Review: CSI: Miami — ‘Mayday’

Horatio tracks down the last escaped prisoner in the season nine finale, and two members of the team might not make it out alive.

Synopsis:

Frank and Horatio are on a plane, bringing the final escapee from Miami West Prison back to Miami. The plane goes off course, and Horatio demands to know what’s going on. The crewman pulls out a gun, and Horatio and Frank take aim with their own weapons. The pilot puts the plane into a dive, throwing the passengers off balance and creating chaos in the cabin. The copilot makes an emergency landing. Horatio shoots the crewman and the pilot, but it’s too late—Toller escapes.

Horatio talks to the copilot, who says he was hired to get Toller to the Everglades. He can’t give Horatio any more information than that. Meanwhile, a woman stops her car when she sees a body in the middle of the road. It’s Toller, and he attacks and kills her before taking her car. Eric finds the woman’s body and calls it in.

Randy North was Toller’s cellmate when he escaped, and he’s been trying to keep his life on the straight and narrow because he wants to stay out of jail and keep him and his kids safe. Walter and Calleigh look at the plane’s route and the amount of gas, and they find the only airstrip they could have reached without refueling. Walter goes with Horatio to the airfield, but the owner Marcel says he deals with small planes and that’s it. They get a tip that the dead woman’s car was left at a salvage yard, so the team heads there to look for Toller. They don’t find him, but they do find Randy. Toller got to him after he spoke to the CSIs, and he threatened to hurt Randy’s kids if he didn’t help him. Randy doesn’t know anything—he just dropped Toller off at a hotel downtown and left the car at a salvage yard.

Toller meets with Marcel in a hotel room, and he shoots the man when he demands more money for his services. Toller escapes down the stairwell and jumps into a van with a young girl named Kaylee at the wheel, forcing her to drive away. Meanwhile, the CSIs head into the room to find Marcel’s body—and his employee Renee is hiding in the bathroom. Horatio asks the woman what’s going on, and she says she’s able to keep her job because she doesn’t ask any questions. All she can say is that Marcel was talking to Toller about a business deal, and everything went south. Horatio realizes what Toller is up to when he finds a counterfeit $100 bill.

Child Services wants to take Randy’s kids away from him. Natalia speaks out on his behalf, but the judge rules to put the children into foster care. Natalia says she did everything she could for Randy. She’ll try to help him out, but right now she needs to concentrate on finding Toller before he can take another life.

Ryan finds Toller’s prints on the counterfeit bill. The printing is perfect, but the paper is bad. Renee admits that she is a Secret Service agent looking for six stolen printing plates. Toller is looking for a buyer—with the right supplies, these plates will make perfect counterfeit bills. She says Toller stood over Marcel’s body before he left, and Ryan realizes he took a keyring from the dead man. They head back to the airstrip, but they only find Kaylee’s shoe. They search Marcell’s office for information and find a laptop. He’s been videoconferencing with Bernard Ashcroft, an investment banker who was arrested for fraud. Toller is on his way to meet with Bernard, and he sends Kaylee in with the case that contains the printing plates. Toller escapes when he sees the police pull up. Kaylee is safe, Ashcroft is arrested, and the team discovers currency-grade paper at his home. They check the case and realize Toller kept one set of plates—now he’s in the wind again, and he is still in possession of stolen government property.

Natalia gets a call from Randy, who says Toller is supposed to meet him on the pier. She and Horatio go, but they’re being set up. Randy shoots Horatio and hits Natalia over the head, dragging her away and shoving her into the trunk of a car. Horatio shoots at Randy despite his own injuries, but Randy pushes the car toward the edge of the pier and runs away. Natalia tries to call for help, but she can’t get a signal as the car sinks beneath the water…


Analysis:

“Mayday” is action-packed, starting with a thrilling gunfight at 20,000 feet. Before the bullets start flying, Frank and Horatio are glad to be bringing Jack Toller back to Miami. He is the final Miami West Prison escapee (“See No Evil”) to be caught, and he may also be the worst. Toller was called “The Incinerator” because he cremated his victims in a gruesome manner, and the murder trial that finally nailed him relied on a single tooth as evidence. He is evil and cunning, and he is able to set up a daring escape by hiring the flight crew to get him to the Everglades. Frank is injured when the plane makes a dive for the ground, and Horatio is lucky to take out the crewman and the pilot before they can shoot the cops. Unfortunately, Horatio isn’t able to stop Toller from making a getaway.

I had a feeling Randy North would be an important character. The appearance of a recognizable actor like Ethan Embry made me think he’d play a major role in the finale, and I wasn’t disappointed. He’s only tangentially connected to Toller’s storyline, but he sets the cliffhanger in motion. After losing custody of his kids, he gets angry and desperate and takes it out on the person he believes is responsible: Natalia. He lures Natalia to the pier by saying that Toller is supposed to meet him there, and Horatio comes with her to apprehend the killer. It’s quite a shock when Horatio gets shot, and Randy shoves Natalia into the trunk of a car before pushing her into the water. It’s certainly an exciting cliffhanger to leave fans wondering what will happen over the hiatus, although I don’t think anybody expects Horatio to die. I haven’t heard anything to suggest that Eva La Rue will be leaving the show, so I’m pretty confident that Natalia will be rescued at the start of season ten—I certainly hope she comes through this alive because I’ve grown quite fond of the character this season. The women on Miami are far outnumbered by the men; Natalia and Calleigh are important not only as individuals, but also as strong, capable female characters on a male-dominated series.

The only problem I have with this cliffhanger is that Natalia has essentially been kidnapped—again! Less than two months ago, Miami West Prison escapee Patrick Clarkson kidnapped Natalia and demanded that she help prove his innocence in “About Face”. That wasn’t the first time she was victimized this season, either. She was drugged in “Sleepless in Miami” and hallucinated that her dead, abusive ex-husband was after her. A husband and wife serial killer duo had the CSI in their clutches in “Blood Lust” before Horatio rescued her. Natalia saved herself after being kidnapped in “About Face”, but judging by the end of “Mayday”, it looks like she will need to be rescued before she dies in the trunk of the car.

The cliffhanger relies on Horatio and Natalia being alone with Randy on the pier, but it seems odd that only two members of the team would go to (ostensibly) arrest Toller. They don’t even bring a redshirt patrol officer or two with them. This is a ruthless serial killer who, in the span of a day, escaped from police custody, killed a woman to take her car, shot a former business associate without giving it a second thought and kidnapped a teenager—I don’t know why they would take any chances.

“Mayday” marks the introduction of Renee Locklear, the Secret Service agent who is rumoured to be a potential love interest for Horatio next season. The character’s future on the show isn’t set in stone at this point, but she will appear in the season ten premiere at the very least. The character has a lot of potential, although she only gets a few scenes in this episode to establish herself. I know she’s being set up as a possible girlfriend for Horatio, but my favorite scene of hers is with Walter. When Renee says she’s working undercover for the Secret Service, Walter retorts that he’s President Barack Obama. Horatio sends Walter out of the room to confirm Renee’s identity, and he’s forced to come back with his tail between his legs and admit that she actually does work for the government. Renee makes a quip about Obama, and I’d just really love to see the pair of them share more fun, snarky scenes next season if Natasha Henstridge returns on a recurring basis.

Walter also has a funny scene with Frank earlier in the episode. The injured man is back at work a bit too soon for Walter’s liking, and Frank snarks that people say he needed to get his head examined, so he did—and then he came back to track down the man responsible for his injuries. Walter tries to say something else, but Frank shushes him since he’s trying to hear the person on the other end of the phone. It’s a quick, humorous moment, and these two don’t get nearly enough scenes together. Then again, I think Frank and Walter deserve a lot more scenes in general, so I might be biased.

Calleigh seems to have a larger presence in the finale than she has had in a while. Emily Procter’s pregnancy forced the character onto the sidelines for most of the season, and I’m really glad she got some significant screentime in “Mayday”. She speaks to Eric on the phone about tracking down Toller through his known associates, she and Walter calculate the plane’s intended flight path, and she examines the counterfeit bill with Ryan. It may only be a few scenes, but they’re relevant, and they give her a few minutes of much-needed focus in the final episode before the hiatus.

I mentioned how much I love Dr Loman in my review for “GO”, and his scene with Ryan in this episode reaffirmed my feelings for the character. Ryan is making a lot of noise as he rifles through Marcel’s clothes in the morgue looking for evidence, and Tom suggests that he should take care of this somewhere else. Ryan doesn’t seem concerned, and Tom lets it go when Ryan points out that he’s just trying to find evidence so they can save a young girl who has been kidnapped. A minute later, Ryan finds the bent keyring and says he needs an expert opinion—but he doesn’t have an expert, so Tom will do. It’s a laugh-out-loud moment, and I think Ryan and Tom are a great combination. The scene this week immediately reminded me of last season’s “Dude, Where’s My Groom”, when Ryan saw evidence on the dead bodyguard and wanted to collect it. Tom said the evidence on the body belonged to him, and Ryan asked if he was territorial. Tom called Ryan snarky and reminded him that he was just following protocol. It was such an awkward and hilarious moment. The scene in “Mayday” is less awkward but still hilarious. These two can be prickly with each other, but that just makes them even more entertaining.

Overall, “Mayday” is an exciting way to end Miami’s ninth season. The episode is a thrilling ride from beginning to end, and the plot kept me on the edge of my seat wondering if they were going to catch Toller by the end of the hour. The writers also included some great character moments, and I can’t wait to find out what will happen when the show returns in the fall.


See also: “Mayday” episode guide

Rachel Trongo

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Rachel Trongo

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