Review: CSI: Miami–‘Bolt Action’

The team tracks an inventive killer after three young men drop dead at a beach volleyball game.

Synopsis:

Four handsome young men play volleyball on a Miami beach in front of an appreciative audience comprised mostly of older women. The game turns into a tragedy when three out of the four players collapse and die on the sand. The CSIs come in to investigate, and Jesse Cardoza discovers blue crystals comprised of copper sulfide in the sand. The owner of the beachfront property, Dean Collins, is more concerned about his liability than the fallen players, while his wife Amanda tells Horatio that the boys were former classmates of her daughter Hailey, who is now in college on a golf scholarship. In the morgue, Dr. Tom Lowman tells Horatio that each victim died of a different cause: Troy Billings asphyxiated, Randall Garber had a subdural hematoma, and Peter Markham died of a heart attack. Horatio looks at their feet and finds a connection: they were all electrocuted. Jesse and Calleigh head back to the beach, discovering a length of cut wire beneath the sand but find it’s not connected to anything. Back in the morgue, Natalia and Horatio notice a unique bite mark pattern on Troy’s chest, and Horatio recalls Hailey Collins wearing invisaline braces that could have made the marks. Natalia and Ryan question Hailey, who admits that she hooked up with Troy–and then caught him hooking up with her mother. She tells the CSIs that her mother is a “cougar”–an older woman who beds younger men. Calleigh asks Ryan about the case in the locker room, but they’re interrupted by Delko, who has come in for his IAB interview. Stetler questions both CSIs, trying to pit them against each other, and throwing Calleigh off balance by telling her Delko referred to himself as her former boyfriend.

Dr. Lowman tells Horatio that Peter Markham was actually electrocuted through the chest–the charge exited rather than entered through his feet. Horatio finds black residue on Peter’s chest, which he turns over to Jesse and Walter Simmons, a lab tech who normally specializes in crime scene photographic evidence. Jesse and Walter determine the substance is a highly conductive black body paint, usually used in performance art. Looking at the video footage of the game, the two are able to discover that Peter had “Property of JP” painted on his chest. “JP” turns out to be Jacqueline Parsons, a beautiful older woman who doesn’t take kindly to being labeled a cougar. She claims she had no idea the paint was conductive, and that she had real feelings for Peter–feelings Amanda Collins trampled on when she bedded the young man. In the lab, Horatio posits that the electrical charge that killed the young men could have come from a lightning strike and sends Jesse and Natalia out to canvass the area again. Jesse discovers electrical tape atop a lifeguard stand and theorizes that someone could have set up a rod to attract lightning to the conductor beneath the sand. Natalia finds a piece of women’s jewelry which Jesse recognizes as part of Amanda Collins’ necklace. Natalia sends Jesse, with Walter as his wingman, to talk to the voracious Amanda, who immediately hits on Jesse. Amanda tells Jesse she lost a piece off her necklace a few days ago on the beach during a tryst with Peter. Jesse asks her about her hook ups with the other young men and if her infidelities bother her husband, and she counters that her husband has as many of his own. Jesse and Ryan pay Dean Collins a visit on his boat, and he confirms that he, too, has dalliances–and points out his latest one, Tiffany, as his alibi for the murders.

Tripp calls Ryan–he’s found their lightning rod, hidden underneath a lawnmower. Ryan examines the pieces of the rod and determines it’s a golf club–and recalls that Hailey Collins has a golf scholarship. Horatio obtains a warrant and finds several of Hailey’s golf clubs missing. Amanda tells him that her daughter moved out and that she doesn’t know where she’s gone. She tells the CSI that she lost her husband long ago–she can’t lose her daughter, too. In the lab, Jesse discovers Hailey’s clubs aren’t a match for the ones used for the lightning rod. Taking another look at the clothes collected from the Collins family, he finds a serrated cut and blood on the leg of a pair of Dean’s pants. He goes to collect the man’s shoes and finds metal shavings on them, indicating Dean sawed the golf clubs up to turn them into a lightning rod. He claims it was just meant to be an accident to send his wife a message, prompting Jesse to remind him that it’s impossible to control nature. Horatio finds Hailey on the golf course where she’s gone to find some solace. The CSI tells her what’s happened with her father, and that she and her mother need each other now. Delko is cleared by IAB and returns to work. He encounters Calleigh and the two agree that Stetler twisted some things they’d said in their interviews. The two come to a truce, and exchange smiles.

Analysis:

“Cougars”–older women who date younger men–are all the rage these days, especially on television. Between TV Land’s reality show The Cougar and ABC’s new comedy Cougar Town, there’s never been more focus on women pursuing men younger than they are. There’s something more than a little insulting about the term–as Jacqueline Parsons points out, there’s no derogatory term for a man who pursues younger women. The double standard is stamped all over this episode: while Dean Collins pursues affairs with abandon, when his wife does the same, he resorts to murder to teach her a lesson. What’s okay for him isn’t for her, at least in his mind; it’s okay for him to engage in dalliances, but for his wife to do so shames him.

The message doesn’t come through as clearly as it could in the episode, in part because the CSIs seem to find the concept more amusing than anything else. Miami has never been a champion of feminism and though writer Melissa Scrivner gets a few sharp points in through Jacqueline and Dean Collins’ motive, the main “cougar” in the episode, Amanda Collins, is about as stereotypical and two dimensional as they come. Amanda beds young stud after young stud and isn’t dissuaded from adding Troy Billings to her list of conquests despite the fact that her daughter genuinely had feelings for him–and slept with him first. While under investigation for murder, Amanda attempts to lure Jesse in by using Sharon Stone‘s classic move from Basic Instinct. Then, improbably, she has a late in the game change of heart after her daughter moves out, telling Horatio she can’t lose Hailey, too. Cheryl Ladd does what she can with the one-note role, but she never becomes sympathetic. At best, she’s an object of curiosity.

The opposite is true of Jesse Cardoza, who I like more and more with each appearance. Eddie Cibrian is refreshingly low key in a show that often tends to be over the top, but he fits in wonderfully with the cast. Jesse is easy going and affable and so far seems to get along with the rest of the CSI team. He’s the object of a bit of teasing from various members of the team, and seems to be garnering a few nicknames as well. Lab tech Walter Simmons dubs him “Die Hard” for his heroic antics in “Hostile Takeover”. Jesse seems somewhat modest about his role in the situation, not really responding to Walter’s comments. Later on, Natalia refers to him as “Tarzan” after he scales the lifeguard station to look for signs of a lightning rod. Despite his good looks and physical prowess, Jesse is remarkably ego-free thus far. He’s not cocky or overly self-assured; indeed, Jesse seems like a go-with-the-flow type. It’s nice to see a new character that fits in well with the existing team right from the get-go.

The same is true of Walter Simmons, whose humor makes him another welcome addition to the show. Played by the engaging Omar Benson Miller, Simmons is a genial and warm-hearted presence, as well as a capable lab hand. Miami cycles through lab techs more than any of the other CSI shows, but word is that Miller has been made a regular, and indeed, he gets to share more of the spotlight than most Miami techs would when he accompanies Jesse to question Amanda as a “wingman” slash bodyguard to ensure that Amanda doesn’t put the moves on the comely CSI. Amanda makes an attempt anyway, in a particularly squeamish moment that was probably intended to come off as sexy. It doesn’t, and indeed, if the episode was going for sexy, that’s one place it really falls short. Both Amanda and Dean come across as slimy and sleazy. Poor Hailey–no wonder she flees home for the golf course!

Dean is played by the excellent John Terry, who has quite a presence and manages to make his one-note character more interesting than he might otherwise have been if played by another actor. The CSI shows really need to coordinate a little better on their guest casting; just last week, Terry did a stint on CSI: NY as Mac Taylor’s father in “Blacklist”. With three CSI shows on the air, it’s only natural they’d recycle guest stars, and there are plenty of actors who have two or three of the shows on their resumes. But having the same actor–and a memorable one at that–show up in two of the shows in the space of a week is a bit much. And Terry is far from a low profile guest star: many viewers probably recognize him as Jack’s enigmatic father, Christian, on Lost.

Stetler is up to his old tricks again this week, this time trying to suss out what exactly went down in last season’s finale “Seeing Red” when Calleigh shot at Eric. Granted, Stetler’s job is to get to the bottom of the shooting, but he’s downright devious about trying to pit them against each other, going so far as to tell Calleigh that Eric referred to himself as her “former boyfriend.” Stetler is definitely in adversary mode in this episode, and he grills both CSIs, trying to get Calleigh to admit that Eric was fleeing the scene of a crime with a known felon. Delko’s memory of the day is hazy due to his injuries and the fact that the bullet fragment in his brain moved, but Stetler tries to get him to admit he was engaged in some sort of criminal activity, which Delko staunchly denies. As so often happens when Stetler’s intentions are less than noble, he doesn’t end up getting anywhere with getting the two CSIs to incriminate each other.

Though things seem pretty chilly between Calleigh and Delko when they run into each other in the locker room early in the episode, Calleigh explains to Ryan after Delko leaves that they’ve been forbidden to speak to each other until the case is cleared. Calleigh is less matter-of-fact about it than she was when explaining it to Natalia in “Hostile Takeover”–it’s clear the separation is wearing on her. But by the end of the episode, Delko is cleared–and just about ready to return to work. Rather than letting Stetler’s ploys get to them, Delko and Calleigh clear the air rather quickly, while not avoiding what happened. “You shot at me,” Delko says, while Calleigh counters, “You drove a car at me.” After a cute little back and forth, they finally agree to a truce and exchange smiles. Is everything okay? Can their relationship get back on track after what they’ve been through? Time will tell–but given that Adam Rodriguez is set to leave the show sometime this season, the outlook isn’t so sunny.

Source: "Bolt Action"

Kristine Huntley

Author

Kristine Huntley

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

Up Next