CSI: Miami--'Dead On Arrival'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 30, 2009 - 3:51 AM GMT

See Also: 'Dead on Arrival' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The cameras are rolling for the finale of the reality show The Marrying Kind: bachelor Neil Palmer rejects Kaitlin Sawyer in favor of Grace Carlson. But when Neil opens the limo door to tell Grace he's chosen her, he's greeted with a horrifying sight: the young woman is dead in the back of the car! When the Miami team arrives, Natalia recognizes the show immediately. Horatio speaks with the host, Myles Martini, who tells Horatio Neil was about to propose to Grace--and, as Natalia points out, make her a million dollars richer. Delko and Natalia examine the limo and Delko notices that the pointed stopper is missing from one of the bottles of alcohol, leading the pair to suspect that the stopper is the murder weapon. Calleigh questions the limo driver, who admits that he was away from the limo for almost thirty minutes while the crew searched for the missing bachelor. Horatio asks Neil about his disappearance, and the man admits he got momentary cold feet, but that he genuinely fell for Grace. In the morgue, Kyle brings Dr. Price a set of X-rays and notices her popping a pill, which she claims is just aspirin. She dismisses his skepticism and tells him she needs a sex kit on Grace. Natalia and Ryan study the video footage from Grace and Kaitlin's limos and are surprised when both cut out around the same time. They notice that Kaitlin turned her own camera off, prompting Horatio to visit her at the hotel where the girls stay after Neil votes them off the show. Kaitlin admits she turned off her camera to cry; she got too wrapped up in the show. Noticing a scar on her neck, Horatio points out that she seems different from the other girls, and she comments that she's had some setbacks in life.

Delko and Calleigh recover a set of wires from the scene and Ryan matches a print on them to the host, Myles. Myles tells her it's his wireless transceiver and that it must have been stolen. He used it to turn off the cameras when he hooked up with the girls on the show--but denied ever sleeping with Grace. The sex kit proves to be a match for Neil, and then man insists that it was consensual. When asked about skin under her nails, he tells Horatio and Tripp that Grace mentioned fighting with some girls at the mansion to him. Calleigh and Delko question Marisa Dixon and Erica Zabel, Grace's roommates. When asked about a cut on her hand, Marisa reluctantly admits that she shredded some clothes Grace won in a challenge. Marisa denies ever getting into a physical altercation with Grace. On the video footage from the house, Natalia and Ryan notice a peeping tom and use the facial recognition system to identify him as Russell Keener, a man with a history of assault. Ryan and Horatio have the man brought in, but he claims that he was simply looking for a party to crash, but when he went over and saw a couple of crew members, he left without bothering anyone. Unsettled by his attitude, Horatio arrests him for trespassing. Continuing to view the video footage, Natalia discovers Marisa and Grace getting into a fight that turned physical. Calleigh confronts Marisa about her lie, but Marisa insists the fight was staged. Unlike the others, she wasn't in it to meet a man, but to get an acting contract. She got the fish she wanted: the William Morris Agency.

Horatio and Delko go to question Kaitlin again and find her missing--and discover the bloody bottle stopper. Travers finds another substance on it, a neurotoxin found in snake venom, allowing Natalia to crack the case. Recalling that Marisa and Neil had a spa treatment date that included a snake venom treatment, she has the girl arrested. Marisa admits that she made a deal with Neil at the beginning of the show: if he picked her, she'd let him have $750,000 of the million dollars, taking only a quarter for herself. When he fell for Grace and eliminated Marisa, going back on their deal, she decided to take something from him. She stole the transceiver and turned off the camera in the limo--right before getting in and stabbing Grace. Bothered by Kaitlin's disappearance, Tripp does a little digging and learns her real name is Marjorie Kemp--and that as a child she was a victim of an attack that almost killed her. Her attacker was none other than Russell Keener. Myles tells Ryan that all the women are given cell phones as consolation prizes after being voted off--and that the cell phones contain GPS trackers. Horatio and Ryan track Kaitlin to a dock and find Russell by the water. Russell tells them he recognized Kaitlin when he saw her on TV by the scar on her neck--the scar he gave her. Horatio finds Kaitlin tied up in an ice bin on a boat and rescues her, while Ryan promises Russell that he'll serve a life sentence for what he's done.

Analysis:

The much neglected Natalia Boa Vista finally gets a chance to shine in this fun send up of The Bachelor and other romantic reality shows like it. Natalia admits to being a fan of the show as soon as she gets to the scene, immediately displaying a familiarity with the contestants and format of the show. It is Natalia's devotion to the show that ends up allowing her to crack the case: when snake venom is found on the murder weapon, she recalls the spa treatment Marisa had with Neil on a date before she was voted off. Natalia's enthusiasm, especially in the scene where Travers seems all but oblivious to her existence, makes for a fun moment. Eva LaRue is clearly having fun, and it's nice to see Natalia to get a chance to step up to the plate and solve a case.

Corey Miller's final script for CSI: Miami is a funny and spot on spoof of former timeslot competitor The Bachelor, which wrapped up an extremely successful--and controversial--season a few months ago. The women on The Marrying Kind are every bit as competitive as one would imagine, cutting up each other's clothes and sleeping with the host in a bid to gain some sort of advantage. The host, Myles Martini, is a slimy opportunist, and the audience gets a good chuckle when Calleigh tells him that she wishes she could send him to jail where there are "lots of gentlemen...who need comfort and reassurance." Diedrich Bader plays Myles as the perfect reality show host: self-important and opportunistic, he unapologetically makes the most of his situation.

The murderous Marisa isn't actually in search of true love--she's there to boost her acting career, something that's true of many people on reality shows these days. Marisa met the "man" she was hoping to find--William Morris--but threw away her chance for an acting career when she murdered Grace in a fit of pique after Neil broke their deal and dared to boot her from the show. Adrianne Palicki turns in a delightfully devilish performance as the scorned Marisa, as does Jordan Belfi as the overly earnest bachelor, who clearly takes himself and the show far too seriously when he tells Horatio, "I fell in love with Grace for free." After umpteen reality shows featuring pretty people searching for so-called "true love" on television, it's fun to see a parody of the types who seek fame, fortune or love on these shows.

Not everyone is on The Marrying Kind bandwagon with Natalia. Calleigh tells Delko that she used to watch the show--before she got a new diversion, in the form of a "really tall" guy who wears "a white shirt." These two have such a natural, easy chemistry that their lovebird flirting, a hallmark of the beginning of a relationship, is just plain fun to watch. Valera isn't a fan at all of The Marrying Kind--or any other show. She tells Ryan she prefers the smell of old books. Of course, Ryan--ever the nerdy science type--feels the need to inform her that old books used lead-based print and therefore are toxic. Would anyone but Ryan make that connection--and then bring it up? Probably not.

It's nice to see that creepy, creepy Russell Keener wasn't just a red herring, though the ending with Kaitlin's abduction does feel a tad tacked on given that the reality show murder plot dominates the majority of the episode. Kaitlin's story is subtly threaded throughout, with Horatio's "damsel-in-distress" sensor going off as soon as he meets Kaitlin and notices the scar on her neck. The rescue at the end gives the episode the obligatory "Super H" moment, in which Horatio manages to sniff out the girl without any help from either the perp or his fellow CSI at the scene. David Caruso does turn in some of his most sympathetic performances when he's consoling a victim he's just rescued, but at the same time, the scenes feel rather pat. Horatio is much more interesting when going up against Stetler or attempting to be a father to Kyle.

Kyle makes a rather important discovery in this episode, noticing Dr. Price popping a pill--and recognizing that what she's taking isn't aspirin, as she claims. Viewers first learned of Tara's drug use when she lifted Oxycontin out of a dead woman's belongings and then hinted to Horatio that Julia may have been responsible in "Divorce Party". Tara has mentioned an old shoulder injury several times, suggesting that this may have been the injury that led to her addiction to pain pills. Kyle is sharp enough to realize what he's seeing isn't aspirin as Tara claims, and wise enough to let it drop after she gets defensive when he points out that what she was taking didn't look like aspirin. The question now is whether Kyle will say something to Horatio--or if Tara will act first to preemptively discredit the boy before he can share his suspicions with his father. Either way, given that she implicated Julia for something she did, Horatio isn't going to be pleased when he eventually finds out.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.