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CSI Files - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Dog Eat Dog'

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Dog Eat Dog'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 30, 2005 - 10:19 PM GMT

See Also: 'Dog Eat Dog' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The body of a man is found in a dumpster, cause of death unknown. What appears to be blood on his lips turns out to be cranberry sauce. Could the man be a victim of a Thanksgiving celebration gone wrong? Catherine posits that the man was knocked out--she spots silver residue on his cheek and sees scarring on one of his wrists. David Phillips discovers a flier for Aunt Jackpot's pretzels in his pocket. Across town, Sofia Curtis leads Sara and Nick into a suburban house, the site of a grizzly double murder. Michael and Laurie Tinsley lie dead in their living room. Laurie bled out from a wound to her jugular vein while Michael has a nasty wound to his head. Sara notices some of the records are missing from the couple's extensive collection. The CSIs follow a bloody trail and find blood on a dog bowl in the kitchen. Sara discovers a golden retriever with blood on her paws in her dog crate.

Dr. Robbins tells Grissom the man from the dumpster died of asphyxia due to gastric distention--his stomach filled and expanded into his organs. The man literally ate himself to death. Catherine talks to the man working at Aunt Jackpot's pretzel stand, who recalls the man from the dumpster came up to him earlier, frantic for a pretzel. He took one and threw his wallet at the vendor. Catherine looks through the wallet and finds a business card from 'Digger James, Sports Promoter.' Back at the station, Sara questions Missy Halter, Michael Tinsley's girlfriend. She tells Sara that Michael and Laurie were in the middle of a bitter divorce. Laurie had the house, but Michael was afraid she would sell his record collection, so he sent Missy to sneak in and steal several of his most treasured records. He sent Missy so that he would have an alibi if Laurie tried to press charges. Missy asks to see him and is shocked when Sara tells her that both he and Laurie are dead.

In the lab, Hodges goes over the dumpster victim's stomach contents. He tells Catherine that the silver on his face was make up and that his stomach was filled with lots of different kinds of food, including approximately twenty hot dogs, eaten only two to four hours before he died. Gil spots a logo on one of the hot dog remnants. Hodges also recovers an intact flier for the Circus Town Buffet from the partially digested stomach contents. A waitress at the buffet recalls the victim, remembering how he ate directly from the buffet stations until he was kicked out. Hodges turns to the Tinsley case, informing Sara that all the hairs on the Tinsleys were dog hairs from a golden retriever. At the autopsy, Dr. Robbins and David are surprised to discover a bullet in the brain killed Michael. The bullet went straight up Michael's nose and into his brain, leaving neither an entrance nor an exit wound. Sara posits that Michael broke into the house, Laurie shot him and then was attacked by their dog, Kahlua. But where is the gun?

Greg buys fifty different brands of hot dogs to compare to the sample from the victim's stomach, a purchase Gil tells him the lab won't be paying for. Greg finds a match in a hot dog brand with an advertisement for an eating contest on its label. Catherine and Brass track down the contest's location and find Digger James hosting an eating face off. He recognizes the victim as Jerry Gable and tells them Jerry took third place the day before in their hot dog eating contest. He marvels at Jerry's gastrointestinal fortitude and gives the CSIs a picture of Jerry accepting his third place award. Catherine spots a man with silver paint--a man who lost to Jerry the day before. She wonders if they exchanged harsh words after the contest, but the man said Jerry hugged him before going off in search of more food. He recalls seeing Jerry get in a car with a man in a hat.

Sara finds the weapon used to kill Michael Tinsley under a couch, but Nick hits a wall in the lab: the bite marks on Laurie's neck don't match Kahlua's teeth. The dog that killed Laurie has a chipped tooth. Gil has diagnosed Jerry with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes insatiable hunger in people who suffer from it. Grissom suspects that the chafing on Jerry's wrist is from a restraint--people with the disease require constant monitoring for their whole lives. Someone must have freed Jerry. Hodges tells Nick that trace under Laurie's fingernails is bacon grease, which makes sense when Sara learns that the Tinsleys were in a custody battle over Kahlua. They decided to let the dog choose, and she chose Laurie, who cheated by coating her hands with bacon grease to lure the dog to her. The clues begin to fall into place when another golden retriever is found wandering in a park and brought in: Kahlua #2. Michael adopted the second dog in the hopes of switching the two dogs, but the second dog was abused and when Laurie shot Michael, she went ballistic and attacked Laurie.

Catherine and Brass go to the apartment Jerry shared with his sister Suzie. Suzie's boyfriend is there--he admits to taking Jerry to the Circus Town buffet while he gambled. When he saw a flier for the hot dog eating contest with a $10,000 prize, he decided to take Jerry to it, and then he gambled away Jerry's earnings. Jerry, still hungry, escaped from his car on the way home, off in search of more food. Catherine visits Jerry's sister, Suzie, in the hospital where she's recovering from surgery. She tells Catherine she did the best she could to take care of Jerry, and smiles when she sees the picture of Jerry after he won the eating contest. She observes that he must have been so happy.

Analysis:

Leave it to CSI to have a special Thanksgiving episode that highlights the show's oddly endearing quirks. CSI has such a different tone from its spin-offs; like its unassuming lead, Grissom, the show is often understated and composed, and its charm is usually in quieter moments. Take, for instance, the scene in which Dr. Robbins brings a holiday pie to work. He offers some to Warrick, whose wife is trying to get him to eat healthier, and to Catherine, who is hard at work on a case. It's a small, casual scene that gets to the heart of the charm of CSI: even people who deal day in and day out with murder and death bake pies.

The dry humor always seems to work best in CSI as well. When Greg brings in fifty packages of hot dogs, Grissom takes one look at the bag and tells Greg the lab won't be paying for all the hot dogs. Greg replies that he'll be eating hot dogs for next year before going off to see if he can find a "wiener" among the batch. The pun alone is worth a chuckle, but Grissom's fussy reaction to Greg's hot dog shopping spree makes it truly memorable.

And really, episodes like "Dog Eat Dog" are what keeps CSI fresh even after five and a half seasons. There's a low key feeling to this episode, maybe because one death is accidental and the other is a War of the Roses-like tragedy. The closest thing we have to a "bad guy" here is Suzie's gambling addict of a boyfriend, but he didn't intend to cause Jerry harm, just make a buck off him. And in the other case, the only surviving killer is an abused dog. With the husband and wife both dead, it's impossible to ignore the parallels to the War of the Roses a black comedy about a bitter divorce where both the husband and wife met a terrible end--together.

CSI is always a wealth of information on obscure genetic disorders, this time Prader-Willi Syndrome, characterized by "diminished fetal activity, profound poor muscle tone, feeding problems in infancy, underdeveloped sex organs, short stature and retarded bone age, small hands and feet, delayed developmental milestones, characteristic faces, cognitive impairment, onset of gross obesity in early childhood due to insatiable hunger, and a tendency to develop diabetes in adolescence and adulthood when weight was not controlled." The few scenes of Jerry's desperation to get out of his restraint and his frantic eating drive home how agonizing this disorder must be for those living with it.

In keeping with the lighter tone, the shooting from the "Bullet Runs Through It" two parter is only mentioned once, at the beginning, when Gil mentions to Brass that he's heard the board cleared him in the Bell shooting. It's nice for the audience to know Brass has been cleared, even if there's not much emotional exploration of how Brass is coping. The "Bullet" episodes covered Brass and Sofia's turmoil fairly well, and the ending of the second part showed that most of Brass's suffering is going to be internalized, so I don't expect much more focus on the story line.

I am wondering if CSI's cast is getting too big, though. I feel like we've seen more of Wallace Langham's Hodges than we have of Warrick or Greg over the last few episodes. I like Hodges--especially his teasing relationship with Greg--but I hate to see regular cast members underused. I suppose it's somewhat unavoidable in a cast as large as CSI's. I'm loving every little tidbit we get about Warrick's home life--it seems like he's gone from smooth operator to devoted husband. The change is an interesting reaction to Nick's ordeal (and Warrick's own close brush with being the one in the box) and I'm enjoying the exploration. Greg is remains primarily comic relief, and his interactions with Grissom are always a highlight.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.