CSI Friday: Episode 724 - Ron's Back Again!

The episode opens at a party, only this time, unlike most of the party openings, it’s not just random shots to set the scene, the scene is actually set there. That’s a nice change. A moronic criminal is walking around the party, bragging to literally everyone there about two people that he murdered and robbed as part of a ‘score’. It turns out that this criminal is the guy Ron has been staying with since he returned from the boat explosion. Ron warns the dumb criminal not to keep confessing to a double murder in public, but the idiot can’t be stopped.

The next scene is set a few hours later as Ron is throwing the last few stragglers out of the house because the party’s over. Any Kim Coates screen time is great, and seeing his villain character cleaning up after a party is oddly compelling. One of those things you never really think about is the way that, after a drug kingpin’s raucous all-night party there’s always going to be a few drunk stragglers who have to be reminded to leave. Way to go, CSI:Miami for giving us this window into the off-duty lives of over-the-top villains.

Anyhow, Ron asks the dumb criminal where he stashed the bodies, the dumb criminal accuses Ron of snitching to the police, and then Ron tosses him into the pool, which turns out to be full of acid.


In just moments the guy has gone from normal dumb criminal to this:

Yeah, just for the record, that image is fine, but show a female nipple on television and you have to pay the government a fifty million dollar fine.

Also, note that the pool is filled with some kind of magical acid that dissolves hair and skin without becoming cloudy or particle-filled.

Finally, before we move on to the actual show – how did they have a raucous all-night party without anyone getting into the pool and finding out it was full of acid? Has that ever happened?

Horatio, Eric, and Smuggy have all arrived at the crime scene, but the coroner is late for some reason, and can’t be reached on her cell phone. Could it be her drug problem that was outlined in episodes I haven’t reviewed here? Probably.

Over at the pool Eric tries to take a sample of the acid but it burns right through the beaker he’s using! It’s not an acid at all, but a powerful base! Horatio announces that the need to neutralize it before the body melts, and they can’t wait for Haz-Mat, so Eric runs off to the grocery store to buy vinegar.

Um, just how much vinegar are you going to buy, Eric? That’s an entire pool filled with a base so powerful it can melt flesh, and vinegar is an acid so weak it barely stings if you get it in your eye. Wouldn’t you essentially need a tanker truck full of vinegar to balance this out? Or hey, maybe vinegar has some magical base-neutralizing qualities I don’t know about. After all, it certainly turns baking soda from a pungent base to a neutral mush if mixed in equal qualities.

And do they really need to get the body out that quickly? I mean, it’s not like the cause of death is a mystery, after all. Ah, who knows, he’ll probably have a metal cylinder hidden in his jawbone that cracks the case or something.

Anyhow, Horatio finds out that it was Ron who called the case in, and all he can think to say is ‘Here we go’. Not only is that not a quip of any kind, but you managed to miss out on making the connection between Ron’s burned face and the base-burns covring the victim’s body. Weak, Horatio. Very weak.

After the credits we move to a scene of Horatio interviewing Ron, which I’m including here because I find the show’s treatment of the Ron character really fascinating:

It seems like I’m not the only one who loves Kim Coates’ performance here. They’re just letting him dominate the scene – I’ve never seen them do that with any other character. The rule has always been if you’re onscreen with Horatio, you are second to Horatio, but apparently Ron is the exception – even always putting Horatio on the right side of the frame for all the cuts back and forth can’t give him control.

At the pool Eric and the Brit are offering the educational portion of the episode, explaining that while acids can’t eat through glass, bases can, and must be contained inside plastic. Fascinating. Then Callie walks up, seemingly way too happy to be arriving at the scene of a melted corpse.

Look, I know you and Eric are dating now, but try to keep a little bit of a lid on it at work, okay?

Also, it turns out I was way off about the amount of vinegar you would need to get the PH level of the pool down to safe levels. When Callie first puts the sensor into the ‘water’ the PH level is 13. After Eric pours five bottles of vinegar in, roughly twenty litres, I’d guess, it’s down to a perfect seven. Seriously. They got an exact seven by dumping vinegar into a pool of pure base. Not a little higher or a little lower. That’s not a small pool:

Let’s be conservative and say seven meters by seven meters with an average depth of one and a half meters. That’s 73 cubic meters of water, which is 73 thousand litres, at PH level 13. Eric dumped in about 20 liters of PH 3 vinegar. That equals a swimming pool full of PH 7 ‘water’? Somehow that math doesn’t make the most sense to me.

They get the body out of the water, and Eric has to take a suspicious phone call. Callie finds out that the best way for the base to have been put into the water would be for someone to dump a huge amount of it into the filtration system. Rather hilariously, Eric opens the filtration tank cover before dusting it for prints. Sure, the killer wore gloves when putting the flakes in:

But Eric can’t see the cutaway flashbacks. He doesn’t know that. They decide to talk to the pool cleaner, since he’d be the only other person to have keys to the pool house. Naturally, they start out by accusing him of killing the victim, because that’s how they start every conversation, but the pool guy quickly lets them know that a few days earlier his master keys were stolen, which seems like a pretty big deal. I mean, wouldn’t he have had to tell all of his clients to change their locks? Or if he didn’t tell (why wouldn’t he?) how is he now getting into people’s homes to clean their pools?

Back at the crime lab Horatio is trying to get Elizabeth Berkeley on the phone, but can’t do it. Horatio Jr. walks up and tells his father that Liz has been going nuts lately, obsessed with Ron and not taking her medication. Horatio rushes over to HJ’s house to meet Liz and confront her about her recent psychological problems. In another funny note, Liz announces that if Horatio doesn’t leave her alone, she’ll call 911 and tell them he’s harassing her. Yes, because the police are going to take the word of a drug-addicted con artist of Horatio Caine, the one man keeping crime from totally overtaking the city. Good luck with that.

Lab girl whose name I don’t know tells Horatio that there wasn’t a match to Liz on the note left in Ron’s car. Which raises the question – were there fingerprints on the note? DNA? They haven’t actually told us yet, and if there weren’t you haven’t actually ruled Liz out as a suspect.

Eric and Smuggy find some hair in the pool guy’s truck, and assume that since the thief was in the truck for maybe 30 seconds two weeks ago, and the pool guy has driven the truck every day for a few years, the hair must obviously have come from the thief. Of course. Under a microscope Eric is able to identify it as cow or deer hair, which only deepens the mystery! Smuggy remembers that the same base that was used in the pool is what’s used to tan leather!

Horatio and Smuggy head to the closest cow tannery, which turns out to be run by Jeff Fahey! They head over to his chemical storage facility and search the place. Immediately smelling decomposing tissue, they pop open some canisters and discover two corpses that have been dropped into dissolving base! Wait a minute… wasn’t there a mystery earlier about some missing bodies? And when they find a cigar cap near the canisters their suspect list drops down to the one man in the episode who smokes cigars… Ron! Although it seems like they should keep an eye on Jeff Fahey, what with him having sworn that no one goes into his chemical locker, and then it turned out that same locker was being used to store bodies. Just saying.

Naturally they drag Ron in and ask him about the cigar. He announces that they belonged to the victim, then finally tells them about the victim’s murder bragging the night before, and sends them after his partner in crime.

Down in the crime lab, Smuggy confronts the New ME about her drug problem, then they, in a montage that’s way too disgusting to be allowed on television (but fine for the internet, I suppose), they sift through the corpses pieces left in the dissolving barrels.

They manage to find a wedding ring in the mush, and track it to the missing person that the victim killed in his flashback. It turns out that in addition to the husband, the woman announces that her sister and brother-in-law also disappeared at the same time, when they all went scuba-diving together! Since they only found two male bodies in the barrels, the wife hopes that her sister is still alive, but since we saw the victim shoot her in one of his flashbacks at the beginning, the odds aren’t great.

Just how crime-ridden is Miami that three upper-class white people went missing and Horatio wasn’t already on the case?

In the B plot, Horatio and Smuggy break into the new ME’s locker and find her drug stash. I’m sure this is building to something, but I’m not sure what, and it’s not very interesting since I have no real connection to the character.

In what has to be their worst suspect interview all season, Callie and Frank go out to the sticks to interview the victim’s partner-in-crime, who turns out to be Shane from The Shield! Playing a character named Shane! That’s some stretch, CSI. They tell him that the victim has implicated him in the triple-murder, and then announce that the person who told them this is dead!

Why would you tell him that? If you suspect him of the victim’s murder, wouldn’t the better move be to see if he already knows the victim is dead? Or try to get him to confess by telling him that they’ve already got a confession? Of course, if they has that, they’d be arresting him already, so I’m not sure what they think they’re accomplishing by laying all their cards on the table right at the beginning of the conversation.

I would love to play poker against Horatio’s friend Frank.

Naturally Shane denies everything, and despite the fact that he’s covered in blood they don’t ask to look around his house, and accept his story that it’s just blood from a boar he shot earlier that day. Instead, while walking away, they decide to ‘put a car’ on him.

So, just to be clear, this man has been implicated in the kidnapping of a woman, and you think he might be holding her right now, but when you find him at his house, covered in blood, you don’t phone for a warrant to search the place and hold him there until other cops arrive? You let him go back inside and possibly kill his victim? What kind of policework is this?

Also, why haven’t the police interviewed Jeff Fahey yet? Isn’t he the most likely suspect in the murder? Corpses were found on his property, the murder weapon belonged to him, and there was cow hair dropped by the keys – he works in a tannery for a living. What more do you need to haul this guy in and accuse him of murder? I mean, we know he's not the killer, because Kim Coates already told Horatio who the killer is, but still, that's never stopped them from badgering people before.

Back at the lab the B-plot motors along, with Smuggy comparing the stolen medication from New ME’s locker to the tags on various body bags. He does this in full sight of the New ME, which is kind of ridiculous. Couldn’t he just have run the names off the labels into the computer and found out if those people were in the morgue? Ah, but if he’d done that he wouldn’t have been in the morgue when Liz walked in and started shooting the place up.

Proving that he’s just an awful cop, instead of shooting her immediately he puts his gun down. It turns out that Liz is there to regain custody of her 18-year-old son at gunpoint. It doesn’t go well. She announces that she’s distraught and tries to kill herself, but Horatio stops her just in time. Then it’s off to jail for Liz.

The B-plot just drags on and on, with Smuggy escorting New ME up to talk to the internal affairs guy. In the interview room it seems that Liz is going nuts without her medication, and will likely be put in a mental institution rather than jail. The C-plot from way earlier, Eric’s mysterious phone call, comes up, and Eric finally reveals to Callie that it was a call from his father, who he met in an episode I haven’t seen, and, if the flashback is to be believed, punched in the face. Then it’s back to the episode’s story, where they discover that the melted bodies were frozen before being melted. In the kind of freezer that a boar hunter might have…

So then they rush back out to the boar hunter’s house in force, finally ready to search the place like they should have hours ago. Naturally they find the missing sister’s dead body inside. Confronted with the news in the interrogation room, Shane gets angry and smashes their black glass table. Which is one of the key reasons why you shouldn’t have glass tables in a police station. During the breakage some water spills on Shane’s shoes, activating the base left on them from the night before. Faced with this evidence, Shane confesses immediately – he killed the three people to steal their car, and then the victim because he wouldn’t stop talking about the crime. As for why he didn’t endeavor to get rid of the sister’s body after finding out the cops were on to him, answers remain elusive.

Wait – what about the cow hair in the truck? And why did Shane wait so long to kill the victim, and in such an elaborate, public, and ill-aimed way. As the crime partner of the victim, couldn’t he have just gotten the guy to come out into the middle of nowhere and shot him? This whole scheme doesn’t make much sense, actually.

Now a little more B-Plot, with the New ME fessing up and Horatio trying to use the new evidence to explain why Liz went all nutty. Things end, um, happily? With the New ME getting fired and arrested, and Liz being found mentally unfit to stand trial. So I guess we need another new ME again? Now I feel less guilty about never learning this one’s name.

So that’s it for this episode – there were surprisingly few twists, and almost no physical evidence needed to solve the crime. The victim told Ron who his partner in crime was, and that guy also turned out to have killed the victim. I guess this means Ron solved this particular case, huh?

Speaking of, who put that note in Ron’s car? We never actually found out. Was it actually Liz, because if not, we need to know – Ron, the show’s most entertaining character, might still be in danger!

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