17.12.08

CSI Wednesday!

I know I've fallen a little behind covering CSI lately, and I'll catch up soon - well, I'm not going to write about last week's episode, which, while preposterous and stupid, wasn't at all interesting, save for the fact that it introduced (to me, anyway), the fact that Eric has an evil Cuban crime lord father who's trying to have him killed for some reason. I had to leap-frog ahead to write about this week's episode because it had both an unbelievably bad message and a moment of incredible stupidity.

First, the message: Don't snitch!

Yeah, you'd think a show about law enforcement would have a pro-snitching police, what with it being the noblest thing a person can possibly do and all. No one bothered to tell the writers of CSI: Miami, apparently.

At the beginning of the episode a man is killed in one of the most elaborate ways in the show's history. First, he's shot, then buried alive, then a few hours later, a hole-digging machine digs a hole in the exact place he was buried, tearing his chest apart. If anyone wants to know what happened to the spirit of Rube Goldberg, he's become the muse of CSI writers.

I didn't quote the opening line in this episode because I try to only use one chunk of dialogue per post, and this next one was too important to pass up:

The Scene: The seaside crime scene. New Coroner is examining the far-too-disgusting-for-broadcast-television-I-mean-seriously-how-did-that-make-it-past-standards-and-practices-seriously-people corpse. Horatio's friend Frank walks up and announces that he just got a phone call from Crimestoppers, and they've got someone who supposedly witnessed the crime who wants to talk to the police.

The Characters: New Coroner, Frank, Callie.

New Coroner: Yeah, but those people are just trying to make a buck off the county. Can we trust a tip from someone who gets paid to give it?

Frank: Now, most days I'd agree with ya, but unless I'm missing something here, we started out with no leads.

Callie: (Shrugs, begrudgingly accepting the horrible necessity of having to deal with people who want money in exchange for their time and personal risk)

So yeah, that happened. The show had all three police characters announcing they distrust the entire idea of accepting information on crimes if money is expected in return. This is the most offensive message I've seen on the show since that episode earlier this scene that essentially announced that prostitutes didn't have a right to complain if they were raped, because, after all, weren't they kind of asking for it?

Have the writers never heard of confidential informants? Those are the people who make paid snitching their full-time job. Who glide through the criminal underworld, gleaning pieces of information, reporting them to the police, and then get money for it. They're an invaluable tool in a world where people may well be reticent to give information to the police. Do the cops on CSI:Miami not trust them either?

Which raises the question, what exactly is supposed to motivate informers in the world of CSI:Miami? Community spirit? That's a persuasive argument, I suppose. After all, it's not like the police are being paid to catch criminals. No, wait...

Is the offering a reward for details about a crime that they object to, or that someone would then claim that reward?

Don't tell me that they're suspicious because of the possibility of abuse in the system. Find me an aspect of the criminal justice system that isn't open to massive abuse. There are more safeguards over at CrimeStoppers than there are in the police department. It's not like we're dealing with the kind of random informants that Police Squad made fun of, newspaper stand owners who have their ear to the ground and will spill the beans for a fin - people call a toll-free number and give their information anonymously (or, if they so choose, using their nonym) and then the receive a payment months later, if, and only if, their information has led to the successful resolution of the case.

I wouldn't be so offended if this was just a stupid opinion those three characters held, and by the end of the episode they'd learned a valuable lesson about NOT SPITTING IN THE FACES OF PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO HELP THEM SOLVE CRIMES. It's more than that, though - it's the philosophy of the entire episode. What evidence do I have to support this theory? Thank you for asking, hypothetical foil I use to imbue my articles with a conversational tone, allow me to explain what happens next.

After a young woman has told them where the shooting went down, Hortaio discovers that she was really working for a former street gang leader who recently got out of jail. In a meeting, this gang leaders explains that the murdered minister from that morning (I didn't mention he was a minister who was trying to get kids out of gangs? Whoops) had visited him in jail and convinced him to change his ways. Now that the gang had killed the minister, the former boss was bound and determined to bring down the whole gang with the only tool he had at his disposal - snitching to the cops. Horatio is incredibly skeptical, but turns around when the gang boss tells him about a planned bombing at the minister's outreach house.

Horatio runs over there and rescues the young woman from earlier, who had been tied up next to the bomb. It seems the young woman had almost gotten blown up because of her snitching. She explains that she was so happy to have made money snitching (apparently, in the world of CSI: Miami, they pay off immediately) that she went around asking people about other crimes she could go to the police and snitch about.

So really, it wasn't snitching that got her almost killed, it was incredible stupidity.

Anyhoo, Horatio rushes over to the warehouse the bomb-maker was using, and finds him holding the gang boss hostage. Horatio manages to kill the bomb-maker, but not before his gun goes off, fatally wounding the gang boss. Then the show goes into sad-montage mode, as all the gang members are rounded up, while the gang boss dies, the show making its final pronouncement about what all snitches deserve.

If it sounds like I'm overreaching a little, consider the next scene, where the young woman comes to the already-being-repaired outreach house and announces that she's going to donate her snitch money to the outreach program. The intent is clear - taking money for helping to solve a crime is a dirty thing you should feel guilty about, and the only way to absolve yourself of the sin is to get rid of the filthy snitch money.

This is the kind of attitude I expect to see in drama about someone finding a bunch of drug money somewhere, only to have the story heavy-handedly demonstrate that the money itself is tainted, and no good can ever come from using it - unless it's dropped anonymously in a church collection box, of course.

I expect to see this message less in a story about PEOPLE HELPING THE POLICE SOLVE MURDERS.

As episodes go, it was as offensive an hour of television as I've seen all year.

Oh, right, I was going to show you the funny thing. Right. When they get to the house that's about to blow up, Eric throws what is essentially a transformer in through the front door's window:

The idea is that wherever the ball ends up, there's feet at the bottom and a camera at the top, so it can look around. The thing looks like it costs fifteen thousand dollars, so I'm left wondering just how incredibly large the Miami police budget is that some crime scene investigators (not Bomb Squad, not Hostage Rescue) just have one lying around in their trunk.

In an amazing contrivance, despite the fact that the bomb could be literally anywhere in the house, Eric happened to throw it in the exact place so that the camera could zoom in on the crude makeshift bomb's digital timer. Oh, and the young woman who's tied up next to the bomb.

Horatio races into the house with only thirty seconds left on the clock. Then, despite the fact that he knows the bomb and girl are at the end of the hall, through the right doorway, he pauses to look around, as if he's worried he'll be attacked. Because they're a chance one of the bombers would have stuck around to the last second, just to make sure it went off.

Then he runs to the young woman, who proves to be awake, and not actually tied to anything, just bound and gagged. You'd think she might have tried wiggling away from the bomb a little, but who can guess her motives?

In the last paragraph, I said that he runs over to her, but that's not actually the case. I went back and checked, and he actually walks over. And not particularly quickly, at that. If you think that's a waste of time, just wait until you see what he does next:
That's right. He unties her hands and takes off her gag. Let me reiterate: She wasn't tied TO anything. There was nothing stopping Horatio from just dragging her out of the house. Hell, her feet weren't even tied! She could have run out herself. Despite all these facts, and with twenty seconds left on the clock, Horatio elects to spend a full ten of them taking out her gag and undoing the knots on her wrists.

That's not the worst part, though. No, that's what happens next:

No, you're not seeing things. He picks her up and carries her out anyways! So why not just do that in the first place and save yourself some time!

Horatio and the girl run out of the house just in time to escape the explosion, and in case you've ever doubted my theories about the show's continuing efforts to canonize Horatio Caine and, by extension, the actor who plays him, take a look at this:

They're pretty close to that explosions, right? Much closer than Eric, who's blown right off his feet:

As for Horatio and this girl, they're completely untouched by the explosion, allowing Caine to pose in just the right way so that the sun overhead highlights his halo:

Oh, CSI. Even when I absolutely despise your repugnant moral messages, you can still make me love you with your matchless devotion to stupidity.

See you in the new year, Lieutenant Horatio Caine.

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