A young woman is shot in the desert during a rave, and the team must race to find another missing girl before she meets a similar fate.
Two young women run into the middle of a rave, but they are followed by a man who opens fire, killing one of the girls. The other girl is still missing when the team arrives to investigate. The victim has bruises and injuries indicating that she has been abused for years, and it looks like she was a sex slave.
Footage from the rave reveals a medical intern, Amanda, was passing out nitrous oxide to party-goers, and she rushed in to help the victim after she was shot. Morgan heads to the hospital and speaks to the woman, discovering that she took the other girl with her in an attempt to take care of her. The girl has the same injuries as their victim, although there is no sign of sexual abuse. She is a few years younger, and a DNA test reveals that the two girls are sisters, Rosa and Jacinta Flores. They want to ask the Jacinta what happened, but the man who hurt her cut out her tongue.
Nick and Detective Moreno retrace the girls’ footsteps until they get to Highway 238, aka “Smugglers Alley”. Moreno has made a lot of busts on this road, and it’s easy to imagine someone using this route for human trafficking. They can smell cow manure, and there’s an RFID tag from a cow on the ground nearby. There’s evidence of a car accident, indicating that a car ran a cattle hauler off the road. Once the truck was stopped, the two girls in the back had a chance to get away.
The team runs a list of truck drivers passing through that way against a list of registered owners of the type of gun that killed Rosa, and they find a match. They bring Oliver Ruiz in for questioning, and they locate another girl in the back of his truck. Elena, however, denies that she was a victim in the sex trade. Ruiz is her cousin, and he was helping her escape to a better life. Neither one of them knew the girls sneaked into the back of the truck when Ruiz stopped to eat. Elena only found out after the accident. The killer ran them off the road, and she saw the girls climb out of the truck and run. The killer confronted Ruiz and demanded to know where the girls were. Ruiz tried to reach for his gun, but the man took it and threatened to kill him if he told anyone. He took the gun and ran, but not before grabbing Ruiz by the shirt. They test the fabric and find traces of R502, a refrigerant used in HVAC air conditioning systems. Jacinta’s father works with HVAC systems, and they realize that he is the one who has been abusing the girls.
Adrian Flores already checked Jacinta out of the hospital, but they know he won’t go back to his home. They need to figure out where he’s been keeping the girls. Their only clue is a drawing Jacinta made, of what appears to be flowers glimpsed through a metal-barred window. They know the girls were in the vicinity of Bullhead City, since that’s where they sneaked into the back of Ruiz’s truck, and Morgan cracks the case when she looks at a map of the area and notices a wind farm. The drawing depicts wind turbines, not flowers. They rush to the trailer where Jacinta is being held, but Adrian has spread gasoline and is threatening Jacinta with a lighter. When the police try to arrest him, the man throws the lighter behind him before being handcuffed by an officer. The trailer catches on fire, and Morgan and Nick rush inside to free Jacinta and put an end to this horrible ordeal.
The entire CSI team is upset to learn what happened to Jacinta and Rosa Flores in “Wild Flowers”, but Morgan is particularly affected. When she confronts the medical intern from the rave, Amanda, she discovers Jacinta terrified and resting in the basement of the hospital. The girl is skittish, and Morgan is careful to approach her gently as she tries to collect evidence. When she gets the girl to open her mouth so she can take a DNA sample, Morgan is shocked by what she sees. She quickly excuses herself, calling DB and breaking down on the phone as she explains what upset her: someone cut out the girl’s tongue.
Jacinta’s missing tongue is only one of the physical effects of her abuse, which is horrifying and, unfortunately, something that happens every day. The scene with Sara and Doc Robbins in the morgue is sad, as the man lists off the injuries inflicted on Rosa before she was even twenty years old. She suffered from persistent, chronic trauma around her wrists and ankles, which is consistent with being restrained by shackles. Bed sores suggest she was imprisoned for a long period of time on her back. Even worse than that, there are signs of sexual assault, indicating that she was being used as a sex slave. Doc Robbins tells Sara that this is one of the few times he has taken comfort in seeing someone in the morgue. Sara, however, doesn’t believe in the whole idea that Rosa is in a ‘better place’. The coroner points out that, given what Rosa went through in her short life, he can’t imagine a worse place for the girl. She has never been to a dentist or a doctor, and she has suffered years of abuse and neglect—even if victims like her survive, they will never be made whole. He may have a point, but Sara is adamant: the girl deserved a chance to try.
While Jacinta is at the hospital, Morgan tries to connect with the girl to find out anything she can about the man who killed Rosa and hurt both girls. After all, Jacinta may not be able to speak, but she still has a voice. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know how to write, so she can only draw Morgan a picture of her view from the place she was held. This scene is very nicely done, and Madalyn Horcher does a great job throughout the episode of showing just how heartbreaking Jacinta’s situation is without a single word being spoken. Elisabeth Harnois is in top form this week as well, particularly as she tries to hold herself together when she’s reaching out to the damaged young girl.
In order to make Jacinta trust her, Morgan talks about herself, rambling on about how her father was recently in the hospital so the girl can understand that it isn’t a bad place. She also writes things on the notepad she brought into the room, hoping that even if Jacinta can’t understand her words, she will realize what Morgan is asking when she writes her name and address. She also adds her best friend’s name, and I’ll admit to being a bit surprised to find out that Hodges holds that title. Their interaction so far has been interesting, of course, but I’m curious what that revelation means for the characters going forward. Does Morgan think of him only as a friend? If their parents are dating seriously, it might be for the best, but I’m still wondering what will happen between these two after that spontaneous kiss in the premiere. Hodges is a good guy, even if he can be annoying, and I’d like to see more of their friendship if that’s how things work out. Platonic relationships between men and women are something I’m always hoping to see more of on TV.
Sara and Greg work with Morgan to identify the two girls, and they discover that they are sisters who went missing back in 2001. The police report indicates that the girls’ mother ran off with them, suggesting that she took them with her to Mexico to be with family. They call in the girls’ father, Adrian, and Morgan has a hard time keeping her emotions in check as she tries to comfort the man over Rosa’s death and prepare him to deal with the horrors of what Jacinta has experienced. The girls went through hell, and Morgan wants the man to know how brave and strong they were. The man seems genuine, tearing up when he sees Jacinta in the hospital bed, realizing that she’s a young woman now instead of the little girl he lost. Morgan reaches out a hand to rest on his shoulder, hoping to give him some amount of comfort.
Unfortunately, the team eventually learns the truth: Adrian is the one who has been torturing these girls for the past decade. He lied about their mother, who was killed when she found out what her husband was doing to Rosa. Rosa tried to protect Jacinta, to prevent her from being sexually abused as well, and that’s why they escaped. DB calls Morgan at the hospital, and she runs toward Jacinta’s room only to discover that the girl has been checked out. Morgan blames Detective Moreno for handing Jacinta back to her abuser, but Moreno is more than willing to fight back. Morgan yells at him for taking his uniformed officer off the door, and Moreno asks if she’s finished complaining. Instead, she suggests that he’ll be finished. Moreno fires back, asking if she’s going to run to her father, and DB hurries in to break up the argument before it goes any farther.
DB asks Moreno what’s going on, and Moreno points out that Adrian Flores is Jacinta’s legal guardian; the doctors, not Moreno, are the ones who released the girl to her father. Plus, when this was all happening, their main suspect was Oliver Ruiz, not the father—and, Moreno is quick to remind Morgan, she’s the one who called the father and brought him directly to the girl. Morgan says she accepts responsibility for her part in this, unlike Moreno and the officers. DB cuts in, reminding them that they can argue later. For now, they need to find Jacinta before her father hurts her any more, so he needs them to focus. They agree, putting aside their differences to apply themselves to the problem at hand.
Earlier in the episode, Moreno has a scene with Nick as they’re retracing Rosa and Jacinta’s path through the desert. Moreno says the CSIs have an “interesting” job, and Nick points out that Moreno seems to find one particular CSI interesting. This leads into a slightly awkward conversation about Moreno’s relationship with Finn. Nick asks how things are going, and Moreno describes Finn as “different”. Nick points out that she’s hot, and Moreno agrees–she’s hot and cold. Moreno turns to ask Nick why he’s giving him the third degree about his relationship with Nick’s colleague, and Nick just replies that Moreno should ‘watch his step.’ Moreno wants to know what that means, clearly taking it to be some sort of threat, but Nick just gestures to the ground; Moreno needs to literally watch his step since he’s right next to the mushrooms they’re looking for and a shoeprint in the dirt from their killer. The men move on after that, and I’m curious about why Nick was asking Moreno questions about Finn. There can be no doubt that Finn’s a capable and independent woman, and I doubt Nick is trying to keep an eye on her—I also doubt she would appreciate it if that was his intention. But they do work together, so I suppose it might have just been curiosity on Nick’s part. I suppose we’ll see as the season continues.
At the end of the hour, Moreno is there with Nick and Morgan as they arrest Adrian and save Jacinta from the burning trailer. Moreno and Nick lead the man out to the police cruiser, and Moreno tells Nick that for a CSI, he’s not a bad cop. Nick looks back at Morgan sitting on the hood of a nearby cruiser with Jacinta, and he says that particular honor belongs to Morgan today. Moreno agrees, and it seems like a truce of sorts between them despite their earlier argument. Morgan is emotionally invested in the case this week, and the cops and CSIs are colleagues who are going to butt heads sometimes. Hopefully this was just a temporary issue, although I suppose ongoing tension between Morgan and Moreno could be interesting as well. In any case, I like Moreno, and I’m glad the writers decided to bring him back last season. I enjoy his interaction with the rest of the team, and his past means there are a lot of places the writers could go with his character.
In addition to the conversation about Finn and Moreno’s relationship, the beginning of the episode features a very interesting scene with DB and Sara that offers some information about their respective marriages. Sara is leaving a message for her husband, Gil Grissom, when she gets out of the car at the crime scene. It’s their anniversary, but he’s not in town, and the time difference between Vegas and wherever he is only makes it harder for them to communicate. She wants to talk to him, though, since it has been a while since they really caught up. It’s nice to hear a reference to Grissom, and to his and Sara’s relationship. I’m not too worried about the state of their marriage, but I do hope we hear more about Grissom soon.
As Sara continues toward the scene, we see that DB is also on the phone with his spouse, although he’s not leaving a message. He knows that Barbara is needed in Seattle with their daughter and granddaughter, but he needs her in Vegas as well. He misses her, and I’m glad to hear that they seem to be doing well despite the distance. I was worried when she first mentioned wanting to stay in Seattle that this would become the start of a separation, and hopefully future episodes will continue to prove that my worry is unfounded.
After DB hangs up the phone, Sara welcomes him to the “joys” of long-distance relationships. The man laughs, and he says he doesn’t know how Sara does it. She and Grissom have always had a more unconventional relationship, which I do think helps their situation. It’s an interesting comparison to make between the couples, and I have to admit, I wouldn’t mind watching more scenes with these two chatting about their respective relationships. They are, after all, the only two married CSIs, and anything that keeps Grissom present in spirit is a welcome addition to the episodes.
See also: “Wild Flowers” episode guide