Horatio begins his pursuit of the criminals who escaped from prison, starting with his wife’s killer.
Horatio is hot on the trail of the fugitives who escaped from prison at the end of “See No Evil”. He manages to catch a serial rapist, but first on Horatio’s list is Memmo Fierro, the man who fatally shot his wife Marisol. The hunt for Memmo is personal for Delko, too: Marisol was his sister. Memmo escapes on a speedboat after brutally robbing and killing the man the boat belonged to. Calleigh questions Memmo’s girlfriend, Ivonne Hernandez, who insists she hasn’t spoken to Memmo since his escape. Calleigh catches her in a lie when she recognizes earrings Ivonne has as stolen property from the man Memmo murdered. Ivonne admits Memmo came to see her at the dry cleaners where she works, and that he gave her jewelry and insisted she take it. Ivonne, angry because she lost custody of their daughter Elsa after Memmo went to jail, sent him away. Memmo shows up at Dade Memorial Hospital and starts shooting staff after asking them, “How long have you been working here?” The CSIs rush to the scene, but Memmo escapes in a garbage truck—with a cop’s gun and radio. After questioning one of the survivors, Horatio gets a call on the police radio from a man named Aaron Taber. Aaron tells Horatio he didn’t do his job and Horatio needs to arrest him, before breaking down and saying he doesn’t want to die. Memmo gets on the line and taunts Horatio about Marisol’s death, prompting the CSI to respond that he’s going to kill him for her death. Horatio and Delko race to Aaron’s house, only to find the man dead and Memmo long gone. Delko gets a call from Walter, informing him that Aaron was a caseworker at a private agency called Find Us Families.
Calleigh and Delko question Ivonne again, and the woman tells them that Elsa was taken from her after the police found weapons Memmo stashed in their apartment. When Memmo returned, Ivonne was forced to tell him he couldn’t see their daughter. Aaron had vowed to find Elsa a good home, but when Elsa was rushed to the hospital a few weeks ago after an “accident” at her foster home, Ivonne was barred from seeing her. Walter and Natalia go to the Find Us Families agency to get information about Elsa’s placement. The head of the department, Kenneth McGuire gives them Elsa’s file but claims he doesn’t have any knowledge of the case—Aaron was handling it. Walter calls Horatio to give him the name of Elsa’s foster mother, Joanne Connors, and also to tell him more about Elsa’s hospital visit: she was rushed to the hospital with second degree burns on her arms, but was turned away at Dade Memorial and sent to Palo Vista. Horatio and Ryan rush to Joanne Connors’ house and find her bleeding on the floor from a gunshot wound to the leg. She tells them that she doesn’t know where Elsa is: the girl has been missing for two days. Ryan is shocked she didn’t report Elsa’s disappearance. Memmo is furious and frantic; he calls Horatio asking after Elsa. Horatio tries to get him to turn himself in, but Memmo refuses, telling Horatio to find his little girl or things will get worse in Miami.
Ryan, Delko and Walter search the Connors home and find evidence someone broke into Elsa’s room through the window. They find scraps of paper from the dry cleaners where Ivonne works. Calleigh and Delko interrogate the woman, but she insists she was only trying to see her child. She broke in, but Elsa wasn’t there, so she sat on her bed for a little while and left a figurine behind for Elsa. Ryan learns Joanne had a nine-year-old foster son in her care two years ago who was hospitalized and that Aaron recommended Joanne be removed from the program. Aaron’s request was denied by Kenneth McGuire. When Natalia and Ryan go to the Find Us Families agency, Kenneth isn’t there. They pressure the secretary, who admits that Kenneth has a GPS device. Horatio puts an APB out on the man and he and Delko track Kenneth’s car and surround it, forcing the man to stop. Kenneth insists he was merely taking Elsa to a good foster family, but Horatio gets Elsa away from him. Memmo shows up and grabs Kenneth, holding a gun to him. Horatio tries to get him to stand down, but after a few words to his daughter, Memmo takes off with Kenneth. Horatio reunites Ivonne and Elsa, but Memmo escapes… leaving Kenneth dead in his car.
I admit, I was skeptical after the prison break at the end of last week’s episode. Joe LeBrock’s comment about many of the escaped inmates talking about “a certain red-headed detective” made me cringe in anticipation of an endless parade of felons waiting to have their shot at Horatio. Horatio has something of a hero complex on a good day, so when he’s being persecuted he can be downright insufferable, and I was preparing for a somewhat overwrought mano a mano showdown between Horatio and each of these five villains. That might still be yet to come, but thankfully it’s not evident here; besides some grandstanding from Horatio—which is perhaps forgivable given that this particular villain is the man who murdered his wife—the episode clips along at a thrilling pace and offers up a more complex than average Miami bad guy in Memmo.
Viewers who have been watching Miami for a while will recognize Memmo from the fourth season of CSI: Miami. He was responsible for the fatal shooting of Horatio’s new wife, Marisol, in “Rampage” . Memmo was one of Mala Noche gang leader Antonio Riaz’s henchmen, and while Horatio and Delko chased Riaz down in “Rio” and Horatio dispatched him, Memmo apparently went to jail. Riaz’s death quenched both men’s thirst for vengeance, and Memmo was more or less forgotten. At the end of the fourth season/beginning of its fifth, Miami was at its most outlandish: “Rio” is essentially an action hour with over-the-top shootouts and plenty of mustache twirling from the devious Riaz. Since then, Miami has come back to earth a little bit, thankfully toning down the shootouts and gang warfare in favor of getting back to its forensic roots a bit more. Though this episode has more action than forensics, it’s infused with the spirit of the show as it is today as opposed to being a total throwback to the middle of the show’s run, when it stretched credibility to a point where it was hard for the audience to suspend their disbelief.
Memmo’s first act upon escaping from prison is to murder a hapless innocent with a kind of joyful glee; it’s not the most promising of beginnings. But after Memmo robs and kills the man, he goes looking for Ivonne, his girlfriend, and Elsa, the child they share. Memmo is startlingly sympathetic in his quest to both find his daughter and avenge the wrongs perpetrated against her by an unforgiving system. Memmo is downright frantic when he calls Horatio, and though he can’t bring himself to ask Horatio to find his daughter, he tells Horatio that if the CSI doesn’t get his daughter back, things will get a whole lot worse. Sure, Memmo is making a threat, but when it comes down to it, he’s just a frantic parent trying to find his child.
When Horatio does manage to locate Elsa, Memmo is able to high tail it to the scene thanks to the stolen walkie he got off the security guard. Given that Horatio knew that Memmo had a police walkie, one would have thought he might have used a little more discretion when broadcasting the APB, but perhaps Horatio wanted Memmo to know they were chasing down his daughter’s abductor lest the escaped killer decide to take out his rage on more Miami denizens. Nevertheless, it’s a little surprising that Horatio and Delko aren’t more prepared for Memmo’s eventual appearance at the scene. They seem to be caught off guard when Memmo shows up and basically snatches Kenneth right from under their noses.
After the massive quest to find his daughter, all Memmo wants in the end are a few minutes with her, to tell her he loves her and that he won’t be seeing her again. Given that the little girl has just been through hell—first she’s ripped away from her mother, then stuck with a terrible foster mother and then kidnapped by the foster care center director—it’s probably not the best time for her to hear from her father that she’ll never see him again (while he’s holding a hostage no less). Elsa is clearly traumatized, calling out to her father and begging him not to shoot Kenneth. Memmo clearly loves his daughter, but it’s obvious he has no experience as a parent and doesn’t seem to understand how damaging the showdown is for her. His only focus is on seeing his child one last time.
As Memmo, Robert LaSardo gives a dynamite performance; he goes from calmly and frighteningly menacing during the episode to frantic worry when he learns his daughter is missing to sadly earnest (and yet still menacing) when he bids Elsa farewell and tells her to be good. LaSardo brings a lot of depth to the character; even in the scene where his Memmo murders the boat owner, Memmo doesn’t come off as a one-note villain, evil simply because he’s evil. There’s some real chilling sadism there that serves as an interesting counterbalance as the episode progresses and Memmo becomes more and more frantic to find his daughter. Melonie Diaz is equally as good as Ivonne, who is by turns distrustful of the CSIs and angry about her daughter being taken from her. Though her standoffishness with the CSIs understandably irritates Calleigh and Delko, Diaz manages to make Ivonne a very sympathetic figure, and at the end of the episode, we’re happy to see her reunited with her daughter.
Memmo manages to escape the standoff unscathed, and we’re not especially shocked to find he killed his hostage and left him for the CSIs to find. Presumably, we haven’t seen the last of Memmo, especially given Horatio’s determination to hunt him down for killing Marisol. When he returns, I hope it’s in a story that does justice to the depth and complexity built up in his character here. It’s so refreshing to have a villain on CSI: Miami who isn’t simply a mustache twirler intent on going up against Horatio just because. Memmo could be a truly worthy nemesis for Horatio, and it’s no coincidence that Horatio is more interesting here when going up against Memmo than he normally is when battling the drug dealers and murderers he usually takes on. Going up against a great villain benefits the hero, too, and I hope when Horatio and Memmo meet again, the story is as good as it is here.