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CSI Files - CSI: Miami--'Fade Out'

CSI: Miami--'Fade Out'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at January 31, 2006 - 10:26 PM GMT

See Also: 'Fade Out' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The arrest of a pair of bank robbers at a drawbridge as it is in the process of being raised reveals the body of club owner Jake Richmond, hanging from beneath the bridge, sporting twin gunshots to his eyes. Alexx determines he was dead before he was hung--he was shot first. A Joker playing card in his pocket lead Horatio and Frank Tripp to believe his death was a mob hit. Horatio sends Ryan back to the lab with the velvet rope Jake was hung with. In the morgue, Alexx recovers one of the bullets from Jake's head but notes that the other was a through and through and is probably at the primary crime scene. Calleigh runs the bullet they have and matches it up in IBIS with a bullet from a murder a year ago that mobster Joey Salucci was implicated in but never tried for. Horatio questions Salucci who is dismissive of Horatio's suspicions, claiming he's just in 'real estate.' Calleigh and Delko go to Jake's club, The Burgundy Club, where they notice tread marks and a bloody scantron sheet, but no large blood pool, leading them to conclude the primary crime scene was in the car that left the tread marks. The CSIs talk to bartender Cesar "Cuzz" Morales, who tells them Jake was so worried about Joey that he would have Cesar taste test his drinks for poison. Cesar writes down his number for the CSIs, offering to help with any additional information they might need.

Back at the lab, Horatio learns Ryan got into a minor car accident on his way back to the lab with the velvet rope. Horatio tells the young CSI it's time to go in for an eye exam and Ryan reluctantly agrees. In the DNA lab, Cynthia tells Delko that the blood on the scantron sheet is indeed Jake's, and is able to trace it back to a screenwriting course at Dade University. The class's teacher, Professor Meyer, tells Calleigh and Delko that he just ordered a new batch of test answer sheets, which he kept in the back of his car. He's shocked when he opens his trunk and discovers a blood pool next to the new sheets, but tells the CSIs that he keeps his car key in his desk drawer and anyone could have borrowed it. The CSIs impound the car and Calleigh discovers the missing 9 mil bullet in it, while Delko finds an ear bud from an iPod, indicating someone younger than the professor did drive the car at some point. Valera gets DNA results off the rope, which provide a match to Norman Stein, a movie producer. He admits to getting into an altercation with Cesar at the entrance of the Burgundy Club--he was trying to get two writers into the club who are writing a screenplay that involves a club, despite the fact that the young writers clearly have no experience of the club world. The two young men, Patrick Wilder and Ben Williams, are only up to page forty on their script, "The Clubland Murders"--a script they claim is the brainchild of Professor Meyer.

Ryan finally gets his eye examined, and the doctor diagnoses him with an infection of the tissue behind his eye. She cautions him against working, warning that surgery is the next step if this course of antibiotics doesn't help, and warning that he could lose his sight permanently. Horatio questions Professor Meyer, who admits to helping Patrick and Ben with the story for their script and Horatio thinks he may have killed Jake to prove to his students that he was the real deal. He denies a handwritten detailed description of the murder in the script is in his handwriting. Delko matches the writing to Cesar, who tells Horatio and Tripp he was helping the boys with the script and that the idea just came to him. But when Horatio and Tripp discover a gun in the bar, they arrest Cesar. Cesar used to work for Joey Salucci around the time of the earlier murder, and the CSIs think he dosed Jake with GHB and killed him. The gun is a match to the one from the previous homicide but the print isn't Cesar's, forcing the CSIs to release him. Stein brings the latest script pages into Horatio, which involve the murder of 'the snitch.' Horatio takes the pages to Patrick, whom he and Delko think planted the murder weapon in the bar. Patrick IDs Cesar as the snitch, but it's too late--he's already been killed.

Calleigh and Delko go to the Burgundy club where Cesar has been beaten to death. They are able to eliminate both Norman and Patrick as suspects, but when they find Ben at the scene holding a deck of cards, they immediate suspect him. They haul Ben back to the station where he spills all: Norman had Cesar take the boys under his wing because they clearly had no knowledge of club life. Cesar wanted to run Jake's bars so he got Patrick and Ben to drug Jake and hang him, but things got out of hand when Patrick instead shot Jake through the eyes in Meyer's car and decided to put the card in his pocket to make it look like a mob hit. It was Patrick who convinced Ben to go back to the club to get the cards, and he discovered Cesar dead. Patrick may have fired the gun, but it's Ben whose print is on it, pinning it entirely on him. Horatio is able to arrest Joey Salucci for Cesar's death: Joey beat him to death after getting a note on his car that Cesar was going to snitch about the murder he committed while working for Joey. Joey is arrested, but Patrick walks out of the police station a free man. He orchestrated the whole thing, including leaving the note for Joey, but managed to avoid being implicated directly in it himself. Delko promises him it isn't over. Ryan Wolfe, worried that his career as a CSI is indeed over, punches his locker in frustration as Horatio looks on from the shadows.

Analysis:

It's a rare unhappy ending for CSI: Miami where the real bad guy (or one of them) walks away scot free. I kept expecting Delko to pull out some final piece of evidence that would allow him to arrest Patrick or that Horatio would come trotting out of the doors with the crucial key that would allow the CSIs to connect Patrick directly to the murder of Jake, but it didn't happen. I found that surprising, pleasantly so, because it is more realistic that every now and then someone will end up getting away with murder.

And unlike in "Under Suspicion", it's not a bad judge or plot twist coming in at the eleventh hour to derail the CSIs but just pure good planning on the part of the killer. Patrick had it all figured out--he implicated Ben for the crime he was responsible for and set Joey up to kill the other person who could have exposed him, Cesar. Patrick was every bit as smug as you'd expect someone who just pulled off a major crime to be and by the end of the episode it seems clear he's not the naive student Professor Meyer, Norman and Cesar mistake him for.

It's a nice nod to writers everywhere that Patrick is one of the few people smart enough to mastermind and get away with two murders. In essence, what Patrick does is what the writers of the CSI shows do all the time--plan out murders and carry them out, first on paper and then on screen, only Patrick carries it over into real life, even going so far as to copy the homicide that Cesar outlined in their script. The script itself is such a collaborative effort--Meyer comes up with the idea, Cesar adds the lurid details, the boys write the actual words--that it does give the viewer a feel for how a screenplay comes together (sans, hopefully, the actual real life murders).

The opening scene of the episode plays with viewers' expectations--when we first see the couple with their twenty thousand dollars in a duffle bag that also happens to contain a gun, we expect whatever trouble that comes in the teaser will be related to them. And indeed, as soon as the cops pull up behind them, I expected one of two things--the couple would try to jump the bridge or they'd engage in a shootout with the police. Neither of these things ended up happening--as Horatio notes when he arrives on the scene, one case is closed but another has just been opened.

The ending was similarly unexpected in that Patrick essentially got away with murder and that Delko, not Horatio, was the one who confronted him. I'm sure if I went back and scanned over the description for every episode of CSI: Miami, I could come up with one or two that did not end up with Horatio confronting the killer or consoling the victim (like when Ryan comforts the nanny who stole the child in her care in "Shootout") but more often than not, it's Horatio that gets the final word or moment in an episode. Not so here--Delko was given a chance to shine. Adam Rodriguez brings a determined confidence to the scene--he doesn't have the evidence to get Patrick now, but he seems assured that he will have it someday and that somehow Patrick will be brought to justice for his crimes.

And where is Horatio? Watching Ryan react to the implosion of his career. It's a touching moment even though Ryan doesn't know Horatio is there--when it comes down to it, Horatio cares just as much about the members of his team as he does about bringing about justice. He has to force Ryan to get his eye examined both for the good of the lab and for Ryan's own best interests, but that doesn't mean he feels good about it. Horatio's compassion is the cornerstone of his character, and unlike last year when he distanced himself from his team somewhat, he's closer to them than ever this year, and no longer just as a father figure in the lab. His involvement with Marisol Delko has made him seem more a part of the team, and not just its leader, than ever.

The injury that Ryan received in "Nailed" might very well jeopardize his career. We saw Grissom in CSI grapple with performing his job in the face of a disability--in Grissom's case, hearing loss--but in this case Ryan is not dealing with the sudden onset of a medical condition, but rather with the results of an injury he received on the job. The writers have done a great job of building up Ryan's ocular degeneration over several episodes, showing just how the injury has affected his ability to do his job, making Ryan's predicament both sympathetic and very believable.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.