June 14 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI: Miami–‘Blood Sugar’

6 min read

When a man dies in an explosion at a sugar refinery, the CSIs determine his death was not an accident.

Synopsis:

An explosion rocks the Cavanaugh Sugar Refinery, leaving a worker named Eduardo Santana dead, his body badly burned in the blast. Delko suspects the factory didn’t follow regulations, leading to a dust explosion in which sugar dust was ignited by a spark. Though owner Roger Cavanaugh insists to Horatio that he follows regulations, the CSI launches an investigation. Roger’s daughter, Christie, admits that she implemented some cost-cutting measures and closed some vents, while Delko and Walter find evidence that a door that was supposed to be open for ventilation purposes was actually shut. The worker in charge of monitoring the door, Manny Delgado, admits that he left his post for twenty minutes to help an injured field worker named Nina Castillo—who happens to be Eduardo’s fiancée. When Horatio goes to question Nina, he finds her in distress: Immigration officers are about to cart her older sister, Isabel, off for deportation. Nina tells Horatio that she left the fields to warn Isabel and hurt her foot in the process. Manny helped her home. Horatio bargains with the Immigration officer to hold off on deporting Isabel for forty-eight hours. Nina tells Horatio that Roger Cavanaugh targets people for the raids in order to keep Immigration off his back. Horatio promises her he’ll take care of her sister.

After determining Eduardo was crushed by massive amounts of sugar falling on him, the team realizes he fell or was pushed into a machine pouring sugar. Returning to the room at the refinery where Eduardo was found, Walter wonders if he fell off the catwalk. Delko notices an image on a silo by the catwalk, while Walter discovers a hair from a horse, which the CSIs are able to match to a Palamino owned by Cavanaugh. They learn Luis Avilla, the factory manager, signed out the horse the morning of the explosion. Luis claims he was trying to teach Eduardo how to be indispensable to Cavanaugh; his own son, Filipe, had just been deported and he didn’t want to see the same happen to Eduardo. He claims the young man was fine when he left him, about five minutes before the explosion. Nina brings Horatio some papers she found in Eduardo’s apartment, which turn out to be medical records from a blood transfusion Eduardo had two years ago following a tractor injury. When Horatio sees that Roger Cavanaugh was the donor, he realizes Cavanaugh was Eduardo’s father. Horatio confronts the man, positing that Eduardo blackmailed him after realizing Roger was his father, but the refinery owner insists that wasn’t the case. Eduardo merely thanked him for saving his life. Roger was so impressed with him that he changed his will, leaving half of everything he owned to Eduardo, and the other half to Christie.

Though Roger believes Christie didn’t know about Eduardo or the change in the will, the CSIs learn otherwise, tracking down a kid she hired to hack into her father’s computer. Christie tells Calleigh she hacked into her father’s computer to keep up with the company’s budget, but admits to being horrified when she found the will and learned Eduardo was her brother. When Calleigh points out that her actions were illegal and lets on that she’s a suspect in Eduardo’s murder, Christie asks for a lawyer. Delko and Ryan determine the image made on the silo was made by a boot. Though Christie’s don’t match, Delko recalls Luis was wearing boots with spurs on them. When Horatio and Delko go to question Luis, the man flees to the refinery, where he pulls a gun on Roger Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh had his son deported instead of Eduardo, and Luis took his anger out on Eduardo, confronting him on the catwalk. When the young man fell off the side, Luis tried to save him, but Eduardo plunged into the machine below and almost took Luis with him. Though Horatio manages to talk Luis into lowering the gun, Roger charges him, causing both Luis and Horatio to fire. Luis’s bullet kills Roger, while Horatio’s wounds Luis in the shoulder. Horatio talks Christie Cavanaugh into establishing a scholarship in exchange for the police not pressing felony charges against her for the hacking. Horatio presents Isabel with a student visa, allowing her to stay in the country, and tells Nina, who is a citizen, that she’ll be joining her sister at school.

Analysis:

“Blood Sugar” is one of those episodes that sets out with noble intentions but ends up piling on cliché after cliché. The white factory owner is evil, his daughter is selfish and wicked, his illegitimate son is humble and good and the immigrants are poor and honorable but downtrodden. There isn’t a cliché that “Blood Sugar” doesn’t pander to, right down to the detail that the killer didn’t actually mean to do in his victim—it was all an accident. The guest characters in this episode don’t feel real; they’re more like caricatures following a script that casts them squarely as villains or victims. Christie Cavanaugh offers a haughty sneer when questioned by the CSIs, while Nina looks at Horatio with a plaintive desperation. Not only did Nina just lose her fiancé, but now her sister is about to be deported. Luckily, Horatio is poised to swoop in to save the day.

The final showdown is every bit as clichéd as the rest of the episode: when Luis realizes the CSIs are on to him, he grabs a gun and goes after Roger Cavanaugh. Horatio manages to talk him down, but of course, Cavanaugh somehow thinks rushing a man who has just lowered his gun is a good idea and goes after Luis snarling that the man killed his son… despite the fact that Luis just revealed that it was an accident, and what’s more, he tried to save Eduardo. But never mind that—Cavanaugh rushes him, and Luis raises his gun and fires–just as Horatio does. Cue the slow-mo as we follow Horatio’s bullet to its target; naturally, Horatio has shot to wound, not kill, and his bullet disables Luis rather than finishing him off, while Luis’s bullet has slain that caricature of white patriarchy, Roger Cavanaugh.

Never one to be deterred, Horatio goes to the man’s grieving daughter—who the audience really can’t feel very sorry for, given her previous deplorable behavior—and gets her to set up a scholarship so that Nina’s sister Isabel can stay in the country on a student visa, and both she and Nina can go to school and get an education. The American Dream thus presented and bestowed, Nina thanks Horatio profusely. Ever modest, Horatio offers a simple, “You bet” before donning his sunglasses and walking off, his work done.

The subject of immigrants being taken advantage of is a worthy one, but this episode is so filled with stereotypes that it’s impossible to take anything genuine away from it. None of these characters feel real; they simply fill their roles as cogs of the plot and the message. How can there be any shades of grey here when the characters all fall neatly and simply into the categories of good and evil?

Between the clichés and trying to explain the explosion in the refinery to the audience, there’s not much room for character moments among the team. Everyone save for Calleigh processes the plant at the beginning, but the split screen is jarring and disorienting, not allowing the audience to get a sense of the place. Walter does get a funny line in when Delko says he’s spotted an image on the silo and Walter quips, “My grandma thought she saw Elvis’s face on a potato chip, once.” Delko chuckles, then asserts that he’s not imagining things. The line garners a laugh, but it’s a lone bright spot in an otherwise uninspired entry.

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