Retro Review: CSI: Miami–‘Just One Kiss’

A murder/assault case leads Horatio to the door of a wealthy, prominent Miami family.

With the CSI franchise in reruns for the summer, CSI Files is taking the opportunity to go back to the beginning, offering reviews of episodes from the early seasons of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: Miami, many of which aired before the site’s 2003 founding! The retro reviews will run for the duration of the summer until new episodes of the franchise start to air in the fall.


A woman, Jane Renshaw, is found on the beach badly beaten, not far from the body of a man. Alexx determines the man died the night before, noting he was beaten, his throat slashed, and his cheek burned. Megan Donner goes to the hospital to process Jane, who can’t remember the previous twelve hours. The doctor tells Megan that she recovered semen from the rape kit, and Megan discovers a torn piece of flesh in Jane’s retainer. Jane asks Megan about her boyfriend, Paul Barnett, and Megan deflects her questions. Delko sifts through the sand from the beach and discovers a small nosepiece from a pair of eyeglasses. In the morgue, Alexx recovers green glass from the victim’s neck wound, identical to glass Speedle found at the scene. Alexx finds rashes and limes under the man’s nails that indicate he was a bartender. That, along with his physical characteristics, doesn’t match the description Jane gave Megan of her boyfriend. Horatio goes to Jane’s hotel room at the Agremont and finds Paul there, looking for her. Paul tells the CSI that he and Jane attended a party at the Hamiltons, and that he passed out in their guest house. When he woke up, Jane was gone. Horatio, Calleigh and Delko pay a visit to the wealthy Hamiltons, Miami’s answer to the Kennedys. Drake Hamilton allows Horatio to question his nephew Tyler, who tells the CSI he doesn’t recognize the dead man. When Horatio asks to search the guesthouse, Drake stonewalls, and refuses to let Horatio search without a warrant. Detective Fenwick gets an ID on the victim: Esteban Ordones, a bartender who worked the party but hasn’t been seen since.

Paul’s prints are found on the champagne bottle used to kill Esteban, but the DNA from the penile skin from Jane’s retainer isn’t a match for him. Horatio questions Paul, and turns up the pressure when the Hamiltons send their attorney, Ryan Cutler, to represent Paul. Paul caves and admits he traded a kiss from Jane to Tyler Hamilton for Tyler’s expensive watch. Jane was angry, so Paul took a bottle of champagne and tried to convince her to go off with him, but she simply took the bottle and left. He stayed and got drunk. Megan runs the watch and gets three DNA samples off of it, two of which are a familial match, and one which matches the skin from the retainer. Drake refuses to give DNA, and Tyler claims the oral sex was consensual. Calleigh and Horatio find Esteban’s blood on a public walkway up to the house, giving them the much-needed warrant, but when they go to execute it, they discover the beach house has been torn up by a construction crew. Undeterred, the CSIs scour the wreckage, discovering Cuban cigars and a zipper from it. The zipper matches one from a jacket Tyler wore at the party, but when the CSIs bring Tyler in to question him, Tyler insists he didn’t kill the bartender. Calleigh has found direct blood splatter on the eyepiece Delko discovered, which indicates the person the glasses belong to was right in front of Esteban when he was stabbed. Tyler doesn’t wear glasses, so suspicion turns to Drake. After getting Drake’s glasses and finding blood on them, Drake confesses: he came to the beach and found Tyler assaulting Jane. Esteban, badly beaten by Tyler, wanted to call the police and started to go for help, but Drake picked up the broken champagne bottle and stabbed Esteban with it. The case closed, Megan tells Jane what happened and sees Paul come up to Jane to try to make amends, only to be rebuffed. Megan finds Horatio at a table poolside, and the CSI tells her that he first met Drake fifteen years ago, when Drake crashed a car and left a girl to die while he lawyered up.


CSI: Miami takes on the Kennedys in the fourth episode of the first season. Drake Hamilton is such a thinly veiled stand in for then Senator Teddy Kennedy, who drove off a bridge in 1969 and left the scene of the accident with twenty-eight-year old Mary Jo Kopechne still in the car. Like Kennedy, Drake left a young woman behind after an accident and didn’t notify the authorities immediately. The accident took place fifteen years earlier, and a young Horatio Caine was on the case. Though Horatio strongly believed it was Drake’s negligence that led to the death of the woman in his car—she bled to death while Drake consulted his attorneys—Drake’s name and fortune helped him escape incarceration, or even censure, which is another similarity to the Kennedy case. Kennedy was a U.S. Senator at the time of the accident, and not only was his jail sentence for leaving the scene of an accident suspended, but the following year he won reelection to the Senate.

The Hamiltons are clearly Miami’s version of the Kennedys, “American royalty” as the initially wide-eyed Calleigh points out. Calleigh’s view of the Hamiltons changes as the episode progresses, and by the time it’s clear that Tyler was involved in Esteban’s death and Jane’s assault somehow, she’s no longer looking at the family through rose-colored glasses. First season Calleigh is far perkier and sprightlier than she is in later seasons, after living through the deaths of more than one colleague, the suicide of a boyfriend and several harrowing, life-threatening experiences. There’s a bubbly, enthusiastic quality to her in these early episodes, making her a fun character to watch, but not detracting from her sharp intelligence or savvy expertise.

Megan reaches out to Jane to get the girl to let her finish processing her. Kim Delaney is great in her scenes with Jane, striking just the right balance between Megan’s desire to put the girl at ease and get what she needs from Jane so that she can catch her assailant. When Jane asks Megan what’s happened to her boyfriend Paul, Megan hesitates before telling what the audience (and Megan herself) assumes is a lie: that they don’t know yet. Ultimately Megan’s decision to withhold the information about the dead man to protect Jane is doubly smart, as the man in the morgue indeed turns out not to be Paul. But at this point, Megan’s sense of compassion for the suffering girl seems to be her primary motivation for deflecting Jane’s question.

Though the CSIs assume at first the man with Jane was her boyfriend, Paul turns out to be alive and well, having passed out at the Hamiltons’ guesthouse after Jane left the party. Paul isn’t a very sympathetic figure: first he trades Jane to Tyler for a flashy watch, and then he decides to stay at the party rather than following her to the beach when she storms off. It’s gratifying in the end when Jane storms past him after he offers a half-hearted apology and tries to work things out. As Megan points out, “If you loved her, you wouldn’t have traded her for a watch.”

In what will become a recurring theme for the show, Horatio gets his man in the end, even if he had to wait fifteen years to do it. Though it was Tyler who initially attacked Esteban and assaulted Jane, it is Drake who actually kills Esteban after he finds the bartender on the beach, frantically looking for help. Just as he did fifteen years ago, Drake leaves the girl to die, hustling his nephew off the beach and back to the guest house, where he tries to burn the evidence that they were involved in the fireplace. That the CSIs are able to recover evidence from the remains of the guest house and also from Drake’s own glasses proves another recurring CSI theme: it’s harder than it would seem to get rid of all the physical evidence from a crime.

Source: "Just One Kiss"

Kristine Huntley


Kristine Huntley

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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