The team runs into trouble during the investigation of census worker’s murder when they run across a meth lab about to blow.
A friendly game of basketball between Jesse Cardoza and Walter Simmons is interrupted by a police chase. Jesse and Walter join the pursuit, following the police car to find it has pulled over a car. While the police chase after a man who is on the run from them, Jesse secures the man behind the wheel of the car, Kevin Hensler. Horatio arrives and pops the trunk of the car open, discovering a dead body inside. Hensler claims someone forced him to drive the car with the body in it, but Horatio is skeptical. Horatio makes note of pink fibers on the body, which he believes are from insulation material. Back at the morgue, Dr. Loman tells Ryan and Calleigh the victim, who is IDed as census taker Christopher Perez, died of chemical asphyxiation. Loman posits that it could have taken Perez as long as twelve hours to die. Calleigh, Jesse, Ryan and Natalia canvass the neighborhood Perez was working just before his murder. Calleigh and Jesse are put off by Paula Olsen, who is hostile after she catches them talking to her maid, Marie. Natalia and Ryan enter a house that’s under foreclosure and discover a meth lab in the kitchen–about to blow! The house explodes around them before the two CSIs can get out. Ryan wakes up and finds Natalia pinned down by a pillar. Horatio rushes in and, together with Ryan, pulls Natalia from the house to safety. Though Ryan wants Natalia to go to the hospital to get checked out, she insists she’s fine and wants to stay on the case. Calleigh catches sight of Marie watching the house nervously, and the girl asks her if anyone was hurt. Before Calleigh can question her further, she hurries away.
Tripp tells Jesse the foreclosed house used to belong to Edward Hensler–Kevin’s father. Suspecting Kevin is a meth cook, Jesse interrogates the young man. He admits to cooking and selling meth to make money after his dad abandoned him with the help of a man he knows only as “Tech”–the man who fled from the car and eluded the police. Kevin recalls Tech mentioning having another meth lab near the marina in Print Hill, and Jesse and Walter rush to the location. Examining the Hensler house, Horatio and Ryan discover the meth lab didn’t explode accidentally–it was rigged to ignite if anyone opened the door to the kitchen. Realizing Tech’s other lab is likely rigged similarly, Horatio calls Jesse to warn him, but only gets voicemail. Jesse and Walter enter the lab, but Jesse notices the copper wire and clock just in time, shooting past Walter to disable the clock and prevent the bomb from being triggered. Horatio accuses Kevin of setting up the bomb and killing Perez. Kevin relents and tells Horatio that when Perez came to the door to take the census, Tech knocked him out and dragged him into the meth kitchen. Kevin found him dead thirty minutes later, and Tech said he needed to figure out what to do with the body. Kevin swears he doesn’t know where Tech is. Dr. Loman backs up Kevin’s timeline, telling Jesse that Perez didn’t just inhale the chemical poison–he ingested it. Elsewhere in the lab, Ryan observes Natalia listening to a very loud iPod and wonders if she’s really okay.
Calleigh finds a headscarf among the wreckage from the house that she suspects belongs to Marie, Paula Olsen’s maid. Though Calleigh meets resistance from the belligerent Paula, she manages to question Marie, who admits that she’s been in the house. She tells Calleigh that Paula promised her family she’d pay for her schooling, but once she arrived from Haiti, Paula put her to work. Kevin and she fell in love, and he was cooking meth in order to earn enough money to buy her freedom and pay for her schooling. She tells Calleigh that Tech hit on her, and when she rebuffed him, he mentioning girls in Bayfront “lining up” for him. The team rushes to Bayfront and catches Tech, who accuses Kevin of killing Perez. Deducing the scarf was used as a gag to deliver the poison to Perez, Horatio uses gold flakes to lift prints off of it, which match Tech–not Kevin. Horatio confronts Tech, who tried to make Kevin think he’d killed Perez–and also set the bombs in the meth labs to discourage the competition. Kevin is arrested on a first-degree felony for making drugs, but Calleigh arrests Paula Olsen on charges of false imprisonment, and Horatio arranges for Marie to go to school at Dade University. Natalia leaves the lab for the day, troubled by the fact that she’s still having difficulty hearing.
I believe it was the third season episode “Recoil” that first used the device of starting in medias res and then rewinding to show the events leading up to the shocking moment that began the episode. The effect worked incredibly well in “Recoil” and subsequent episodes like “Nailed” and “Dangerous Son”, but here it feels like overkill, in large part because there’s no way it’s in the least bit believable that Jesse would actually be firing on Walter. The fake out doesn’t really make any sense, and the sequence could have easily played out more powerfully, and as less of a trick, had Jesse yelled at Walter to get out of the way and said something along the lines of “it’s about to blow!” Plenty of jeopardy to get the audience excited and on edge–no fake out needed. Fake outs need to be at least somewhat believable if the device is going to work, and while Jesse is a secretive character whose behavior in the previous episode, “Kill Clause”, was definitely suspect, I don’t for a second believe he’d ever hurt anyone he works with, especially Walter, with whom he shares a fun rapport. Indeed, the sequence after the clock rewinds eight hours shows the two are getting to be friendly off the clock, too, playing a friendly game of basketball together.
Jesse and Walter’s burgeoning friendship has been a definite highlight this season, and it’s fun to see the guys hanging out outside of work. The private CSI and the gregarious lab tech seem a natural fit–both are easy-going with good senses of humor. Jesse and Walter both get some mileage out of teasing each other, bringing a lighthearted, fun element to their friendship. After the tense moment played out in the beginning unfolds in the middle of the episode, a shaken Walter needs a moment to sit down and pull himself together. Jesse scoffs good-naturedly at this, pointing out that Natalia was in the middle of an explosion and she’s still standing. Part of what Jesse seems to appreciate about their friendship appears to be the ease of it; whereas in “Kill Clause” Ryan, Calleigh and Natalia all gave him the third degree about the woman he was following, Walter doesn’t push too much with the secretive CSI. He may have expressed some initial curiosity about Jesse’s mystery woman in “In Plane Sight”, but Walter is content to keep his relationship with Jesse light, rather than try to unravel the CSI’s secrets.
Jesse appeared to at least be considering opening up to Natalia in “Kill Clause” when he promised her an explanation over drinks in exchange for her getting everyone else to back off, but at the end of the episode he stood her up, opting instead to keep an eye on Anna, the woman he seems to be fixated on. Natalia’s guard is definitely up when Jesse approaches her with what feels like a half-hearted apology. He tells her he “didn’t mean to leave [her] hanging” but doesn’t offer up an explanation or attempt to reschedule. Natalia understandably brushes him off, refusing to canvass houses with him when Calleigh tries to pair them off. Calleigh picks up on it, too, noting that she suspects this kind of thing “happens to [Jesse] a lot.” For all his good looks, Jesse definitely hasn’t endeared himself to the female CSIs at the lab: Calleigh has been suspicious of him almost since his return to Miami, and while Natalia was initially attracted to him in a wary kind of way, she definitely seems put off now.
And with good reason–there’s something a little too smooth about Jesse, and his choice of Natalia as a confidante smacked of subtle manipulation at the very least. Natalia’s interest in him was pretty apparent, and the fact that Jesse not only wanted to offer her an explanation but also wanted her to get the others off his back suggests he was using her interest in him to his own advantage in some way. His cavalier attitude in the wake of standing her up–from his lack of a response to Calleigh’s comment to his use of Natalia’s last name rather than her first when mentioning her to Walter–suggests that he’s not interested in her the same way she appears to be interested in him. Indeed, after she’s caught in the house explosion, he doesn’t express concern about or to her. I’m not sure whether or not we’re supposed to think of Jesse’s treatment of Natalia as manipulative, but it certainly feels that way at this point.
Natalia has bigger problems on her plate than Jesse’s fecklessness; in the wake of the explosion, she finds she’s experiencing hearing loss. Ryan notices right away at the scene and tries to get her to go to the hospital, but Natalia refuses, saying she wants to continue to work the case. Later, she tries to hide her hearing loss, even when it’s apparent that Ryan is on to her. Natalia doesn’t seem to be in denial about her hearing issue: she puts on headphones with volume turned up and at the end of the episode looks out on the lab from the elevator, clearly having difficulty hearing. Why doesn’t she go to the hospital to get checked out, or at least confide in Ryan, who is clearly concerned about her? Is it a fear of losing her job, or perhaps a holdover from her past experiences as an abused wife? Given that we see Natalia exiting the lab with hearing problems, I don’t think she’ll be fine in the next episode. I’m curious to see just how damaged her ears are, and the reason why she’s concealing the problem. Either way, it’s nice to see Natalia finally get a potentially meaty storyline–especially one that isn’t focused on romance.
The case itself offers plenty of thrills–first with the exploding meth lab and the threat of the second explosion–which definitely keep the story moving. At the end of the day, it’s not exactly a shocker that Tech is the killer, although it allows for poor Kevin Hensley–sympathetically played by John Patrick Amedori–to at least be somewhat exonerated. Even Kevin’s drug cooking isn’t seen in such a bad light once Marie reveals he was doing it to raise money to save her from the evil Paula Olsen. The situation Marie finds herself in after Paula falsely promises her family that she’ll pay for Marie’s education feels more realistic than the sex trafficking stories Miami has tackled in the past. Because we see firsthand what a bully Paula is–she even mouths off to Calleigh–and how few options the penniless Marie has, the audience sympathizes with her plight.
There are plenty of great character moments in the episode, which distinguish it even more than the thrills. David Caruso injects a focused intensity into his performance when Horatio questions Kevin after the rigged house nearly costs him two of his CSIs. Jonathan Togo offers up sympathetic concern when Ryan picks up on something being not quite right with Natalia. And Eva La Rue brings a nice, subtle touch to Natalia wrestling with her hearing problems. La Rue makes it clear that Natalia is struggling not only to act normal, but to convince herself that the trouble she’s experiencing isn’t that big a deal. It’s only in the end, at the moment she stops moving and looks out on the lab from the elevator that it hits her that her problem might not be an insignificant one.
Source: "Count Me Out"