CSI: Miami--'Chip/Tuck'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 16, 2009 - 2:11 AM GMT

See Also: 'Chip/Tuck' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

An irate man goes over to his neighbor's house to complain about the man's wood chipper only to get a face full of blood when he gets near the machine! The neighbor, Tyler Marr, hands over the video camera he used to record the wood chipper so he could file a claim against the neighbor, Steven Corbett. Corbett is dismissive of the CSIs and of his neighbor's complaints, and he tells Tripp he hasn't left his home all morning. Dr. Price and her assistants go over the pieces of flesh from the wood chipper and Kyle finds an intact pelvic bone, which is sent up to Natalia in DNA. Inside the bone, she discovers a mite. She runs DNA from the bone through CODIS and gets two profiles from the marrow: though neither is in CODIS, they are a familial match, indicating the victim recently had a bone marrow transplant. The CSIs track down the donor, Lauren Reeger, whose father Ethan was a plastic surgeon. Lauren is stunned by her father's death, and tells Horatio and Delko that her father hadn't been stable since her mother's death two years before. The team next turns to Sean Loftin, Ethan's partner at his plastic surgery practice. Sean hands over Ethan's patient files, noting that he only had a few patients. Calleigh notices Elizabeth Corbett is one of them. Delko returns to the Corbett house to speak to Elizabeth. He learns the woman never leaves her room and soon sees for himself why: she's had numerous plastic surgery procedures and doesn't resemble her former self in the slightest. She tells Delko that Corbett finally told her she "wasn't a good candidate" for what he planned--after he turned her into a monster.

Back at the lab, Horatio goes over Ethan's patient files and is surprised to discover photos of a badly burned Ron Saris (last seen in "Resurrection") among them. Tripp tells Horatio, who until that moment thought Saris was dead, that Stetler brought Ron Saris in to the station. The IAB officer tells Horatio that he needs to put aside his history with Saris--and promises to explain when he can, much to Horatio's consternation. Delko discovers Ethan's car near the Corbett house, the tires slashed. The tire slash marks are unique, leading Delko to suspect they were made with a plasma blade, a tool used by plastic surgeons. Ryan goes to Sean Loftin to get his plasma blade, but the surgeon finds it missing when he goes to look for it. Sean tells Ryan that he recalls Ethan arguing with a patient with burns on his face--clearly Ron Saris. Thinking Ron may have stolen the plasma blade, Ryan takes the bag to run it for prints. Horatio pays Julia a visit to warn her that Ron has resurfaced--and might come after her. In the AV lab, Calleigh and Dave Benton go over the video Trevor took and discover a hand with a watch on it reading "Dillinger High MVP 2008" on it. Calleigh and Tripp have the owner, Lucas Gallinetti, brought in. Accompanied by his stunning mother, Bonnie, Lucas tells Calleigh and Tripp that his mother changed since going in for plastic surgery procedures with Ethan--she started going to clubs, partying and sleeping around. He followed Ethan from his office to the Corbett house hoping to talk to him, but when he saw the blood in the wood chipper he freaked out and ran.

In the lab, Horatio runs prints from Loftin's bag but the results are inconclusive: there's insufficient ridge detail on the prints. Michael Travers has figured out the mystery of the mite from the pelvic bone: it's a hair mite. Calleigh recovers a wad of hair Ethan must have pulled from the killer and Delko determines it's from a cheap wig. Recalling Elizabeth Corbett wore a wig, Delko and Calleigh go to see her, but when Delko touches her hair, he realizes it's synthetic. Elizabeth offers up another clue: she recalls Ethan saying to her, "You should look like her." She first began her procedures two years ago--around the time Ethan's wife, Marnie, died. Calleigh and Delko pull Marnie's accident file and discover she looked just like Bonnie now looks. The pair gets a warrant for a hair sample from Bonnie and Ryan finds mites in her extensions. Bonnie tells Calleigh that she and Ethan were lovers. They were happy together--until she found pictures of Marnie and realized Ethan had made her look like his dead wife. She went to confront him, intent on killing herself in the wood chipper, but when Ethan called her by his wife's name, she threw him in instead in a rage. Elsewhere at the station, Stetler tells Horatio that Ron Saris is going to be in the confidential informant program--that the former crook has already helped him get an undercover cop in on a drug deal. Horatio is not pleased, given a recent attack on Julia involving the plasma blade taped above her doorway. He tells Ron the attack failed, and Ron holds up his hands and shows the CSI that his prints have been burned off--after noting that he and Horatio are now working on the same side.

Analysis:

CSI: Miami pays homage to the groundbreaking cable drama Nip/Tuck in this send-up of the plastic surgery business. Nip/Tuck deals with all sorts of bizarre plastic surgery cases--certainly Elizabeth Corbett and Bonnie Gallinetti's cases easily could have been featured on the FX drama. Fans of the show will also note that Sean Loftin shares a first name with one of the plastic surgeons on Nip/Tuck, and the name of the Reeger/Loftin practice mirrors that of Nip/Tuck's McNamara/Troy. We don't get to see too much of Sean Loftin--played by the alway likable Kevin Rahm, he seems normal and well adjusted--but Ethan's quest to turn one of his patients into his dead wife is just the sort of twisted plotline Nip/Tuck would feature. Though given that the FX drama recently featured a doctor who liked to fornicate with furniture, perhaps a surgeon who simply wants to recreate his wife is tame in comparison. Nonetheless, it's definitely a worthy twist for Miami--even if early on it does seem evident that this is what Ethan was doing, given his selectivity when it came to his patients and the fact that he rejected Elizabeth because she turned out to be not "a good candidate" for the procedure.

Despite the fact that it was pretty obvious what Ethan was doing, the outcome of the case wasn't easy to predict. There were quite a few plausible suspects: Elizabeth with her botched surgeries, Steven with the wife that refused to leave her room--and no longer looked like the woman he married, and Lucas with his changed mother all had compelling motives. Indeed, I didn't suspect Bonnie right off the bat, as she seemed like a happy customer. And she was, until she discovered that Ethan had used her surgeries to resurrect his dead wife. All in all, the case was a good solid whodunit, free of anything that stretched believability. No shootouts or crazy coincidences--just a good old-fashioned mystery with plenty of twists and turns to keep the audience entertained.

Of course, the case brought up a literal demon for Horatio: the villainous Ron Saris, the husband of Horatio's ex-girlfriend Julia. It's a shocker for Horatio, who thought he'd taken Ron down in "Resurrection" when the ship Ron was on exploded. Ron apparently survived the explosion, albeit with burns covering his face and hands. Ron's attitude survived as well--he's the same slimy, sleazy opportunist he was before Horatio thwarted him the last time around, though this time he's cooperating with Stetler, likely to avoid being charged for his criminal activities. Kim Coates imbues the character with an oozing evil; there's always something sinister behind whatever Ron is saying or doing. Unlike some of the villains Horatio goes up against, Ron Saris has a distinct personality, and he delights in getting under Horatio's skin, calling him "Red" and pointing out that they're working on the same side. Coates conveys just how much of a kick Saris gets out of tormenting his nemesis.

Horatio and Stetler are once again at odds, this time over Saris. Stetler thinks Saris will be useful as a confidential informant, while Horatio is clearly convinced that Ron hasn't changed his tune. Of course, as is usually the case when Horatio and Stetler end up on opposite sides of an issue, Horatio is right. Though he can't prove it thanks to Ron's burned off fingerprints, Ron is clearly the one who taped the plasma blade outside of Julia's house and set it to go off. Even if Stetler is cast into the role of Horatio's opponent a little too often, David Lee Smith always gives the IAB officer a sympathetic tone. Stetler isn't trying to make Horatio's life more difficult or cause him grief--he's simply trying to do his job, and do what he believes is best for the department. Horatio never cuts Stetler any slack, but at least this time around he doesn't attack him for it. It's always fun to see Stetler and Horatio square off, though I can't help but wish they were on the same side for once--or, even better, that Stetler was the one in the right.

Horatio pays Julia a visit to warn her about Ron's return, indicating that the exes are at least on speaking terms after Horatio removed their son Kyle from her care in "Divorce Party" after Dr. Price falsely cast suspicion on Julia for stealing prescription pain medication from the morgue. Julia and Kyle both seem to be here to stay for the time being. Kyle is still working at the morgue as one of Dr. Price's assistants, and it is he who recovers the pelvic bone from the remains in the wood chipper. It's nice to see that Kyle has been integrated so seamlessly into the morgue--save for the incident in "Divorce Party" with the missing medication--which in fact turned out to be the fault of Dr. Price--Kyle hasn't caused a stir or stepped out of line. After all the grief he gave Horatio in the sixth season, it's nice to see him more settled and stable here.

On the subject of stability, it seems like Miami may have found two new regular lab techs in Chris Redman's Michael Travers and Wes Ramsey's Dave Benton. Save for Boti Bliss's Valera, the lab has seen quite a few techs come and go, the most significant being Dan Cooper, who was revealed to be less than honest when he swiped the dead Speedle's credit cards and made purchases on them in "Bang, Bang, Your Debt". There have been a handful of rotating lab techs who have been seen in a few episodes only to disappear for good, but here's hoping Travers and Benton are here to stay. I quite like the proper, polite English Travers, who certainly stands out among the tanned, slick Miami denizens. And Benton, with his ponytail and laid-back vibe, brings a completely different but equally individual vibe to the lab. These two are worth keeping around.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.