Horatio and Delko take a trip to the City of Angels in the hopes of getting to the bottom of an evidence tampering accusation lodged against Jesse.
Jesse Cardoza’s demons come back to haunt him when the Miami team is called to the house of Tony Enright, the successful pornographer whom Jesse is convinced is responsible for the murder of his wife. A party at Enright’s house ends in tragedy when a guest, Leslie Stultz, is murdered in the same room where Tony’s girlfriend, Anna, is passed out. A distraught Anna tells Natalia that Leslie starred in all of Tony’s films, and Natalia is concerned about Anna’s memory loss, suspecting she was drugged. Anna becomes agitated when she sees Jesse, and Tony and Jesse are practically at each other’s throats when they cross paths. Walter discovers a listening device hidden in the bedroom, while Jesse finds trace amounts of roofies in Anna’s glass. Dr. Loman notes that Leslie wasn’t roofied, and points out that the murder weapon was a pen—apparently a weapon of opportunity. Ryan and Calleigh match prints on the pen to Coop Daly, a former Miami Dolphins player who now works for Enright. Coop is unfazed by the CSIs’ suspicions, telling them that he was signing autographs the night of the party. Calleigh and Dave Benton follow up on the wiretap in Enright’s house, tracing it to the parking garage at the lab. Calleigh insists on going to investigate alone, and zeroes in on the car in the garage: Jesse’s. When Jesse shows up, Calleigh gets him to open the trunk, revealing the recording equipment inside. Jesse insists he didn’t break into Enright’s house to plant the device; he snuck in during a party. Jesse tells her he’s pretty sure the murder was recorded. The beleaguered CSI insists Tony Enright is the one who killed his wife, and Calleigh agrees to help him prove it.
Horatio plays the tapes from Jesse’s recording device for Rebecca Nevins, but she refuses to admit the tape as evidence, claiming Jesse is a dirty cop, based on an accusation of evidence tampering in Los Angeles. Horatio decides to go to L.A. to clear Jesse’s name, and Rebecca tells him she’s going to send someone from the State’s Attorney’s office with him: Eric Delko. After landing in L.A., Horatio and Delko meet with Captain Chris Sutter, whom Jesse used to work for. Horatio and Delko catch up on the case that tainted Jesse’s career: Jesse was the primary on the investigation of the murder of Tony Enright’s first wife, Victoria. A cufflink with the initials “A.T.” was found at the crime scene and documented by Jesse, but lost at some point before the trial. Enright’s lawyer, Darren Vogel, attacked Jesse on the stand, accusing him of tampering with the evidence by stealing the cufflink. In order to clear Jesse, Horatio and Delko must discover who actually took the cufflink. The two CSIs go pay a visit to Darren Vogel after discovering he purchased the cufflink found at the scene. Vogel planted the cufflink in order to create reasonable doubt for Enright’s trial. Going over the crime scene photos from the investigation, Horatio and Delko identify a photographer at the scene, Olivia Burch, and track her down in the hopes that her photos might reveal who removed the evidence from the crime scene. The two find what they’re looking for and clear up the photo, revealing that Captain Sutter himself was the one who took the cufflink.
Back in Miami, Natalia informs Anna that she was raped after being drugged, but that her attacker wore a condom. Natalia offers her help escaping her relationship, but Anna insists Tony is a good man. Calleigh analyzes the print on the pen, finding traces of lambskin in it–from a unique brand of condom. The trace matches the condom trace from Anna’s rape kit, connecting Coop Daly to both the murder of Leslie and the rape of Anna. Once he’s caught, Coop brags that Enright “gave” Anna to him, drugging her drink himself. When Leslie barged in on the assault, Coop killed her. Anna watches the confession, floored. Calleigh books Tony for his part in Anna’s rape and Leslie’s murder, and when he tries to appeal to Anna, she spits at him angrily. On her way out, Anna leaves a note for Jesse that simply reads, “Thank you.” In Los Angeles, Horatio confronts Sutter with the photo, asking him why he let Jesse take the fall for something he did. Sutter admits that he was afraid Enright would beat the murder charge because of the cufflink, so he pocketed it. Horatio tells Sutter he knows what he has to do, and the captain gives a press conference, clearing Jesse’s name and offering him his apologies. Horatio and Delko return to Miami, and Horatio is surprised to find Darren Vogel in town to represent Enright, whom he claims will never see the inside of a prison cell. After the lawyer departs, Jesse thanks Horatio, who modestly replies that Jesse would have done the same for him.
It’s not quite the spiraling shot that “Rio” opened with to announce Horatio Caine had arrived in the Brazilian capital, but is it any surprise that after the establishing shots of the Griffith Observatory and the Capitol Records building, we see Horatio standing tall, the Hollywood sign in the background as he and Delko wait for the arrival of Captain Sutter… who arrives by helicopter. CSI: Miami does nothing small, and Horatio’s trip to the City of Angels is no departure in that regard. That he meets Sutter on a helipad that just happens to overlook the Hollywood sign as opposed to say, in Sutter’s office at whatever police station he works out of is already a stretch, but then when Horatio confronts Sutter about taking the cufflinks, he meets the captain at the Hollywood Bowl. Though a stretch, the use of the landmarks is mostly forgivable—after all, this is television, and what’s the point of sending two of the characters to Los Angeles and not utilizing the setting?
Aside from these flourishes, the trip to Los Angeles is remarkably low key—Horatio and Delko don’t hobnob with movie stars or find themselves visiting a pornography shoot; aside from Sutter, the only Angelino they spend any serious time with is Enright’s slimy lawyer, played with true panache by Malcolm McDowell. Indeed, in addition to having Rob Zombie as a director, the episode is packed with notable guest stars, including McDowell, Michael Madsen as Enright’s slimy pal/employee, William Forsythe as the well-intentioned but misguided Sutter, and Paul Blackthorne as the slimy pornographer who killed his own wife as well as Jesse’s, and got away with both murders, at least thus far. Blackthorne and McDowell are standouts among the strong guest cast, the former convincing as a sociopathic killer who can turn from affable to scornful on a dime and the latter almost charming in his sleaziness. “You can buy a sense of humor,” he advises Horatio after the CSI has revealed that he’s on to Vogel’s scheme to plant evidence. Indeed, the lawyer is unfazed by Horatio’s disdain for him, showing up in Miami to represent Enright even after telling Horatio he was considering retirement.
Rob Zombie’s direction is clearly a good fit for CSI: Miami, and the opening sequence that culminates in the murder of Leslie Stultz definitely has a horror film feel to it. The episode opens on a lavish, sumptuous party featuring revelers in masks made creepy and forbidding by the lighting. The mood intensifies when Anna and Leslie go up to Anna’s bedroom, where a classic horror film is playing on the television. Images from the film are intercut with the assault on Anna and the murder of Leslie, making for a truly chilling scene. There’s a cinematic feel to the scenes in Los Angeles where Horatio and Sutter stand with the Hollywood sign and later the Hollywood Bowl as backdrops as well.
There are times when I wish Miami lived a little more in the grey area, and the introduction of Tony Enright is one of those instances. After the build up with the mystery of Jesse’s past and his interest in Anna Kitson, and then the revelation that Jesse’s wife was murdered, I was hoping Enright might have been a less obvious villain than this episode paints him as. After all, not only did he manage to get acquitted of the murder of his wife, but presumably he was able to either kill Jesse’s wife or have her murdered and not get caught for that—clearly this guy is good at evading the law. So why, rather than having him be a chillingly charming sociopath whom the audience believes could beat a murder rap, is he simply another mustache-twirling villain? Having him lose it with both Calleigh and Anna after she rejects him gives the game away completely. Sometimes subtle is better, and while I enjoyed Blackthorne’s performance, I wish the character had come off as a worthier adversary for the CSI team.
Enright’s involvement has some interesting ramifications for some of the CSIs, most notably Jesse, who is understandably livid when he comes face to face with Tony Enright, who is equally confrontational. Jesse accuses Tony of “killing every girl he comes into contact with” while Tony fires back that Jesse is “the guy who tried to frame [him].” Though it’s clear where the audience’s sympathies are supposed to lie, and at no point did I believe Jesse actually tampered with evidence, it’s revealed that Jesse did skirt the line by placing a recording device in Tony and Anna’s bedroom. Sure, maybe he didn’t actually break into the house to do it, but Rebecca Nevins calls it “dirty evidence” and she’s right. Even if Jesse was invited to that party (which I’m pretty sure he wasn’t), sneaking up to the bedroom and planting a bug still isn’t legal. If Enright’s lawyer is as good as he claims to be, he’ll have a field day with that when Tony has his day in court on the pandering and accessory to murder charges.
As soon as the recording device gets traced to the garage at the lab, Calleigh knows exactly whose car she’ll find it in, and she insists on going alone to the garage. Sure enough, her instincts are spot on. She’s clearly frustrated with Jesse, and while she doesn’t exactly go easy on him after she discovers the recording equipment in the car, she does agree to help him go after Enright, provided the pornographer is in fact guilty. Calleigh and Jesse got off to something of a rocky beginning—she was immediately suspicious of his admittedly suspect behavior, and he did everything he could to deflect her questions. But since she covered for him in “Show Stopper”, Jesse opened up to her about his interest in Anna, and the murder of his wife. The trust that’s gradually been building up between the two this season is really paid off when Calleigh offers to help Jesse prove Enright is a killer. Her only caveat is that Jesse had better be right about Enright—and by the end of the episode, we know he is.
After the glass Anna drank out of tests positive for roofies, Natalia reaches out to the woman, who is clearly in denial about the man she loves. Natalia, who left her own abusive husband, clearly empathizes with Anna, who initially denies anything is wrong, insisting that Tony is “not like that.” Natalia opens up to her, saying that she used to defend her husband, too. Not only is Natalia direct with Anna without being pushy, but she also displays a fair amount of savvy when she gets Jesse to back off. Though Jesse has good intentions, he’s clearly not the person Anna wants to see after she’s just learned that she was drugged and possibly assaulted the night before. By the end of the episode, Anna has seen Tony for what he is, and his attempt to worm his way back into her good graces by offering to take her to her favorite restaurant only elicits disgust from her.
With the news that Adam Rodriguez is going to be a regular on the show again next season (story), seeing Delko show up isn’t perhaps as novel as it was a few months ago, but it’s always good to have Delko back on the show working with his old team. In this episode, he’s brought in because Rebecca Nevins decides she wants one of her people to go with Horatio to Los Angeles. It’s a little amusing that she’d chose Delko, who not long ago worked for the very guy he’s supposed to be keeping an eye on, but it’s fun to see Horatio and Delko working together again nonetheless. It will be refreshing once the show no longer has to find excuses to throw Delko back in with his old teammates—presumably his return to the show will also involve him rejoining the lab.
The perpetrator in the rape/murder case is apparent practically from the get-go, paving the way for the investigation in L.A. to take the forefront. Still, Calleigh and Ryan have to dig up some effectively damning evidence in order to really nail Coop Daly. Though he’s something of a one-note slimeball, Coop does get one great zinger in Ryan’s expense, calling the CSI “Pint Size.” Ever the one to be prickly, Ryan shoots back that he’s 5’9, which just invites more ribbing from Coop, who tells the CSI that his “pants are 5’9.” Poor Ryan doesn’t handle it very well when people tease him, but it certainly offers a good laugh for the audience.