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CSI Files - CSI: Miami--'Crime Wave'

CSI: Miami--'Crime Wave'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 9, 2004 - 9:46 PM GMT

See Also: 'Crime Wave' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A tsunami--a massive tidal wave--is headed for Miami and people are evacuating in droves. They crowd at gas stations and ATMs on their way out of town. The supermarket is packed as well. An overweight man whose body is covered in tattoos fights for breath as he puts his purchases away. A man approaches him and swiftly shoves a thin metal object in his head, killing him. A college girl witnesses the act and drops her bag in terror as the man approaches.

When Horatio, Frank Tripp and Alexx arrive, they have two bodies on their hands. The man is an ex-con named Leon Caldwell, and his purchases are suspicious. He had a gun as well with heavy ammunition. Horatio realizes Leon was planning something big. The tsunami is not the only thing about to hit Miami. He suspects a major heist

Calleigh and Eric go over Leon's car. Calleigh discovers white hairs on the seat, while Tripp goes through the killer's abandoned purchases, finding twine and a maglight. He and Eric head off to check other hardware stores around town where the killer could have replaced his stock while Calleigh goes back to the CSI labs where she runs into Ryan on his way out. Ryan is concerned about his uncle, who was refusing to evacuate. Ryan can't reach him, so he's headed over to his uncle's apartment.

Tripp and Delko make it to the hardware store in time to catch Steve Riddick leaving with purchases identical to that of Leon's killer. He also has orange pulp on his shoes, possibly from a crushed orange found at the scene. Tripp arrests him.

Alexx tells Horatio that the head wound killed Leon, but the man also had breathing problems due to chronic apnea. Horatio suspects Leon was killed because he couldn't be counted on for the heist because of his apnea. When he runs his theory by Steve, Steve refuses to talk. His lawyer is on the way. Horatio promises that he'll get Steve.

When Horatio steps outside of the interrogation room, he goes to see Yelina, who is sporting a nasty bruise on her right eye. When Horatio angrily asks her about it, she says she hit herself bending down to get a pot in the kitchen. Horatio wants to find Stetler, whom he assumes is responsible for the bruise, but Yelina insists its not what he thinks. They are interrupted by Rebecca Nevins, who tells Horatio that he has to let Steve go; they just don't have enough evidence to hold him. She tells him to re-arrest Steve when they get more compelling evidence. Horatio is forced to release the man.

One of the lab techs tells Calleigh that the hair from Leon's car belongs to a greyhound, so Calleigh and Horatio go to the greyhound racing track. The dogs have been evacuated, but a worker named Manuel is still there, as is a piece of glass that has been shot at. The killers were experimenting with the hurricane-proof glass to see what it would take to break it. Horatio calls Delko, who identifies Golden Beach Bank & Trust as the only bank in the area with that type of glass. Horatio tells Delko to meet him at the bank.

Ryan arrives at his uncle's house, but the man is gone. A neighbor, Mona, greets Ryan, but when they look out the window, the tsunami is fast approaching. There's no time to leave; they're staying put.

When Horatio and Delko get to the bank, the robbery is in progress. The gunmen are firing at the ceiling while patrons and staff cower in terror. Horatio and Delko shoot the robbers, killing them. But someone has taken the bank's cash already--there was a third robber. Horatio tries to get everyone to the vaults, but the bank manager, Scott Riley, resists because his wife, Mara, has been shot in the leg. Horatio picks up the woman and everyone flees to the vault just as the tsunami hits the bank.

Horatio gingerly opens the vault door and some water spills in. Horatio and Delko step out into the bank, which has all but been destroyed. Even the hurricane glass blew out. The body of one of the robbers is still there, trapped by the debris. Horatio puzzles over why the robbers shot so many rounds into the ceiling of the bank.

The thirty-foot tsunami has ravaged Miami. Ryan and Mona watch the now calm ocean from Ryan's uncle's apartment. They are unharmed, and Ryan is relieved when his uncle calls to let him know he's safe--and locked out of the building on the roof. Ryan leaves to let him back in.

On his way back to CSI, Ryan has come across the body of a woman. Alexx arrives to examine her and determines she wasn't killed by the tsunami. The woman has been embalmed--she must have been washed out of a grave. A trip to a nearby cemetery reveals her origins. The cemetery director tells them that twelve bodies were washed out of their graves, but that all have been accounted for. Ryan notes that they have an extra body.

When Stetler arrives at the bank to investigate the shooting, Horatio angrily confronts him about Yelina. Stetler echoes Yelina's story about her injury being an accident, and growls at Horatio that Yelina loved Raymond, not Horatio. Horatio tells Stetler that he'll kill Stetler if he ever hurts Yelina again. Stetler asks for Horatio's weapon so that he can begin his report on the shooting of the robbers.

Ryan has an ID on the body he found: Mabel Weiss. Each body at the cemetery has a small vial with their info--ID and location of grave--inserted into the casket. But Mabel's info doesn't match her grave's location. Ryan also has another problem: Alexx has discovered the body of a man who wasn't embalmed. He was strangled. It appears the tsunami has uncovered a homicide. The funeral director, Alice Arena, admits to Ryan that Mabel was moved so that a man could be buried next to his wife. Ryan asks for the cemetery's surveillance tapes.

Eric as identified their dead bank robber as Danny Youngblood. Apparently Danny turned on the third bank robber and fired off several shots at him. Horatio visits Mara Riley in the hospital and is concerned when he learns that her husband never showed up to see her the hospital. He calls Tripp, who was suspicious of Riley to begin with, to check out the situation. Tripp is already at Riley's house, and there's no sign of Scott, but the personnel file of Farley Wheeler, one of the bank employees, lies open in Riley's kitchen.

Eric follows the lead to Wheeler's house where he comes across a standoff between Steve Riddick and Scott Riley, who has taken justice into his own hands. Wheeler sits on the floor between them, having been grazed by a bullet from Riley's gun. When Steve finally talks Scott into lowering his weapon, Delko enters, gun raised, but Steve takes Scott hostage and flees with him. Tripp catches Wheeler outside, but Steve gets away with Scott. Wheeler admits to giving Steve his bank access number in exchange for a cut of the profits from the robbery.

Calleigh is confused by some evidence she's found: explosives that were apparently never used in the robbery. Horatio realizes they've got a second crime scene on the second floor when he discovers vaults with gold bricks in them. Most of the gold is gone; the explosives were used to blow open the vault doors, and the robbers on the first floor fired their guns into the ceiling to mask the sound of the explosions above. Calleigh figures out that the men must have punched holes in the windows so that they'd collapse when the tsunami hit them. The gold bars were loaded into GPS tagged bags and were carried off by the tsunami.

Ryan and Tyler Jensen go over the surveillance tapes from the cemetery. Ryan realizes they can figure out which car was carrying a body by measuring how low the car is when it enters the cemetery versus how low it is when it leaves.

Delko traces the bags used to move the gold to Dr. Greismer, a tsunami expert at a local university. His colleague, Dr. Leslie Harrison, a hurricane expert, hasn't seen him, but the CSIs eventually locate him. Greismer claims he purchased the bags for research, but that he lost them. The only other person who would have had access to them was Leslie. Realizing the robbers may have been preparing for a hurricane, not a tsunami, Horatio arrests Leslie.

Ryan and Tyler discover the car they're looking for: a black Camero which belongs to Paul Abbot. Their body is IDed as Ed Miller, who just happens to be Paul's stepfather. Ryan gets a warrant for Paul's car. He finds dirt in it as well as saliva, which he gives to Valera to analyze.

Horatio and Yelina turn the screws on Leslie, saying they can trace phone calls between her and Steve. She refuses to help them. Horatio needs to find Steve before he can kill Scott Riley. Working from Steve's obsession with explosives, he and Delko figure out that Steve may have taken Scott to a hotel scheduled to be demolished that very day. The explosives are on a timer system, and by the time Horatio and Delko arrive, just two minutes remain before the explosives are set to detonate. Undeterred, Horatio races in with the Hummer, finds Scott tied to a pole with five seconds to spare, gets the man in the Hummer, and drives out as the explosions rock the building behind him.

Ryan tells Paul Abbot that he found soil and saliva matching Ed's DNA in his car. Paul breaks down and confesses that Ed was dishonoring his dead mother's memory by bringing women to their bed just days after her death. He says he visited his mother's grave and she "told" him to kill Ed. He strangled Ed in his sleep. Ryan says he doubts Paul killing Ed would have made Paul's mother any happier than Ed's infidelity would have.

Yelina finds a purchase for 2000 gallons of diesel fuel on Leslie's credit card. Horatio goes to the coast guard and they are able to locate the GPS signal of the bags since it's actually sending out a signal. The Coast Guard, Homeland Security and Border patrol descend upon Steve Riddick's boat. Steve has killed two more of his business partners and he's just grabbed the bags of gold when the boats catch up with him. It's over.

Ryan and Alexx look on as Mabel Weiss is returned to her grave. Alexx gently cautions Ryan that all cases don't end so neatly, and he tells her he's aware of it, but that he'll take what he can get.

Horatio tells Leslie that Steve was planning to kill her, but she refuses to believe it. He tells her no decent man would exploit a tragedy like the tsunami. He asks Yelina if she's okay, but she brushes him off. On his way out, Horatio runs into Rebecca Nevins, who tells him she has enough to try Steve. Rebecca is concerned that Horatio is going to cancel dinner, but he says he just wants to push it back by an hour. He plans to visit the Rileys in the hospital. She tells him that's fine, and that she'll leave the door unlocked for him. He leaves with a big smile.

Analysis:

Has there ever been an episode that screams "Sweeps month" more than "Crime Wave"? I'll admit right off the bat that I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if it often stretched credibility. And not just a little bit. But CSI: Miami has always been able to get away with more than its predecessor in terms of outlandish storylines. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation relies on the oddities and eccentricities of Las Vegas, while Miami exploits its glitzy, sunny setting with a kind of zesty glee. Miami might not always be believeable, but it's rarely less than thrilling.

Let's get the elephant, or rather tsunami, in the room out of the way first. Yes, the tsunami is a stretch, though perhaps not as much of one as it might have seemed if Florida hadn't just been hit by no less than four hurricanes this past season. What bothered me wasn't the tsunami itself--it only had a precious few seconds on screen once all was said and done. That in and of itself was a tad disappointing--all of this build-up, and we barely saw the wave hit. The inconsistency of the hit rankled--the bank is massacred, but the apartment Ryan is in isn't even touched, despite the fact that it's literally overlooking the beach? Yes, he was higher up, but not a drop of water appeared on the window he and the neighbor were looking out of. It made Ryan's panic seem like filler. Jonathan Togo does panic well, but why give him scenes that are so non-essential? We only saw the ocean receding; we didn't even get his reaction to the tsunami himself. Given that, the scenes could have been cut altogether. Note to the writers: if you're going to stretch an episode out to an hour and a half (actually just about eighteen more minutes of running time once you subtract the commercials), don't give us pointless scenes.

I also have to wonder about the wonderful coincidences in this episode. How did Steve Riddick have this so well planned out? How could he count on the water to come in, neatly collect the bags and then take them out to sea where he could find them? I'm no tsunami expert, but the plan sounds outrageous to me. And if he was originally planning for a hurricane, it sounds even more preposterous.

Steve Riddick must have been a mastermind, but he was an awfully colorless one. He was done for in his second scene when Horatio promised to get him. A much more interesting twist would have been to discover Scott Riley was behind it all. What if Horatio had gone into that hotel that was about to explode and found Steve tied to the post, instead of Scott? In an "event" episode, it would have been nice to have a shocker like that.

And then there's that exploding hotel. I bought the tsunami. I bought the elaborate heist scheme. I even bought Ryan's outfit this week. (A black t-shirt, black jacket, and black pants. Not great, but at least it matched this time around.) But Horatio saving Scott Riley in five seconds and then driving out of the garage as the perfectly timed explosives detonate right behind him (conveniently just a second behind the Hummer every time)? Sorry. That's just too much. It could have been easily correctable by giving Horatio a larger margin of time--say, five minutes. I don't even believe Delko would let him charge into the building with two minutes to spare without an argument, and by the time they'd finished bickering about it, the building would have exploded. It would have been just as exciting to see Horatio drive out of the building with the clock still ticking and see it explode behind him. Though Horatio's reaction--his almost laugh when Delko asks him if he's okay afterwards--is spot on.

It would have been nice to see a little more creativity into the B-story as well, though I think most of the point of that was to see Ryan work a case without any back up. It's nice to see Ryan continue to tackle tough cases at CSI without losing his idealism and optimism. Ryan's arrival changed the dynamic of the Miami cast. It was a daring move to have a potentially-irritating rookie replace a seasoned professional, but the CSI team has accepted him and so has the audience.

Most of the excitement in the episode came from the A-story. The scene in the bank was particularly tense, with Horatio and Eric taking out the remaining robbers and having to rush everyone into the vault as the tidal wave literally was rushing to hit the bank. Again, Horatio gets several nice moments and David Caruso gets a chance to show off why he is indeed a compelling actor. Even in the middle of this high stakes case, Horatio is concerned about the victims caught up in the middle of it--this time, the Rileys. He visits Mara in the hospital and risks his own life to get Scott to safety. And in the end, he pushes back a date with Rebecca Nevins so that he can visit the couple in the hospital.

The love triangle between Horatio, Yelina and Stetler is now a quadrangle, though that doesn't mean Horatio is going to ignore what Stetler is doing to Yelina. I have to admit, when I first heard about this storyline, I wasn't too thrilled about it. Yelina doesn't get much in the way of character development--usually, she's just there to work a case or to exchange longing glances with Horatio. I'm concerned this development--that she's being abused by her boyfriend--won't add to her character but just make her, once again, into someone Horatio needs to protect/save.

But I'm more disappointed about Stetler. Thus far, he's been a murky villain. Sure, he's often at odds with Horatio, but I've never seen him as a pat "bad guy." He expressed sympathy after Speed's death, and offered to help Horatio out on a tough case in "Pro Per." And yet, he's used IAB investigations to make Horatio's life miserable. And on one hand, he took Yelina away from Horatio, but on the other it seemed he was treating her well, up until this episode. I liked that grey area where Stetler was concerned. But now he's been thrust into the role of stock jerk who beats up his girlfriend. I suppose this will make for good conflict for the rest of the season with Horatio, but I hope they find some way to keep Stetler interesting.

One thing that is nice though is to see Horatio smile. And he did, a nice big one, at the end of the episode after he and Rebecca finalized their plans. I was a bit surprised to find that their relationship has already progressed so far, but it's pure CSI style to keep the mushy stuff off-screen. Regardless, it's really is good to see a big grin on Horatio's face. The man deserves a little happiness.

Next week: Speed dating turns deadly.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.