CSI Thursday: 100th post edition!

Monday was a return to the glorious judgmental and moralist storytelling we've come to love from CSI, as Horatio finds himself embroiled in a murder involving a ring of amateur hooker housewives! Well, not actually a ring, more like a a succession of random housewife hookers who all wind up getting drugged and robbed by a pool boy hired by Xena to scare them into not being amateur hookers any more.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The episode begins when a vacationing couple from Kansas phone in a noise complaint about the next room. When the concierge arrives to check on the noise, he discovers a disturbing scene: A woman has been drugged into unconsciousness and her bedmate, who is handcuffed to the headboard, has been stabbed to death.

Horatio and his good pal treat this unsettling turn of events with the gravity it deserves:

The Scene: Outside a posh Miami Hotel. Horatio and his pal Frank are discussing the two witnesses who had reported the crime.
The Cast: Horatio Caine, His Friend Frank

Frank: They thought they were reporting an act of passion. Instead it was an act of murder.
Horatio Caine: Not in Kansas any more, are they?

I've come to believe that Rex Linn (Horatio's friend Frank) has the best job in show business. He's paid thousands of dollars a week, and his only duty is to show up for the opening scene and act as David Caruso's straight man for a single joke.

Nice work if you can get it.

The most significant thing about this episode is that the whole thing feels like they're playing for time and treading water to try to spin things out to 40 minutes. The first sign of this is a scene where Smug Guy and Eric play a prank on the new ME by replacing the victim's corpse with a dummy that sits up on cue for a quick scare. As a plot point, it's a little on the lame side - what gives the impression of playing for time is that for some reason we're treated to the entire setting up of the prank in a normal CSI-style jagged-editing discoloured flashback, as if putting a corpse in a drawer and a dummy on a table was such a complex series of events that we needed it laid out for us, if you'll excuse the pun.

Of course, since the whole seen is essentially a parody of the 'crime flashbacks' that the show does every time someone confesses or explains their theory, adding yet more proof on the scales that tip towards the notion that CSI Miami is actually a secret comedy.

The whole prank sequence does feature into the plot, however, since the ME claims that since the victim was struggling while he was being stabbed, the only way to accurately get a sense of what the wounds might look like is if his body was kept in the exact position he was found in. Of course, that's only true if the killer stabbed him until he stopped moving, and then kept stabbing him a few more times afterwards, which they have no way of knowing.

It turns out that the brunette housewife hooker, who claimed to be drugged, had ordered a set of handcuffs from the concierge, who runs a side business offering sex toys and selling alibis to all the amateur housewife hookers. This makes them suspect her of committing the most poorly-planned murder in history (Publicly go to a room with a guy, handcuff him to a bed, stab him, then drug yourself so you can claim you were unconscious for the crime! Fool-Proof!), but then they find the shattered bottle that contained the knockout drugs in the room, and they dismiss that idea.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the victim had another woman's skin under his fingernails. They run it through their system, and discover that the skin belongs to Xena, a well-known prostitute who claims that it's natural that the skin be there, since the victim was a cabana boy who had put suntan oil on her the day before. Another suspect down, although she does display an animosity towards amateur prostitutes.

Next, running the DNA in Brunette's rape kit turns up a bald man who they call on, demanding to know if he's been enjoying prostitutes as of late. This turns out to have been a mistake, since baldy is actually Brunette's husband. Ouch. Of course, it seems like somewhere in the process of booking Brunette for hooking and looking far enough into Baldy's past to discover that he used to be in the military, they might have somewhere come across the fact that the two of them were married. Well, I suppose the CSI people aren't all that great at their jobs. Despite having a motive and a history of violence (that's why his DNA was conveniently in the system), Baldy isn't brought in for quesitoning.

Back at the lab, they scan all the pieces of the drug jar into a computer, and then let it do all the work of assembling said beaker and scanning the fingerprint from it. The print belongs to a blond woman, who is insistant about not being an amateur prostitute, but rather a regular woman who wanted to cheat on her husband and wound up getting drugged and robbed by the victim. She's especially frantic about the disappearance of her wedding ring, which is a family heirloom.

Note her small, dainty fingers.

This whole drug-rape and robbery happened two days earlier, so assuming she has a motive, Horatio asks Blonde where she was this morning. She answers that she was shopping at a department store, and hands over the reciept as proof. Of course, since the murder was committed at like 5:30AM, this alibi is utterly useless. More importantly, though, why did Horatio even ask her if she had an alibi? No one has an alibi for 5:30AM. I wonder if that's going to be important. Without any reason to keep her, they let the blonde go.

A trip to the victim's house turns up photos of all the amateur prositutes he'd drugged, raped, and robbed. It turns out that Xena had been giving him the photos so he'd know who to target. It was all Xena's plan to push the amateur prostitutes out of the marketplace so there would be more room for her stable of whores. Interestingly, although she claimed that she wasn't an amateur prostitute, Blonde woman appears in the targeting photos, meaning that Xena had stalked her before the day of the attack.

Armed with this evidence, Horation drags Xena back into the office and confronts her. She claims that she was just doing it to scare them out of the business, but then Horatio points out that Blonde wasn't 'in the business', which he seems entirely ready to take her word for, despite the fact that Xena had been surveiling her previously to the attack. Why is Horatio taking a suspect's word over Xena's? Far more insanely, Xena claims that they can't stop her because the women won't press charges, and Horatio seems to admit this is true, because all he does is reclaim Blonde's ring:

Note the large Xena-hands

Apparently the ring was such an odd size that while the daintily-fingered blond wore it on her ring finger, the large-handed Xena was able to wear it on her middle.

More importantly, though, the show has once again totally misrepresented the nature of criminal justice. Whether or not the first five women press charges (six pictures were found), the Brunette whose life has been torn apart has no reason not to blow the whistle. More importantly, you don't need a criminal complaint to charge someone with conspiracy, a crime that Xena has just confessed to. There's no reason she can't be charged with conspiracy to commit rape and robbery - and since victim was killed in the process of a crime that she had (admittedly) employed him to commit, she could even be charged as an accessory to his murder!

Since misinforming the public is the name of the game, though, Horatio releases Xena and we move on to more time-wasting. The ME, having wasted time by explaining how the whole 'injecting gel into knife wounds to make a mold' process two separate times, gives them their results. The knife is a military model, and since the only military person they've met in the investigation is the brunette's husband, they quickly pick him up.

He admits that he was in the hotel room that morning, but claims that he left after threatening the victim with the knife and leaving the weapon at the scene. Hilariously, he explains that he found out about which hotel room his wife and the victim were in by checking his credit card records for that night. Which means that the Brunette amateur prostitute paid for the room that night, rather than having the victim do it, which seems to violate every rule of prostitution - at least all the ones fiction has taught me. Again, Horatio seems to take Baldy's word that he left without murdering anyone, and doesn't even bring Baldy in for a more intense questioning. Horatio does learn something very valuable, though, that the concierge was selling alibis to all the amateur prostitutes for a hundred dollars each.

In the next scene, Callie and Girl Whose Name I Don't Know are grabbing the conceirge's box of sex toys and alibis. That must have been the world's fastest warrant. In the box, they find reciepts just like the one that Blonde had offered, so they pull her back in for more questioning. But not before searching the trunk of her car, where they find the murder weapon. That's right. Blonde was the killer, and even though she knew she was a suspect, she drove around town all day without getting rid of the murder weapon.

Then we get a flashback to her seeing victim picking up Brunette at the bar, and following them to their room. This raises the question of what exactly was going on with the timeline - the murder happened at 5AM, and victim picked up the Brunette the night before. Even if we assume it was incredibly late, and the pickup happened at like 1AM, that's still four hours of her hanging around the hotel, waiting to commit murder. Seems a little odd.

Of course, like all cirminal on CSI, she confesses right away, which leaves a few questions unanswered. For example, since she was out all night planning a murder, which she then committed at like 5AM, why did she then think it was important to grab an alibi just for that morning? More importantly, though, if she was just an ordinary woman who wanted to cheat on her husband just one time, why did Xena have surveilance photos of her? And how did she know about the conceirge's paid alibi service?

The worst part about all these inconsistencies is that the entire ending of the episode presents (through a sad-song montage) the idea that the real tragedy here is that this whole 'going to jail for murder' thing is happening to a regular, everyday housewife who just wanted to cheat on her husband. Of course, the idea that 'she didn't deserve this' suggests the collolary idea that somehow the other woman the victim attacked did. The episode seems entirely unconcerned about the fact that at least five other women were drugged, raped, and robbed, and it's dismissive of this fact because they worked as part-time prostitutes.

Really classy message there, CSI Miami.

In a final note, I'd just like to point out that the victim drugged women not by secretly pouring GHB in their drinks, but rather by asking them to drink from a small bottle he claimed was absinthe. So that means we're being asked to believe that there were six women out there who were handed a mysterious bottle by a stranger, told to drink from it even though the stranger refused to drink from it himself, and didn't find anything suspicious about that.


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