CSI: Miami--'Dead Air'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 26, 2006 - 9:03 PM GMT

See Also: 'Dead Air' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Two young women are lunching at Biscayne Bay Cafe when one of their cell phones goes off. The girl, Chelsea, at first thinks it's a prank when she hears a woman pleading for help on the other end and asking for someone named Mitch, but when she realizes it's serious, she runs to police officers at a crime scene nearby and gives the phone to Horatio Caine, who realizes the woman on the other end of the line is in serious danger as soon as he hears her. The connection is severed abruptly after a gunshot is heard, and Horatio fears the woman is in grave danger--if she isn't already dead. Dan Cooper runs a probability matrix on the phone number she called to find out what one she was trying to reach--when he puts the name 'Mitch' in, he come up with a hit on a similar number to Chelsea's phone: Mitchell Collett, the chief financial officer for the Abex corporation. The CSIs pay Mitch a visit and learn he already knows his wife, Brenda, has been abducted: he got a phone call earlier from the kidnappers and was told not to contact the police. Dane Daniels, the company's CEO, offers the CSIs the tape of the kidnappers' call, noting that the company records all the in house calls.

Ryan and Delko head to the Colletts' house and find signs of a struggle. Delko finds a piece of plastic from the grip of a gun and takes it back to the lab hoping to find a match to a type of gun. While he processes the evidence, Ryan expresses interest in Natalia Boa Vista and asks Delko if they're done--he thinks he has a connection with her and wants to ask her out. Delko gives him the go ahead. Afterwards, he tracks her down and asks her about a party at her house that Ryan mentioned, and she tells him she was trying to set some boundaries since they mutually decided to slow their relationship down. Calleigh interrupts them--they were able to get a GPS trace on Brenda's cell phone, which has been turned back on. They rush to the house they traced the signal to and are shocked when a young man with a gun comes running out, firing. The police shoot him down, but it turns out he's not the kidnapper--his girlfriend, who was also in the house, found the phone in a nearby ally when she was looking to score drugs. She takes Calleigh and Delko to the alley where they find a casing from a .45 and tire tracks.

Calleigh matches the casing to an entry in IBIS--a gun belonging to a man named Rick Miller. Horatio and Tripp interrogate Rick, who admits to having an affair with Brenda, who he met while working the docks at Abex. He was dismayed when Brenda suddenly broke off the affair. He met a man in a bar, Club 560, named Charlie and hired him to go to her house and scare her by staging a mock kidnapping. Calleigh and Ryan go to Club 560, but the bartender, Jack Hilson, doesn't recall Rick or Charlie. The waitress does, though--she remembers Charlie as a lousy tipper--he did give her a key chain, though, with the initials C.P.E., which she turns over to the CSIs. The key chain leads them to Charles Pelson, who admits to the kidnapping, but also says he hired someone to help him, and it was his partner who wanted to turn the faux kidnapping into a real one. When they argued over it, the partner drove off in the car with Brenda in the trunk. Charles refuses to give up the man's name.

Marisol Delko pays Horatio a visit--she's debating stopping her chemotherapy so that she can get pregnant. Horatio, who is going with her to her chemo appointment that evening, expresses concern but tells her he'll support her in whatever choice she makes. A distraught Mitch shows up at the station with a box he received from the kidnappers; Delko opens it and finds an ear inside, with an earring Mitch recognizes as his wife's, and a note demanding five million dollars. When Alexx examines the ear, she notes a lack of blood, so Horatio asks Mitch to bring a sample of Brenda's hair in. Dan Cooper has discovered someone was monitoring Brenda's calls, but Mitch claims he had no idea someone was monitoring her cell phone calls. Elsewhere in the lab, Ryan asks a surprised Natalia out, puzzling her even more when he tells her Delko gave him the okay. Natalia says yes, but tracks down Delko and confronts him--she thought they had a chance, but he's blown it.

The cell phone was being taped by the Abex CEO, Dane Daniels, who claims it was a routine trace put on all company cell phones. At the lab, Valera confirms the ear doesn't match Brenda, while Cynthia Wells discovers a corporate watermark on the ransom note--an 'A' for the Abex corporation. Horatio heads to the company offices where he discovers an unhinged Mitch holding Dane at gunpoint, convinced the CEO kidnapped his wife. Horatio talks him down and vows to find his wife. Delko gets an asbestos trace off the severed ear, and Ryan notes small holes on its edges--suture marks? Ryan wonders if it was severed from a corpse at a medical program at a university. When they investigate Dade University, they discover Club 560 bartender Jack Hilson working there; he was Charlie's partner. Jack has an asbestos permit for a house by the bay, which Horatio and Ryan storm. Horatio notices a small boat with a tarp over it floating just off shore, and he pulls it in to discover Brenda tied up inside. He frees her, and she recognizes his voice. Back at the lab, Ryan asks Delko to borrow money for his date with Natalia, and Delko loans it to him and watches the pair leave. Marisol decides to go through with the chemotherapy, and Horatio sits by her and holds her hand as she receives treatment.

Analysis:

While the mystery plot kept me involved, I have to say right out that it was the personal plotlines that had me completely engrossed. "Dead Air" is a perfect example of why the CSI shows shouldn't shy away from creating a little drama in their character's lives that exists outside the cases. The interaction between the characters is interspersed between examination of the evidence, and I never felt that it took away from the mystery in any way. On the contrary, the brief moments of conversation felt completely natural, and it made the lab seem more like a workplace the viewers might recognize as being very much like their own.

For all the groans a love triangle can produce, the one between Ryan, Natalia and Eric actually avoids a lot of the cliches. For one, Ryan and Eric aren't fighting over Natalia; they handle the situation like adults, and that's refreshing. Ryan doesn't go to Delko to tell him he's moving in on Natalia; rather, he lays it out for him honestly and straightforwardly, telling Delko that he and Natalia connected at her party and asks Delko where he and Natalia stand. Ryan is very up front about his intentions, and Delko replies with equal candor.

Or does he? Does Delko really think he and Natalia are done for good, or is he stepping aside for his friend? It's not totally clear, but I enjoy that ambiguity. What comes out loud and clear is that despite the continuing tension between them--Delko is snappish with Ryan when he feels Ryan isn't seeing the big picture with the evidence--there is a friendship of sorts between them. Delko is clearly put out--and rightfully so--when Ryan asks to borrow money for his date with Natalia, but Delko does loan it to him.

Ryan comes off as somewhat less sympathetic because of how he asks Delko for the loan, but even though he doesn't say it directly, it's clear by his hangdog demeanor that Ryan knows asking Delko for the money isn't the nicest thing to do, and yet his pride doesn't allow him to acknowledge that. Jonathan Togo and Adam Rodriguez are excellent in these scenes, conveying the tension that lies behind their nonchalant attitudes. The two almost have a brotherly relationship--there's some resentment there, but there's also a genuine bond.

Natalia is understandably confused by the turn of events. I'm not sure Delko had decided their relationship was over before Ryan approached him. Delko was clearly upset about not being invited to her party, which seems to be the thing that threw him off and led him to give Ryan the go-ahead. Natalia is none too pleased to learn that Eric said she was "cleared for landing," and it's hard to blame her--that's rather offensive locker room talk no matter how you look at it. I was surprised that she said yes to Ryan, but I think Togo was spot on when he said that Ryan was something of a pawn in what was going on between Natalia and Eric. It does feel like Ryan is in the middle, rather than Natalia, which is something that goes against stereotype as well. Does Natalia mean it when she tells Eric that he blew it and that they no longer have a chance? Time will tell.

The other big personal story in the episode is the on-going relationship between Marisol and Horatio. I wish I could feel more romance the pair, but Horatio seems to be acting almost fatherly towards her. While David Caruso sparked with Sofia Milos's Yelina Salas in the previous three seasons, he seems very formal and almost awkward with Marisol. Is it because she's so much younger, or is it that she's Delko's sister? We've yet to see the characters share a truly romantic moment, which might be part of the problem.

They do share an intimate moment, however, when Horatio sits by her bedside as she gets chemotherapy, and I did find that scene very sweet. Horatio's compassion is his strongest trait, and his willingness to go above and beyond for those he helps is a touchstone of his character. Though it's clear that Horatio has come to care for her a great deal, I do wish we could see more romantic chemistry between them, since they are supposed to be in a romantic relationship.

I haven't talked about the case the CSIs tackle at all, and that's because while it held my interest, it was mostly a routine mystery. The race to find Brenda is exciting enough, but the revelation that Rick hired someone to kidnap her fairly on takes a lot of the personal element out of it, since the man is a stranger. The red herring early on is pretty weak--who comes running out of a house waving a gun at a bunch of police offers if he's done nothing wrong (aside from presumably doing a few drugs). I assume he was probably high. The final reveal that the bartender is involved in the kidnapping isn't especially stunning given that he was only on screen for a few seconds earlier in the episode. It's really the character drama that makes this episode exciting.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.