CSI: Miami--'Bombshell'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 30, 2008 - 5:05 AM GMT

See Also: 'Bombshell' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A bomb goes off in Serinos, a high end clothing boutique, killing a young woman named Kim Walderman. The store's owner, Oscar Serino, shows the CSIs the high tech dressing room Kim was using--complete with an LCD screen that allows the occupant to see all the outfits she was trying on. The CSIs recover the LCD recording hoping to find Kim's last few moments. In the morgue, Dr. Price points out that the injury to Kim is localized around her abdomen indicating that the bomb was actually inside her dress. Ryan discovers wires running alongside the zipper and a watch battery hidden in the folds of the dress--powerful enough to create the explosion that killed Kim. Calleigh shows the dress to Oscar Serino and he immediately tells her it's not one of the items he carries. Tripp recovers Kim's purse and he and Natalia discover five thousand dollars neatly folded--along with security tags. They realize Kim was shoplifting and question her friend Amy, who was in the store with her that day. She admits they were into shoplifting and did it for fun; Delko puts her under arrest for grand larceny.

Delko matches prints on the outside bills of the money to a plastic surgeon named Robert Langley, who tells Calleigh that Kim came to him asking for a breast augmentation. She offered to pay five thousand dollars, but he gave her back the money, claiming she was too young. Ryan matches small flecks of blood in the seams of the dress to a man with a record for using explosives named Stan Carlyle. The CSIs go to question Stan but his roommate Barry tells them he's not home. Ryan discovers the dress was sold at a boutique across from Serino's called Feratelli and the owner reveals it was stolen by a girl with a baby carriage, who the CSIs quickly conclude is Amy. The teen admits to the CSIs that Kim was targeting a list of high end designers, but she won't reveal who gave them the list. The CSIs confiscate her phone and find a picture from the store--and spot Barry delivering the dress to Kim's dressing room. They connect the dots; Barry is actually Stan. Stan was badly burned after an accident with an explosive, but extensive plastic surgery was able to remake his face...plastic surgery performed by Robert Carlyle, who asked Stan to make a bomb for him. The CSIs question him and he admits that he hired Kim and Amy to steal clothes for his teenage daughter. Kim got greedy and demanded more money, so he called in a favor to shut her up--permanently. Calleigh has him arrested.

Meanwhile, Horatio grapples with the mother of his son Kyle, Julia Winston, who he learns is having financial problems. She accuses her financial advisor, Leonard McBride, of stealing from her. In turn, McBride tells Horatio that Julia has squandered a fortune in venture capital, and that she's spiraling out of control. He claims she owes him a year's worth of compensation. Horatio goes to see Julia and encounters Kyle fighting with a neighbor. He breaks up the fight and Kyle tells him Julia is spiraling out of control. Horatio tracks Julia down and learns she's off her bipolar medication. She brushes off Horatio's attempt to help. A frantic 911 call brings Horatio back to Julia and Kyle's house: their combative neighbor, Bryce, lays dead on their driveway, the victim of a hit and run. Julia claims Bryce stole her meds, which Kyle backs up. Kyle tells Horatio that only he and Julia had keys to the car. Horatio goes over Julia's car, but it is Delko who finds a bit of trace: a small piece of lobster shell. Recalling Leonard McBride eating lobster when he questioned him, Horatio brings the man in. McBride admits he went to take Julia's car in exchange for the payment she owed him, but when he went to leave with it, he struck Bryce who "came out of nowhere." He warns Horatio that Julia will bring him down with her, but the episode ends with Horatio going to Julia and planting a tender kiss on her head.

Analysis:

Far and away, the best thing about "Bombshell" was seeing a side of Horatio that we rarely get the chance to glimpse: genuine vulnerability. There was a real sense of urgency and worry to David Caruso's performance, a depth that I wish we got to see more of on a regular basis. Sure, it's great to see the hero who can take on the mob (which one? All of them!) or a devious serial killer, but too often Horatio the man gets lost in the shuffle. A hero with realistic flaws and weaknesses is much more compelling and relatable in the long run. Even Superman gets slowed down by Kryptonite now and then.

Because Caruso conveys Horatio's worry so effectively, the audience is able to fully realize what the stakes are for Kyle and Julia. Kyle may have spent a good part of last season behind bars, but I was more concerned about him in this episode than any before it because of the way Horatio reacted. Horatio's response to Kyle and Julia's plight was what made me think it might not turn out all okay for them, which in turn allowed me to become more invested in the story. Generally, when watching a CSI show, we're pretty sure the CSIs will solve the mystery, so the suspense has to come from the predicaments the characters find themselves in, and we're pretty sure that's going to be easily, smoothly wrapped up, it's far less engaging than if we buy into the jeopardy.

My favorite moment was when Delko approached Horatio as Horatio was going over Julia's car and found the team leader genuinely at a loss: he'd been going over the car for hours, and had yet to find any evidence that could exonerate Julia or Kyle. Not only are we allowed to see Horatio is a truly vulnerable, frazzled moment, but then Delko offers to help him and it is Delko who finds the key piece of evidence Horatio has been hoping to uncover. I can't remember the last time Horatio was unable to find something and one of his team members was successful where he'd failed. The moment doesn't make Horatio look incompetent or less than a great CSI; it makes him look human, something that more often than not gets lost in the shuffle between chasing the baddies and shooting down gang members.

If I'm focusing on this, it's only because I'm so happy to see this side of Horatio; it's been a long time since we've seen the team leader so raw. This truly is Horatio at his most compelling: what first drew me to the character all the way back in his first appearance in "Cross-Jurisdictions" was his compassion. The way he reached out to the little girl who lost both her parents showed an ease and natural warmth to Horatio that's lessened over the seasons. Over on CSI, taciturn Grissom's barriers are coming down as he faces the loss of two team members, and he's being opened up as a character in a way we haven't quite seem before. It would be wonderful to see the same happen with Horatio; he's a character desperately in need of opening up, an if this episode is an indication of things to come, well, it's definitely a step in the right direction.

I'm not sure what to make of Julia Winston at this point, and I really like that. Elizabeth Berkley plays Horatio's ex-love far more convincingly as a confused, angry and struggling woman than she did last season when Julia seemed to be a cardboard cutout nemesis for Horatio. I'm glad we're seeing depth to her because we are supposed to buy that Horatio was once intimate with her and that's somewhat hard to do when we only see her bad side. After seeing there's a lot more to Julia than meets the eye, I wonder about that kiss Horatio gives her at the end of the episode. Is it simply a moment of tenderness between ex-lovers--and parents--or might it suggest a reawakening of the feelings between Horatio and Julia? Is she going to continue to spiral out of control or will she go back on her meds? I find myself far more curious about the character now than I ever was last season.

If I haven't talked about the case very much, it's because it's typical Miami fare and far less interesting than the character drama in the episode. There's practically a checklist at this point: super-cool high tech innovation (the dressing room), check; beautiful young victim who's not all she seems, check; respected member of the community who turns out to be a devious killer, check. I was engaged because even at its most routine, Miami isn't boring. I knew the plastic surgeon had something to do with it as soon as I saw him; something about his story regarding the money didn't quite ring true.

Bomber Barry also stands out, but perhaps that's because Chad Allen plays him so earnestly that I wanted to believe he was simply Stan's clueless roommate. Allen pulls off an impressive performance, allowing the audience to see how Stan has been changed after his accident without ever having seen Stan before he was burned. Ashley Benson also turned in a nice performance as Kim's partner-in-crime, Amy, who came across as genuine even after it was revealed she and Kim were shoplifting. The guest cast helped elevate what was a mostly business-as-usual A-case.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.