CSI: Miami--'Burned'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 10, 2007 - 2:35 AM GMT

See Also: 'Burned' Episode Guide


A young woman, Claire Gibbs manages to survive the fire that destroys her house, but her fiancé, Brett Morrison, isn't so lucky. Claire tells the CSIs she's had problems with her ex-boyfriend, Anthony Bryant, stalking her. Horatio locates Anthony's car pulled over by the side of the road and is surprised to find Yelina Salas by it. Yelina is working as a private investigator and was hired by Anthony's lawyer to follow Anthony. She's had an eye on him for 12 hours, meaning he can't be the killer. Anthony confirms it, and insists Claire is making something out of nothing.

Alexx informs Natalia that Brett died when he breathed in superheated air, and she gives the CSI a sample of flesh found in his teeth. The DNA matches a man named Michael Lipton, who asks specifically for Ryan when he's brought in. Ryan owes him money and Lipton tries to blackmail Ryan into letting him go, but the CSI doesn't fall for the bait and sends Natalia in instead to question him. After some initial surliness, Lipton admits he hired Brett's company to plan his sister's wedding and when Brett defaulted, the two men fought. Delko tests a print from a shard of glass he found and gets a match to a man named Ron Cramer. Calleigh finds the man--and his gun, which has glass lodged into it. Ron claims he happened across the house on fire and broke the glass of a window to see if he could help, but didn't find anyone around. When Fire & Rescue clears the house, Calleigh and Delko return to it and find a lighter--with Claire's prints on it. Claire tells them she found the lighter the day before after Brett argued with his business partner, Jeff Sader. Jeff tells the CSIs that Claire's ex was causing so many problems that he intended to buy Brett out of the business.

Yelina, who has been following Michael Lipton at Horatio's behest, tells Horatio that she's learned Michael is a bookie--and she also shares photos with him of Ryan turning money over to Lipton. Horatio confronts Ryan, but the CSI insists its a personal matter. Returning to the house once again, Delko and Calleigh discover the origin of the fire--that vaprs from the water heater ignited and started the blaze. When Calleigh gets a piece of glass in her hand, Delko removes it and discovers it's unsinged, meaning it was broken before the fire started. Even more mystifying, two charred bodies are also found at the house. Horatio and Delko confront Ron, who admits that he was hired by Anthony to shoot Brett. Anthony is arrested, and a search of his car uncovers a pair of women's underwear.

Alexx shows Calleigh that the burned bodies from the house have already been autopsied, indicated that they were corpses when the blaze began. Calleigh confronts Claire: she and Brett set Anthony up, attempting to fake their own deaths and pin it on him by planting the underwear in his car. Claire poured the gasoline in preparation, but then she and Brett fell asleep waiting for Anthony to do his daily drive-by of their house so that witnesses could place him at the scene, and when they awoke, the fire had already started. Horatio confronts Anthony, who had found the underwear in his car and realized they were setting him up, and vows that Anthony will never see Claire again. Ryan Wolfe reports for duty only to have his entrance to the lab blocked by Stetler, who abruptly fires him and demands his gun and badge. Horatio bids Yelina farewell, and cautions her about the dangers of PI work.


Poor Ryan Wolfe. First he comes to the CSI team as a somewhat nervous patrolman with OCD, replacing a popular fallen CSI. Then he butts heads with Delko and runs afoul of his colleagues by getting too chummy with the news media. Then he gets a nail in his eye. Can't an earnest young CSI catch a break?

Apparently not. Ryan's extracurricular activities come back to bite him in the ass big time when one of the suspects in the CSIs latest case turns out to be a bookie Ryan owes ten grand to. Making matters worse, the bookie, Matt Lipton, tries to extort Ryan into releasing him without questioning him, but the CSI doesn't cave. Later in the episode, he doesn't cave either--when Horatio is asking him about Lipton--even though he probably should. Ryan has always had a stubborn pride, and here it's his downfall.

Even when he's clearly crossed the line and is making matters worse by not fessing up, Ryan remains a sympathetic character. Jonathan Togo conveys Ryan's struggle with empathy. Ryan has a defeated air to him that underscores the hopelessness he apparently feels when called in for a talk by Horatio. When Stetler finally shows up to bar him from the lab, Ryan barely mounts a protest. He simply lets the elevator doors close and leaves CSI.

While I'm definitely a fan of the storyline, and am intrigued as to where it will take Ryan, I can't help but wish we'd seen more recent build-up this season. Up until this episode, I didn't know Ryan really was gambling, or that it had gotten out of hand. We never saw him asking to borrow money or making any comments about feeling impecunious. A few subtle hints might have been nice before a suspect barged in and basically cost Ryan his job. It also would have been nice to know exactly why Stetler fired him (the gambling? consorting with a suspect? both?), and also who clued him in. Did Horatio have to turn over Yelina's evidence to the IAB officer? Or did word spread around the lab? The scene feels a tad too brief.

Something that has been building for a while is the sexual tension between Calleigh and Delko, which smolders in this episode. Even Natalia, who herself had a fling with Delko, notices the sparks between the two and comments on the kiss she saw Calleigh give Eric earlier (in "Just Murdered"). Eric's reaction is one of bashful befuddlement, something no one would have expected from the formerly smooth Eric Delko.

The two appear equally smitten when Calleigh gets a piece of glass stuck in her finger at the crime scene and Delko gently removes it. No words are necessary--the air practically crackles with the powerful attraction between the two. It's a sweet scene that doesn't need words or awkward conversation to underscore what the characters are clearly feeling. The only question that remains is who is going to take the next step and suggest taking their friendship to the next level?

Horatio's sister-in-law (and former Miami regular) Yelina Salas makes an appearance. She's now working as a private investigator and she gets drawn into the case when Horatio finds her by Anthony Bryant's car. Horatio is as concerned for her as ever, cautioning Yelina that private investigator work is dangerous. I wonder why, other than that Sofia Milos is no longer a regular on the show, Yelina simply didn't return to police work after Ray's death? The character started off strong on the show, but by the time of her departure at the end of the third season, she wasn't even independent enough to choose her own fate, flying off to Brazil with Ray because Horatio deemed it the right thing to do. It's nice to see her finally on her own without a man calling the shots in her life. Even her parting words to Horatio, promising to be more selective in choosing clients next time, are promising.

The case itself was entertaining, it was nice to have a male victim for once who is mostly an innocent. Sure, Brett planned the arson with Claire, but they did it to get her ex-boyfriend to leave them alone, an understandable motive if there ever was one. Even if obtaining two charred bodies from the morgue and setting a house on fire was a bit of an extreme measure, the episode did a good job of showing how unhinged Anthony was, and how Claire and Brett had gotten to that point.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.