CSI: Miami--'Double Jeopardy'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at March 17, 2006 - 6:12 PM GMT

See Also: 'Double Jeopardy' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

It's the day of the verdict in the Stephen Rowe murder case. The wealthy young man is on trial for the murder of his wife Melissa, whose body was never found. State's Attorney Monica West has worked hard to build the case, noting that Stephen was having an affair with a woman named Allison Grady and waited three days to report his wife missing.The suspected murder weapon, a large kitchen knife, has a broken off tip, and four weights are missing from Stephen's personal collection that may have been used to weigh Melissa's body down. As the jury delivers a 'not guilty' verdict, a fisherman pulls Melissa's body from the water after inadvertently catching it in his net. Melissa's devastated father, Richard Bowman, watches the CSIs take his daughter's body away, but Horatio holds him back. Alexx takes the body back to the morgue, and points out to Calleigh that Melissa's fingers have been severed. She notices that Melissa is wearing pantyhose, something no one from Miami would wear in the hot, sticky weather. Using the micro CT scanner, Calleigh compares the knife marks on Melissa's bones to ones she's made with the knife with the broken tip from the Rowe's kitchen. It's a match. Delko goes for a dive near where the body was found and discovers the weights used to hold Melissa's body down.

Horatio confronts Stephen with the new evidence, but Stephen knows he can't be tried twice for the same crime, and angrily tells Horatio that Melissa was no angel. Bothered by the comment, Horatio sends Ryan to look at Stephen's laptop, which the lab still has from the trial, and discovers a bunch of Nazi propaganda. Stephen was a racist, and had no idea when he married Melissa that his new wife was half-black. Bowman tells Horatio that Stephen exploded when he discovered Melissa's mother, who died when she was just a baby, was black. Horatio believes that learning the news was what made Stephen decide to kill Melissa, and decides to see if he can build a case for the Federal Prosecutor so that Melissa's murder can be tried as a hate crime. Monica West is skeptical. Calleigh is bothered by the fact that the knife tip was broken off, and Delko points out he only found two of the four missing weights from Rowe's collection. Could Rowe have murdered before killing Melissa, maybe done a practice run? The CSIs go over the missing persons/unsolved murder cases during the time between when Rowe found out about Melissa's heritage and when she disappeared. They come up with a neighbor, Debra Massey, and decide to question the man held in the killing, Ethan Gaffney.

Ethan was Debra's flight instructor, and he claims the only reason he's being held for the murder is because he was the last person to see her alive. The ME's office has her body exhumed and Alexx goes over it. Debra isn't missing any fingers, and the knife marks on her bones don't match those from Rowe's knife. Additionally, marks on her wrist indicate she was tied down with a type of chain used in airplanes, proving that Ethan did indeed kill her. Ryan and Delko uncover a newspaper article that inaccurately reported that Debra's fingers were cut off, and they suspect Rowe was trying to duplicate the murder to make it look like Melissa's killer was a copycat. Calleigh and Ryan question Damon Sloane, who is frustrated at being questioned again, but he does mention that Stephen talked to a woman named Theresa Barton, who soon moved out--and left all of her stuff. Ryan and Calleigh decide to look at Theresa as a missing person and go through the items she left behind. They find a movie rental card despite the fact that Theresa didn't own a DVD or VCR, and Ryan notes it looks like it was used to pick a lock.

Horatio and Tripp go to Allison's house in search of Steve, but they discover blood on the doorframe and no sign of Allison. They haul Steve in but all he'll say is that he and Allison had a fight. He claims he didn't kill her, and prints from the blood on the doorframe back him up--they belong to Richard Bowman, Melissa's father. Horatio and Tripp head to Bowman's house and find him watching videos of Melissa as a child. He sadly admits to them that he found Allison hurt after the fight with Stephen and took her from the house. Bowman feared Allison would be killed by Stephen just as his daughter was. Horatio sympathizes, but knows that the choice rests with Allison. When she's found, Allison wants to go right back to Stephen--she's convinced he's not a killer. Horatio tells her that Stephen is in custody while they investigate his connection to Theresa Barton's disappearance.

First the CSIs have to locate her body, so they look to the same lake where Debra Massey's body was found. It's no longer a lake--it's been drained to be used as a landfill, but the CSIs get permission to search for Theresa's body. Sure enough, with the help of a Ground Penetrating Radar, Delko is able to locate her body. It's exhumed and brought to Alexx. Alexx notes that Theresa's fingers are missing, and is able to recover the knife tip from one of her bones. It's over for Stephen Rowe--he'll stand trial for Theresa's murder. Calleigh is still bothered by the pantyhose found on Melissa Rowe's body, and when she finds a fingernail in one of them, she sends it off for DNA analysis, and gets back some surprising results. Horatio and Calleigh bring Allison in for questioning. They've figured it out: Stephen chickened out of killing Melissa, so Allison was the one who had to do it. Monica West is surprised to have three new cases in her lap, but Horatio shows her one he's keeping for the federal prosecutor: the hate crime case against Stephen Rowe, which he hopes will bring Richard Bowman peace.

Analysis:

CSI: Miami tackles another "ripped from the headlines" case, this time one inspired by the Laci Peterson murder case. The episode asks, "what if Scott Peterson had been found not guilty?" and the answer in the world of CSI: Miami is that Horatio Caine would have found a way to get him anyway. Did we really have any doubt? Horatio is nothing if not doggedly persistent, and luckily in this case Steve Rowe has left him with plenty of evidence to go on. Is it a stretch that Rowe would have committed a practice murder before killing his wife? Maybe a bit, given that Rowe ultimately chickening out of killing his wife suggests he's more of a selfish bigot rather than a sociopath, but the fact that Allison committed the murder of Melissa made for an interesting twist at the end, one I didn't see coming.

Through most of the episode, I was ready to dismiss Allison as another Jennifer Wilson ("Skeletons")--a young woman who foolishly believed in her man despite hard evidence that he was a brutal murderer. When she was ready and eager to go back to him after the CSIs found her at Bowman's house, I was rolling my eyes. For her to turn out to be not only not naive, but the actual murderer was unexpected and a great twist ending. Allison is certainly no Amber Frey (the other woman in Peterson's life who helped police capture him and gave key testimony at his trial).

There's another unexpected twist in the episode, and that's when the CSIs learn that in fact Ethan Gaffney did kill Debra Massey. Ethan seemed like a sleaze from the moment he appeared on screen, but it looked like the CSIs had found Stephen Rowe's practice murder a little too easily. As soon as they learn that Debra was tied to weights with airplane chains, though, it's apparent that the police did get the right guy. Sure enough, weasely Ethan admits Debra rejected his advances loudly and firmly, leading him to try to 'shut her up.'

David Andrews adds an emotional depth to the case as Richard Bowman, Melissa's grief-stricken father. I felt so bad for him when he tried to misguidedly save Allison from Steve, and it was obvious Horatio did as well. Horatio always focuses on the human element of the cases he investigates, never forgetting the victim or the survivors as he pursues the killer. He also has a keen sixth sense about people, and it's rare to find someone Horatio is contemptuous of is completely innocent. Here, Horatio knows Bowman has committed a crime, but he knows it stems from grief and offers no condemnation of the grieving father.

One thing that puzzled me was why Horatio decided to pursue the federal hate crime case against Stephen Rowe. Stephen was without a doubt a racist, but in the end, he didn't actually kill Melissa. I guess he could be charged with conspiring to kill her or as an accessory to the murder, but wouldn't the murder charge against Theresa Barton take precedence and get him a more severe sentence? I wonder if the script was changed, as the episode summary at CBS.com says that Horatio is asking Monica West to drop the kidnapping charges against Richard Bowman. That's not what happens in the actual episode, but it would have made for a nice ending, given that Bowman clearly wasn't in his right mind when he abducted Allison.

Speaking of Monica West, I hope we'll see more of the character. I'm trying to figure out if she's being set up to be an adversary of Horatio's, much like Rick Stetler is, or if she's a sincere character. After the events in "Shattered" and "The Score", we know she has her eye on the lab, but in some ways that's understandable, given that there is a mole among Horatio's team and an outsider might understandably view Eric and Marisol Delko's marijuana-related cases with suspicion. It will be interesting to see if she'll ultimately end up being a friend or foe to the CSI team.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.