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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'A Bullet Runs Through It, Part Two'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 21, 2005 - 10:45 PM GMT

See Also: 'A Bullet Runs Through It, Part Two' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

In the wake of the Jose Fausto shooting, the department heads take stock of the media mess surrounding the car chase that left one officer and three suspects dead. Ecklie notes that eyewitnesses are claiming Officer Carroll shot an unarmed man, but both Brass and Carroll saw a gun in the Ricardo Estevez's hand. Eyewitnesses saw Officer Davis planting a gun on Salvador Rosario, but Sofia says Davis touched the suspect's gun in error. Leandro Chavez bled out from treatable wounds, but Officer Bell was the paramedics’ first priority at the scene. The biggest question that remains is who shot Bell, and Grissom has grim news for them: Bell was killed by friendly fire.

Sofia Curtis is devastated by the fact that she may have shot Bell, and she turns to Grissom for support. She tells him she recalls that Bell was between her and the suspects, but before she can get any further, Sara interrupts, reminding Sofia she shouldn't be at the lab and recommending a departmental counselor as an alternative. Back at the scene of the Fausto shooting, a cartridge is discovered in a motel room facing the parking lot where Fausto was shot, but the shooter is long gone. The Buick Regal the officers were originally pursuing when the Caprice cut them off is discovered in an ally, torched almost beyond recognition. Sergeant Adams takes Catherine and Ortega back to where he and Bell first spotted the Buick--they chased it because of a domestic dispute between a man and a pregnant woman in a parking lot. Catherine spots a surveillance camera and thinks it could provide answers.

Hodges tells Grissom he found red clay chips on Estevez's gun, so Grissom returns to the scene with Sara, Brass, Carroll and Hodges to reconstruct the scene. A red clay roof right next to the alley where Estevez fled provides the answers. Estevez tried to toss his gun but because of a chipped shingle on the roof, the gun fell back into his hand, and that's when Carroll turned back after Brass ran into the alley and spotted him, gun in hand and proceeded to fire. Back at the lab, Catherine notices the couple arrive in a Geo Metro and switch to the Buick. The man pulls out a hide-a-key, which Catherine can't find on the car but is able to recover from the debris from auto transport. She recovers a print from the hide-a-key.

Things continue to get worse for the department as Danilo, whose son Geraldo was shot in the back while on his way to school, talks to the news media about his anger over the police's failure to make a statement about his son's shooting. Bobby Dawson and Hodges are able to determine that the bullet from the Torres' house that Sara recovered in a candle is from a police-issued gun, and has blood on it. They send it to DNA. Brass and Sofia meet in a diner, both shell-shocked from the fallout of the gun battle. Brass tells Sofia about a shooting he was involved in as a young cop, but she's still haunted by Bell's death, and the patrol officers who spot the two in the diner cast scornful looks their way. The fingerprint on the hide-a-key leads Catherine and Ortega to Carlos Contranos and his girlfriend Bianca, whose pregnancy was faked--a cover for running drugs. But when they catch the pair and bring them in for questioning, they refuse to answer any questions, terrified by what will be done to them by the people they were working for if they do.

Wendy in the DNA lab tells Grissom the blood on the bullet from the Torres' house is indeed Bell's, but Bobby says because the jacket is completely stripped from the bullet that there's no way to tell which officer's gun it came from. Grissom, Sara, Nick and Greg head back to the crime scene to reconstruct the shooting using lasers and a dummy. Sara takes Sofia's spot, while Nick moves into Brass's. Using the lasers, they determine Sofia couldn't have fired the shot that killed Bell, but Brass must have stood up--putting him in the exact position to fire the fatal shot. Grissom has the grim task of giving Brass the unfortunate news, while Sofia learns from Ortega that she's been cleared.

Grissom attends the community meeting McKeen has set up to appease the angry citizens of the neighborhood where the shooting occurred. When an angry Danilo asks about his son, Grissom informs him that it was Fausto was the one who shot his son, in order to steal his bike, and that the boy wasn't hit by errant fire from the officers. Brass attends Bell's funeral and is shunned by the other cops. Ortega tells him that he will have to answer to a review board, and that his opinion is that it was a bad shot. Mrs. Bell learns that Brass is the one who shot her husband, but she is more forgiving--she embraces him and tells him she knows it wasn't his fault as he sobs and tells her how sorry he is.

Analysis:

"A Bullet Runs Through It, Part Two" is a powerful and unexpected conclusion to the chaotic opening episode, with the shootout in the opening, the death of Officer Bell and the three suspects and the resulting confusion. The first installment feels scattered and disorganized, but purposefully so, as the officers involved try to make sense out of what happened. The second half of the story is charged with making sense of that confusion, and it does an admirable job of that.

The opening scenes of the second half are in direct opposition to the chaos that began the first episode. Perhaps it's done to avoid a 'previously on' recap or perhaps because things did get confusing in the first part, the scene with Ecklie, McKeen, Ortega and Vartann discussing the shooting makes sense of all of the chaos and shooting that is so contested in the opening of the two-parter. During this discussion we get a better feeling for what the police know, and what they're still working on.

Though we do get plenty of answers in this case, it ultimately results in a dead end with the drug runners when the man and the woman from the Buick refuse to answer any questions. The CSIs are able to connect the dots on the individual cases--they are able to put the gun in the hands of the suspect Carroll was chasing and find the location of the shooter who took out Fausto, but the gang responsible remains at large. It's a sadly realistic conclusion, and one that still answers most of the viewer's questions.

Of course, what we care most about is who shot Officer Bell. It becomes pretty clear early on that either Sofia or Brass is responsible, and since everything points to Sofia it's makes sense for the CSIs to discover, as they so often do, that their first conclusion is inaccurate and in fact things are not what they first appear. That said, the revelation that Brass is the one who shot Bell is both surprising and gut wrenching, perhaps in large part because Brass is such a likable and sympathetic character. All along we've seen him trying to process what happened and help Sofia through it, and doesn't seem fair that such an obviously good man is saddled with this knowledge, this mistake.

If any episode of CSI or its spin-offs has brought tears to my eyes before this one, I can't recall it. And yet, the beautiful final scene of this episode did just that with its unexpected grace. After the officers have moved away from Brass in disdain and Ortega has admonished him, Tracy Bell comes up to Brass and though it looks like she is going to slap him, she does just the opposite. She embraces him and tells him that she knows it wasn't his fault. It's a sad, beautiful moment, one that truly does justice to the tragic accident of Bell's death.

Paul Guilfoyle does an excellent job of expressing Brass's anguish, and though it's an understated and numb kind of grief at this point, it's still palpable. Brass's story about the previous shooting he was involved in as a young officer and how the accidental death tore up his department provides some insight into Brass, however opaque. It's impossible to tell from Brass's words about how "it really doesn't matter" which officer was the shooter, whether Brass was the shooter and doesn't want to go into it, or whether he's protecting a fellow officer. There's clearly some sort of honor code at work, and we'll probably never find out who was responsible for the shooting unless Bell's death brings Brass's job into question.

Though Sofia is exonerated, she goes through emotional hell during the course of the episode. I felt especially bad for her when she turned to Grissom. Detached and cold under even the best of circumstances, Grissom clearly has no idea how to handle Sofia's emotional but rational fears. Sara only makes it worse when she discovers Sofia in Grissom's office, reminding Sofia she shouldn't be on the premises in a tone that is far less kind than Grissom's was. Sofia reacts with understandable anger and defensiveness, but she backs off before things get really ugly. It's impossible not to sympathize with Sofia, who notes she can't even turn to her own mother, who is also an officer. Louise Lombard gives one hell of a performance, showing that Sofia is on the edge, but somehow just barely managing to hold herself together.

The scene in which Grissom, Sara and Nick recreate the shooting of Bell is one of the most tense in the episode, second only to the moment when Mrs. Bell approaches Brass. It's intricately and carefully done, and the relief the viewer feels when Sara is unable to match Sofia's angle to that of the fatal shot is momentary, erased when Nick stands and the laser he's holding shoots its beam right to the mock Bell's neck, pointing to Brass as the shooter.

On a far less serious note, I've learned from postings on the message boards that I may have overlooked a major part of the first installment of this episode, and that's Nick's new mustache, which has apparently created quite a fervor. George Eads is a very attractive man, but he might want to consider losing the mustache. It's a hard look to pull off (and has been since the Victorian era) and men generally look better with a full beard/goatee accompanying the mustache or clean-shaven. But Nick has been through a traumatic experience recently, so maybe the mustache is a result of that--changing one's look after going through something terrible isn't unheard of.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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