The second episode of CSI: Miami‘s eight season, “Hostile Takeover”, went through multiple revisions before—and during—filming. (Episode spoilers after the jump.)
The surprise ending featured in “Hostile Takeover” was not the first ending planned for the episode. “Every episode goes through multiple outlines before even becoming a script, and the script itself goes through at least four drafts before shooting begins,” Grace D, the Production Assistant in the Writers’ Office at Miami, explained on the Producer’s Blog from CBS.com. “Corey Evett and Matt Partney, who wrote this particular episode, said they started the episode wanting to do a hostage situation in the crime lab. It was the hostage taker’s back-story that ended up shaping the plot.”
Partney described the hostage taker, Matthew Sloan (Sharif Atkins) as “a guy wronged by society and screwed by the economy.” He wanted Horatio Caine (David Caruso) to right these wrongs and get him justice. The thing that changed about “Hostile Takeover” from one version of the script to the next was just what those injustices were.
“In one of the first outlines, they had Sloan seeking revenge on the man responsible for getting his mom put in prison,” Grace continued in the blog post. “This man was Sloan’s mom’s boyfriend, also the counterfeiter in this version, and Sloan had a disturbing Oedipal obsession with his mom. The idea was nixed.” Another idea included Sloan’s ex-wife (played by Latarsha Rose) working with his doctor to over-medicate him so she could get custody of their son. These versions of the story painted Sloan as an unstable character that viewers would be unable to relate to. Changes were made, Evett explained, to make the character “less unhinged, more desperate.”
The writers decided to go with the child abuse storyline, but the cause of Jason Sloan’s (Scotty Noyd Jr) broken arm had not yet been determined. Initially, Sloan’s son received the injury while surfing, and a jellyfish sting would provide the team with proof that father and son were telling the truth. Ultimately, it was decided that Sloan’s ex-wife would be the abuser. That option was “a twist upon a twist,” Partney explained. Sloan seems guilty at first, and then suspicion shifts to the boy’s step father (played by Robert Gant). Having the mother as the abuser seemed like the least likely scenario.
Every episode goes through revisions, Evett and Partney said, but “Hostile Takeover” had a lot of changes. In fact, changes were still being made as the episode was filming. However, the basic storyline never changed. “The heart of it was always the same. That made the changes easier,” Evett explained. The end result of the challenges Evett and Partney faced was the final version of “Hostile Takeover” that made it to the air. “Each time around,” said co-executive producer Barry O’Brien, “the story deepened and the episode gained more heart and more meaning.”