CSI: Miami--'Divorce Party'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at March 10, 2009 - 11:15 PM GMT

See Also: 'Divorce Party' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Amy Lansing is hosting a divorce party in her backyard to celebrate the end of her marriage to her ex-husband, Roger. Her best friend, Glenn Wagner, is about to pronounce her divorced when a body falls from the top of the gazebo--her ex-husband, Roger! Dr. Price examines the body, noting that he died instantaneously from hanging. Calleigh makes note of a trap door on top of the gazebo and begins questioning Glenn when a board from the gazebo falls and hits Tara on the shoulder. Calleigh rushes her out just as the entire gazebo collapses. The board aggravates an old shoulder injury, but Tara is otherwise unhurt. Calleigh recovers twenty feet of fish wire, while Ryan collects cameras from all of the guests at the event. Back at the precinct, Horatio is upset to learn his son Kyle was pulled over for driving erratically while trying to get his mother Julia to a job interview. Horatio tells Julia it's not Kyle's responsibility to make sure she gets to her job interviews on time. Horatio shows Kyle the body of Stephanie Vasquez, a young woman killed in a car crash, and tells him he's going to be working for Dr. Price in the morgue as her intern. In the lab, Calleigh runs DNA on the fish wire and gets a DNA match to Glenn Wagner. Glenn admits to Tripp and Horatio that he did rig the gazebo, but that when he pulled the wire, a dummy was meant to fall, not Roger! He denies killing Roger, and tells the pair that the real killer must have stolen the dummy when they rigged Roger to fall instead. In the morgue, Dr. Price uncovers Roger's body and warns Kyle never to make assumptions: Stephanie Vasquez, the driver they assumed was killed in the crash, actually died of an overdose of Oxycontin and then crashed. Kyle takes in the information, but when Dr. Price begins the autopsy he gets ill and runs out.

Lab tech Michael Travers discovers chloroform in Roger's blood, while new AV tech Dave Benton shows Ryan the pictures from the party, which reveal Amy and Roger's teenage son, Heath, lurking in the background. Heath tells Natalia and Tripp that he went to see the party for himself after finishing up a pool-cleaning job. He last saw his father several days ago and he notes that his father wasn't taking the divorce well. Tripp and Natalia are surprised to discover Heath doesn't know what his father did, and suspicious when they find the boy thinks his father was a spy. Natalia and Tripp go through the IRS to get Roger's work address, and find he works at an office rented out to a Trent Farber, who appears to be a stockbroker. When Horatio and Delko pay a visit to Trent's wife, Katherine, she tells them he doesn't have a partner. She hasn't seen Trent since that morning, so she calls him on his cell. Horatio is shocked when Kyle picks up and tells him he's answering Roger Lansing's cell phone. Delko shows Katherine a picture of Roger, and she confirms that Roger is Trent. Calleigh and Delko question Katherine and Amy respectively, learning that Trent had been married to Katherine for 19 years and Amy for 17. While he had a daughter, Brianna, with Katherine, Amy bore him a son, Heath. Both women deny killing Roger--and ask for lawyers. Travers notices the pills from the Stephanie Vasquez case never made it up to his lab, prompting Horatio to ask Dr. Price about them and who had access. Dr. Price mentions that Julia paid Kyle a visit that day, and Horatio goes to track down his ex. Horatio tells her that suspicion will fall on Kyle, and Julia tells him that they both know Kyle didn't do it. Horatio angrily informs her it's time for her to let Kyle go.

Tripp and Calleigh learn that Amy was caught blowing a red light blocks away from Katherine's house, prompting Calleigh to confront the woman. Amy admits she found out about Katherine after a delivery of white wine and chocolate meant for Katherine came to her, and that she went to see Katherine under a pretense and caught sight of wedding pictures of Katherine and her husband. Amy insists her response was to divorce Roger--not kill him. Travers finds traces of acetone on the remains of the gazebo, leading the CSIs to test Amy and Katherine's hands for the substance. Both come up clean, but Ryan discovers traces of the substance on Brianna's hands--and on the living room table in the Farbers' house. When traces of pool cleaner are found in the chloroform mix, the team is able to link Heath to the murder as well. Calleigh and Delko bring Brianna and Heath in for questioning and learn that the two were romantically involved--and that Brianna is pregnant with Heath's child. Heath was shocked to see his father with Brianna when he went to meet her after school one day, and they confronted him about his deception. When he learned they were having a child together, he told them they couldn't have the baby. The pair concocted the plan in order to protect their baby, prompting Calleigh to ask them what kind of life the child will have with its parents in jail. In the morgue, Kyle goes to turn in his scrubs, but Dr. Price tells him that she has no intention of firing him. Horatio gets Kyle his own apartment, while Tara slips the Oxycontin from the Vasquez case out of a drawer--and into the pocket of her lab coat.

Analysis:

Though the murder case in this episode uncovers both bigamy and (unintentional) incest, the real shocker here is the reveal that Dr. Price is the one who took the Oxycontin--not Horatio's troubled ex, Julia. Not only did Tara lift the drugs, but she cast the blame on Julia by mentioning to Horatio that the woman had paid a visit to the morgue that day to see Kyle. For Tara to be taking Oxycontin off dead people is pretty bad to begin with, but for her to shift the blame to Julia--putting Kyle in the middle--is likely to get her in pretty big trouble with Horatio himself. The incident ends up being the final straw for Horatio, causing him to remove Kyle from Julia's care and set the boy up in an apartment on his own. Like Horatio, the audience naturally assumes Julia is the culprit behind the theft of the Oxycontin, making the final moments of the episode, in which Tara takes the pilfered drugs out of a drawer and hides them in her lab coat, truly surprising.

Up until this point, we haven't learned much about Dr. Price. Early on she butted heads a bit with Delko and she was angry with both him and Ryan after they pulled a prank on her in "Cheating Death". Beyond being dedicated to her job and something of a creative thinker, we've learned little about Tara in the fifteen episodes preceding this one. I've been hoping for a while that we'd see some development for and insight into her character, but I never thought we'd get something as scandalous as this. Not since Ryan's gambling problem threatened an investigation in "Burned" has a Miami character crossed a serious professional line--and in Ryan's case, he did the right thing and sent someone else in to deal with a suspect who was trying to blackmail him. Even Natalia, who back in season four was feeding information on the goings on in the lab to the FBI, was only passing along positive information. Though it took her a while to regain the trust of her colleagues after she was revealed as the mole in the season four finale, "One of Our Own", Natalia has since proved her worth and loyalty to the team time and time again. While Ryan's case is more nebulous than Natalia's--and he did end up paying the price when Rick Stetler fired him from the lab--neither transgressed in the way Tara did here.

There's mention made in the beginning of the episode that Tara has an old shoulder injury that is aggravated by the plank from the gazebo striking her. What's not clear yet is whether or not Tara is a longtime Oxycontin addict or whether she's perhaps falling off the bandwagon. Clearly something shady is going on--after all, if Tara simply needed treatment for her injury, why not go to a doctor and ask for a painkiller? After being injured at work, I'd think she'd at least be able to get some sort of prescription. Is she a former addict contemplating a fix in the face of her new injury, or has she been hooked all along? The one thing I hope is that what we saw isn't a red herring--that she isn't taking the drugs for a loved one who is either addicted or can't get insurance or something like that. It's a potentially very dark storyline, but a very daring one as well. How will Horatio react when he inevitably learns about what Tara has done? He was forgiving of both Natalia and Ryan when they transgressed, but what Tara did threatened Kyle. I don't know that I can see Horatio being as forgiving on that account. And as we saw at the end of "Bombshell", Horatio does still genuinely care for Julia as well. Her behavior is erratic, but she isn't guilty of stealing the drugs from the morgue, and I can't imagine that Horatio will be too happy that Tara has cast unwarranted suspicion on Julia.

The implication that Julia stole the drugs gives Horatio the impetus to remove Kyle from her house, something he's clearly been wanting to since as far back as last season, when Horatio fought Julia for custody of Kyle and lost in "Raising Caine". It was Kyle's choice to stay with his mother, and though he never explicitly says he regrets the choice, both this episode and "Bombshell" make it clear that Kyle is definitely overwhelmed by the job of caring for his very troubled, erratic mother. In "Bombshell," Kyle went so far as to tell Horatio that Julia was spiraling out of control, and the episode revealed that Julia has been battling bipolar disorder. Julia's reckless spending and unmedicated condition dogged her in "Bombshell," and here she appears to be high on some sort of drug, or perhaps just really out of it from her own medication. She's continuing to self-destruct, but she refuses to step back and acknowledge to Horatio that their son would be better off living elsewhere.

I do wonder about Horatio's decision to give Kyle an apartment of his own, rather than having the boy come live with him. In "Dangerous Son", it was established that Kyle was sixteen years old, meaning that at this point, a year and a half later, Kyle is either seventeen or eighteen. Though he's just on the cusp of being old enough to live on his own, given Kyle's troubled history--he was arrested for his part in a kidnapping plot and did some time in jail, even getting framed for setting off a bomb in prison in "Chain Reaction"--I would think Horatio would have reservations about leaving his son to his own devices. Kyle has definitely been through more than most kids his age, but I still find it hard to believe that Horatio--and the writers--wouldn't want Kyle to live with him. Though Kyle might be better off on his own than with his mother, if he lived with his father, Horatio could keep an eye on him--and perhaps really get to know his son. Having the two under the same roof would give Horatio and Kyle a chance to really get to know each other and bond, and give Horatio the chance to really develop a father-son relationship with the boy. Though perhaps Horatio fears that keeping Kyle too close would just eventually drive him away, I wish we'd seen the offer at least considered and extended. Horatio has become an increasingly remote character over the recent seasons of the show, and any attempt to bring him back down to earth and humanize him is a welcome one.

Of course, Horatio has devised one way to keep an eye on Kyle: he gives Kyle a job at the morgue as Dr. Price's intern. Given that Tara doesn't choose to fire Kyle--a fact that might redeem her just a little bit in Horatio's eyes down the road--I presume Horatio's son will be sticking around the morgue for a while. He makes a misstep by pulling Roger Lansing's cell phone out of the evidence bag it's in and answering it when it rings, but when he tells Horatio he did it thinking the killer might be calling, it's clear he does actually care about doing a good job. Will Kyle be the one who eventually discovers Dr. Price's secret and blows the whistle on her? I could definitely see that happening--and it would be poetic justice--but I hope that the mystery of Dr. Price's prescription drug abuse is allowed to play out a little longer.

Though the promotional trailer for the episode unfortunately gave away much of the final twist by referring to the siblings who were unnaturally close, the case still managed to satisfy with a colorful batch of suspects and some real standout guest stars. Queer as Folk's delightful Peter Paige makes a splash as Glenn Wagner, who quips that being interrogated is "so much more intimidating than I thought it would be." Following that comment, he looks at Tripp disdainfully and says, "Not you." Tripp gives as good as he gets, theorizing that Glenn was in love with Amy and telling him that, "this whole gay thing isn't working for me." Glenn just shoots him a look. Paige and Rex Linn play off each other perfectly, making for a refreshing comedic moment in the episode.

As the two wives of Trent/Roger, Christa Miller and Kelly Rowan stand in contrast to each other. Miller's Amy is much more of a go-getter, an Alpha woman type who thinks too much of herself to bother with a man who is unfaithful to her. Amy doesn't take out her rage on the unsuspecting Katherine; she properly directs it at her faithless husband and promptly kicks him to the curb. Her divorce party is a celebration of a new beginning. Katherine, on the other hand, remains ignorant of her husband's deception until after his death. She's clearly stunned, but her focus appears to be on damage control and on caring for their daughter, Brianna. Both Miller and Rowan have played memorable wives and mothers on other primetime hits: Miller has played outspoken Jordan Sullivan, the sharp-tongued wife of Dr. Cox, for eight years on Scrubs, while Rowan spent four years playing struggling mom Kirsten Cohen on The OC. Both bring nuance and subtlety to their roles.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.