February 29 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI Miami–‘Miami, We Have A Problem’

7 min read

The Miami team is shocked to discover their latest case involves a victim who appears to have been in space when he died.


A carjacking in progress is interrupted when a man’s dead body falls on the car, crashing through the windshield. The CSIs quickly determine he crashed through the trees above, rather than falling from them, and the case gets more perplexing when Calleigh determines he was falling at terminal velocity–120 mph, meaning he fell from at least 2000 feet. She suspects he might have been a stowaway on a plane, but her theory is shot when air traffic control reports that only one helicopter was in the vicinity at the time the body fell. Calleigh and Ryan track down the helicopter and question its owner, Beau Lendell, who says he doesn’t recognize the victim when shown his picture. When Horatio and Ryan ask him why the helicopter was in the air without a flight plan, Beau says he thinks someone took it for an unauthorized ride, and claims he wasn’t the one piloting it. Horatio and Ryan examine the helicopter, and Ryan finds knuckle imprints on one of the seats. Back at the morgue, Dr. Loman has some shocking news: the victim’s blood cells indicate he was in zero gravity at the time of his death, suggesting he died in outer space. Jesse contacts NASA, but all of their astronauts are accounted for, causing him to turn to a private space tours company based in Miami: Prime Mover Aerospace. The owner of the company, Keith Palmer, recognizes the victim as Sam Gardner, a participant in the last ten-day tour into space. Palmer shows Horatio and Ryan the Lear jet he uses to take people into space, and Ryan notices a bullet-sized hole in the plane’s hull, which Palmer tells him was the result of micro-meteor damage. Horatio asks Palmer who else was on the flight with Sam, but he claims the passenger list is confidential.

Back at the lab, Calleigh shows Sam’s wife, Janet, a video that Sam made for her from the trip. Janet, bitter that her husband spent two million dollars on the extravagant trip, doesn’t want to see it, so the CSIs use the video to identify the other passengers: movie star Dominic Cross, and Beau Lendell, the helicopter pilot they questioned earlier. Dr. Loman is finally able to determine a cause of death: explosive decompression. The coroner tells Horatio that somehow Sam got out of the shuttle and into space. The CSIs question the three men who went up into space with Sam: Dominic claims he was sick and sleeping at the time, while Palmer asserts the airlock alarm came on—and that Sam had accidentally locked himself in the chamber and opened the airlock. Beau admits he pilots all of Prime Mover Aerospace’s trips, and claims that what happened to Sam was an accident. He took Sam’s body up in his helicopter and was going to dispose of him over the Atlantic—until a flock of gulls hit his helicopter and Sam’s body was thrown from it. Horatio tells Palmer the shuttle is now his crime lab, and sends Jesse and Calleigh to go over the ship. The two CSIs quickly discover the airlock can’t be opened from inside the chamber, invalidating Palmer’s story about Sam opening the airlock doors from inside the chamber. Calleigh lifts a print from the control pad in the main cabin, and it proves a match to Dominic. Dominic claims Sam was wearing an EVA suit to protect him from space, and that he locked himself in the airlock and insisted he wanted to be let out. Dominic reluctantly opened the airlock and Sam went outside—but apparently something was wrong with his suit. Calleigh decides to hold him for negligent homicide.

Horatio and Walter go over the EVA suit Sam was supposedly wearing at the time of his death, but they find no radiation on it—inconsistent with Dominic’s claims that he was wearing it when he was launched into space. Horatio and Walter discover a blood stain on the suit, and a looking at it under the black light reveals further splatter. Horatio and Walter head over to the shuttle, finding blood splatter all over the main cabin. Horatio sends Jesse and Walter up in a plane to recreate the zero gravity conditions aboard the shuttle to determine what weapon could have been used to create the blood splatter, while Ryan examines the hole in the ship caused by the meteor and discovers that it hit the air tank… and that the air would have been drained out of the shuttle in twelve minutes. Up in the air, Jesse and Walter try fruitlessly to recreate the pattern using a dummy, until Jesse thinks to fire his gun, which causes him to slam back into the wall but does create the splatter pattern. Though they can’t recover the bullet that hit Sam, the CSIs line up the three men to examine them and find a bruise on Beau’s lower back. Horatio puts it together—there were only three EVA suits, and four men on the shuttle. The three men turned on Sam: Beau shot him, Dominic opened the airlock and Palmer closed it again once Sam was dead, insisting they needed to bring four people back. Calleigh sits with Sam’s wife Janet and shows her Sam’s final message to her, in which he tells her he loves her and wants nothing more than to come home to her.


Sometimes, I think the CSI: Miami writers really have fun with the show’s reputation as the zaniest, most outlandish of the three CSI shows. Take, for instance, some of the goofy and hilarious titles of some of the later season episodes. Who can help but chuckle at the phonetic humor of “CSI My Nanny” or “Smoke Gets In Your CSIs”? Or enjoy the winks at pop culture with titles such as “Chip/Tuck” and “Dude, Where’s My Groom?”? This entry, “Miami, We Have a Problem” falls into the latter category, a play on the famous “Houston, we have a problem” transmission from the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. The titles are fun, and really, what other CSI show could delve into space tourism with the same zest as CSI: Miami does? Part of the fun of watching the CSI shows is seeing cutting edge technology and watching the CSIs utilize equipment or run experiments real labs probably couldn’t dream of doing, if for no other reason than most labs aren’t nearly as well funded. What lab could afford the zero gravity experiment Jesse and Walter partake in just to explain the blood splatter? Probably very few, if any.

There are only three possible suspects in this case, and in a novel twist, it turns out all three are guilty. Once Palmer realized there were only enough EVA suits and back up air for three people, not four, it was clear one of the passengers would have to go. Dominic, the cowardly action star, protests that he’s too famous to go missing without notice, so that leaves poor Sam, who emerges as a sympathetic character through the recorded video messages to his wife. One logic quibble: Palmer insists that Dominic not open up the airlock and send Sam out into space, saying that four people went up, so he had to come back with four. But if he was going to have Beau dump Sam’s body in the Atlantic anyway, why not abandon him to space, where there was a lot less chance he’d be found?

The scene with Jesse and Walter in zero g is a treat because it’s obvious how much the characters are enjoying themselves. Or at least Walter is until he gets nauseous and ends up throwing up, providing a crucial clue but losing his lunch—or at least a morning’s worth of water—in the process. (Kudos to the crew for staging the least gross vomiting scene in recent memory; the only contents of Walter’s stomach seem to be water.) The projectile vomit splatter leads Jesse to make the leap to realize that the blood shot out of Sam’s body, indicating he was shot rather than bludgeoned or struck with a weapon. Walter is just such a fun character, with such a zest for what he does infused into every scene he’s in. Adding Omar Miller to the cast this season was a great move.

My favorite Walter quote of the episode is his comment Dr. Loman when he wonders if Loman is covering up the fact that their victim is an alien. “Unless Tom is an alien, too,” Walter reasons. “That would explain a lot.” Indeed, Christian Clemenson‘s coroner is delightfully weird, on par with CSI: NY‘s Sid Hammerback… and perhaps even a little stranger. Loman is clearly thrilled by the puzzling case, and the excitement coming off of him as he shows Ryan that the victim died in space is palpable. What coroner wouldn’t be more than a little intrigued by coming across a case where a man died of exposure to space? Like Walter, the oddball coroner is a great addition to the team.

Is it just me, or is Ryan Wolfe really copping a downright bitchy attitude this season? It’s a blast to watch, but sometimes it seems like Ryan has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He’s awfully snide with Keith Palmer when he goes to cordon off the shuttle, telling the nervous businessman that he can’t fit “the whole ship in my crime lab” and promising to be “gentle” before removing the section of the shuttle damaged by the small meteor. Ryan also opts out of taking the zero g ride with Jesse and Walter, telling Travers, “I didn’t go up with them because it’s called the vomit comet.” Ryan definitely seems sassier this season than he has in the past, and his lines usually elicit a chuckle.

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