Review: CSI: Miami — ‘Countermeasures’

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Horatio and Natalia fight for their lives, and the team works to track down escaped serial killer Jack Toller.

Synopsis:

Horatio gets to his feet after being shot by Randy North, and he moves toward the edge of the pier and looks down into the water. Natalia is trapped in the trunk of a car that is rapidly sinking, and he has no choice but to jump in and save her. He can’t get the trunk open, but he sees the backseat shifting as she struggles inside. He pulls the door open and yanks down the seat, pulling Natalia out of the trunk. Natalia grabs Horatio and pulls him toward the surface.

At the hospital, both CSIs disobey orders and decide to leave. They don’t have any time to waste if they want to catch Randy and serial killer Jack Toller. Horatio sends Natalia with Calleigh so they can try to find Randy, and they know he’ll go after his children. Meanwhile, Horatio speaks with Secret Service Agent Renee Locklear, who says Toller found an interested buyer for the printing plates in Miami. They know they have to catch him, but time is of the essence: he’s a serial killer, and it’s only a matter of time before he takes another life.

Calleigh speaks to Randy’s son, and the little boy agrees to help them. Austin calls his father and says he ran away from his foster home, and Randy says he’ll meet him under the lifeguard tower on the beach in Sherway Park. The CSIs are waiting nearby and take Randy down. Horatio and Natalia confront him in interrogation, and they want Toller. During the time they shared a jail cell, Toller told Randy that he was going to make a deal with someone who pulls ATM heists. Horatio worked the heist case last year, so he comes up with a name: Leo Kendry. They can find this man by going after a known associate, Ricky Galindo.

Meanwhile, Toller makes a deal with Leo for $180,000 for the plates, but he wants a bonus: a woman sitting nearby named Melanie Garland. Leo makes the deal, and Toller drags the girl away. Frank and Walter pull over Ricky Galindo, and Walter finds a Garra rufa fish on the floorboard. This leads the team to a spa, and they find Leo and the plates—but now they know there’s a potential victim in Toller’s custody.

The car Toller is driving is acting up, so he sends Melanie into a gas station to get a bottle of radiator fluid and a pack of cigarettes. She hands the man behind the counter a hundred dollar bill, and he figures out that something is wrong. She says Toller will kill her, so the man lets her go and immediately calls the police. When they look at the surveillance footage, they see Melanie steal a disposable cellphone. They are able to track the phone, and they realize Toller has been calling Randy over and over again. They tell Randy to call Toller back, but the man already knows what Toller is after: a necklace that fell out of his pocket when they were in prison. He still has the necklace, and they set up a meeting at a rail yard. Toller realizes that Randy is being followed, and he makes a run for it as a train cuts the team off from pursuing him.

Walter and Calleigh look through evidence from Toller’s original case to find something to help them locate Melanie. His clothes were never tested, and they discover that the chemical composition of the soot on his clothing leads back to a landfill. Toller incinerated his first three victims in a landfill, and he’s going to do it again. Toller puts his mother’s necklace around Melanie’s neck, and he forces her to repeat his mother’s words from when he was a child: “Jack, I’m ashamed of you.” Toller flashes back to his childhood, when his mother verbally abused him and burned him with cigarettes. He has been killing women because he can do to them what he couldn’t do to his own mother. The team arrives just before Toller lights Melanie on fire, and he throws down his lighter to distract them while he runs away. They save the woman, and Horatio takes off after Toller. He’s able to take the killer down eventually, and Eric arrests him.


Analysis:

“Countermeasures” is an action-packed episode. There’s no doubt that the team will bring down the bad guys and save the girl—this is, after all, CSI: Miami—but it’s an exciting storyline filled with suspense. Horatio’s health is also a big question mark throughout the hour, after he disobeys his doctor’s orders and leaves the hospital despite being shot by Randy North. The wound was caused by a bullet fragment that ricocheted and hit Horatio. There’s never really any worry that the show’s leading man will die, but he’s definitely looking worse for wear throughout the episode. I found myself wondering if he would collapse at the wrong time and lose the upper hand—or lose Toller. In the end, Horatio is able to stay strong enough to keep going until they finally catch Toller, at which point he finally lets himself collapse. It’s unrealistic for him to spend the whole episode in the thick of the investigation after sustaining such an injury, but Horatio Caine never misses the action.

Throughout the episode, Horatio sees visions of his dead wife Marisol. The episode opens with one of these visions, in which Horatio arrives at a restaurant and sits at a table with her. They have missed each other, and they don’t want to waste another moment. Eventually, Horatio looks down and realizes he’s shot, and he starts to remember what’s happening. Marisol tells him he has to get up and leave, but he’s reluctant. When he looks up to see his wife replaced by Natalia, soaking wet and begging for help, he finally drags himself out of this vision and back to the painful reality. He sees Marisol walking away from him multiple times throughout the episode, and at one point he crawls into his car and pulls out a photo of them. It’s a poignant scene, seeing him in such agony and knowing he’s determined to catch Toller. When he kisses the photo, you know it would be easier—and perhaps more desirable—for Horatio to just let go and be with his wife. He holds on for the sake of his team and the safety of his city, and it drives home how much pressure Horatio puts on himself to be Miami’s protector.

Horatio has seemed like a comic book hero for quite some time, but “Countermeasures” really emphasizes his humanity. He’s not invincible, but he’s a fighter. He spends most of the episode trying not to collapse, and the pain is written all over his face and his trembling arms. David Caruso does a great job of showing his character’s vulnerability and determination. It’s a relief when Toller is finally caught and you know Horatio can get some help. It’s a bit surprising that he isn’t taken to the hospital immediately after collapsing at the landfill, but I like the final scene with Agent Locklear. She hasn’t known Horatio for long, so she asks about the name he kept repeating in the ambulance: Marisol. He tells her the truth, and he tells her about seeing visions of her after being shot—something he didn’t tell anyone on his team. She says she’s glad he listened to her and came back, but it’s clear that he doesn’t necessarily agree. She asks if he’s going to be okay, and he finally admits that no, he isn’t. She helps him into a car and (presumably) drives him to a hospital. Hopefully now he can recuperate from his wounds and be back to his old self soon.

Horatio isn’t the only one recovering from a near-death experience in “Countermeasures”. Natalia is clearly affected by her close call in the trunk of the car, and she fights her way off of the hospital bed to go after a man she thinks is Randy North. When she actually gets in the interrogation room with him later, she loses her cool and slams his head onto the table. She tried to help this man, and he betrayed her and tried to kill her. Horatio has to pull her back when she attacks Randy, but it’s hard to blame her. She’s still scared, and her nerves are on edge. The scene with Ryan in the locker room just before this is really great. Ryan asks if she’s okay, and she admits that she can’t stop thinking about being trapped in the trunk of that car. Ryan sits beside her and reminds her of the time he got shot in the eye with a nail gun in the season four episode “Nailed”. After that, he was afraid to open a door or head into a crime scene because he knew something else could happen at any moment. Natalia helped him move on from that experience, and he repeats what she told him in the past so he can help her in return. He tells her she’s going to be okay. It’s a really nice moment between them, and I love when the show features the close bond between the members of this team. Natalia and Ryan have become two of my favorite characters, and it’s great to see him share this scene with her.

In the locker room scene, Natalia points out that she has had a lot of close calls this year. As I mentioned in my review for last season’s finale, “Mayday”, Natalia has been kidnapped and victimized multiple times over the past season. It was frustrating to see her kidnapped again in “Mayday” and trapped until Horatio could swim down to rescue her, but it’s nice to see her get out of the car in the premiere and immediately rescue him in return. She’s shaken throughout the episode, but she doesn’t give up. At the end of “Countermeasures”, she’s at the shooting range, and I wonder if that scene is an indication of her state of mind this season. According to Co-Executive Producer Barry O’Brien, this whole experience will have a “profound impact” on Natalia. She needs to regain her balance and confidence after what happened, and time will tell if speaking with Ryan and confronting Randy will be enough to make that happen. Whatever happens, I hope we’ve seen the last of Natalia being victimized for a while.

Calleigh has her own storyline this week, and it feels like the start of something bigger. She speaks with Randy North’s son Austin and convinces him to help catch his dad so no one else gets hurt. The boy feels a connection with her, and she promises him they’ll do what they can to make sure he and his sister are kept in the same family. At the end of the episode, she reveals that they found a great family who will take both children in, but he wonders if he can choose someone else. He was hoping he and his sister could stay with Calleigh, and Calleigh is clearly moved by this. He says it was stupid to wish for that, but Calleigh disagrees. She’s honored that he would want to stay with her, but she knows she isn’t prepared to be a parent right now. Her job takes too much of her time and energy, and Austin and his sister deserve more than that. Although she can’t take care of them, she promises that she will come visit them and keep up with the children no matter where they go. Austin is pleased with this, and it’s clear that Calleigh plans to keep her promise. In addition to his comments about the impact the premiere has on Natalia, O’Brien also said that Calleigh will look toward her future and think about starting a family during season ten.

Frank and Walter have a great scene this week when they pull over Leo’s associate Ricky Galindo. They are looking for answers, but Ricky is just being cocky. Walter finds a fish smashed into the floor mat, and he holds it up to show Frank and Ricky. Ricky claims it could be from anywhere, but Walter recognizes the fish and knows that isn’t true. Frank doesn’t know how a sardine is going to help them find Leo, but Walter corrects him: this is a Garra rufa fish. Frank sarcastically calls Walter “Jacques Cousteau” and asks for an explanation. Walter knows these fish are used in high-end pedicures, and his knowledge guides them to Leo and the printing plates. I’m not sure why Walter is so knowledgeable about the Garra rufa fish, or its use in pedicures, but now I’m picturing him in that fancy spa—that’s a scene I’d love to see! Rex Linn and Omar Miller are gems, and all of their scenes on the show are pitch-perfect. Between “Mayday” and now “Consequences”, I hope this is a sign that these two will share plenty of quick, snarky scenes during the coming season.

Overall, “Countermeasures” is an exciting way to start the season, and the actors put in great performances bringing the characters to life. The episode sets several storylines in motion, dealing with Horatio’s lost love, Natalia’s recovery after her latest attack and Calleigh’s desire to find fulfillment away from the lab. I can’t wait to see what else season ten has to offer for character development, not to mention the thrilling cases that have become a hallmark of the series. CSI: Miami is back and raring to go!


See also: “Countermeasures” episode guide.

Rachel Trongo

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Rachel Trongo

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