CSI: Miami--'Deviant'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at March 2, 2006 - 8:57 PM GMT

See Also: 'Deviant' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A man is running through a park, fleeing from four other men who catch up with him and begin to beat him. He's dead by the time the CSIs arrive, and Frank Tripp identifies him as Phillip Gordon, a recently paroled sex offender. Alexx examines him and discovers it wasn't the beating that killed him--Phillip had been stabbed in the sde at some point. Delko notices two blood droplets on Phillip's shoe, indicating he was stabbed before he started running. Delko follows the blood trail backwards and discovers a child's pink cell phone, which he traces to Isabel, the young daughter of a man named Victor Terraza, who tells the CSIs he saw Phillip trying to grab his daughter and went over to stop him. Victor claims that after he rescued Isabel several men chased after Phillip. Horatio speaks with Isabel and tells Victor he needs to process her.

Back at the morgue, Alexx pulls a green fiber from Phillip's body, which Calleigh recalls from the evidence pulled from Isabel. Sure enough, when Ryan takes the fiber to Aaron Peters, Aaron has already identified it as mulch from the playground. Ryan and Calleigh go back to the pictures from the scene and discover the pattern of a shoe on Phillip's cheek, which they're able to match to Victor. Horatio questions the man again, and Victor confesses to being part of the group that chased after Phillip and beat him, but Victor denies stabbing him. He tells Horatio there were posters all around the neighborhood with Phillip's picture and details about his crimes on them. Delko and Ryan go to the neighborhood and retrieve one of the posters from where it has been crumpled up and discarded in the bushes, but when Delko runs the prints on the poster he's shocked to learn they belong to Alexx.

Alexx tells Horatio that she checks the sex crimes website all the time, and when she learned a convicted pedophile was moving into her neighborhood, she made sure the other parents in the area knew about it. She claims she only wanted to protect the children, but Horatio is concerned that Phillip Gordon's family could file a civil suit against her over the posters. Ryan and Calleigh squabble over whether Alexx had a right to hang the posters while they search for Phillip's address. Delko and Ryan pay a visit to Robert and Haley, Phillip's brother and sister-in-law, with whom he was staying. Robert tore the posters down after their house was vandalized several times, and Haley admits the stress of having Phillip around has gotten to her and caused her migraines to flare up. Delko takes a look at Phillip's computer and finds it full of death threats--and child pornography. But when Dan Cooper takes a look at the computer he determines the child porn was a virus that Phillip's computer got via an e-mail. The CSIs trace the e-mail to Ned Ostroff (last seen in the season two finale "Innocent"), whose conviction as a sexual predator for spying on porn star Ashley Anders meant people were confusing him with Phillip. Ned hoped the 'porn bomb' would send Phillip back to jail and take the heat off of him.

Ryan takes a look at a rock flung through the Gordon's window and traces it back to one of Phillip's victims, Julia Hill. Though Julia's mother reported the attack only as a burglary, Julia tells Ryan she was assaulted and when she learned Phillip had moved into her neighborhood, she felt the need to act. Back at the lab, Alexx is summoned by the Medical Examiner, Dr. Gary Halliwell, who puts political pressure on her to switch off the day shift, dangling a promotion possibility in front of her if she agrees. He thinks she's grown too close to the day shift team, and knows she prescribed Ryan antibiotics for his eye. Alexx confronts Ryan about who he told about the antibiotic prescription, and he insists he told no one, but as soon as she leaves, he tells Horatio he can't keep this up much longer. In the trace lab, Aaron finds a failed delivery note from WorldSend for the morning of Phillip's murder among the Gordons' trash, contradicting Haley's claims that she was home all morning. Ryan questions her and she admits to going to the doctor for a bad migraine and walked across the park to get there.

Ned bursts into the police offices and demands to speak to Horatio--he's been attacked by a man with a gun. Ryan photographs the bruise on his chest forming under his skin and Calleigh matches the barrelhead to a Colt 9 mil 1911, a gun the CSIs learn Victor Terraza owns. Victor admits to attacking Ned, and Horatio puts it together: Victor took his daughter to the playground to trap Phillip. His suspicions are increased when Tripp discovers a knife concealed in Victor's sock. Alexx compares the knife to Phillip's wound but it's not a match: Phillip was stabbed with a serrated knife. Alexx points out a slash on Phillip's back, and that paired with a gash in his belt tips the CSIs off to the fact that Phillip was carrying the knife he was killed with in the back of his pants. Alexx confronts Dr. Halliwell and tells him she's staying on the day shift, even though he indicates it will cost her any chance of a promotion.

Delko and Horatio discover the murder weapon in Haley Gordon's kitchen knife set. Haley tries to confess, but the CSIs know she was at her doctor's office at the time of the murder. Haley admits that she and Robert have been trying for a family, but the stress of Phillip's stay caused her to miscarry. That leaves Robert as their sole suspect. Robert tells the CSIs he wanted to believe Phillip could change, but when he saw the toll Phillip's presence was taking on Haley and then caught Phillip in the park watching children, Robert hit his breaking point. He stabbed Phillip and returned home to find the WorldSend notice and discarded it. Robert was convinced Phillip was going to hurt someone else, but murder is murder and he's arrested while his distraught wife looks on. Ryan feels sympathy for him, but this time Calleigh is on the other side--a killer is a killer. Ryan is worried Calleigh is mad at him over their earlier disagreement, but Calleigh assures him she's not.

Analysis:

While it boasts a truly gripping story and some very interesting, complicated debatable issues, the real treat of "Deviant" is the fact that it focus on Alexx, a character who, though in the main cast, rarely gets an opportunity to take center stage. When she does get the chance, Khandi Alexander always shines, and it's no different here. Alexx is somewhat unique among the characters of all three CSI shows in that she has a husband and young children, giving her a very busy life outside of work, albeit one we rarely see. I wonder if this is part of the reason she's often relegated to the sidelines--Alexx obviously isn't going to get into any office flirtations or have a romance of the week. But her compassion and humanity mixed with her steely strength make her a fascinating character.

"Deviant" throws in not one but two bones of contention for Alexx. The first is her tangential involvement in the murder case, which also leads to one of the controversial issues that comes up in the episode: did Alexx overstep the bounds as a civil servant by putting up posters alerting her neighbors that a convicted sex offender had moved into the neighborhood. Calleigh says no, she didn't, while Ryan, like he did in "Prey" takes a surprisingly narrow-minded point-of-view by insisting what Alexx did was wrong, implying that her first duty was to her job, not her family. Alexx herself doesn't waver--though she worries about criminal charges, she maintains to Horatio that she was looking out for her children and the children in her neighborhood. The action is pure Alexx--she is unapologetically protective of those she loves.

That gets her in trouble at work, too, after the M.E. summons her to his office and tells her that he knows she wrote a prescription for antibiotics for Ryan. Halliwell tries to manipulate her off the day shift, but once again Alexx sticks to her guns, and after some consideration, she tells him she's staying put, that it matters to her to be with a team she trusts and respects. The fact that he knew about Ryan's prescription throws her, and she takes it straight to the source, but Ryan insists he didn't tell anyone. Alexx is concerned about her career, but not to the point that she regrets helping Ryan out or is willing to play the political games Halliwell wants her to.

But let there be no mistake: games are afoot at the lab, and Horatio and Ryan appear to be playing. After Alexx leaves, Ryan sighs and tells Horatio he "doesn't know how much longer [he] can keep this up." Presumably he and Horatio have teamed up to combat and ferret out the mole in the lab, but what this involves is still anyone's guess. Is Ryan planting different information to see what information leaks out, hoping to use that to trace it back to the mole? It's unclear at this point, though it seems the pool of suspects remains large. This week, Aaron Peters tells Ryan he heard about his "fight" with Calleigh. Is this a clue of some kind? Anything is possible.

Calleigh and Ryan's brief conflict is mirrored nicely in the last scene, when Ryan expresses sympathy for Robert and Calleigh is not nearly as flexible, stating "a killer is a killer." When Ryan asks her if she actually believes that, she makes the distinction between her personal and professional beliefs, noting that she'd tell him something different off the clock. It's the age-old CSI debate and the focal point of the shows: the CSIs are not in their jobs to pass judgment but to collect and connect evidence. Science is king on the CSI shows, and when it comes to murder, the evidence has to be allowed to speak for itself, free of human emotions. Robert's chance for sympathy will come in court, not in the lab.

The ending of the episode does underscore the warmth Calleigh effortlessly spreads throughout the team. As grateful as I am to have an Alexx-centric episode, I sure wish someone would do the same for Calleigh. I realize that Calleigh was focused on earlier in the show's run when she grappled with her father's drinking problems and her troubled boyfriend, Hagen, and that now Delko, oft neglected early on, is getting his chance in the sun, I'd still like to see a little more of Calleigh. If Horatio is the team's leader, Calleigh is its heart, just as integral to their togetherness as Horatio is. She has the warmest, most open relationship with each of the other characters on the show, and should get a little more to do than to play referee for Delko and Ryan.

After the undertones in the conversation between Delko and Ryan while they search for the posters, I have to wonder how long it will be before Calleigh is in the middle again. There definitely seems to be tension between the two when they discussed children--Ryan snidely asked Eric if there were any little Delkos running around, suggesting that Ryan might know about Natalia's pregnancy scare in "Skeletons", and more over, that he's not quite over smarting from the sting that Natalia went for Delko over him. Delko mostly brushes it off, but the tension that built up for a year isn't entirely gone, something I'm grateful for. Though they mended a lot of fences in "Nailed", it would be unrealistic for Eric and Ryan to interact as though they've always been best buddies. The undercurrent of resentment is both realistic and interesting.

In addition to enjoying the story and the issues it brought to the surface, I found the episode to be especially well-cast. Julie Benz, who played the sinister but charming vampire Darla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel changes gears completely here to play the vulnerable Haley, who suffers under the stress of opening her home to her husband's brother. That act and the fact that she tries to cover for Robert when the CSIs put the case together show the depth of her love for her husband, and Benz hits all the right notes as a woman in a truly untenable situation. On another note, it's always fun to see the return of characters from previous episodes, and Ned Ostroff, last seen in "Innocent" as porn star Ashley Anders' creepy stalker is used quite effectively here. Writer Krystal Houghton deserves props for a complex episode that features both effective character work and strong continuity.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.