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CSI Files - CSI: Miami--'Game Over'

CSI: Miami--'Game Over'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at March 22, 2005 - 10:22 PM GMT

See Also: 'Game Over' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

After a man in an SUV crashes into a speedboat being delivered to the marina, Horatio, Yelina and Alexx are surprised to discover the man at the wheel, Jake Sullivan, is already dead. The cuts on his face from the accident are barely bleeding, indicating he died well before his vehicle crashed. Alexx notes that his right foot is missing, and Delko notices that nothing seems to be jammed against the accelerator.

Back at the CSI offices, Horatio runs into Sara Piper (last seen in season two's "Innocent"), who is looking for Tim Speedle. Horatio tells her about Speed's death and asks how he can help her. Sara tells him that she has gotten out of the porn industry, but that she and her new boyfriend, Matthew, made a sex tape, which has since disappeared from their house. She tells Horatio she doesn't want her boyfriend to find out about her past career as a porn star.

Alexx is surprised to find Jake's wife, Julie, standing despondently over his body. She tells the woman she needs to leave and then begins to question Delko about finding Jake's missing foot. Delko asks her why she needs it, believing it is obvious that he died due to blunt force trauma to the head. Alexx insists she can't make the final determination without the foot, and sends Delko back to find it. She is able to pinpoint a time of death: 1am.

Horatio interrogates Vince Fisher, a sleazy porn producer whose company produced the pornos that Sara starred in as Cookie Devine. Fisher denies breaking into Sara's house to steal the tape and challenges him to prove that he did it. In the garage, Calleigh and Ryan examine Jake's car. Ryan makes note of some smudged prints, while Calleigh finds thick glass clearly not from the window and reassembles it to discover it's an award of some kind for "Best Overall Title, Thrash Canyon." The logo on it is for Dave Strong Studios.

Calleigh and Ryan pay Dave Strong, a former skateboarding champ who now makes video games, a visit. Strong says Jake was a tester for his company and that he last saw Jake the night before, around midnight, in the imaging studio. Strong shows the CSIs the studio where he makes motion captures for simulations. Ryan notes that the carpet in the studio is damp, while Calleigh spots fresh blood splatter. Strong claims it's his blood from performing stunts, but Calleigh isn't convinced and takes his skateboard to test. Strong identifies the block of glass as an award he gave to a programmer, Ron Benson. Benson had several conflicts with Jake because Jake's job was to find problems with Rob's games. Ryan notices one of the awards Storm gave him is missing, and finds a sticky substance in the place the award once sat. When the CSIs question his whereabouts, Ron tells them the spyware on his computer can prove he was working at the time. A trip to the receptionist's desk, where the spyware records are accessible, corroborates his story.

At Sara's house, Horatio examines the desk where the stolen tape was. Sara's boyfriend, Matthew, interrupts them, and when Horatio asks about visitors, Matthew tells him they had a contractor replace the doors to the porch. Horatio notices the doors are installed incorrectly and asks Matthew for the name of the contractor, which Matthew writes down for him. Horatio and Yelina bring the man, Connor Meade, in for interrogation and he confesses to recognizing Sara as Cookie Devine on the tape. He brought it to Brandon Pace, who made five thousand copies of it. When the Horatio tracks down Brandon, he says he made the copies for a man named Derek, who picked them up that morning.

Ryan tests the sticky substance and gets a hit: it's n imported Canadian cola. Rachel Thomas, the receptionist at Strong Studios, ordered it for one of the testers, Todd Simmons. When Calleigh and Ryan question him, Todd denies stealing the glass cube to weigh down the break and cause Jake's car to crash. He insists he was in Ron's office to steal weed. The CSIs go back to the evidence: the blood on the skateboard and the floor are from Jake. They get the motion camera footage from Strong and compare the tape from the night before and the tape from Strong that very afternoon. The two figures don't match up: Jake was performing the more difficult for Strong's videogames, and Strong was passing off Jake's moves as his own. Watching the motion capture further, they see the moment Jake is hit. Calleigh and Ryan confront Strong with what they've learned, and he admits it. He doesn't have a motive for Jake's murder: Jake was paid well, and couldn't expose Strong as he'd signed a confidentiality agreement.

Cynthia is analyzing the money orders Brandon Pace got from Derek Baldwin. The name is an alias, but Cynthia is able to identify that Derek is left-handed. Horatio recalls Matthew writing with his left hand and compares his handwriting to the signature. It's a match. Horatio brings Matthew in, and he admits his guilt. He had no idea Sara was a former porn star until he caught Connor with the tape. Angry at what he perceived as her betrayal, he decided to copy and sell the tape. Horatio asks where the copies are, and Matthew tells him that he sold them to the company Sara used to work for.

Delko tells Ryan that he's found orange pollen from a lily on the skateboard, and Ryan recalls that Rachel, the receptionist at Strong Studios, orders flowers for the men's girlfriends and wives. They go over Rachel's records and learn that she sent flowers meant for Amber Haynes to the wrong address: to Jake Sullivan's home. Alexx catches a whiff of something foul in the CSI offices, causing Ryan to go back to the car and to find Jake's missing foot. Meanwhile, Delko questions Julie Sullivan, who was enraged when she got the flowers meant for Amber. She assumed Jake was seeing another woman, but Delko tells her that the receptionist sent the wrong flowers to her house. She admits to going to Strong Studios and attacking him with the skateboard. Alexx pulls Delko out of the interrogation room to tell him that the head wound didn't kill Jake: he was electrocuted.

Horatio catches Vince Fisher unloading DVDs of "Cookie's Return." Horatio confiscates the DVDs and tells him never to contact Sara again. Calleigh and Ryan pay another visit to Strong's studio. Calleigh notices the water cooler is empty and Ryan spots an exposed wire. Someone ripped the power cord from the watercooler. Ryan notices skin on the wire and knows they're looking at the murder weapon. Calleigh notices a print, smudged just like the ones from Jake's car. Ryan realizes that the smudges aren't smudges at all, but calluses. They zero in on Todd, who has callouses on his hands from playing so many video games. He resented Jake: they were both testers, but he perceived Jake as being the favorite. When he came across Jake unconscious, he took advantage of the situation and poured the watercooler's contents on him and electrocuted him. After Jake was dead, he weighed down the gas pedal of his car and got rid of the body. Calleigh informs him that Jake wasn't the favorite--Strong needed him for the skating video.

Horatio returns the original copy of the tape to Sara and tells her the other copies are bing destroyed. When she asks him about how he found them, he tells her he's going to let Matthew explain. Dismayed, she tells Horatio that she always falls for the wrong guy.

Analysis:

This episode presents a rare scenario for a Miami episode: Horatio isn't working on the primary case. Not only that--he's practically in the background in this turn. While I think Horatio anchors the show, it's nice to see him step back and allow the junior cast a chance to shine on a big case. Horatio's involvement also gives the secondary case more weight than it might have had otherwise.

Those not familiar with Miami's second season finale, "Innocent," might wonder why Horatio is spending so much time helping a former porn star track down a home sex video. It underscores Horatio's compassionate nature, but the pained look on his face when Sara asks for Speedle probably has something to do with it as well. It's probably no accident that this episode feels more like a second season Miami episode than a third season one. The energy is still present, but the fevered pace is absent.

Poor Tony Hawk barely gets to utter a word as Jake Sullivan, but he does get to show off some of his fancy moves on the skateboard in a flashback scene. For those not intimately familiar with the videogame world, the episode provided a fun look at the ins and outs of creating popular games, from the sophisticated technology involved to the hostility between programmers and testers.

This episode will also be remembered as the episode that introduced Valera's first name: Maxine. She's only in one little scene--just long enough for Alexx to call her Maxine and have Valera make the comment that no one ever calls her by her first name. According to a Miami insider, the inclusion of the first name stems from Valera's lab coat: one of the costumers put an "M." before the "Valera" on the coat.

A few minor quibbles with the episode: how is it that, if Jake was murdered around 1am, the car with his body in it slammed into the speedboat in broad daylight? I assume Jake's body didn't spend eight or nine hours cruising around Miami unimpeded, so I imagine Todd waited until the morning to dispose of his body. But wouldn't it be more risky to send a dead body for a drive in the morning as opposed to the dead of night, when fewer people are likely to be around? My other quibble is the foot--how did it get severed and hidden? If it was accidental, then why was it so well concealed. And if Todd severed Jake's foot to get rid of the evidence that he electrocuted him, why would he leave it in the car with the body. Todd's body disposal skills just weren't up to par.

Ultimately, the episode was satisfying turn. The primary mystery was involving, while the secondary one was a nice nod to continuity. It would have been interesting to see how Sara's return would have been handled had Rory Cochrane stuck around for the show's third season. Would her beau's underhanded move have led to a possible liason with Speedle? I guess we'll never know, but at any rate, I'm glad the writers brought her back.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.