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CSI Files - CSI: Miami--'From The Grave'

CSI: Miami--'From The Grave'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at September 20, 2005 - 8:45 PM GMT

See Also: 'From The Grave' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

CSI: Miami's fourth season premiere finds Horatio Caine at Holy Redeemer church, speaking with Cardinal Benedetti about an old sin that haunts him--a life he took long ago. They are interrupted by the sound of gunfire. Aberto Fuentes was transported from jail to attend his mother's funeral, but when he approaches the coffin a man pops out of it, firing a machine gun. He kills Alberto and several others. Horatio runs to the scene in time to fire a few shots at the man's escape vehicle: a hearse.

When Horatio spies a pitchfork tattoo on Aberto's chest, he realizes he's dealing with Mala Noche, a deadly gang that deals not in drugs but weaponry and who are renowned for being deadly assassins. When Frank Tripp tells Horatio that Aberto was in jail for selling drugs in violation of the gang's code, Horatio realizes that this is why Aberto was killed by a member of his own gang. Ryan Wolfe collects DNA and chases away reporter Erica Sikes, who is hoping to get another big scoop from the young CSI.

Tripp and Horatio pay a visit to Michele Burke who paid for Aberto to come to his mother's funeral. A rich young girl, she's dabbling in bad boys and admits under pressure that a guy going by the name of Diablo got her to put up the money for Aberto. She claims to not know he was planning to kill Aberto. Back at the scene, Eric Delko and Calleigh Duquesne lose the gas trail of the hearse, but they're able to narrow it's range down to a 5 mile radius. Horatio, Delko and Tripp respond to a break in call and find Celia Gonzalez, the housekeeper beaten and raped while the family of the house was safe in their panic room. Celia is pregnant and won't allow a rape exam for fear of harming the baby. When Horatio gets the Livingstons to come out of their panic room he tersely tells Dale, the husband, that he'd better cover Celia's medical bills. Calleigh is able to get an alkali trace off the carpet from the suspect's shoes.

In the morgue, Alexx Woods postulates to Delko that Aberto's mother, who died of a heart attack, was frightened to the death. She shows Delko a suspect mark on the woman's cheek. When Delko goes to Mrs. Fuentes's house, he finds a grenade under a bed and believes Alexx is correct. At the labs, Natalia Boa Vista introduces herself to Calleigh and Ryan but offers them no help with their case, since her grant is for working on cold cases only. Dan Cooper, the new AV tech is more helpful--he points out Erica's newscast to Ryan, in which she's picked up footage of Ryan working at the crime scene and commenting on the case to Calleigh. Ryan heads to the hospital where he picks up DNA from Celia's rapist to run at the lab. After a discussion with the doctor, Horatio has to tell Celia that she's lost her baby. When he asks after the father, Celia hesitates and Horatio realizes the father was Dale Livingston.

At the lab, Aaron Peters informs Calleigh that the substance she found on the Livingston's carpet was processed limestone with magnesium mixed in, the kind that would be found at a processing plant. Calleigh searches for an abandoned plant and locates the Mala Noche stronghold. Horatio and Delko storm the place with a SWAT team and locate Raphael Sifuentes, whose print was found on the grenade at Mrs. Fuentes house. Raphael cooly informs Horatio that there is a 'green light' on him and shots erupt forcing Horatio and Delko to run for cover and return fire. When the dust clears, Horatio has Raphael hauled off.

Back at the lab, Ryan confronts Erica and tells her about the hit out on Horatio, and then demands she stay away from him. For emphasis, he destroys the tape recorder she brought with her. Valera tells Delko that Raphael is not the rapist, but that the person who hid in the coffin and killed Aberto is a match. Back at the abandoned mine, Tripp and Calleigh work out that Mala Noche was using golf clubs to smuggle grenades into the country. They trace the golf clubs back to Dale Livingston's company. When they bring him in, Livingston claims he was strong-armed into helping them and that he never touched the money they put in an account for him. When Horatio takes him to task for leaving Celia outside the Panic Room, Livingston claims that Celia shouldn't have been there at all--Wednesday, the day the golf club shipments came in, was Celia's day off.

Horatio returns to the hospital to ask Celia what she was doing at the hospital and she tells him that the Immigration office suspected Livingston of business dealings with Mala Noche and put pressure on her to spy on him. Horatio chews out Immigration Officer Maxwell, who insists they needed Celia to get Diablo. Horatio turns to Natalia, hoping she can run the DNA from Celia's case with older cases, hoping to get a match there. Outside the lab, Horatio and IAB officer Rick Stetler exchange tense greetings, and Stetler mentions he's been in New York and has met people who know Horatio. Natalia runs the DNA and gets a match: Benito Galian, aka Diablo. The charges were filed and subsequently dropped by Michele Burke, who admits that she filed them falsely after her father caught her with Diablo. She tells them the last time she saw him, he was discussing a 'universal' meeting.

Ryan turns to Erica Sikes for help, borrowing her parabolic recorder and having Dan analyze the tape. Ryan translates some Spanish he picks up off the recording, including a bit that mentions a pier. SWAT teams descend upon the Mala Noche meeting, but Diablo isn't there. Horatio realizes he's going after Celia and races to the woman's hospital room just as Diablo is about to strangle her. Horatio pulls him off her but is forced to shoot him when he won't back down. Horatio ends the episode in the same place he began in, in church, as Stetler looks on from the shadows.

Analysis:

The first entry of Miami's fourth season leaves no doubt in anyone's mind as to whether the high octane action of the show's third season will continue into this one. There are two shootouts in this episode, and given that there's now a 'green light' on Horatio, there are bound to be many more. Everything in this episode foretells of much upcoming drama, but will it be too much?

The revelation that Horatio once killed someone, presumably before he became a cop and therefore not in the line of duty, introduces a potentially rich storyline. Horatio has always had an interesting air of isolation about him; even as he helps people, he always seems distant from them, as if the solace they have to find in the wake of a terrible crime is beyond his reach. I'm curious about this murder; the writers are really going to have to set it apart from the shootings Horatio routinely takes part in on as part of his job. Killing Diablo for instance--does anyone doubt Horatio had to do that? Well, I guess he could have shot him in the leg, but that's not Miami's style.

The introduction of the Mala Noche gang--the most dangerous gang in all of the United States!--should give viewers an idea of where the show is headed dramatically. I'm intrigued by the idea of more arc based stories in Miami because arcs in general add depth to the characters and the stories. But I'm skeptical of the gang, because chances are they'll be cardboard villains who are deadly and evil and unstoppable...until Horatio steps in, that is. The best shows add depth to their villains, knowing they are as important as the hero. Miami should take a page from predecessor Homicide: Life on the Street, which created one of the most memorable villains in crime drama history with drug czar Luther Mahoney.

Nothing in "From the Grave" indicates any depth in Mala Noche at this point. Raphael gleefully informs Horatio there is a hit out on him. Are gang members really so free with that information? Wouldn't they want to just kill the guy? Isn't bragging about it counter productive? Then he goes on to roll out the patent 'you can't beat us' line by sneering at Horatio and promising, "You won't win the war." To make matters worse, the villain of the piece, the supposedly deadly Diablo doesn't have a single line. He's taken down pretty easily by Horatio at that, while wielding what looks to be the world's smallest knife. Wouldn't it have been smarter to run? Drop the knife? Anything? If the writers want Mala Noche to be truly scary and worthy villains, some less-cliched writing will be required.

The cookie-cutter gang members were hardly the only soap operaish elements of the episode. Ryan and newswoman Erica Sikes generate plenty of heat and sexual tension in their scenes together, and Ryan is continuing to pay for his misstep in last season's "10-7" when he gave her more information then he should have. Though Erica doesn't have a lot of depth at the moment, there's potential in the storyline. Ryan destroys her tape recorder and sends her packing in one scene, but when he makes nice to get her fancy recording equipment, she seems willing to play ball. Is she just ambitious or genuinely interested in Ryan? It could be an interesting storyline.

Natalia Boa Vista, aside from her terribly outlandish name, doesn't really register much, though I do have to wonder what the emphasis on cold cases will add to the show. And how is a case with the rapist identified and the charges dropped considered a cold case? Cold cases are unsolved, so I'm not sure why it would be in Natalia's jurisdiction to connect Celia's rape to a dropped rape charge. Isn't that Valera's territory?

Viewers not paying close attention were probably confused to see Calleigh on the job. Didn't she quit at the end of last season? Though she comments on the casings at the first crime scene, it does appear that she's working in trace, though a mention might have been helpful. At least Horatio has a line acknowledging Valera's (welcome) return to the lab, though no mention is made of Tyler's absence.

Rick Stetler is back, though, and it looks like he and Horatio will still be at odds. It's still hard for me to think of Stetler as a bad guy--his questioning of Horatio sounded more curious than ominous. I'm assuming by friends in New York he wasn't referring to Mac Taylor and the New York CSIs and rather that he was talking about something related to Horatio's mysterious past. What does it mean that Stetler follows Horatio to the church? Nemesis or unexpected ally? I'm kind of hoping for the latter.

Miami has never lived and died by logic. By far the CSI show that takes the most liberties with realism, Miami has always had a kind of flippant charm that mirrors Horatio's slick quips. It's easier to forgive Miami plot holes and coincidences (like, how did Ryan hear the word pier in Spanish and know which pier the gang member meant?) because the show barrels along at a breakneck pace and always provides thrills. But how far can Miami go before it goes too far? I miss pacing and stories of the first two seasons. I like the idea of adding depth to the characters and giving the show a story arc, but I'd like to see more depth from the show all around, starting with the villains. A worthy opponent for Horatio could be just what this show needs and give it an infusion of adrenaline that no chase scene could hope to match.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.