CSI: Miami--'Death Pool 100'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 17, 2006 - 3:39 AM GMT

See Also: 'Death Pool 100' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Mr. Ice, jeweler to the stars, is hosting a party for his elite clients, but the soiree is interrupted when gunmen arrive to steal the bling and leave two people, Ethan Parker and Dakota Hudson, dead in their wake. Ethan was apparently killed for refusing to give up his jewelry, but Dakota, who was killed in the pool by a gunshot wound to the chest, gave hers up, making the motive unclear. DNA on the facial mask worn by Ethan's shooter leads the CSIs to Rodrigo Garza, one of the robbers, but Dakota's killer remains a mystery. Alexx is able to determine that Dakota was shot in the water, and the casing from the fatal bullet is different from the one that killed Ethan. A hit in IBIS leads the CSIs to Kevin Iverson, who insists his gun was stolen months ago. When Horatio notices a "Death Pool" list, he becomes suspicious. Kevin was involved in off-shore gambling based on when celebrities die, and he made a hundred grand off Dakota's death. Kevin maintains his innocence.

The CSIs question Rebecca Lamar, who also bet on Dakota. While Horatio talks to her son Tyler, who tells the CSI that his mother is in trouble over mounting bills, Rebecca tells Calleigh and Ryan that she traded Dakota to a secretive man known online as Todd321 a month earlier. Todd321 turns out to be a man named Todd Barasky, but Todd hasn't struck it rich. He has just sold his car to pay his gambling debts. He's been beaten, and he identifies a man named Shin as his assailant. The CSIs bring Shin in and find a knuckle duster on him and cash which Horatio suspects is counterfeit. Calleigh calls in Peter Elliot who confirms that the money is indeed fake "super notes," but Calleigh is shocked when he identifies a bill of hers as a super note as well. She confronts Ryan, who gave her the bill after she bought an iPod for him. He admits to having played the death pool once and offers to come clean about it, but Calleigh, worried about the lab's standing, tells him she'll take the heat.

Horatio is able to board the ship where the offshore gambling takes place, and the ship's proprietor, Lee Choi, welcomes him, knowing the ship is out of Horatio's jurisdiction. Because diesel fuel was found on the bills, Horatio believes they were manufactured on the boat, but he can't prove it--yet. Tripp is bothered by the fact that none of the stolen jewelry has turned up at the party, but when Calleigh notices that Dakota's ears are irritated from cheap jewelry. Ice's baubles were fakes, and the CSIs catch him and the remaining shooter from the party destroying the fake jewels. Ice threw the party and faked a robbery in order to destroy the fake jewels, figuring his clients would recoup the losses with insurance claims. But Ethan was on to him, and Ice had him killed.

On the ship, Horatio notices a bartender with ink stains on his fingers but before he can proceed further, FBI Agent Cole stops him. Cole knows Choi has ties to the North Korean government, and Cole wants to get the people above Choi. Back in Miami, Iverson's gun is discovered, and Calleigh finds a bit of fabric caught in its slide, which she recognizes as being from a dress Kevin Iverson's wife, Katrina, was wearing. Calleigh confronts Katrina: she bought Iverson's gun back and used it to shoot Dakota, knowing her husband would profit from Dakota's death. Katrina is devastated when she realizes she's been caught--she wanted a fresh start for her and her husband. Horatio gets a call from a terrified Tyler Lamar. He rushes to meet the boy, but discovers only Rebecca, who has given her son to Choi as collateral on her gambling debts. Disgusted, Horatio storms Choi's ship and rescues the boy. Choi is arrested, and Cole moves on the gambling ring. Rebecca and Katrina are taken to jail while Tyler is delivered safely to social service. The day's work done, Ryan burns the counterfeit money he won and joins the team for a walk on the beach.

Analysis:

The 100th episode of Miami has all hallmarks of the show: Horatio's heroics, a child in danger, meddling government agents, scheming rich people, strife among the team that ultimate gives way to cohesion and a daring final rescue. If it feels a little rushed it's perhaps because there were just a few too many Miami-isms crammed into one episode. Tyler's predicament in particular seems like a tack on to once again highlight Horatio's compassion towards children. It's always nice to see that side of Horatio, but it felt a little out of place in this episode.

The twists of the case take center stage in this episode, save for Calleigh's discovery that a bill Ryan gave her is counterfeit. Poor Ryan is still making missteps even after three years on the team; this time he failed to disclose the fact that he had played the death pool. It's actually his second mistake in the episode--he's quick to assume that Natalia Boa Vista, whom none of the team really seems to trust completely, is mishandling evidence. But Ryan's mistakes make him more human, and Jonathan Togo always makes his character sympathetic and compelling.

The villainesses in this episode stretch credibility a bit. That Katrina Iverson could kill someone in cold blood and then be so surprised when she's caught and blamed for it makes her seem hopelessly naive and shallow. But perhaps that's a message about the death pool--it dehumanizes people to the point that their deaths are simply a game to the people who gamble on them.

Rebecca Lamar is more concerned with her debts than she is with her son, conveniently setting up the situation where Tyler is in danger. Like Katrina, she has apparently has no compassion for others outside of herself. I suspected Tyler would somehow factor into the ending of the episode after we saw Horatio sit down with him during Rebecca's interrogation, but I didn't predict that she'd be so shallow and selfish as to trade in her own son as collateral for her debts.

One thing I was surprised to find absent from the episode was a big shootout or explosion. Since season three, Miami has built a reputation for being action-packed, and much of that action has revolved around gunfire and explosions. There's nary a bomb going off here and Horatio doesn't have to shoot anyone, but the episode really doesn't need it and I'm glad it wasn't forced into the episode simply because it was the hundredth.

The ending on the beach, while a tad on the cheesy side, is a nice, rare moment to see the team all together. It mirrors the end of the second season closer "Innocent" when the team took a stroll on the beach after closing a tough case. Speedle has since been replaced by Ryan, but the team remains a compelling bunch.

As I said in my review of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation's 100th episode, "Ch-Ch-Changes", reaching a hundred episodes is a milestone. When CSI hit its hundredth, it was the number one show on television in the U.S. Miami is likewise at the top of its game, currently enjoying the distinction of being the number one show in the world. For a spin-off, even one of a successful show, to achieve that distinction is truly impressive indeed.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.