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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Drops' Out'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 29, 2008 - 2:17 AM GMT

See Also: 'Drops' Out' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The CSIs arrive at the Glanville Apartments to investigate the death of a young blonde woman found shot in one of the units. Grissom notices a bullet hole in the ceiling and the body count doubles when a dead woman is found in the apartment upstairs. While the blonde woman's identity remains a mystery, the woman upstairs is identified as Maria Espinoza. Maria was shot through the cheek, leading the CSIs to wonder if she was listening through the floor to what was going on in the apartment below and was hit by a bullet going up into the ceiling. Greg finds seven bullets and seven casings in the downstairs unit, leading him to call Catherine to have her test the dead blonde woman's hands for GSR. He also finds urine at the scene. Catherine does, and the test is positive. The bullet removed from Maria Espinoza is from a different gun than the one that killed the blonde woman. The CSIs make a surprising connection when they learn both apartments were being rented by Kellen "Drops" Tyford, a club owner they've encountered on two previous cases, currently serving an eight-month jail sentence on a weapons charge. Brass pays Drops a visit and he identifies their mystery victim as Jessica "JJ" Jaynes, a woman who worked as "atmosphere" in his club. He says Maria Espinoza took him in as a child and that he rented one of the apartments for her and one for him. He claims to have no idea as to what JJ was doing in his apartment.

JJ's husband, Walter Jaynes, identifies his wife's body at the morgue as he holds their young son in his arms. Catherine and Nick examine Mrs. Espinoza's apartment and discover a bullet in the ceiling from a .38. The CSIs conclude JJ must have killed Maria before being murdered herself. Wendy matches the urine from the apartment to Maria Espinoza's daughter, Dana. Brass pays another visit to Drops and asks him about Dana. The club owner tells him Dana is pregnant with his child and that he's the only one who can find her, imploring the detective to let him out of jail to do so. Catherine and Archie go over JJ's cell phone records, finding her last text 30 minutes before she died was to her husband, reading "I know where D stashed the money." Her last call was to a woman named Valinda Carlisle, but when Catherine calls her phone, she's shocked to find Warrick answer it. Valinda has been shot to death in her car, leading the CSIs to conclude Dana is on a spree. With no other options, Brass and Nick retrieve Drops from the jail to help them find Dana. He takes them to his financial planner's house, but when they arrive, they find it's too late: the man has been shot to death on his porch. Their next stop is the fast food joint where Drops' stepsister Sherry works. She tells him she hasn't seen Dana in days, and he hands her Brass's card, asking her to call if she hears from Dana. Back at the lab, Warrick processes Valinda's car and finds JJ's ID inside. Catherine thinks JJ tried to shake Drops down for cash, killing Maria Espinoza when she didn't offer up Drops' money, and then Dana killed both JJ and Valinda in revenge. Warrick is skeptical: judging from the angle of the shot, he surmises that the killer was sitting in the backseat.

Drops takes Nick and Brass by his club and the manager, Dale, tells them he saw Dana an hour ago with a white man. The three view the surveillance tapes and see Dana with Walter Jaynes, and based on his position, it seems he has a gun on her. Dale brings the three sandwiches and conceals a GPS scrambler in Drops'. Drops makes a run for it, scrambling the ankle bracelet GPS. Nick gives chase, but Drops jumps into a station wagon that pulls up and speeds away. The CSIs run the plate and description and learn the station wagon is registered to Walter Jaynes. At Maria's apartment, Walter aims two guns, one at Drops and the other at Dana, demanding Drops turn over what he believes is his wife's cut of the money. Drops does, but then Walter makes a heftier demand: Drops has to choose between Dana and his unborn child, because Walter is determined to kill one of them. Drops turns off the GPS scrambler, allowing the CSIs to locate him, and stalls, finally launching himself into Walter when the CSIs arrive. The gun goes off twice, first hitting Dana, then Drops, but both survive, though the trauma induces Dana’s labor. In the hospital, Dana refuses to let Drops hold his newborn son, promising they'll be gone when Drops gets out of jail. Nick tells the chagrined club owner that Dana's killing of JJ will most likely be deemed self-defense, and that Dana will get the money from Maria's apartment. Drops muses that he's done something good in his life at least, and Nick reminds him that his life isn't over yet.

Analysis:

Poor Drops--the guy can't cut a break where the CSIs are concerned. "Forensics be trippin' a brother up" indeed. But this outing adds depth to the Drops character, and also perhaps proves to him that once in a while, law enforcement officials come in handy. Drops tries to give Nick and Brass the slip, and he's successful, but when it comes down to the life of his baby and his girlfriend, he turns off the GPS blocker and allows the CSIs to find him. Drops obviously wants his freedom, but he's by no means a hardened criminal, despite the rather clever way he gets his message to the manager of his club. I knew when he asked Brass for a business card and then wrote on the back of it, it was bad news.

But we get to see much more of Drops than the slick, smooth operator from "Poppin' Tags" and "Big Shots". He does get some choice lines in this episode, such as when Brass asks if his financial planner is the one who hides his money and Drops responds that he's actually managing Drops' 401 K. Seeing Drops suit up to do his 48 Hours-like team up with Nick and Brass is also a treat, as is the scene in which he convinces him that he has to approach his stepsister alone because she's good at spotting cops. Despite the fact that this is a ruse so he can pass her the business card with instructions for Dale on it, Drops is right: Sherry immediately catches sight of Nick, who is pretty conspicuously standing around not far from where Drops and Sherry are talking.

There's plenty of humor, certainly, but in this episode we get to see another side of Drops: the sensitive man who cares enough about his girlfriend and child to trade his freedom for their lives. Method Man is especially good at the end of the episode, when he's imploring Dana to hold their child and then not to take the baby away from him. Dana doesn't bend, and Drops sadly resigns himself to her decision, seeking solace in the fact that Dana and the baby will be financially taken care of with the money he hid in Maria Espinoza's apartment. Nick picks up on the sorrow and defeated stance Drops has and offers him a few words of comfort, reminding him that his life isn't over yet--he can still do good, and hope exists for him to possibly reunite with his son one day. Method Man definitely deserves kudos for a rich performance, one filled with both humor and pathos.

The episode's 48 Hours premise--cops pairing up with a convict to track down a killer--is an enjoyable one, especially given that Brass and Nick are the ones involved. For his part, Brass isn't inclined to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, and he's suspicious of Drops' every word and move. Nick is a little more lenient with Drops, and seems to make an effort to understand him more, but he, too, is somewhat suspicious, grabbing Drops and pulling the bag of chicken gizzards out of his hands after Sherry gives them to him. Of course, Sherry's bag of gizzards turns out to be a red herring, easing Nick and Brass's suspicions so much that they don't think to question it when Dale brings sandwiches in.

The episode, which plays a bit on the racial and social divide, underscores how whitebread CSI--and the franchise as a whole--can be. All three shows are guilty of this in some regard, most notably in that the cases the CSIs investigate by in large involve white victims and white perpetrators. In the case of Miami and New York, the victims and killers are often wealthy as well, which detracts from realism in the shows. Surely wealthy white people aren't the only ones who die violent deaths in the cities the CSI shows are set in? Vegas is by far the least offending of the three shows on this account, but Drops' plight reminds us of how rarely we get to see such a story on a CSI show.

I think it's important to note at this juncture that the franchise is losing not one but two of its African-American cast members, with the news of Gary Dourdan and Khandi Alexander's departures from CSI and Miami respectively coming down the pipelines within a week of each other. "Cockroaches" kicked off an intriguing arc for Dourdan, but Alexander hasn't had a decent storyline in several seasons, and over on CSI: New York, Hill Harper's character--possibly about to become the franchise's lone African American regular--has unfortunately and unjustly lacked for development. Obviously storylines shouldn't be assigned with regard to skin color, but when two out of three of the franchise's African American regulars are being deprived of in depth character development, it's problematic. And I can't help but wonder about the reasons behind Dourdan and Alexander's departures. Were one or both dissatisfied with how their characters were being utilized--or not utilized, as the case may be? It's certainly something to consider.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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