CSI: Miami--'Dissolved'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 13, 2009 - 3:52 PM GMT

See Also: 'Dissolved' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Miami resident Jimmy Castigan hosts a party at his house, bragging to his many guests about his recent exploits. Ron Saris, who has been crashing with Jimmy, urges him to keep his mouth shut after all of his guests have gone. The two get in an argument and Ron pushes Jimmy into the pool, only to watch as the young man's skin literally starts melting! When the police arrive, it's too late: Jimmy Castigan is dead. When Horatio arrives at the scene, he's frustrated to find Dr. Price isn't already there to examine the man's body. Delko determines that an alkaline has been used in the pool and Ryan surprises Horatio by telling him that Ron Saris called the murder in. Horatio questions Ron, who admits to arguing with Jimmy but insists he was shocked by the contents of the pool. Nervous about breaking his cover as a confidential informant, he tells Horatio that he swims in the pool every day and wonders if he was possibly the target. He hands Horatio a threatening note he received and tells the CSI he suspects it's from Julia. Delko and Calleigh neutralize the alkaline in order to retrieve the body and lab tech Michael Travers identifies the substance as sodium hydroxide. Calleigh is concerned when Delko gets a call, but he claims it's from the lab and the two set off to find the source of the alkaline dump, which proves to be the pool's filtration system. Tripp and Delko question Peter Bishop, the pool cleaner, who tells them his truck was broken into the day before and his keys stolen. Horatio tries to get a hold of his ex, Julia, and learns that she's been calling Kyle incessantly. He tracks her down to find out if she threatened Ron and immediately knows something is off about her. Julia admits she's off her meds--and threatens to call the police if Horatio doesn't leave her alone.

Natalia tells Horatio the handwriting on the note doesn't match Julia and Tripp reports that Peter Bishop's alibi for the time of the murder checks out. Ryan and Delko go over Bishop's van and find a hair on it that comes from either a cow or a deer. Recalling that sodium hydroxide is used in the process of tanning leather, Ryan and Horatio head to a local leather treatment plant. The manager, Allan Pierce, tells the pair that the plant doesn't use sodium hydroxide anymore, but points them to the room where it's stored. Opening it up, the two smell decomp, and soon see the reason why: partially melted human remains in two of the barrels. Horatio notices a cigar cap, leading him and IAB officer Rick Stetler back to Ron Saris. Ron points the skeptical pair in the direction of Sean Echols, Castigan's partner. In the morgue, Ryan catches Tara popping a pill and confronts her about her prescription drug abuse, asking her what will happen when she messes up an autopsy. The coroner once again brushes him off, turning to the remains from the barrels. She and Ryan discover a man's wedding ring with a date engraved on it. Ryan runs the ring through the missing person's database and gets an ID: Bill Moore. Horatio speaks with the man's wife, Sondra, who tells him she last heard from Bill before a scuba diving trip they'd planned. Bill had gone to pick up her sister, Rebecca, and brother-in-law, Warren Barnett, but the three had never showed up. When she learns the remains found in the barrels were male, she clings to the hope that her sister might still be alive. Horatio meets Ryan by Tara's locker, armed with a search warrant. The two open the locker and find a plethora of pill bottles. Calleigh and Tripp pay Sean Echols a visit and notice the body of a boar lying outside his trailer. Sean denies even knowing Jimmy, but Calleigh is skeptical and decides to have an officer watch him.

A rattled Julia bursts into the morgue with a gun and fires a shot. She holds Ryan, Tara and Kyle at gunpoint and demands her son be returned to her. Horatio comes to talk her down, but she turns the gun on herself. He manages to grab it before she can shoot, and she's arrested. After the incident, Ryan tells Tara that Stetler wants to talk to her about the incident with Julia. Horatio talks to an extremely confused Julia, who is horrified to realize she endangered Kyle and admits that he's better off without her. In the lab, Delko admits to Calleigh the call he got earlier was from his father, Alexander Sherova. Calleigh is immediately concerned--Delko's father is a dangerous man. Delko tries to reassure her and then turns back to a puzzling detail: Barnett and Moore were apparently frozen before they were dropped in sodium hydroxide. Surmising that if Castigan and Echols murdered Moore and Bennett early in the morning, the CSIs suspect the pair might have frozen their victims to mask the smell of decomposition. When Tripp learns Echols' trash route takes him right by Castigan's house, the three go to search Echols freezer. Calleigh is greeted with a horrifying sight: the body of Rebecca Barnett hanging in the large freezer. Echols admits he and Castigan killed the three people in a carjacking gone wrong, but only found two barrels with sodium hydroxide and had to keep Rebecca's body in the freezer. Castigan wouldn't stop bragging about the crime, so Echols shut him up for good. Stetler confronts Tara with the bag of pill bottles from her locker. Tara claims she didn't hurt anyone, but Ryan points out she did: Horatio and Julia. Stetler has her arrested for felony theft, burglary and evidence tampering. Horatio is able to convince a judge that Julia's mental capacity was compromised when she broke into the morgue with a gun and he checks her into an institution for treatment.

Analysis:

Despite the truly shocking and downright disturbing demise of Jimmy Castigan in the opening of the episode, the case is actually the least interesting part of this exciting entry. Two long-simmering stories come to a head here, with surprising results. Much as Tara Price obviously crossed the line in "Divorce Party" when she stole Stephanie Vasquez's Oxycontin and tried to pin it on Julia, I thought she might be spared any real consequences for her actions. After all, just a few episodes ago Horatio sympathized with Ryan when he was blackmailed into tampering with evidence in "Wolfe in Sheep's Clothing". Though I didn't expect Ryan to get fired (again) for his actions, I thought there would have been consequences for him beyond Calleigh and Delko's scorn. But Ryan had an excuse--he truly was in an untenable position.

As Ryan tells Tara after she's called to the carpet in front of Stetler, he did give her ample opportunity to kick the habit. Even before Ryan caught Tara scrambling after her pills in "Collateral Damage", Kyle caught her popping a pill in "Dead on Arrival" and didn't buy her explanation that she was taking aspirin. Tara certainly has had fair warning, and one has to wonder if her pill problem started when her shoulder was re-injured in "Divorce Party" or if she's been battling this addiction for a while. Certainly, Horatio and Ryan didn't just find a bottle in her locker; they found a veritable stash, suggesting Tara's problems run much deeper than even just being unable to give up pain meds after an old injury is aggravated. When he confronts her after catching her popping a pill, Ryan tells her that he knows about addiction--and getting to the point where you don't care about getting caught. Like Tara, Ryan once got into trouble because of an addiction: in his case, it happened when his gambling impacted his job in "Burned". Ryan lost his job--but he wasn't arrested, as Tara is.

What will Dr. Price's fate be? She crossed the line in a pretty serious way: not only was she stealing drugs off bodies in the morgue, not only was she late to a crime scene, not only was she using on the job--but she framed Horatio's ex Julia for stealing the drugs from Stephanie Vasquez's effects in "Divorce Party." Her act caused Horatio to accuse Julia of swiping the pills and use the suspicion as a reason to remove Kyle from Julia's care, which finally ends up sending Julia over the edge. Tara's actions had serious consequences, and the fact that Horatio and Ryan have turned to Stetler makes it clear that they think she needs to face equally serious consequences. And she will--at the end of the confrontation, Stetler has Tara placed under arrest. What does this mean for her future in the morgue--and Megalyn Echikunwoke's future with the show? While there simply hasn't been a lot of material to attach the fans to Tara, Echikunwoke is a gifted actress and there's a lot that could be explored in Tara's character. But has she gone too far to be redeemed, at least to the point where she could continue as the show's coroner? I truly don't know, but it's one mystery that definitely has me hooked.

Something truly rare--almost, though not completely, unheard of--happens in this episode: Horatio and Stetler are working together and not facing off on opposite sides of an issue. Even before Horatio goes to Stetler to get a warrant to search Tara's locker, the two question Ron Saris together. Though Stetler was gung ho about having Saris as a confidential informant over Horatio's protests in "Chip/Tuck", now that a man has turned up dead, the IAB office no longer seems certain about the decision. "Do you think we can trust him?" he asks Horatio. "Do you?" the CSI counters. Though Stetler often comes in to present some sort of opposition to Horatio, it's nice to see them actually talking and listening to each other as opposed to simply being at odds with one another. David Lee Smith's performance is too layered and sympathetic for him to ever come off as a one-note foil for the CSI team leader--even if we're not always supposed to agree with Stetler, it's obvious he believes in what he's saying and where he's coming from. And indeed, when he confronts Tara about her drug use and has her arrested, both Horatio and the audience are on his side. David Caruso and Smith play off each other so well no matter what they're given, and it's fun to see them on the same side for once.

Tara's actions in "Divorce Party" set off a chain of events that eventually lead to an unhinged Julia walking into the morgue wielding a gun and trying to take her son back by force. It allows for yet another thing we don't often see: Horatio admitting he was wrong and apologizing. It was Tara pointing the finger at Julia over the stolen Oxycontin that gave Horatio the impetus to do something he'd been wanting to do for a while anyway--getting Kyle out of Julia's house. And really, Horatio wasn't wrong about that; Julia is not stable, and her issues were clearly taking a toll on Kyle. Kyle turned to Horatio for help with Julia in "Bombshell", long before Tara framed her for the theft of the pills. Horatio was looking for an excuse to get his son out of Julia's house, and Tara's lie handed it to him, but he's decent enough to feel bad about it. The episode ends with Julia agreeing to let Horatio check her into an institution to get her the help she needs. Is this the end of Julia? It certainly could be for a while.

And what of Ron Saris? Horatio's nemesis once again manages to escape repercussion, but at least this time it appears he's innocent of any wrongdoing. That doesn't mean Horatio is likely any happier to have Ron free--after all, he did attack Julia at the end of "Chip/Tuck." Unless Horatio somehow manages to bring him down in the season finale, there's a chance Ron could return next year. Ron started out as a rather typical baddie, but Kim Coates gives him such a flair that I hope he'll stick around for a while. Who else could get away with regularly calling Horatio "Red"? He's much more entertaining than the usual foes Horatio goes up against, and if he sticks around long enough, he could rank among Miami's best villains, alongside Gonzalo Menendez's Clavo Cruz.

Theo Rossi makes a splash (literally!) as the unfortunate Jimmy Castigan, who melts to death in his own pool. Though Rossi doesn't survive the teaser, he makes Jimmy an arrogant young punk, the kind of guy the audience believes would kill just for the fun of it. The case isn't especially compelling, and one has to wonder why Jimmy and Sean would try to carjack a car that appeared to be stopped because of some sort of technical difficulty. I suppose we're meant to assume they're sociopaths, since they kill three people, drop two of them in alkaline-filled barrels and then Jimmy goes on to brag about it at a party and Sean turns on his partner and kills him in a gruesome way to shut him up. It doesn't really matter--whatever weaknesses there are in the case are far overshadowed by the compelling personal stories finally paying off in this episode.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.