CSI: Miami--'Darkroom'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 19, 2006 - 6:15 PM GMT

See Also: 'Darkroom' Episode Guide


When a bloody five dollar bill with the words "He's going to kill me" written on it is given at a toll booth, it draws the Miami team's attention. When the body of a woman identified as Leslie Anderson is found on a cove not far from the booth, the CSIs fear the woman's prophetic words may have indeed come true, until Alexx determines she's been dead for two days. Surveillance footage from the tollbooth reveals the woman in the car had ligature marks on her wrists similar to those on Leslie's, but when the CSIs try to discern the license plate on the car, they discover it's covered up with photo blocking material. Natalia processes trace from Leslie's pants and discovers it's made out of clay and mortar; this, along with a valet stub from a Coral Gables restaurant Ryan spots under the wind shield wipers on the car leads the CSIs to an old building in the area. When Ryan and Delko go to investigate, they discover blood drops, a safe, and a man named Tommy Boyer loitering.

When they bring him in, Tommy tells Horatio he was looking for his fiancée, Jill Girrard, who has been missing for several days. He found Jill's car outside the building and went in to look for her. He asks Horatio to find Jill, and Horatio vows that he'll help. In the safe, Ryan and Delko discover photographs of a multitude of women, each bagged with a personal item from each woman. They take the packets back to the lab, where Valera has failed to match the blood on the five-dollar bill to either Leslie or Jill. When Natalia sees the photographs of the women, she gasps when she recognizes her sister, Anya, among them. She rushes to the DNA lab where she swabs her own cheek and asks Valera to run it against the blood on the bill. Sure enough, the genetic similarities prove the blood is from Natalia's sister. Horatio decides to hold a press conference to help the lab get names for the women they can't identify. Reporter Erica Sikes corners Ryan to ask him about Natalia's sister, and he cautions her not to reveal the girl's connection to law enforcement for fear of further endangering her life.

Horatio sends Natalia to the apartment where Anya lives with a fellow aspiring model named Sasha. Sasha tells Natalia that Anya got a call back for a photo shoot, and Natalia takes the message machine to hear the call for herself. It leads them to a high end photo shoot, where a man named Gavin LaPorte points the CSIs in the direction of photographer John Stockman. The arrogant photographer's DNA matches semen found in Leslie's body, but he tells them the sex was consensual. The pressure mounts when Erika Sikes reveals that Anya is Natalia's sister, and Anya places a frantic call to Natalia, telling her sister she thinks she's near the water. Ryan is able to ID the voice on Anya's answering machine as Gavin LaPorte, whom he met at the photo shoot. Gavin claims he simply called to let Anya know her prints were ready. Tommy Boyer brings Horatio a suspicious "Dear John" letter he received from Jill, and an embossed logo on the stationary leads the CSIs to Bill Star's Custom Upholstery, where they discover the car from the tollbooth surveillance footage, complete with the blocked license plate. They force Bill to turn it over, along with the address of the person who dropped it off.

The CSIs head to the address Bill gave them, which turns out to be for a boat. They storm it and find Jill Girrard trapped inside the bedroom. She seems too traumatized to talk about her ordeal, but the CSIs are surprised to discover that not only has she not been raped, but she also swallowed the key to the room she was supposedly locked inside. Calleigh questions Jill, who is apparently suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Her captor spared her when she told him she was a virgin, and she's too afraid to give up his name. The CSIs turn to the car, where they find Anya's blood and several small granite rocks, leading them back to the cove where Leslie was discovered. They find another girl buried there, terrified but alive. She tells them her abductor is holding another girl at the studio, and Horatio hurries there, where he finds Gavin photographing a traumatized Anya. He chases Gavin around the building but finally catches up to him, freeing Natalia's sister. Natalia and Anya are reunited, but the search for LaPorte's victims, who are scattered around the country, is far from over.


Miami ventures into "ripped from the headlines" territory with this exciting latest entry. The episode boasts not only a timely story, but also one that hits close to home for one of its cast members: the serial killer Gavin LaPorte was modeled after serial killer William Bradford a serial killer who posed as a photographer and shot photos of a multitude of women, including Eva La Rue's sister, Nika La Rue (story).

As it usually is when the CSIs have a personal stake in the case, "Darkroom" was more exciting than the norm. Though I was fairly certain the CSIs would find Natalia's sister alive, I wasn't totally convinced that would be the outcome, especially after both Jill and the young woman buried under the rocks were rescued. The possibility existed that Natalia's sister wouldn't be quite so lucky--after all, Raymond Caine wasn't in the season opener "Rio". There was just enough suspense to wonder if Anya would be found dead at the end of the episode.

Though I was glad she was discovered alive, the climax of the episode is pretty weak. Gavin, knowing he's suspected of murder, has taken Anya back to the studio and is shooting pictures of her while strobe lights flash? It's one of the silliest chase scenes I've ever seen. I was particularly disappointed because the build up to the scene was particularly good, and the take down of Gavin didn't live up. Seeing him run with Anya (who wasn't restrained) while the strobe lights sputtered and Horatio pursued just didn't pack the punch it should have.

That said, what followed before that scene was excellent. It was nice to see Natalia Boa Vista given more to do than agonize over men, be it Delko or Ryan or her ex-husband. Eva La Rue's performance is a little restrained given the circumstances, but perhaps she felt Natalia knew that keeping her cool would better serve her sister than falling apart. I did like the moment when she recognized her sister's picture and rushed to the lab to give Valera a sample of her DNA to compare against that found on the five dollar bill.

One little nitpick with the wardrobe department--why was Natalia wearing a dress when she was examining a crime scene? I realize that fashion in CSI shows more often than not trumps accuracy, but to have a CSI wearing a dress seems to be taking it too far. I can't recall another time we've seen a CSI in a dress at a scene, unless she was just paged away from another more formal event. Ryan's layering in the Miami heat in his early days on the show was odd, but showing a CSI in a dress just makes no sense at all.

Standouts among the guest cast included Elizabeth Harnois who as Jill was convincingly traumatized. It was an interesting twist to have her feel a desperate kind of gratitude towards Gavin for sparing her, and unlike when Anya allowed Gavin to drag her around when help was nearby, I believed that Jill would try to protect her abductor out of some misguided sense of loyalty. Also excellent was Cirroc Lofton, all grown up since his days as the commander's son on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, who didn't seem guilty for a second--his sad eyes told his whole story when the CSIs found him in the building. This storyline added depth and interest to the case.

Erica Sikes is back and more dislikeable than ever. This time around she reveals Natalia's sister is one of the missing women, further endangering Anya. Calleigh once again provides the voice of reason, pulling Natalia away from Erica but telling Erica she knows the reporter is simply after personal glory. While it's understandable that sometimes the CSIs and the news media have conflicting agendas, the CSI shows sure do like to demonize the media. Remember "Dispo Day", where a reporter trafficked drugs and basically created his own headlines? Erica hasn't done anything that bad--at least, not yet. But given her past with Ryan, she's definitely one to keep an eye on.

Speaking of reporters, La Rue's sister, Nika, did have a small part in this episode as a reporter. As a potential target of serial killer Bradford, the episode no doubt struck close to home. CBS news show 48 Hours did a segment on Bradford in conjunction with the episode, and after the hour concluded, the faces of several real life unidentified women flashed across the screen. It was a sad moment, a solemn reminder that as glitzy as Miami can be, it and the other CSI shows often do mirror real life.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.