CSI: Miami--'Collision'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at March 7, 2006 - 10:26 PM GMT

See Also: 'Collision' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A woman is driving frantically, trying to escape a car pursuing her. She's unsuccessful--her car spins out of control and careens off the road, crashing into a cement barrier and coming to rest in the grass by the side of the road. By the time the CSIs arrive, she's dead, but Tripp notices blood coming out of her trunk and pops it open to reveal the body of a man. The CSIs aren't able to identify the man right away, but the woman's driver's license identifies her as Angela Ross. Delko thinks another car hit hers, and Ryan notices a traffic camera that might provide clues. Alexx points out that the male victim has been strangled, and notices red dye on his hands. Alexx takes Angela's body back to the morgue, where she detects no signs of drug abuse, though Ryan remains suspicious. Tripp tells Calleigh that the address on Angela's license was a fake, indicating that the woman's name probably isn't Angela Ross. It's a setback, but Delko has good news: he's confirmed his theory that the woman's car was indeed hit--there's a foreign paint transfer. He's also learned fibers found on the male victim were from a sheepskin seat cover.

In the lab, Aaron Peters is able to get the make of the car that hit the woman's--it's a Porsche Boxter 986, which lead Horatio and Tripp to the damaged rental car of one Russell Miller, in town for a seminar. At first he denies knowing the man, but Horatio notices a red ink spot on his shirt, and keeps pressing him. Russell admits he knows the male victim. His name was Luis and he procured a hooker for Russell. Russell claims they argued over the price but denies killing Luis. Horatio has Alexx run a sex kit on Luis, hoping he may have slept with the prostitute as well, but the DNA on his genitals belongs to a man. The CSIs bring Russell back in, and he confesses under pressure: he and Luis had sex and Luis was going to blackmail him. Russell strangled him in his car, but then "Angela" drove by and spotted him killing Luis. Russell pursued her, ran her off the road and then dumped Luis's body in her trunk and drove off. Case closed...or so it seems until Alexx presents Horatio with evidence that the fatal head wounds "Angela" suffered couldn't have come from the accident. Someone killed her after the crash, meaning her real killer is still out there.

Calleigh and Delko return to the car where Calleigh finds a small diamond among the glass shards. She thinks it may be part of a larger piece and checks the number against the Diamond Index of America (DIA) and traces it to a necklace from Fieldcrest Jewelers. The manager, Chris Kaiser, recognizes the diamond as one from a recently stolen necklace valued at four million dollars. He also recongizes the woman from the car--she's Barbara Sommers, an employee of his. She was a new hire of his, and must have stolen the necklace from the store. He gives the CSIs her address and Horatio and Ryan head to the house. They note a damaged pet door, and cautiously enter the house, where Horatio spots Barbara's young son, Danny. The boy is silent and frightened, but Horatio coaxes him out and brings him back to the station where a social worker tries to get him to talk. A visibly shaken Natalia Boa Vista observes the child alongside Horatio. After she leaves, Horatio asks Alexx to fluoroscope Barbara's body.

Delko is able to pull a print off the glass from the car window, which leads him to Howard Benchley, a man from Michigan with a DUI conviction. He claims he pulled over to help Barbara but found her already dead and left after calling it in. Delko remains suspicious. He's also suspicious of Natalia's interest in the case, and she gets upset when he insinuates that she might be the mole in the department. Offended, she walks off. Ryan has analyzed trace from the pet door from Barbara's house and found sterling silver scrapings, leading the CSIs back to Chris Kaiser, the jewelry store manager. Calleigh tells Chris she knows he was at the house, and he admits he went there to retrieve the necklace Barbara stole. He didn't report it stolen for worry of what would happen to him--he had been the one to hire Barbara. Calleigh notes that if he had reported the necklace stolen, Barbara might still be alive. In the AV lab, Dan Cooper shows Ryan footage of Barbara, but she's headed northbound, and the accident happened on the southbound side, indicating she may have had a change of heart about stealing the necklace.

Alexx reports that the fluoroscope revealed Barbara was subject to terrible abuse--healed fractures and breaks cover her bones. Natalia overhears Horatio's conversation with Alexx and approaches him to tell him she and Barbara are part of an underground group that helps battered women escape their abusers. Though it violates the group rules, Natalia offers to do some digging for Horatio. The CSIs get another break when a woman named Rita is caught trying to pawn the necklace. She tells Horatio and Frank that she found the necklace in Barbara's car after Barbara was already dead. She recalls seeing a silver SUV by the car when she took the necklace. Natalia has Barbara's married name for Horatio: Benchley. They turn back to Howard, but he claims he was only in town to get his son, Danny. Ryan can't figure out what Howard used to kill Barbara until Calleigh takes a look at the mold of Barbara's head wounds that Alexx made and recognizes that they were caused by a gun. A return trip to the pawnshop reveals that Rita also pawned a gun--the gun used to kill Barbara. Howard tells Horatio he didn't come to kill Barbara--he wanted to get her back. But when he went to her car after Russell ran her off the road, she pointed a gun at him. He grabbed it from her, found it was unloaded, and beat her to death. Horatio looks at him in disgust--he's orphaned his son. Delko catches up to Natalia and apologizes to her for his suspicions while Horatio consoles Danny, telling him that his father killed his mother as well, and he promises to be there for the boy.

Analysis:

I've got a beef with CSI: Miami, and I'll be upfront about it: why do all of the female characters on the show end up being victimized (or have been victimized) in some way? In "Crime Wave", we learn Stetler is beating Yelina. In "Nothing to Lose", Alexx is abducted and held hostage by an escaped serial killer. Calleigh's boyfriend terrifies her at a crime scene in "10-7". And now we learn Natalia escaped an abusive relationship (more on this later). What gives, Miami? I know main characters end up in danger sometimes--both CSI and New York have done this, too, and it always ups the stakes in an episode. But why on Miami is it always the female characters? The other shows divide the danger incidents much more evenly.

In this episode, Natalia uses her experience to help Horatio, but we see more of her tears than we hear about the underground network of abused women who have teamed up to help each other. I would have loved to have seen more of the network, which highlights the bravery of the women rather than their victimization. One thing I am pretty sure of is that Natalia isn't the mole. Delko basically comes out and accuses her of it, and though she is listening to chatter in the lab, it was obvious for different reasons. I highly doubt now that the writers have given us a reason to sympathize with her, they'll turn around and have her be the snitch.

I can't say the same for Valera, though. We learn this week when Ryan goes to get DNA results that Valera was paying a visit to the State's Attorney's office. This is the second obvious clue we've gotten about Valera; her obvious eavesdropping in "Skeletons" being the first. Two major clues, just dropped like that? I'm thinking that means it's probably either Dan Cooper or Aaron Peters, but I imagine there will be more clues along the way before the mole is revealed.

Poor Ryan Wolfe. I'm starting to wonder if his eyesight problems aren't a metaphor, because he seems to always be on the wrong side every debate with his colleagues. He's gone up against Calleigh twice, and in this episode we see him debating Alexx about whether or not the victim was leading a sordid life. Note to Ryan: when the medical examiner tells you a victim wasn't into drugs, believe her! It's obvious to the audience that Alexx knows what she's talking about, so why does Ryan doubt her? I do enjoy how different he is from the other CSIs on the show. Even when he's wrong, Ryan's inquisitive and sometimes confrontational nature is always refreshing.

I also enjoy how Jonathan Togo and Adam Rodriguez inject a layer of tension into their every interaction. Even here, when Delko is pointing out how few witnesses there would be, if any, to a 6am accident, Ryan smugly contradicts him and waits a beat before pointing out the traffic camera above. Delko clearly picks up on Ryan's self-satisfied air as he glaces over at the camera. I love the on-going tension between these two--it's subtle, but it's present in almost every interaction between the two.

As ever, Calleigh remains the sunny bridge between the two. Though she and Delko have the long-standing connection on the show, she's been paired with Ryan frequently lately, and there's even a humorous moment in the jewelry store when the manager first approaches them and asks if they're ring shopping. Both wait a beat before Calleigh says, "We're with the crime lab." It was a cute moment, definitely worth a laugh.

We also get another piece of the puzzle that is Horatio's past: that man that killed Horatio's mother wasn't just any person: it was his own father. And according to what Horatio said in the past, he's the one who killed his mother's killer, meaning Horatio killed his own father. I do wonder how Ray fit into all of this, but it goes a long way to explaining why Horatio is such a loner, and why he's so moved by the suffering of children. It also adds poignancy to his line to Howard about how his actions have orphaned his son.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.