A series of murders leads the team into the world of professional poker.
Poker player Peter Coe dies after his throat is cut while riding in an elevator. Coe won a million dollars in the Palermo Poker Classic in 1997, but he lost the same tournament last night. There’s acetate trace in Coe’s neck wound, which reveals that his throat was slit with a playing card. The killer threw the card just before the doors closed, slicing into his neck, and it then fell down the gap into the elevator shaft. The team recovers the murder weapon, which is the ace of spades.
A second victim is found tied to a bed, another poker player named Trent Aldridge. He asphyxiated after seven raw chicken hearts were shoved down his throat—the seven of hearts. The card that killed Coe has chicken blood on it, proving that these two murders are connected. The team looks for more murders that fit the same criteria, and they find a former pit boss from the Palermo who was killed by a fatal dose of heroin. Ed Ficelli was a user, but the injections don’t match up with his usual track marks. In fact, the four injections line up with the four of clubs, and the heroin that killed him was laced with clover.
Trent was with a dominatrix before he died, and the woman passed a $100 poker chip to the room service guy. Fingerprints on the chip trace back to Ava Rendell, the woman who was with Coe before his fatal elevator ride, and the last woman in the poker tournament before she lost. They wonder if she is responsible, but she becomes the latest victim when she’s found decapitated. Her head was removed with one clean stroke, using an axe like the one pictured with the king of diamonds. Trace leads to a medieval poleaxe.
The card that killed Coe is from the 1997 Classic, and the cards associated with the victims match the final hand from the tournament. The team watches the video, spotting Trent eating chicken at the table while he and Coe work together to cheat. Ava’s father was the dealer, and Ficelli was the mastermind behind the idea. The man who lost, Bo Mattison, killed himself a week after the tournament.
A magician named Dr Jimmy ordered a medieval poleaxe from a historical website prior to the murders, which he uses as part of his act. Jimmy gave Coe the ten thousand dollars to enter the poker tournament, but the evidence points to his assistant Katy. She is Mattison’s daughter, and she has been using Jimmy as a misdirect. He’s the final target because he was the money man back in 1997, and the team follows her to the park where her father killed himself. Katy says she has already killed Jimmy and buried his body, but Morgan knows she’s bluffing. They find the man alive, but Katy pulls out a gun, and Morgan is forced to shoot her in self defense.
“Last Woman Standing” revisits Morgan’s relationship with her father. Ecklie has to decide if he wants to become the new sheriff, and he discusses the situation with his daughter. She supports the promotion, but Ecklie is hesitant. He was in charge before, and he was a horrible person. He’s worried that he’ll become that person again. Morgan tells him to take a chance, the same way she took a chance by moving to Vegas. It’s a nice scene, and it illustrates the growth they’ve shown over the time they’ve spent together. However, Ecklie is not convinced, so he goes to get the advice of another father—a father who has done a better job balancing his professional and personal lives. DB understands his concerns about taking the promotion, picking up on the fact that Ecklie is worried it will negatively affect his relationship with Morgan. DB and his wife Barbara have to work through difficult situations that come their way, and they know it’s an ongoing process. It’s going to be the same for Ecklie and his daughter. DB seems confident that they’ll find a way to make it work. This is a great scene, and I really enjoy seeing these two relate as professionals and as parents.
In the end, it’s another father/daughter relationship that leads to the killer, and Morgan is the one who confronts Katy. She tries to relate to the woman, telling her that she understands how hard it is to grow up without a father. Unfortunately, Katy is angry and unhinged, and she pulls a gun, forcing Morgan to shoot her. Morgan is obviously shaken up by the experience because this is the first time she’s ever had to kill someone. This leads to another nice scene between her and her father. Ecklie makes it clear that she did good out there, and he wants to make sure she’s okay. He invites her to dinner to celebrate his promotion, and he puts an arm around her as they leave.
The relationship between Morgan and her father is still tricky to navigate, but she does share a lighter scene with Hodges in the lab. At first, it seems ridiculous that Coe would be killed by a thrown playing card, but Hodges explains his theory while the audience ‘watches’ it happen. As soon as he’s finished, Henry shows up with the card that proves him right. It’s a fun moment, and things between Morgan and Hodges don’t show any signs of the awkwardness that was evident in “Exile”. It seems to come and go, and hopefully it stays away for a while.
After Sara revealed that she and Grissom have split up in “Forget Me Not”, the storyline is indirectly referenced this week when Sara arrives at the second crime scene. Nick asks how she’s doing, and she says she’s good. They share a quick smile before moving on with the case. Sara’s oldest friends realized last week just how much she was hiding from them, and it’s obvious that Nick doesn’t plan to let that happen again. He’s going to support her and pay attention to how she’s feeling, and I’m glad we get to see this brief follow-up to the previous episode.
See also: “Last Woman Standing” episode guide