The team meets their match when they encounter a forensic-proof killer.
Margot Wilton, a wealthy philanthropist recently given the key to the city of Las Vegas, is attacked in her home. The CSI team arrives at the scene and notices Margot’s key to the city plaque turned upside down and find several pictures of Margot standing with a young boy in a wheelchair have been cut up. Nick finds a circular cut in the glass of one of the kitchen windows, while Greg finds another window has been forced open and a dust void on the sill. In the bedroom, Langston and Catherine notice the odd bloody track marks left by the attacker, which indicate he moved on one hand and one foot at a time. Langston speaks with Margot in the hospital, and she describes her attacker as African American, and notes his hands were slippery. She identifies the boy in the pictures as her son Robbie, from her first marriage, who died young. While Langston measures the slashes the attacker made on her arms, she tells the CSI her philanthropic work was in honor of Robbie. Greg checks Margot’s attic and finds evidence that someone has been living up there for quite some time–and watching Margot through a lipstick camera in the ceiling. The discovery prompts Catherine and Nick to lift Margot’s mattress and discover an indentation mark which indicates Margot’s attacker was sleeping beneath the bed.
The team puts their heads together on what little they do know: that the killer is small in stature, flexible and likely young. Hodges runs DNA on the stain beneath the bed and finds the DNA is compromised, but has found trace indicating the attacker was wearing a latex fetish suit. Catherine and Nick go to a local sex shop and find that the suit was custom designed. The owner of the shop shows them pictures of the attacker wearing the full body suit, and Catherine notices the man has one blue eye and one brown one. The man gave his name as “Ian Moone,” but Langston quickly realizes its an anagram for “I am no one.” The CSIs soon have another case on their hands: the man in the black latex suit attacks and kills a woman named Carrie Jones in her car at a car wash. Carrie’s young daughter, Alise, was in the car with her, and when Brass questions her, she says one word: Sqweegel. Carrie’s husband Jason tells Brass he can’t imagine anyone wanting to harm his wife, and mentions she was recently appointed to the Family Values Community in Clark County. Jason does mention his wife was attacked a few weeks ago, and Langston and Doc Robbins find her wounds match the ones inflicted on Margot Wilton.
When the CSIs go to Carrie’s house, they find evidence that the killer was stalking Carrie in the same way he stalked Margot. A CD reveals a possible motive: footage on it reveals Carrie having sex with a man other than her husband. Jason is shocked, and says it now makes sense that Carrie’s attacker kept saying to her, “I know. Confess” as he slashed her during the attack. Suspecting the attacker is intending the same for Margot, Langston confronts her, asking her what the man might want her to confess. She refuses to admit anything, and returns home to search for her letters—only to find her attacker, dressed in a black latex suit, waiting for her! The CSIs find a car belonging to heroic firefighter Ryan Fink abandoned and filled with blood splatter near Margot’s house, prompting them to decide to go in. Sqweegel confronts Margot: she killer her son, an act she insists was a mercy killing. She claims her son begged her to end his suffering. Margot shoots Sqweegel as the team rushes in. They discover a body under the bed, but it’s firefighter Ryan Fink—not the killer, who seems to have escaped without a trace. Brass later learns that there was evidence Ryan Fink started the fires that made him a hero, leading Langston to wonder about the killer’s true identity.
CSI creator Anthony Zuiker brings a character from his Level 26 series over to the show he created in this outing, which has the CSIs investigating crimes committed by a man who wears a latex body suit that prevents him from leaving any evidence at crime scenes. It’s a true conundrum for the CSIs, who rely on criminals leaving some sort of piece of themselves behind—whether it be a hair, a fingerprint, epithelials or even a piece of fabric. Most criminals do, one way or another; if there’s one thing CSI has shown, it’s that it is very difficult to commit a crime and not leave something behind, one way or another. The fact that Sqweegel doesn’t makes him a particular challenge, and Langston decides to look at the lack of evidence as evidence, concluding the killer is patient, young and small in stature. It’s not much to go on, but it’s something.
The audience isn’t required to be familiar with Zuiker’s Level 26 series to follow what’s going on, or deduce Sqweegel’s motives, which obviously stem from a desire to expose people who appear to be paragons of society for what they really are. Carrie Jones is an adulterer masquerading as a virtuous wife, while Ryan Fink, the hero who saves people from burning blazes is in fact the one responsible for starting them. Margot Wilton built a lifetime of philanthropic pursuits in the name of her dead son, but she in fact is the one responsible for his death. In Margot’s case, things are a little murkier: she killed her son at his behest, because he was suffering. Perhaps this is why Sqweegel leaves her alive. Played with a crusty feistiness by Ann-Margret, Margot is ultimately a sympathetic figure, and her philanthropic ventures seem to be a way to atone for her son’s death rather than to cover up her misdeed (though she is fairly determined to make sure her letters don’t become public).
We don’t learn too much about Sqweegel here, aside from the fact that he wears a forensic-proof bodysuit and doesn’t think too highly of hypocrites. The only physical evidence the CSIs are able to glean is his stature and the fact that he has one blue eye and one brown eye, based on a photograph the sex shop proprietor took. One has to wonder if that’s even an accurate lead; I wouldn’t put it past a killer as clever and unique as Sqweegel to wear different colored contacts in order to throw the CSIs off. It certainly fits his MO.
Those who have read the first Level 26 novel, Dark Origins, will certainly find plenty of references to the novel here. Book readers know the back story of Sqweegel, which I won’t give away here, and will recognize his method of entry into Margot and Carrie’s houses from the book. They’ll also recognize the sequence in the car wash as well as the bodysuit of course. But CSI watchers who are now curious about the novel shouldn’t fear that they’ll be covering old ground if they pick up Dark Origins; the killer in the book and the one on CSI actually aren’t one and the same. CSI fans can find out more at Level26.com, the social community for the Level 26 series.
Longtime viewers of CSI will catch a reference to an earlier episode when Catherine and Nick are standing over Margot’s bed. “You and Margot have something in common,” Catherine says to Nick. “A stalker.” The comment is a reference to the second season episode “Stalker”, which focused on a man who became obsessed with Nick. Nick answers, “That was a long time ago,” but the quiet cadence of his voice suggests that it’s perhaps not as forgotten as his dismissive words suggest. It’s a small reference, but for fans who are hungering for the early days of CSI and more camaraderie between the characters, it’s a nice touch.
The episode also showcases a lighter moment for Langston when he’s with Margot Wilton. She makes a reference to a “cute young resident” and Langston replies, in a mock hurt tone, “I’m not cute?” Many like to lay the blame for CSI‘s ratings decline at the feet of Laurence Fishburne‘s character, but I’m not sure that’s entirely fair. The character has a quirky charm of his own, and he’s bonded with several of the other characters, particularly Doc Robbins and Nick. Grissom’s absence is still felt mightily, but I think that’s a testament to the layered, compelling character Zuiker and the other writers, along with William Petersen, created as opposed to a failing in Langston. Most shows are showing their age by their eleventh season—the few that make it that far, that is—but so long as CSI keeps offering up involving mysteries and dynamic characters, it will still be on many people’s “must see” list.