"Criminal Minds" Minimal Loss (TV Episode 2008) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • Reid and Prentiss enter a Christian cult's community ranch to investigate a anonymous tip about child molestation. Moments after they enter, the state police begin a raid on the place which quickly turns into a Waco Siege-like standoff with Reid and Prentiss being held captive by the cult's militia.

  • Benjamin Cyrus is the leader of a fringe Libertarian sect in La Plata, Colorado. The authorities receive a 911 call from an unidentified fifteen year old girl within the sect stating that an adult male - the authorities assume Cyrus - is having inappropriate relations with the under-aged girls in the sect. Undercover as child abuse interview experts, Reid and Prentiss visit the sect's compound, Liberty Ranch. With Reid and Prentiss inside, Cyrus and his men, with a cache of weapons, lock down the compound when Cyrus gets wind that a raid of the compound is imminent. As the rest of the BAU arrive outside the compound, they have to try and communicate clandestinely with Reid and Prentiss inside to resolve the standoff. Meanwhile, Reid and Prentiss have to try to maintain their cover all the while trying to figure out who the 911 caller is and how they can use her to their advantage to save her and the rest of the women and children being held inside.

  • Reid and Prentiss, having gone undercover into an underground cult to investigate child abuse, get trapped inside the compound when a federal raid on it goes bad.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Prentiss and Spencer arrive at a remote compound where they find a man named Benjamin Cyrus, the leader of a religious group. The pair poses as child abuse investigators (not revealing any ties to the FBI for fear of spooking the leader). Cyrus is cold to the team, but welcomes them inside.

    Prentiss interviews a young girl at a school desk. She explains that the reason for their visit has nothing to do with the community's religious beliefs. "We received a phone call alleging that an adult male member of your church was having inappropriate relations with the younger woman here," Prentiss says.

    "You're talking about Cyrus," the girl says. "Is it inappropriate for a husband to share a bed with his wife?"

    Silent alarm bells go off. The girl, Jessie, explains that Cyrus is her husband and "a prophet." "It's an honor to bear his children," the 15-year-old says defiantly.

    Suddenly, Cyrus and a group of men burst into the room carrying automatic weapons. Unbeknownst to Prentiss and Spencer, police are about to raid the compound! Officers break down the doors and rush the school and church. From above, compound members open fire on the police. In the course of the shoot out, a state police officer accompanying Prentiss and Spencer is shot dead through the chest.

    The police pull back. The stand off is on.

    Back at the office, the team gets the call. Hotchner, Rossi, Derek and J.J. board the next jet to Colorado while Garcia briefs them via video feed. The Liberty Ranch was founded in 1980 by Libertarian Leo Kane, who is currently serving 17 years in prison for tax evasion and "going after four IRS agents with a Louisville Slugger."

    Hotchner suggests contacting Kane for information about Cyrus, who took over the compound eight years ago and introduced a religious element into the mix. Also of interest: Prentiss and Spencer weren't alerted to the raid beforehand because the state attorney general kept it quiet. Turns out the AG, named Wells, has aspirations of becoming governor in the next election and didn't want the raid jeopardized. Derek is furious.

    The team arrives outside the compound. Rossi is assigned primary negotiating duties by Hotchner. At that moment, Wells rolls up in a limo, shouting orders and demanding information. Hotchner threatens to have Wells charged with negligent homicide. "Get off my crime scene," Hotchner growls.

    Rossi gets on the phone with Cyrus. "Let's stop this before things get worse," Rossi says. "Please, Benjamin, send out your wounded. I promise they will be well taken care of." Cyrus asks for supplies, saying the group can "tend to our own." Rossi agrees, saying he will deliver the medical relief himself.

    A few hours later, Rossi drives up to the front doors of the ranch. Listening devices have been hidden in the supplies and agents line the grounds with large microphones. Rossi is let inside and introduces himself to Cyrus. He shares a furtive glance with Prentiss and Spencer, careful not to reveal their true identities.

    "I had hoped youd let me take the children," Rossi tells Cyrus.

    "They're our protection," Cyrus counters. "I remember Waco. We all do. They stay for now."

    Once Rossi is gone, Cyrus begins pouring cups of wine -- even for the smallest children. Prentiss and Spencer, meanwhile, watch Jessie's body language in reaction to Cyrus. "She literally worships him," Spencer said. "There's no way she made that 911 call." Jessie's mother, meanwhile, immediately steps between the two. Could she have dialed the police?

    Rossi returns to team headquarters outside the ranch. "He's too calm," he tells Hotchner. "It's like he was waiting for this happen and now that it has he feels vindicated." The team, meanwhile, gets a feed from the listening devices. "We will be with Him soon," Cyrus says. "They've drank the poison together."

    Rossi and Hotchner listen in horror. Inside, Prentiss wants to act, but Spencer stays her hand. He claims that Cyrus is bluffing. Indeed, the "prophet" just wanted to see the reaction of the people in his congregation. Anyone not crying or panicking is being put on a loyalty list. In short, it was a test of faith.

    Hotchner, who was about to send in the troops, exhales deeply. Crisis narrowly adverted. J.J. enters with an announcement: Leo Kane has arrived.

    Derek questions the former Liberty Ranch leader. Kane explains that he kicked Cyrus out of the compound years ago for "messing" with younger girls. Cyrus returned sometime later claiming he had found God and reformed.

    "How does a kid like that get rid of you?" Derek asks.

    "One day he came to me and said God him that I should leave the ranch," Kane explains. "I said 'If God felt that way, God can tell me himself.' He put a gun to my head and said, 'He just did.'"

    Derek asks Cane to draw a map of the compound he commanded for 20 years. The angry inmate is only too happy to help.

    Back outside, the team gets frightening news: Wells has leaked news of an undercover FBI officer to the press. Inside, Cyrus sees the report and challenges Prentiss and Spencer. "Which one of you is it?" he asks. "Which one of you is the FBI agent?" He points a loaded gun at both. Prentiss, fearing for her partner's life, claims to be the lone agent. Cyrus smacks her, punches her, throws her against a mirror. Outside, the team listens in horror. "I can take it," Prentiss says with a mouthful of blood.

    "She's talking to us!" says Hotchner, listening via headphones. "She's telling us not to come in."

    The beating (complete with fervent scripture quoting) finished, Cyrus calls Spencer into an office and demands to know whether he knew the true identity of his partner. Spencer denies any such knowledge. Then the geek, thinking quickly, suggests that Cyrus test the trustworthiness of the men outside by trading a child for the name of the agent.

    Hotchner and Rossi, of course, overhear the entire exchange and are ready when Cyrus calls. The sect leader sends out a child and Rossi gives the name Emily Prentiss. The ruse works perfectly. A child is safe, Cyrus believes Rossi can be trusted and the team has not revealed any information that Cyrus didn't already know.

    Back inside the compound, Cyrus reads names from the list those followers who failed the loyalty test. The unbelievers are sent outside to safety. Then, Cyrus makes a call to Rossi. "We'll surrender tomorrow at noon," he says. "I want the press there to make sure that were treated fairly." Cyrus also requests food.

    But Spencer sees through this ruse immediately. Clearly, Cyrus is only preparing those he deems worthy for a "final act." Rossi, listening on headphones, stands up. "This is it," he says. "Time is run out! We got to go in!"

    The team brainstorms their next move. The raid will occur at 3 a.m. But how to signal Prentiss and Spencer? Hotchner hatches a plan. He writes: "New owners! New hours! Open until 3 a.m.!" on one of the dinners being delivered to the compound. "Let's hope it's that easy," Derek says.

    And it is. Spencer sees the top to the dinner and understands immediately. He also requests to stay with Cyrus so as to "tell your story." Cyrus, meanwhile, begins unloading sticks of dynamite from a crate. "Now that the false believers have been cleared from our midst, we make our final preparations," he says.

    Upstairs, Jessie's mother brings Prentiss a glass of water. The team member looks the woman in the eyes and goes for broke. "Cyrus is planning a mass suicide," Prentiss says. "You made that 911 call." Prentiss then tells the woman to gather her daughter and the rest of the children and get them into the basement before 3 a.m.

    But will mom follow through?

    As Cyrus rigs the place with dynamite, police make the raid. Derek enters from the downstairs and discovers Jessie's mother leading the children toward him. Prentiss is with the group. She warns Derek about the explosives. Just then, understanding dawns on little Jessie, who pulls away from her mother. She runs upstairs to find Cyrus, her beloved husband.

    Cyrus, meanwhile, is about to detonate the explosives when Derek enters the chapel and shoots the self-proclaimed prophet dead. At that moment, Jessie enters the chapel and sees her husband lying dead on the floor. She reaches for the detonator.

    "Run!" Spencer screams.

    The compound EXPLODES in the night. Derek and Spencer come stumbling out into the front yard, much to the relief of Prentiss, Rossi and Hotchner. They embrace.

    Jessie's mother, crying, searches in vain for her daughter. Prentiss doesn't have the words to comfort her.

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