After a man is slain by an alligator, the CSIs become suspicious of two competing matchmaking services.
The Miami team is on the case after a man named Matthew Shaw is brutally torn apart by an alligator in his own swimming pool. Horatio and Ryan track down the gator and shoot it, noticing a trail of bloody meat left as bait to lure the gator to Matthew’s pool. Horatio and Tripp question Abby Lexington, the woman Matthew was on the phone with when he was attacked. When asked if she had anything to do with Matthew’s death, Abby reminds them she called 911 after he cried out. She met Matthew through an exclusive matchmaking service, and though they didn’t work out, she insists she bears no ill will towards him. Natalia speaks with Tandy King, the woman who runs the service, who shows her Matthew’s video for the service and tells the CSI that the men bring money to the table, while the women bring their beauty. Natalia asks Tandy about an engagement ring Dr. Loman found in the pocket of Matthew’s robe, but Tandy insists she wasn’t aware of any plans Matthew had to propose to any of the girls from her service. The CSIs speak to the women who went out with Matthew, but none of them got serious with him. Only one woman doesn’t return the CSIs’ call: Kate Pender. An analysis of the sheets from Matthew’s bed reveals Matthew and Kate had sex the night before. Horatio and Tripp track Kate’s GPS and find her at an exclusive party thrown by another matchmaker, Paul Nichols. Nichols tries to block Horatio from speaking to Kate, but the CSI is insistent. Kate tells him it was goodbye sex and denies having anything to do with Matthew’s death before returning to the party with Paul.
Dr. Loman recovers paper from the alligator’s stomach that is similar to paper Delko found in Matthew’s pool. He also discovers a burn on Matthew’s left hand, which the alligator ingested. Tripp recognizes burn pattern as coming from a motorcycle exhaust pipe. Delko and Horatio return to Paul Nichols’ house and find a motorcycle with blood on the pipe. They arrest the bike’s owner, Paul Nichols’ head of security, Ricky Tobar, for torturing Matthew. Horatio and Delko interrogate the man, who tells them that this is about more than the dating service—it’s about millions of dollars—but he clams up as soon as Nichols’ lawyer arrives to represent him. Horatio decides on a different tactic, sending Ryan undercover to one of Nichols’ swanky matchmaking parties. When Ryan approaches Kate at the party, she lures him upstairs and tries to get him to have sex with her—for a price. Ryan begs off and goes to hunt for incriminating evidence, but is knocked out as he searches. Horatio and Delko rush into the house when he doesn’t check in at the appointed time and rescue him from an overzealous security guard who is interrogating him by thrusting his head underwater repeatedly. Nichols denies knowing the girls at his party were hooking, but his story is disproved when the CSIs discover a hidden account room behind a bookcase.
Nichols and the women are arrested. In lock up, Kate confesses to Horatio that she and Matthew were in love and that he wanted to marry her, but Nichols refused to let her go. Matthew’s business manager had run off with his money and he was broke, so he couldn’t pay Nichols off. Nichols vowed to kill Kate if Matthew went to the police, and kill Matthew if Kate ran off with him. Nichols refuses to talk, but a piece of paper found in the alligator’s teeth leads the CSIs in another direction when they put it together with the others found in the animal’s stomach and the pool and find it’s a torn up check marked “insufficient funds” made out to Tandy King. Horatio and Natalia confront Tandy and find she was enraged when Matthew’s check bounced. She went to his house to confront him, and when she found he was broke, she got his gate code off the video he made for her agency and opened it and lured the alligator to his pool to kill him. Tandy tells the CSIs her reputation is everything, and if it got out that Matthew was able to swindle her, her reputation would be ruined. She’s arrested, but Horatio cuts Kate Pender a break on the prostitution charges in exchange for her testimony against Paul Nichols.
Whatever did damsels in distress do before Horatio Caine came along? In an effort to hearken back to the show’s earlier seasons, Horatio has been connecting with and coming to the aid of a plethora of damsels in distress this season. From a single mother stuck in a job as a bottle girl in “Sudden Death” to a grieving migrant worker in “Blood Sugar” to the prostitute with a heart of gold in this episode, there are no shortage of suffering women just waiting for Horatio to come along and save them. Miami’s attitude towards women has never been great; sure, the show has Calleigh and Natalia, both strong female protagonists, but as for the female guest characters on the show, they tend to be either victims or villains. While that can probably be said of most guest characters on crime dramas, the female victims are pictures of perfect helplessness (often, like Kate Pender, in bad situations they’ve foolishly gotten themselves into), and the villainesses manipulative and conniving, often with somewhat flimsy motivation. Tandy King murders Matthew Shaw for writing a bad check when taking him to court probably would have been a better option.
Horatio Caine is arguably the most controversial character in the CSI universe (though Langston might be giving him a run for his money these days). Much has been made of David Caruso‘s Shatner-esque delivery while he stands, hands either on his hips or slipping on those infamous sunglasses that have become the character’s trademark. As have the quippy one-liners Horatio often utters before the opening credits, like the “Welcome to South Florida” Horatio offers after he shoots the alligator that killed Matthew Shaw. Certainly, Horatio has been parodied more than any other character on a CSI show.
But Horatio’s compassion always made him an appealing character, especially in the early years of the show when the moments served to humanize him and helped show how, even though his personal life was kind of a mess, he could connect with people. These days, it’s a parody of that: Horatio swoops in and offers aid to some completely helpless woman, who is of course, grateful to him and that’s about the extent of it. I miss the Horatio who connected so beautifully with the little girl who had lost both of her parents in “Cross-Jurisdictions”.
Horatio has always taken a strong stance with suspects, but this new thuggish Horatio, the one who has no problem putting a little physical pressure on the guilty or throwing a perp through a window, is a bit extreme. Here he and Delko cross a pretty clear line by questioning two suspects without their lawyers. The first they manipulate by telling him his lawyer is really loyal to his boss, not him, while the second they roughly cuff while he calls out for his lawyer. Horatio being intense isn’t a bad thing, but he probably shouldn’t be violating the civil rights of suspects, even if they are bad guys. I worry about the direction the show is going with Horatio; they’re risking making him more of a caricature rather than giving him some much needed depth. We need more scenes like the one at the end of “Happy Birthday”, when he speaks longingly to his dead wife, rather than ones where he’s manhandling suspects.
What this episode does have going for it is that it gives underutilized Ryan Wolfe something to do. After realizing that something fishy is definitely going on at Paul Nichols’ matchmaking parties, Horatio decides to send Ryan in undercover as a wealthy young developer to see if he can get to the bottom of what’s going on. Ryan quickly gets to the bottom of the matter when Kate Pender leads him up to a bedroom and tries to have sex with him… for a price, of course. Ryan is rather charmingly flustered and finds an excuse to slip out of the room to search for evidence that can be used against Nichols. He doesn’t get very far thanks to an alert security guard, but it’s fun to see Ryan doing undercover work.
While Paul was perhaps too obvious to end up being the killer, Tandy’s motive feels rather weak and the twist seems to exist for the sole purpose of having the killer not being who we suspect it is. Twists are generally a good thing in that they keep viewers on their toes and from figuring out the mystery too early on, but they have to be justified. I’m sure like all killers Tandy thought she could get away with murder, but it seems to me that business-wise, making an example of Matthew by taking him to court would have been a powerful statement that Tandy isn’t going to tolerate frauds. Killing him and risking prosecution/jail time just seems like a bad business move.
Source: "Match Made in Hell"