CSI Sunday!

There's a new CSI on Monday, and before it gets here, I thought I'd finally get around to reviewing the previous episode, since it was notably stupid, even for a show notable primarily for the idiocy of its writing.

The episode opens with an NCIS-style flash ahead to the body we'll be seeing at the end of the teaser. The setting is quickly revealed - it's a racetrack! The man who's about to be murdered is watching the race, desperate for his horse to win. It doesn't, and he's murdered soon after.

When Horatio and the ME (whose name I still don't know) arrive at the scene, they notice the lack of an exit wound from the front his head, despite the presence of an entry wound in the back. Mysterious! They fail to notice that, for some reason, David Caruso isn't wearing rubber gloves in the middle of an active crime scene, and that neither police officer is wearing paper overshoes to prevent fibre contamination.

In what has to be the worst tag in recent memory, the ME feeds Horatio the following straight line:

The Scene: A private box above a horse racing track.
The Players: Horatio Caine, The Anonymous ME

Anonymous ME: (Looks out a window) Wow, there must be ten thousand people out there, Horatio.

Horatio: And one of them... is my killer.

Really? You think so? You think it's likely that, in the hours after killing that guy, the murderer hasn't taken the opportunity to flee the scene? Or, more accurately, leave the scene at a leisurely pace? It's been hours. He could have walked to the airport by now.

Once the commercials end, we're back in the private box, where Callie and Eric investigate the crime scene. They notice a pair of binoculars, which leads Callie to suggest that the victim might have been killed because of something he saw. Or maybe he was just, oh, I don't know... watching the race? It turns out the binoculars were also a digital camera, so they send them back to the lab for processing.

Callie also notices that some foodstuffs on the table can't be purchased in Miami, which leads them to the distributor, who had a meeting with the victim at the track that day. This is obviously a red herring, so I'm going to skip any mention of this character and their investigation of him from here on in. Although I will note that the guy would have to be pretty stupid to murder someone (essentially) in public when their meeting was public knowledge.

Okay, I said I wasn't going to talk about this scene any more, but I just wanted to show everyone how hard the show tries to make everything look intense - here's Horatio threatening someone, then driving to the racetrack:

He just seems so focused on driving across town, doesn't he?

Over at the racetrack, Horatio's buddy Frank finds a short man picking up discarded tickets, and gives him the bum's rush. Because the short man has dialogue, he'll be important later. As Horatio arrives, an officer brings over a young boy to talk to him. The boy is lost, and has the Smug Guy's card in his pocket.

Horatio, being a saintly sort, offers to take little Billy back to his home. It seems that Smugguy is a friend of Billy's father, who is a vet at the track. In the next scene, the vet is being beaten up by a beefy man. Smuggy runs in to help, but doesn't do a very good job. Luckily Horatio shows up in time to affect an arrest. Or so he thinks - Horatio notices a tattoo on the beefy man's shoulder, which identifies him as Russian Mob, and an employee of the Wishmaster, Andrew Divoff! Realizing the game is up, the Mobster uses a piece of broken glass to slit his own throat, perhaps finding suicide preferable to going to jail for a couple of years for assault. To each his own, I suppose.

It turns out that Smuggy used to have a gambling problem, and the vet was his sponsor. Now that the vet has some mob troubles of his own, he's asked Smuggy to help him out, with fair to middling results. Luckily, not that Horatio is on the case, things should be resolved by the end of the day. Because, for some bizarre reason, episodes of CSI: Miami only ever take place over the course of a single day, no matter how little sense that makes.

Now that they know the vet is tangled up with the Russians, there's only one thing to do - go and pay a visit to the Wishmaster. Before they get there, though, Eric pays a visit to the ME, who discovers that the man wasn't shot with a bullet at all, but rather one of those bolt guns from the movie No Country for Old Men. The bolt gun is usually used on animals, so they immediatley jump to the conclusion that the man may have been killed because he treated his animals badly. Eric and Callie head over to the stables to talk to the horse trainer, who, naturally, is a second red herring. The trainer's status as a red herring is established concretely when they find the murder weapon wrapped in a towel at the bottom of a horse's feed bag in his stables. This makes him a suspect, even though that's the worst possible place to hide a murder weapon.

Establishing clearly that this show either has the worst continuity editing or most muddled writing on television, in the next scene, Callie and Eric are back at home base, looking at the photos from the binocameras. They notices that the jockey riding the victim's horse was using an illegal prodding device, and in the next scene, they're back at the track, interrogating her. That's right - they drove all the way across town just to look at a photograph, then drove all the way back to the racetrack to interview another person.

Couldn't have other characters been looking at the photos, and then, after noticing the suspicious jockey, phoned up the cops who were already at the track? Yikes - this is a really bad episode.

The Jockey confesses to cheating, but claims it had nothing to do with their (admittedly ludicrous) theory that she slowed down on purpose so that the victim would pay closer attention to the race, thereby making him easier to sneak up on. She then would have used the prod to speed back up and still win the race. As if winning the race would be a priority when you're already conspiring to kill someone.

According to the Jockey, the horse was unusually sluggish that day, and she used the prod to try to bring him to life. That's right, the horse was probably drugged! And didn't the other, seemingly unrelated case they were working on involve Russian mobsters beating up the track veterinarian? I wonder if there's a connection...

Smuggy visits the lab and finds out that his friend the vet had both a racing program in his pocket and cocaine in his pants. All signs point to an addict's relapse! But the episode is only half over, so there's got to be more to the story.

Now it's back to the suicidal mobster. They don't have any clues about his identity, but Horatio has the bright idea to look at the man's watch. According to Smuggy, it's eleven hours fast!

Now take a look at that watch face. It gives the time as 11:38. Now, presumably, Ryan's watch gives the time as 12:38. Note how the watch he's examining is a plain old analog watch with nothing to indicate the date or any kind of a 24-hour setting. Looking at a watch like that, why would you jump to the conclusion that it was set 11 hours ahead, rather than the far more reasonable assumption that it was set 1 hour behind?

Smuggy announces that if he's just arrived from Russia, his fingerprints would be in the immigration database. While that's true, they would also be in the immigration database if he'd arrived at any time in the past five years (or however long ago they started fingerprinting at immigration). Since they're operating under the theory that he's in the Russian mob, why hadn't they run his fingerprints through immigration already?

Naturally, his visa was sponsored by the Wishmaster, who had gotten away with murder just a few weeks earlier. Horatio accuses Divoff of sending the suicidal man to beat up the vet. Knowing full well that Horatio doesn't have anything on him, Divoff refuses to co-operate at all. Which is a nice change of pace from their normal suspects, who usually confess to crimes for no good reason.

Now we move on to Eric looking for trace evidence in a scene that I've edited together with a scene from later in the episode, turning them into a short film titled "Making lab work visually interesting to television viewers is very difficult." Also, I've included the end of the previous scene, since there's nothing I like more than the tags that Horatio exits on. Observe:

Thrilling, right? Anyhow, inside the bolt gun they find fake dirt used at certain racetracks. Suspiciously, the fake dirt isn't used in Miami, but it is used in Chicago, where the first Red Herring suspect was from! Naturally, the murder weapon is his, but he's so obviously not the killer that his alibis aren't worth going into. Although, seriously, that's an hilarious theory of the crime - he got mad in the meeting, walked down to his car, took out a weapon that could be completely traced to him, used it to kill the guy, and then hid it in a random feed bag? Wow, that's convoluted. Mysteriously, they find a discarded ticket next to the gun box. Wait, wasn't that short guy from earlier picking up discarded tickets...?

Over at the lab, it turns out that the vet wasn't high at all, but rather that he'd been using the cocaine to drug horses, causing them to lose the race. Of course, as a way of fixing races, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. You can only hobble one horse in a race without anyone noticing, so while it's possible to make one horse lose a race, I'm not sure how you could ensure that another horse wins it. After all, it's an 8-horse field. Can you bet against a horse winning? I mean, I could see hobbling the favorite as a way for the track owners to make some cash - people like to bet on the favorite and all, but at the same time, I don't think there's much of an advantage in that either. After all, odds on a favorite tend to be really low precisely because so many people think it's going to win - this encourages betting on longshots, which, if they win, cost the track more money. All hobbling the frontrunner is going to accomplish is to make one of the higher-odds horses the winner - and it's impossible to guess which one.

For the record, this is Callie's third round-trip journey from headquarters to the track today. Since Calder racetrack (the real racetrack I'm assuming the show's 'Bayside' is based on) is something like 20 miles from of Central Miami, that's like three hours of just driving back and forth.

Smuggy interrogates his vet pal about drugging the horses, which makes him finally admit that Wishmaster had been blackmailing him based on debts he owed. Rather conveniently, the vet drops the information that Wishmaster keeps a black notebook on him at all times that holds the details all of his crimes in it. As prominent mobsters are wont to do.

After the second lab scene featured in the video above, the other lab technician reveals that there's a suction cup mark on the ticket, meaning that the killer must be the guy they randomly saw picking up tickets with a suction cup earlier! They confront him with the fact that he has gunpowder on his hand, and rather than asking for a lawyer and beginning to plan his defense, he dutifully confesses to his crime. The flashback shows him accidentally dropping the betting slip as he takes his hand out of his pocket, explaining its presence by the gun box.

Of course, the next shot would reveal that he touched everything in and around the trailer with his bare hands, so I don't know why they couldn't have just gotten fingerprints off it and checked them against their records. As a licensed jockey, I'm pretty sure his fingerprints have to be on record, don't they?

His motive? He was the original owner of the famous horse, and the victim had cheated him out of it. What's odd is that he doesn't seem to have much remorse, because he was clearly cheated by a nefarious businessman. I can't stress how little motive he has for confessing here.

Then the show zips right along to the next scene, where Wishmaster is meeting with the vet in a parking garage. Wishmaster threatens him with a gun, and demands his services to fix more races - it seems that the vet was unable to summon the guts to actually drug the horse, so Divoff had to do it himself.

Luckily, all of this out-loud talking about his crimes happens within earshot of Horatio and Smuggy. That's right, it's a setup. Yes, despite the fact that Wishmaster knows that the police are on to him, and that he knows that his henchmen committed suicide while being arrested by the police at the vet's house, when the vet comes up to him and offers to collude in future crimes, it never for a second occurs to Divoff that the police might be setting a trap for him. So, even though he has an army of henchmen willing to do his bidding and die in the process, Wishmaster goes to the meeting himself, carrying a notebook that details all of his crimes.

That's some believable behaviour, right there. Did he get to be a mob boss by winning a raffle?

So that wraps everything up nicely - Divoff's in jail, but determined to make Horatio Caine's people suffer by using his gang - the Jockey is in jail - and Callie heads back out to the track for a fourth time that day to go on a date with the horse trainer.

I really feel sorry for Eric in all of this. The girl he's got a crush on ignores him, Wishmaster's goons are going to try to get Horatio by attacking his friends, and since Eric's both on Horatio's team and his brother-in-law, that puts him at the top of the list of targets. That's not even mentioning the fact that his nefarious secret Cuban father is trying to kill him!

Here's hoping things look up for the guy starting tomorrow.

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