June 19 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation–‘Bump and Grind’

8 min read

The Vegas team must discover who killed a man whose chopped up body is found in a shredding company’s waste disposal truck.

Synopsis:

When a shredding company manager discovers a “suspicious ooze” coming out of a truck, he calls the police. When Langston and Nick meet Brass at the scene, they discover what appear to be the remains of a person run through a shredder. The CSIs set about collecting the evidence from the shreddings, and discover several pieces of cut up credit cards mixed in with the remains. Doc Robbins works to make sense of the remains, determining they are from one person, who has likely been dead 24-36 hours. He determines the victim was killed by a gunshot wound to the head prior to being shredded. Greg is able to recover information off the credit card identifying its owner as a man named Larry Lamotte. Greg recognizes the name: Lamotte owns an identity theft protection company that’s frequently advertised on television. Greg himself has paid Larry to keep his information safe. Brass and Langston go to Larry’s office, where they’re greeted by his assistant, Elaine, and his head of security, Julius Kaplan, who tell them Larry is on vacation. All are surprised when Larry emerges, looking nothing like the man in his commercials. Larry admits he has a young office cleaner play him on television. Larry assures them he’s very much alive, and when they press to see if he perhaps went after the person who apparently stole his identity, Larry denies it. Nick finds out all of Larry’s enemies are former clients who claim that rather than protecting their identities, he allowed them to be stolen. One client in particular, Lee Deveries, took it especially poorly, crashing his truck into Larry’s office. When Brass questions him, Lee denies going after Larry, saying he has six alibis: all the guys running around claiming to be him, thanks to Larry.

Greg discovers an older bullet fragment among the remains that appears to be from an older gunshot wound. Greg also manages to trace the credit card to a P.O. Box in New Mexico, and comes up with several surveillance photos of a man—most likely their victim—using it. Sara finds blood in one of the disposal bins from Larry’s building and learns the waste disposal company that services the building is subcontracted by none other than Julius Kaplan. Brass, Nick and Sara go to question the man only to find him dead in a lawn chair by the pool. Nick discovers the primary crime scene where their first victim was killed in a walk in closet in Julius’s house. David Phillips determines Julius died at 5pm that evening from a single shot to the back of his head, while Sara finds a beer bottle that matches a void in the spatter on Julius’s body, indicating his killer was handing him a beer as he shot him. Brass and Langston question Larry a second time, pointing out that they’ve learned Julius used to be a mob contractor responsible for some brutal hits, but Larry once again claims innocence. Archie gets video footage from a neighbor’s surveillance camera of a car leaving Julius’s house, but the driver is obscured by another car passing by. Greg learns that the gun used to kill Julius was also used in an unsolved shooting six years ago in Reno. The victim disappeared shortly after seeking medical treatment and remains unidentified. Greg is able to match the fragment from the shredded victim to the ones recovered at the scene in Reno, confirming their victim is the same man who was shot in Reno six years ago. Sara finally gets an ID on the dead man, one which shocks the CSIs: his name is Larry Lamotte, according to an ID issued in Florida ten years ago.

Brass and Langston are able to ID the man they thought was Larry Lamotte as Arlo Earton, who has a record for robbery and identity theft. They confront Larry/Arlo: he thought he killed the real Larry Lamotte six years ago. He stole his identity and used it to make a name for himself to defraud others, but then the real Larry came back and demanded money. Arlo admits to trying to kill Larry, his old partner, six years ago—pointing out that the statute of limitations has long since run out on the crime. He denies having Julius kill Larry or killing Julius himself, and a five-million-dollar withdrawal from his bank account backs up his story. But if he paid Larry off, where’s the money? Archie is able to get a partial license plate off the car leaving Julius’s house from the surveillance footage, and he discovers the car was rented out to Lee Deveries. The CSIs track down the car, only to find it driven not by Lee but by Elena, Arlo’s assistant. After Larry showed up and demanded money from Arlo, Elena and Julius plotted to kill Larry and frame Arlo for the murder, splitting the five million between them. Elena decided she didn’t want to split the money, killing Julius instead for being a pig—just like Arlo. Elena gives up information on Arlo in exchange for a deal, and Arlo is arrested for identity theft while Greg and his other clients are left to chase down their stolen information.

Analysis:

While more often than not I’m willing to go out on a limb with the CSI shows—this is television, after all, and I fully support the shows’ right to stretch credibility a bit in a bid to tell a good story and be entertaining—this one felt a little too far-fetched in places for me. Identity theft is certainly a worthy topic for CSI, and a believable motive for murder, but the story here feels awfully contrived. Why would Larry risk coming back to confront a man who nearly killed him six years ago? Why did he wait six years to do it? And why did Julius, who presumably had no personal connection to Larry, go to such great lengths to torture him and hide the body? If he and Elena intended to frame Arlo, surely leaving the body and credit card in tact would have been a more obvious route. And if they didn’t intend to frame him, force-feeding him the credit card seems a foolish and unnecessary flourish.

The CSI shows rely on surveillance cameras all of the time, and while it’s easy to swallow that big casinos and major intersections have security cameras, it seems awfully convenient that a neighbor across the street from a murder victim does. Of course, the car is conveniently blocked… except for a few numbers on the license plate, which Archie is able to decipher in the fourth act, leading the CSIs to Julius’s killer: Elena. I have to admit, I did enjoy seeing the assistant turn out to be the killer, even though I was fairly suspicious of her from the get-go, given the way Larry/Arlo ordered her around. Still, the idea that the meek assistant plotted with the mob killer and then turned on him and shot him in the back of the head makes for a nice bit of irony. I’m sure neither Julius nor Arlo ever suspected her of being capable of the acts she committed, and it’s fun to see her make a deal for herself in the end by giving up the slimy Arlo who, up to that point, was untouchable.

Alas, it seems too late for poor Greg, who we see at the end of the episode disputing a charge made under his name in Nigeria. Greg’s plight is lamented by his new BFF, Hodges, who used to tease Greg relentlessly, no doubt jealous of the attention Grissom paid the former lab tech. But with Grissom no longer at the lab and Hodges reeling from Wendy’s departure, he seems to have latched onto Greg, calling him “G” and planning a “man date” with him, much to Nick and Catherine’s amusement. Hodges’ new best friend is no more discreet than Hodges himself, as the lab tech finds when Catherine references a story that Hodges shared with Greg about a kid that looked up to Hodges a little too much at science camp. Hodges is always a reliable source of comic relief, even when brokenhearted!

There are several references to both Hodges and Catherine’s love lives in the episode, almost as though an attempt is being made to catch viewers up about the state of their romances, lest they skipped a few episodes. Doc Robbins unsubtly prods Catherine about Vartann, telling her that Vartann is a good man. Catherine is irritated that Hodges spilled the beans after witnessing a discussion between the two in “Blood Moon” after Vartann asked Catherine to move in with him. Watching the episode, I sympathized with Catherine; no one wants a co-worker to weigh in on her relationship, especially if it’s with another colleague. I just hope all this pressure on Catherine isn’t going to result in a tragedy in which she loses Vartann and regrets her decision not to move in with him.

After being shot at the end of last season and apparently suffering some post-traumatic effects in this season’s opener, “Shock Waves”, Nick has apparently decided the department’s two mandatory counseling sessions are enough for him, telling Catherine when she asks that he doesn’t like to talk about his feelings. It’s a disappointingly pat answer, one that makes the audience wonder if the aftermath of Nick’s shooting is just going to be shoved under the rug. One of the weaknesses of the CSI shows as a whole is the way they handle long-running stories and character arcs. Though the writers often set up interesting scenarios, they’re more or less dropped after a few episodes. It might be the nature of episodic television not to dwell on character storylines for too long, but these moments can be fit nicely in episodes amidst talk of the cases. There’s no reason Nick should bounce back from his shooting as quickly as he recovered from being buried alive in season five’s finale “Grave Danger”.

The opposite seems to be true in Langston’s case, perhaps by virtue of Laurence Fishburne headlining the show. In this episode, Langston receives a letter from Nate Haskell, who stabbed him at the end of “Meat Jekyll” last season and gloated about it mightily in “Shock Waves.” Haskell doesn’t want Langston to forget he robbed him of one of his kidneys, and though his letter merely reads “Thinking of you. XO, Nate,” it’s a way for him to taunt Langston, to remind the CSI that he managed to outwit and nearly kill him. Sara notices something is bothering Langston, and at the end of the episode, he finally tells her about the letter from Haskell. Sara passes on some hard-earned wisdom: good and bad things happen to everyone, and it’s up to each individual to choose what defines them. It’s an empowering speech from Sara, who has certainly endured more than her fair share as a child and during her tenure as a CSI. It’s nice to see she’s found a balance at last.

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