CSI: Miami--'Collateral Damage'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 9, 2009 - 1:07 AM GMT

See Also: 'Collateral Damage' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A grenade lands in Tisano's Restaurant at the foot of Warren Emerson, who is enjoying a celebratory dinner with his family and assistant, Raquel Dominguez. The grenade explodes, leaving Warren and Raquel dead and Warren's wife Deborah and son Steve injured. When the team arrives, Horatio speaks to Jason Molina, the owner, who tells Horatio that Warren was a big time lobbyist. He points Horatio in the direction of Tonya Rush, the waitress who was working the table. Horatio is surprised to find Tonya reluctant to talk, and is able to draw out of her that her children were taken by child services. Horatio decides to get to the bottom of what happened, paying a visit to DCFS and checking on Tonya's children, Maggie and Aidan. He learns that a man filed a parental negligence complaint against Tonya. The woman claimed a nanny named Maria Lopez was watching her children, but when DCFS showed up the kids were alone--and they were unable to locate a Maria Lopez who worked for Tonya. Ryan drops by the morgue to check on Warren's autopsy, but when he and Dr. Price move the man's body, a second grenade falls out of his pant leg...and detonates! Ryan jumps to protect Kyle, while Tara scrambles to pick up her spilled pills in the wake of the explosion. Though none of them are hurt, Ryan is concerned about Tara's fixation on her medication. She claims they're a victim's property, but he sees through her excuse and asks if she's hooked. She denies it, but Ryan tells her she needs to kick her addiction.

Horatio speaks with Steve and Deborah Emerson and the two tell the CSI that Warren lobbied against big industry. Horatio asks about Steve making the reservation for the table by the window, but the young man insists he had nothing to do with his father's death. Deborah recalls seeing a flash of yellow outside the window just before the grenade went off, so Horatio sends Delko back to the restaurant to look to see if he can find evidence of a yellow car. In the lab, Ryan and Natalia find a flash from a personal camera in the remnants of the homemade bomb while Horatio asks Tonya Rush about Maria Lopez. Tonya tells him she met the woman at law school. Suspecting Maria is an alias, Horatio asks Tonya for the cancelled checks she used to pay Maria. Back at the restaurant, Delko recovers yellow paint trace and gets a partial license plate number from an impression on the valet stand, which the car struck when it was speeding away. Tripp goes to the owner's house and the man, Ken Jarvik, fires at him and flees! Tripp catches up with him and cuffs him. Calleigh and Delko search the man's house and find silver laminate and IDs with the Dade Mutual logo inside, leading them to suspect Jarvik is making fake credit cards. Tripp leans on Jarvik, who admits to forging credit cards but denies any involvement in the bombing. When pressed, he gives up the location where the credit card operation is based. When Horatio and Delko go to the warehouse Jarvik identifies, they are surprised to find Steve Emerson there. Steve tells the CSIs he's been running the scam for 18 months, and that Jason Molina, the owner of Tisano's, sold him credit card numbers. Horatio realizes it was Steve, not Warren or Raquel, who was the target of the grenade, and Steve is shocked and horrified to realize his actions led to his father's death. Steve tells Horatio that someone sent him a photo of himself and Ken with Jason a few weeks ago, and points the CSI to his laptop to see the photo.

After arresting Jason Molina, Horatio asks Tonya Rush if she had any idea about the scam, but she swears she wasn't a part of it. She gives Horatio the cancelled checks she paid Maria Lopez. Horatio goes to the store where the checks were cashed and forces the owner to give him the transaction receipts. He sees the name Yvette Cervantes on them and calls the woman to set up an appointment to talk about daycare. In the lab, Calleigh and Dave Benton look at the photo on Steve Emerson's laptop and Dave is able to identify the kind of camera it was taken with. Calleigh recognizes it as the same type used to take pictures of the CSI team, leading her to Cameron West (last seen in "Target Specific"). Delko and Ryan have him brought in and confront him: one of the stolen credit card numbers was from a corporate account for a Russian business. Ryan tells him he killed two innocent people. Cameron refuses to fess up, knowing that the CSIs don't have enough to hold him. Despite their warning that the Russians will kill him when they realize the real target is still alive, he leaves--and their predictions prove accurate. Horatio meets with Yvette, who tells him that Jason Molina forced her into taking the job to watch over Tonya's children--and then abandon them. He convinces her to come forward. Jason tells Horatio that Tonya got wise to the credit card scam, so he set her up with the babysitter so that she would lose her children--and be too distracted to turn him in. Horatio reunites a grateful Tonya with her two children.

Analysis:

Despite the fact that a grenade goes off in the morgue, "Collateral Damage" isn't quite as exciting as it should be, in large part because the two stories don't gel together very well. Horatio stepping in to help Tonya Rush get her children back is a noble move, but it takes away from the urgency of the primary case. Is the team leader really so removed from his team that he's trying to get a waitress's children back while his team investigates a bombing--and his own son is in the fray when a second grenade goes off? We're cheated out of a chance for Horatio to connect with a very shaken Kyle because he's too busy chasing after someone else's children. Horatio has become incredibly detached from his team over the past few years, but his own son in harm's way should have brought him back to the lab, at least to check in. Over on CSI: New York, Danny and Lindsay just asked Mac to be the godfather of their child; it's impossible to imagine anyone on the Miami team asking the same of Horatio, at least not with any degree of believability.

The issue of Tonya Rush's children is pretty nonsensical to begin with. Jason Molina didn't want Tonya to report him for credit card fraud...so he has her children taken away? If she found out he was behind the move--and she's pretty dense not to at least suspect him--wouldn't that give her more reason to want to take him down? He's already a thug--why didn't he just threaten her job or her family to keep her quiet? Getting her children taken away didn't seem like a wise move. Tonya is a frustratingly passive character--she keeps her head down and lets Horatio do the groundwork to find her children, and doesn't tell him the truth when he asks if she knows anything about the credit card scam. Sprague Grayden proves her versatility as an actress with this role: her strong, somewhat devious 24 character, Olivia Taylor, couldn't be more different from put-upon damsel-in-distress Tonya.

The explosion in the morgue doesn't wound anyone, but it does reveal Tara Price's secret to Ryan when he catches her scrambling to pick up her pills in the aftermath of the explosion. After first making sure a shaken Kyle is safe, Ryan turns to Tara and quickly realizes what she's doing. When he confronts her, she first lies to him, saying she's looking after a victim's personal property. When he doesn't buy it, she finally relents, but denies being addicted when he asks her flat out. Ryan doesn't cut any corners when confronting Tara, and he doesn't buy her story, either. Jonathan Togo projects a real authority in the confrontation scene, refusing to buy Tara's story and telling her flat out to kick the habit because "next time I can't sweep this under the rug."

Megalyn Echikunwoke deserves praise for her layered performance as Tara Price. Neither wholly sympathetic nor completely conniving, she lives in a place really explored in CSI: Miami: a real grey area. The way she framed Kyle's mother Julia for taking the pills off the car accident victim in "Divorce Party" was downright devious and no doubt Horatio, who used the incident as an excuse to lay into Julia and remove Kyle from under her roof, wouldn't take too kindly to finding out he'd been played. But Tara, who is clearly a creative thinker and does take her job seriously, doesn't seem to be a bad person. Aside from hiding her prescription medicine addiction and framing Julia for the pill theft, she hasn't done anything to jeopardize an investigation, and her pill habit doesn't seem to have affected her work--at least not so far. One of the things I most enjoy about this storyline is that I'm not sure where exactly it's going--two people have caught Tara with her pills now, but she shows no sign of giving them up. Will she have to mess up a case to realize she has a problem? Get into an accident? Be confronted by Horatio? Whatever ends up being the wake up call for Tara, I can't wait to see how things turn out.

Detective Tripp gets a little action in this episode, getting shot at by a suspect forcing the detective to chase the man down and tackle him. Naturally, the forthright detective doesn't take too kindly to the insult. I don't say it enough, but Rex Linn's Frank Tripp is a real grounding presence on the show, adding an authenticity to the sometimes wild and outlandish Miami proceedings. Also making an impression is Wes Ramsey's AV tech, Dave Benton, who has a laid-back tech geek feel to him. He seems very at home in the AV lab going over photos or data with one of the CSIs. Between him and Christopher Redman's Michael Travers, Miami appears to have found some new regular lab techs to join Boti Bliss's Valera. It's about time!

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.