe figured this out? By nonsense!

1: How was the call girl connected to him? You don't know she was hanging on his arm all night. For all you know she was a random person he followed to the parking lot, and that she accepted a light from him when offered.
2: How do you know that the gas station attendant 'didn't work'? Your entire theory of closeness equaling more luck is based on this fact - but what are you basing that on? You have no way of knowing that he didn't have a perfectly good lucky streak after killing the gas station attendant, and then when it started to go cold he moved on to the next closest person to him. I supposed you could have figured this out if you'd found out about his gambling habits and various streaks, but that would have required actually going to the casino and interviewing people who were on the floor at the time of the first murder. Which you didn't do. For why, exactly?

Hell, a much better explanation would be 'why did he kill his friend in addition to the high roller just minutes apart - it must be because while he needed the high roller's money, he didn't believe that he'd get any luck from the kill. And why not? Probably because they had no relationship!' How is it that I fixed your terrible plot hole in just seconds while you went weeks without managing it? Hell, at this point in the episode it's like you've forgotten the high roller existed.

What they needed to do was remove the call girl from the episode - that kill just muddies the system and makes no sense to their theory. It also raises the question of why they didn't check the building's video cameras to see who she was talking to over the course of the evening.

Anyhoo, they guess that Dean will go after his wife next, since she's the only person closer than his best friend. This means they've got to race to where she is in order to save her! I'm not sure why they didn't phone her the second they knew who Dean was - even if they didn't think she was in danger at that point, it's still a good way of finding him.

The team finds out about the wife's sister and rushes over there while Dean is menacing them with a gun. Did he take the time to pick up his gun which was stashed nearby while dozens of cops searched for him? That seems unbelievably, implausibly risky.

Joe goes in to talk to him while JJ circles around the house, looking for a chance to shoot him. They didn't bring sharp shooters or extra cops or anything like that. While Dean tries to explain his need for more luck the team surrounds him, and once the clock reaches 8 O'clock Dean lets his wife go and then shoots himself. His obsession with 8 is never explained.


Other than a wrap-up of the Garcia plot. Derek explains that nothing happened on the night he slept on the couch. As we already figured out.

1 - Was profiling in any way helpful in solving the crime?

They get partial credit - they knew that the change in body positioning was significant, and meant that the killer knew that victim

2 - Could the crime have been solved just as easily using conventional police methods given the known facts of the case?

In three of the murders Dean was on video just before and just after the act. Also he seems to have remained at the scene of the first crime for days after committing it. And the cops didn't bother closing down or watching that one casino even after THREE PEOPLE WERE MURDERED inside of it. There is no way this doesn't get solved in about an hour.

So, on a scale of 1 (Dirty Harry) to 10 (Tony Hill), How Useful Was Profiling in Solving the Crime?

2/10 - The show tried to do an episode about how a serial killer could work in a high-security environment. And they rolled a two. Also, nice job establishing gambling addiction as being such a severe mental problem that it could easily lead to serial murder.

So, did you figure out the flaw in the picture? That's right: while the first 'real Dean' kept his hands on the sink while 'reflection Dean' threw his hands in the air, all subsequent 'real Deans' also had their hands in the air. Because it would have been a lot of editing work to fix that, and they've got two dozen of these things to make a year.


Anonymous said...

I didn't notice the arm thing - I noticed that the soap dispenser kept changing sides.

And, proving that sex even sells murder to profilers (or something), I couldn't help noticing that the team felt the need to put up pictures of the underwear-clad escort, taken from her website, on the murder board. Even though all the other victims only got crime scene photos. Guess they need their jollies, even in the middle of a murder investigation.

Elon said...

this episode doesn't impress me

Loreen said...

It's the best episode. Casino movies are my favourite and I think I have to leave here this list of casino movies https://casinority.com/10-best-casino-movies/ If you don't know what to watch in the evening it might help

lexi said...

“ No one mentions the fact that there's doubtless video footage of every second the killer spent in the casino, including entering and leaving the victim's office. There's plenty of time for a super-early Prentiss Award-winning line, though!” I’d suggest rewatching the episode because they actually have quite a bit of lines dedicated to the video-surveillance issue. You’re wrong about this one.

The Hidden Object Guru said...

Hey Lexi! Thanks for dropping by!

As to your comment, the episode is maddeningly unclear on just what the situation with the video cameras is - Garcia says that there was tampering with the footage so they don't have the killing on camera. We later find out that the 'tampering' was that the manager had a private camera in his office where footage was burned onto DVDs - and that the camera hookup wasn't part of the network of cameras covering the rest of the casino.

This tends suggest that the rest of the footage in the casino was fine (unless there was a second, unrelated tampering, which would make even less sense) - and there should absolutely be footage of the guy walking in and out of the casino manager's office, even if there's no footage of the murder itself. That 'walking in and walking out' footage would be plenty to identify the guy. (As I mentioned in the review)

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