CSI: Miami Episode 721

Yeah, I know I’ve been really negligent about covering CSI, but I promise I’ll go back and cover the episodes I missed soon – I’d have waited until the summer and just done them all in a row, but the ads for tonight’s episode promised that Kim Coates would be back, and he’s always great, so I had to watch the episode. Then the episode itself proved to be so spectacularly awful that I just had to write about it immediately.

It opens with shots of people dancing in a club that have absolutely nothing to do with anything that occurs in the episode. We move immediately to two people making out in a bed the next morning before having their clinch disturbed by the sound of a wood chipper operating outside. After grabbing a camcorder to document the incident, he heads out to confront the garden. Proving that he’s never been around a wood chipper before he walks around the side of the chipper that’s pointed a little past the storage truck. Naturally, he winds up getting splattered with blood and dropping his camera on the ground.

Minutes later the police are on the scene, wondering who the pile of gore inside the truck used to be. The blood-soaked dude thinks it’s the gardener, but then the gardener shows up, confusing everybody. Once the opening credits are completed, we get a montage that tries to make crime scene photography action packed, while also reminding us of things we saw just over three minutes ago.

Is CSI made for people with Memento-level attention spans?

The gardener explains that he wasn’t near the woodchipper because his employer won’t spring for a portable toilet, so he had to walk two blocks to find a public restroom. Callie asks the gardener why he left the wood chipper running. He responds that he likes to leave it running even when he’s not there to annoy the people in the neighborhood who treat him so shabbily.

Continuing the team’s habit of trying to arrest everyone they talk to, Callie immediately charges the man with criminally negligent homicide because someone died in a piece of dangerous equipment that he left unattended. He’s immediately put into a cop car and dragged off. There’s a pretty big problem with that logic, though – Callie just got finished photographing a set of bloody footsteps walking away from the wood chipper, so they’re operating under the assumption that another person was at the woodchipper, and that they’re dealing with a murder.

So the gardener can’t be guilty of criminally negligent homicide, at least under their own theory of the crime.

If you start your car, lean in through the window and put it in drive, and then just let it roll down the street, you’ve committed reckless endangerment. If that driveless car hits someone crossing the street and kills them, you’ve committed criminally negligent homicide, because your reckless endangerment caused a death. But if two people are walking down the sidewalk when your driverless car rolls up and person A pushes person B in front of it, killing them, person A committed murder, while you still only committed reckless endangerment.

So if it was an accident, the gardener is a murderer, if it’s not, he’s not. They really shouldn’t be booking him until they’ve got a better idea of what went down by the wood chipper.

Far more hilariously, exactly one second after the gardener is thrown in the car, Callie goes so far as to point to the bloody footprints by the chipper, and announces that she’s totally sure it was a murder (yes, because accidents never happen when two people are near a piece of machinery). So she knows full well that the gardener shouldn’t be charged. These people are just terrible at their jobs.

Next they head over to to the owner to ask if he knows anything about the murder. It seems that the neighbours have been complaining about the noise. He responds that he stays within city ordinances, and only ever starts loud work after 8AM. He also reminds them that everyone else in the neighborhood has loud parties going until 4AM, but the police never respond to his noise complaints.

Frank immediately responds with: “So you decided to throw one of your neighbours into the wood-chipper?”



How on earth do you ever hope to solve a case if you just go around accusing everyone you meet of killing the victim? Can you imagine a way of shutting down a conversation faster than accusing someone of murder? What kind of a person would you have to be to not answer that question with “You know who you should ask about that? My lawyer.”

Apparently James Patrick Stuart (Keith from the Andy Richer Show!) is that hypothetical person, although, to his credit, he does make fun of them for asking a stupid question. And when they ask him who can confirm that he was home all day, he responds “My Lawyer.”

God bless that guy. Even more hilariously, Callie and Horatio’s friend Frank think that JPS was the one being a jerk. Yeah, you accuse a guy of throwing someone into a wood chipper just ten seconds after meeting him, and he’s the ass for sending you packing.

Rather disgustingly, the autopsy team, inclduing Horatio Jr., spend the next scene going through the gore in the back of the truck. It’s unpleasant, and doesn’t actually reveal anything of note, so I’m just going to move on.

Eventually they find a big piece of bone, and microscopy reveals that the bone marrow is both pale from leukemia, and full of weird mites. They pick up two different DNA signatures from the bone marrow, and discover that the donor was likely a child of the recipient. With this in mind, they call local hospitals to see if they’ve got any patients that match that profile.

Surprisingly, in the very next scene, they’re talking to the daughter of the victim. Let’s consider this for a second – all they knew was that their victim had leukemia. Depressingly, there are 30,000 new cases leukemia every year in America, or one in every ten thousand people. That means, in a strictly demographic sense, the Miami Metro area, a population center of around 5 million people, has somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 new Leukemia sufferers each year. While by no means do all of those people get bone marrow transplants, if they do the person they're most likely to get it from is an immediate family member (parent, child, full sibling).

They know that their patient was a man who received a bone marrow transplant at some point in the past three years from a child. They don’t have any reason to believe that he’s from Miami, other than the fact that he was ground up there. Even if he’s a resident, who’s to say he got the transplant performed in Miami? They're looking at hundreds of possible victims here, and I like to imagine that upon hearing the criteria that they gave out over the phone, the nurse on the other end rolled her eyes and sighed deeply.

Seriously, writers, would it have been that hard to give him a pin in his knee? Or a plastic foot? Or a wedding ring or wristwatch with his initials on it? Anything to narrow down the search a little?

Despite all of these things that ought to have gotten in the way, within an hour (remember, episodes of CSI:Miami only take place over a single day) the victim’s daughter is sitting in their interview room.


She explains that they were estranged because right after her father’s leukemia cleared up two years ago her mother was killed in a car accident, driving him a little insane. Amazingly, Horatio and Eric manage to get through the entire interview without accusing her of murdering her father. They had a great opening, too...

Horatio: So, your father hadn't been calling you recently... is that why you pushed him into the wood chipper?

It turns out that the victim was a plastic surgeon, so that’s their next stop. He’s introduced spouting that ridiculous pseudoscience-babble about beauty not being in the eye of the beholder, but a function of people recognizing the perfection of the ‘golden ratio’. It’s nonsensical claptrap that has nothing to do with the scene, of course, but serves to give the episode an air of ‘intelligence’, so I get why it’s there. Interviewing the doctor at the scene are Callie and Smuggy, depicted here crossing his arms, his body language reminding one of a petulant child.

They interview the doctor about his now ex-partner, and he mentions that after they called to tell him about the murder, he called all of the doctor’s patients to warn them that the police might be dropping by. Callie immediately makes him feel like an idiot, saying “that’s unfortunate, because we suspect one of them may be involved”.

Okay, first off, why did you tell him about the murder over the phone? Isn’t it a normal practice to inform potential suspects about the death in person, so you can, you know, see if they’re surprised to find out he’s dead? Secondly, if you don’t want a guy to talk about the murder until you see him, tell him that. He’s not a detective. How should he know? And finally, do you really need to be such a dick about everything? Next thing you’ll be accusing him of the murder.

Smuggy asks to look at the client files, and doc immediately shows them into the office. Wait… are they allowed to do that? Isn’t there doctor/patient confidentiality? Wasn’t there a whole episode about how they weren’t allowed to go through a psychiatrist’s files even though it might have turned up who killed her daughter? I mean, they did it anyways, but at least they acknowledged that it was illegal.

Doc explains that the victim only worked with a couple of patients at a time, and that he spent all his time with them. In fact, it concerned him quite a bit, because plastic surgeons make their money by shuttling lots of people in and out. Ever since his wife’s death he’d been really weird about his patients, and been going to perform house-call consults. One of those clients? The wife of the guy whose hourse the murder was at! Proving to be quite incurious, they immediately leave after finding out that particular piece of information.

Eric swings by James’ house, and James responds that he doesn’t want the police bothering his wife, because she’s not involved. Eric responds that his wife has ‘repeatedly refused to come in for questioning’, so they’ve issued a subpoena to force her to comply.

In an hour? How many times did they call her in that one hour?

Eric goes to see Elisabeth (the wife – hereafter Monstro) in her secret room that she never leaves. Why doesn’t she leave? Because frequent plastic surgeries have turned her into a octo-mom style disturbing monstrosity. Filling Eric in on the way the victim worked, she explained that while she started out pretty, she wanted to be beautiful, and the victim had some weird ideas about how to change her face in the hopes of ‘improving’ it.

In their last visit, he announced that he’d make a mistake in the initial idea of what she should end up looking like, and that while that was a complete failure, he’d have to start all over to craft her a brand new face. Monstro then admits that she’s despondent about her current looks, and doesn’t like that she’s been turned into a monster. Eric, always the team player immediately points out that she has just admitted to having a motive to kill the victim, essentially accusing her of murder.

Of course, she didn’t, actually – yes, he’d turned her into a monster, but it’s not like he had given up. He’d just taken her down a bad pathway, and he was sure he was going to be able to fix the damage. You’d have to stretch quite a bit to call that a motive.

Back at the team’s sci-fi laboratory, Horatio is searching through the list of patients. One of them is Kim Coates! Who’s looking to get his face fixed after the burns he received in that boat explosion!

Horatio drags Kim in, and finds that he’s working with the police now. Kim even explains that he can’t be charged with the whole ‘killer bullet’ fiasco because he was entrapped into buying them by an agent of the police. While that might be true, he still opened fire on a police officer, which I’m pretty sure is attempted murder, whichever way you slice it.

Kim is fantastic as ever in the scene, bemusedly teasing Horatio as Horatio accuses him of killing the plastic surgeon. I’m including the entire clip here because of my love of the Ron character, and because it ends wonderfully-

You know, that’s my favorite reaction ever to a David Caruso comeback. Kim’s being playful, and then Horatio threatens to shoot him, and then Kim doesn’t seem to know how to respond for a moment, then gets a ‘Well, you certainly said THAT’ look on his face, and moves on.

Over at the crime scene, Eric finds that the victim’s car’s tires have been slashed, so he brings them back to be analyzed. Smuggy immediately recognizes the slashes as having been made by a plasma scalpel, the kind used by plastic surgeons.

Naturally Smuggy and Horatio head right over to the doctor’s office, and ask to see his scalpel. This isn’t the greatest line of questioning, of course – scalpels like that are mass-produced, and would all generate identical cuts – because it’s a heated plasma field doing the cutting, you wouldn’t even have the off chance of an imperfection on the blade leaving a characteristic ‘fingerprint’ that could be identified later.

Doc is understandably miffed, asking why they think he’d slash the victim’s tires. Smuggy responds with “friendly partnership turned deadly competition”. Making doc here the fourth person they’ve accused of murder with absolutely no evidence so far this week. Also, Smuggy’s theory of the crime makes no sense – the victim had been dropping the ball lately, generating almost no money for the practice. That’s actually the opposite of ‘competition’.

This all becomes moot when it’s revealed that the doc’s scalpel is missing. The last time he remembers seeing it yesterday when the victim got into a fight with Kim, who’d stopped by the office. Horatio asks what the argument was about. Doc responds that it’s important to know who you’re dealing with, and if your patients won’t tell you how they got their injuries, then they’re probably involved in shady business.

Really? Kim wouldn’t say how he was injured? Why not? Try to imagine that scene:

Kim: There was a gas leak on my boat and I was horribly burned when it exploded.
Doctor: I’m calling the police! You’re going to jail for life, mister!

Oh, wait, now I get it.

Their theory of the crime changes once again, with Kim having stolen the scalpel in order to slash the victim’s tires. But not that night when leaving the clinic. No, their theory is that Kim stole the scalpel that night, then woke up really early the next morning, followed the doctor to his first house call of the day around 7AM, slashed his tires in public on the street, and then drove away.

Look, I know this is the worst-written show on television, but come on, that just doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Horatio heads over to Elizabeth Berkeley’s house, warning her that Kim is going to show up and try to kill her. She doesn’t take the threat seriously. That’ll go well.

Over at the lab, Callie and ponytailed dude are watching the camcorder tape from the beginning. Using digital science, he manages to remove the blood from the lens, so they can watch the tape. A few minutes after the murder they see a person running in front of the lens. Zooming in on the hand, they manage to identify a watch on guy’s wrist, and use that info to pull in a teenager for questioning.

The fact that the camera was dropped as the murder took place, and the teen ran in front of it a few minutes later doesn’t make them skeptical of the odds that he might be the killer, of course.

In the next scene there’s a ridiculous scene of the teenager’s Operation: Hot Mother walking into the police station to be there for the interrogation. Because that’s the law. Frank’s so flustered he immediately starts flirting with Bonnie (that’s her name), pretending that he’s mistaken her for the teen’s girlfriend. I mean, you might think he wasn’t being amazingly inappropriate, and was actually confused, but look at her:

Sure, she's pretty, but that’s clearly the mom. Anyhoo, it turns out the teen had gone to the crime scene to yell at the doctor for turning Bonnie into an Operation: Hot Mother. He’s fed up with his mother running around being sexy as opposed to, you know, parenting. The accuse him of killing the victim (baseless accusation #5!). Teen claims that he got lost while following the doctor, then found the bloody wood-chipper after the crime. Since the video backs up this version of the events, he’s released.

There’s a quick interlude with Horatio failing to find fingerprints on anything in the doctor’s bag. That’s not enough montages for you, there are two more right after it, totalling nearly a minute and a half, which functions as a kind of weird synopsis of one of the show’s major writing flaws.

Watch those three montages. The first one was bookended by a scene of Eric finding the slashed tires, and then a scene of Eric describing the slashes in the tires and showing off a computer model of them. The second montage could have been replaced with two lines of dialogue:

Smuggy: Any luck with the doctor’s bag?
Horatio: There wasn’t enough ridge detail in the prints to get a match.

The last two montages are followed b a scene where Callie and Eric carefully explain what everything that was featured in the montage meant.

I think the show’s producers are fundamentally misinformed about what purpose montages are supposed to serve. They’re supposed to compress and convey information visually that would be too complex or time-consuming to just spell out. If you have to have two characters spend the next two minute explaining what the montages meant, then you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

Also, between those three montages, the photography one above, the slow-mo sequence of the Operation: Hot Mother catching every man's eye as she entered the office, and the sixth montage I cut because it was too disgusting for anyone to watch, ever (it involved people dropping bits of flesh onto an outline of a man), that's about five minutes of the show dedicated to stopping the plot dead and presenting unimportant actions to the strains of mediocre music. Do you think the other TV shows are jealous that CSI Miami gets to do 10% less work than they do?

The gist of it is that it turns out that there was some eastern-european corpse hair on the victim, which probably came from a wig. That’s why there were mites in the body as well, they feed on dead hair follicles. Hilariously, they immediately jump to the conclusion that Monstro must be the killer because “how would you feel if you found out your doctor gave you (a corpse-hair wig)?”

Do plastic surgeons generally provide their patients wigs? I’m pretty sure they have no involvement in the process of getting of getting you a wig or hair extensions. They might recommend someone, but if it winds up being corpse hair, it’s pretty damn far from the doctor’s fault.

Well, despite all common sense, when Callie and Eric go to talk to Monstro, it turns out that yes, she did get the wig from the doctor. Moving on from how stupid that is, Monstro asks why they car, and Callie responds that they believe the victim yanked hair out of her wig while she was pushing him into the wood chipper. That’s the second baseless accusation against her in the same day: She’s got synthetic hair. Which Eric confirms by creepily fondling it, as opposed to, you know, getting a sample. Callie makes a heartfelt apology, which she wouldn’t have had to do if she’d waited until after asking about the wig before accusing Monstro of murder.

Luckily the visit wasn’t a waste, since over the course of the day Monstro remembered something. It seems that the victim had wanted Monstro to look like a certain person… she’s not sure who, though. Of course, since she started getting surgery two years ago, it’s not too hard to figure out that the Victim was trying to create a replacement wife. If that wasn’t creepy enough, he was trying to turn an already-married woman into his replacement wife.

Yeah, at this point I’ve determined that the victim really deserved to get tossed into that wood-chipper.

They head back to the computer to get a look at a picture of the dead wife. And what do you know? It’s Operation: Hot Mother. Getting her into the interview room, they confront her with the fact that her hair extensions are full of mites because it came from a dead person, and she confesses immediately. Well, you know what they say, sixth time’s the charm.

It seems that on the morning of the murder (that morning, if you can believe it) Operation: Hot Mother had dropped by her boyfriend’s office to say hi. But when he left to go do the consult, she wandered into his secret back room and found his nefarious blueprint for transforming the plain-jane version of her into the image of his dead wife.

What, seriously? The surgeries were finished like six months ago. Why is the chart still up there? More importantly, how are we supposed to take a criminal seriously when he behaves like Lyle Lanley:

(I wanted a Clip of Marge finding the ledger with Lanley's plan to stael the money while the monorail crashed, then Lyle saying "I don't know why I leave this lying around!", but apparently Fox has some kind of problem with people putting tiny clips of their shows on YouTube. Huh.)

She rushed over to the house to confront him, and was feeling so despondant and betrayed that she was going to throw herself into the wood chipper to make him feel guilty. Then he tried to stop her, accidentally called her the dead wife’s name, and she became so enraged that she through him in.

So off to jail she goes, convicted by her own stupidity.

Here’s a tip for future criminals – you don’t have to confess. And if you absolutely have to confess, if you and the victim were the only ones there, you get to tell the story however you want.

Let’s imagine that she had told the entire story up to the point where she was going to throw herself in the wood-chipper exactly as she did on the show. Then, instead of confessing to murder, she’d said this:

Operation - Hot Mother: He ran up and tried to pull me out, and I tried to pull away from him, and then he tripped or something and I felt a tug and suddenly there was blood everywhere!

Would the police have claimed she was lying? Or would they have believed her? Their evidence fits with that version of the events perfectly. So why on earth would she confess?

But confess she did, so the episode’s over, except for some minor housekeeping. It seems that sometime during the day Kim swung by Elizabeth Berkeley’s house and slashed her a few times superficially with the scalpel, which he left at the scene. But she’s too afraid to testify against him, and there’s no fingerprints because… are you ready for this: the fire smoothed out Kim’s fingerprints!

Kim gets one more great scene, taunting Horatio about how he’s working with the police now, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. This is all setting up the season finale, and I have every confidence that it’s going to be entertaining when it happens, but this episode's all wrapped up.

Hey, do you think they ever let that gardener go?


Rodolfo Valentin said...

she should have her hair done by Rodolfo Valentin of New York.

Vardulon said...

Don't get me wrong - I completely understand the idea behind spamming random sites with comments in hopes of building your business.

But shouldn't there be the slightest connection between your message and the post?

Like, say, finding a post about CSI: New York?

How did you even find this thing? Was it a search about hair?