The search for a missing woman leads the team to a murder victim, and Horatio crosses paths with a new nemesis.
Jennifer Olsen is looking for her sister Angela, who has gone missing. She gets a call from a man who tells her to say goodbye to her sister for the last time. He gives her the name Anton LeDoux, and she heads to the MDPD. Anton died in 1948, and the team finds a body next to his grave. However, this isn’t Angela, it’s another young woman named Nikki. She was killed elsewhere and dumped here. Her eyes were removed and replaced with glass ones. Nikki has wounds that are approximately 48 hours old, and Angela has been missing for less than 24 hours. She may still be alive.
Nikki and Angela are prostitutes who work in Liberty City. Nikki has a drug called capecitabine in her system, indicating that she had cancer. The team heads to a free clinic, and Dr Esteban Navarro recognizes her. Nikki was being treated for cervical cancer, and the doctor knows Angela as well. She brought Nikki in after she was beat up by a boyfriend.
Eric works with Vice to figure out where Nikki worked in Liberty City. He gets a car out of the impound and heads over to ask some questions. Another prostitute knows both women, and she gives him a list of names for clients who might have hurt either girl. They talk to Fred Massey, who is dismissive of the women and refuses to give them a footprint sample to compare to a print found near Nikki’s body. Frank follows him around, but he loses the van the man is driving after he picks up the prostitute Eric spoke to earlier. They are able to track him down and arrest him. The girl was being choked and cut in the back of the van, but she says that’s just part of the gig.
The glass eyes found in Nikki have traces of ‘hide paste’ on them, which is used by taxidermists. The cemetery where they found Nikki’s body backs up to a hunting ground, so they start there. Eric and Ryan head to a shack out in the middle of nowhere, and they find Dennis Kemp cutting up a carcass. There are glass eyes in the shack, but he didn’t kill Nikki or carry her body—he just found her “broken” and put eyes in her head. He saw a man carrying another woman with tape over her mouth, and there was a van.
Natalia heads back to the clinic to get Nikki’s file to confirm Massey hurt her. She sees that the doctor is wearing shoes shaped like a foot—which explains the bare footprints they found in the cemetery. She realizes he’s the killer, and they bring him in for questioning. The shoes are a match. They demand to know where Angela is, but he asks for a lawyer. Tom notices that the suturing technique used by the killer is interesting, and it matches Dr Navarro’s stitches from a few months ago. However, when they head out to execute a search warrant, Inspector O’Shay stops them in their tracks.
Walter tracks the doctor by using the GPS pedometer he wears when he goes running. He slowed down in a certain area this morning, and they think this is where Angela is being held. Horatio sees an ambulance nearby, and he realizes that Kemp may have seen an ambulance rather than a van in the cemetery. They head into the building and find Angela alive.
“Look Who’s Taunting” introduces not just one, but three new villains for Horatio and the team to deal with this year: Dr Esteban Navarro, Esteban’s father Diego and Inspector Scott O’Shay. Esteban will be a recurring nemesis during season ten, and the team comes in contact with him this week when he murders Nikki Cervano and kidnaps Angela Olsen. Nikki was tortured for several days, brought to the edge of death before being revived with epinephrine. He removed her eyes before killing her and dumping her body. He’s a sick, twisted killer, and it’s frustrating to see him get away with murder—for now, at least. Horatio uses Jennifer’s phone to call Angela’s phone at the end of the hour. It’s still in Esteban’s possession, and he picks it up and threatens to take both Olsen sisters next time, preventing anyone from going to the police. Horatio responds that it’s “not gonna be that easy”, but Esteban just smirks and hangs up. I know the team will find a way to arrest Esteban and make the charges stick, but it’s obvious that there will be more bodies in the meantime.
Esteban is able to evade justice with help from his father, Diego Navarro. Diego develops condominiums in the city, and he has deep pockets. According to O’Shay, Diego “holds the purse strings on Miami.” Neither Navarro is intimidated by the police, and it is clear that they both consider themselves above the law—at this point, they do seem to be untouchable. Diego goes so far as to approach Horatio at the end of the episode, showing his face to the audience for the first time when he tries to offer Horatio a bribe. Horatio doesn’t take the bait, and Diego offers a parting threat before he and Esteban get back into the car: Horatio promises that he’s going to take Esteban off the street “one way or another,” and Diego responds, “Unless I take you off first.” Diego may be a rich man with connections, but he’s going up against Horatio Caine, and there’s only one way that can end. It will be satisfying to see the team take down both men when the time comes.
The third new villain is actually a returning character. Scott O’Shay appeared during season five, in “A Grizzly Murder” and “Bloodline”, as a corrupt Supervisor who was laundering money from Native American casinos. There wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him back then, but he re-emerges this week in a different job. He’s Inspector O’Shay now, and he runs the Mayor’s civilian oversight panel. It’s his job to police the actions of law enforcement officers as they go about their business, and he provides several roadblocks this week when the team is trying to take down Esteban. First, O’Shay pays off one of Esteban’s attending physicians to say they did the sutures on Nikki’s knee several months ago, and he convinces a judge to sign a writ preventing the team from executing a search warrant based on comparisons between those sutures and the ones done by the killer. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that O’Shay “did a number” on the State Attorney, and they won’t be pressing charges against Esteban. O’Shay’s job suggests that the Mayor is one of the people watching Diego’s back in exchange for generous contributions. It will be tough for the team to get past the obstacles standing in their way, but I hope they can bring down O’Shay when they get the Navarros—I have no sympathy for someone who helps a killer go free, especially a character we already know is corrupt.
Eric interacts with a prostitute several times during the course of the investigation. He first meets Elizabeth when she gets into his car thinking he’s a customer. He flashes his badge and demands information about Nikki and Angela, and he convinces her to write out a list of names for potentially-violent clients. Later in the episode, Eric comes to see her again, and he apologizes for his previous behavior. He made her feel used, but Elizabeth says it’s not unusual for someone to lie and intimidate her to get what they want. Eric tells her about Esteban and warns her to stay away from him, and he wants her to warn the other women as well so they can protect themselves. He tells her that she doesn’t have to live like this, and he mentions programs in the department that can help her turn her life around. Elizabeth scoffs at first, but Eric points out that she knew Massey was a violent man, and she got into a van with him anyway. She’s got bills to pay, she says, and starts to walk away. Eric grabs her arm and asks who hurt her in the past. She doesn’t respond, and he tells her there’s a way out if she wants it. He gives her a card, and she shows up at the end of the episode to take him up on his offer. Someone did hurt her, and she needs to deal with that. She wants to get into the program Eric mentioned, but she isn’t making any promises. Eric, on the other hand, promises to help her, and he says he’ll drive her to the center himself.
I have mixed feelings about this subplot. For one thing, Horatio is already the show’s resident hero, always ready to rush in and save the damsels in distress. Eric seems to be following in his boss’s footsteps, and it’s frustrating. We don’t need another male character running around and saving the poor, helpless womenfolk. Not that the characters shouldn’t help people who need it, but there never seems to be a shortage of defenseless young women in need of rescuing in Miami. If, say, Natalia or Calleigh had spoken to Elizabeth about her life and her choices, it still would have been patronizing—but perhaps it wouldn’t have been quite so frustrating. Eric doesn’t know Elizabeth, and it’s insulting that he walks up to her and starts talking about why she’s on the street—I’m pretty sure she knows better than you do, Eric. After all, it’s her life. I rolled my eyes when he grabbed Elizabeth’s arm and asked who “hurt” her. What would the women of Miami do without Horatio and Eric to rescue them from villains and from themselves?
Overall, I think it’s a mistake to focus too much on the men during a storyline with so much female victimization. I hope Natalia plays a bigger role going forward with this arc—as long as she doesn’t end up getting kidnapped or injured in the process. She’s gone through enough of that already. I would like to see her and Calleigh play an integral role in taking down the Navarros. Esteban kidnaps, tortures, kills and discards women he (and society) deems as worthless because he knows he can get away with it. Making it all about Horatio and Eric’s quest to catch the bad guy does nothing to make women look like anything but victims. Calleigh and Natalia are strong women and capable CSIs, and this storyline should feature them. I get the feeling we haven’t seen the last of Elizabeth, and I hope she doesn’t end up as one of Esteban’s victims. If she does come back, I don’t want it to be all about Eric—I want to see Elizabeth in charge of her own life, and I’d be thrilled if she helped take Esteban down.
See also: “Look Who’s Taunting” episode guide