Eric Delko finds himself on the opposite side of his former colleagues when his work as a forensic expert for a defense attorney draws him into a case the Miami team is investigating.
After heiress Summer Davenport is found stabbed to death in her home, the CSIs pursue and catch a fleeing suspect, Zach Finley. A homeless man whose clothes are covered in blood, Zach swears he’s innocent. Adrianna Villani, a cutthroat defense attorney, steps out of the crowd offering to represent Zach, and she’s got a forensics expert with her: Eric Delko. Jesse discovers the murder weapon, a chef’s knife, in the kitchen and matches prints on it to Zach. Zach claims he broke into Summer’s house the night before, made himself a gin and tonic–using the knife to cut up a lime–and then took a sleeping pill and went to sleep. He swears that he never heard Summer being attacked, and that his clothes are covered in blood because he slipped in the blood pool as he fled the house. Delko suspects Zach is hiding something, but testifies on his behalf at the hearing and the judge determines that there’s not enough probable cause to charge Zach with murder. The judge holds Zach on the breaking and entering charge, and the CSIs set about to find evidence that directly links Zach to the killing. When Horatio discovers a torn bra, he calls Dr. Loman and confirms that Summer was raped. Horatio gets a court order for Zach’s DNA, and though the young man vehemently resists, Valera is able to draw his blood. When Natalia analyzes it, she makes a shocking discovery: Zach has Androgen insensitivity syndrome, and was born without male genitalia. It was physically impossible for Zach to have raped Summer. Adrianna Villani petitions the State’s Attorney, Evan Talbot, to drop the murder charges against Zach, and he agrees.
The team is puzzled when they learn Summer’s stomach was empty, despite the fact that it was clear she cooked a full breakfast before she was killed. Thinking the killer may have forced Summer to cook for him, Horatio has Walter search for similar cases in the county and neighboring ones, and learn a woman named Ellen Sheffield was raped and stabbed in Broward County–and that she was forced to cook her rapist breakfast. The team finds a connection between Summer and Ellen: both got tech help from a Software Squad employee named Justin Porter. Horatio speaks to Ellen who says that her attacker left her alone briefly after she cooked for him and came back wearing garbage bags–and that he looked different. He stabbed her in the arm, and would have killed her if some neighborhood kids selling candy hadn’t rung the doorbell. Suspecting Zach and Justin teamed up–Justin raped the women, while Zach killed them–Horatio has the team look at the computers Justin repaired. When they find evidence Justin recorded the rape on Summer’s computer but erased it, they turn to Ellen’s and find the recording. When someone tries to access Ellen’s computer remotely, Dave Benton traces the signal to a warehouse, and the team apprehends Justin there. Horatio finds the connection between Justin and Zach–they both worked at the same library–and Zach finally confesses, admitting he used Justin as his proxy to rape the women, and then killed them to become close to them. Delko decides to apply for a job with the State’s Attorney as a forensic expert, and Horatio goes to tell Ellen that her attackers have been caught.
Murder is never a warm, fuzzy subject matter, but there’s something particularly distasteful about “Delko for the Defense” from the top down. The dynamic duo of Justin the rapist and Zach the murderer are particularly nasty pieces of work. It makes one wonder how their pact came about, in a library of all places. How did Zach, who is so private about his condition that he won’t even open up about it to the people are defending him, decide to confide in some sleazy tech guy at work? Not only does Justin rape the women, he also records it and then forces them to cook him breakfast the next day. Then he leaves them, switches with Zach, who suits up in garbage bags and goes back to murder the women. Why don’t the women flee when Justin leaves them? And if Zach was wearing garbage bags, how did he get blood all over his clothes when he killed Summer? And how is it that Zach is the cleanest, best-dressed homeless man ever? The whole thing is just so absurd, and more than a little repugnant.
I wish I could say seeing Delko back on the show made up for the weaknesses and flaws in the case, but that feels off, too. Didn’t he just leave in “Bad Seed” to get a fresh start? Apparently he went to Puerto Rico and came back: he tells Calleigh he missed Miami. So his solution is to return… and hook up with an ambulance-chasing attorney? Adrianna Villani–no subtlety with that name!–sees the arrest of Zach Finley on the news and decides to head down to take the case. Presumably she does it for the publicity, since Zach’s job at the library doesn’t even pay enough for him to rent an apartment. And Delko shows up with her, making him look like an ambulance-chasing forensicist. Was this really a job Delko thought would be a good one? What’s more, he looks like kind of a flake when he defends and then starts to question working for a defense attorney. Did it really never cross his mind that he might run across his old team again in this line of work?
I’m glad they didn’t kill Delko off–I think it was a wise decision, especially given the way Speedle was dispatched in “Lost Son” and then mourned by the fans for seasons afterwards. At the same time, bringing him back should be handled delicately and with plenty of thought… not, say, just to document evidence and realize he’s chosen the wrong side. If he was going to work on the side of the defense, why not for a more sympathetic killer (say, someone acting in self defense) or someone who is actually innocent? A former CSI working for the wrong side is something we’ve seen before back when Ryan was fired at the end of season five. Unlike with Ryan–who earned the scorn of his former teammates when he consulted on a flashy tabloid news program–the team doesn’t look down on or disapprove of what Delko is doing, and when Delko expresses some reluctance, Horatio flat out tells him he can’t back out of the case, and that he’s not doing anything wrong.
Calleigh is awfully happy to see Delko–or at least seems to be. She greets Delko with a big smile and a cheery tone, calling him “our expert witness.” Later he tells her he came back because he missed Miami, and she immediately responds with, “Miami missed you.” She also gives him a job tip about the State’s Attorney looking for a forensics expert, and predictably, by the end of the episode, Delko is interviewing for the job. I think it’s safe to assume he’ll get it, meaning that Delko can live on the periphery of the show, and can make an appearance whenever Adam Rodriguez is available. It’s hard to say what the state of Delko’s relationship with Calleigh is–they’re clearly not together since she didn’t seem to know he was back in Miami, but the door doesn’t seem to be completely closed on their romance–or their feelings for one another. Hopefully his next appearance will feel more organic for the character.
There’s nary a single mention of Natalia’s hearing problems from the explosion in last week’s entry, “Count Me Out”. Though it’s understandable the storyline might not be immediately picked up, I’d expect some sort of subtle reference to Natalia’s ongoing difficulties, especially since the end of “Count Me Out” made it clear that the hearing damage Natalia sustained in the explosion wasn’t just going to go away. It was nice to see Valera back again, and she has a nice scene with Tripp and Zach when she’s trying to get Zach’s blood. She’s considerably more patient than Tripp is–the gruff detective shoves Zach down after he protests the DNA test. “Just let the blood tell the truth,” Valera says soothingly.
Zach’s condition–which according to Natalia actually occurs in one in every twenty thousand births–is played for curiosity and, in the scene where Tripp goes into the bathroom with him to check out his anatomy, laughs rather than to really enhance his character in any way. After going out of his way in the beginning to protect his secret, he’s awfully eager to just come out and confess after Justin is caught. It’s just one of the many things about the episode that doesn’t really track. Indeed, the best scene in the episode is the opening chase scene, directed with a frenetic energy by Gina Lamar. The unusual angles and shaky camera work really allow the audience to experience the feel of the chase right alongside Calleigh, Ryan and Horatio. It’s an exciting opening, one that promises a much better episode than what follows.
Source: "Delko for the Defense"