CSI: Miami--'Free Fall'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 12, 2006 - 7:34 PM GMT

See Also: 'Free Fall' Episode Guide


Tom Jennings and Wayne Leonard, two teen "urban explorers" who peruse abandoned buildings looking for loot, are shocked to discover two maggot covered bodies in the Delgado hotel. One of the men is alive, and the police rush to the scene. Tripp tells Horatio the men are Mariano and Garcia Vargas, and that they were shot execution style. Mariano is still alive, and is rushed to the hospital. Ryan joins them at the scene, but not before he tells reporter Erica Sikes, eagerly seeking a story, to back off. Alexx examines Garcia's body and determines the brothers were shot three days ago, and the maggots feasting on Mariano's head wound was what kept it clean--and him alive. While Calleigh ponders where the bullet might have gone, Horatio and Tripp interrogate the hotel owner, Nicholas Suero, who claims he didn't have the funds to hire security to guard the hotel. Horatio and Tripp demand a list of his employees.

Delko and Tripp head over to Mariano's apartment, which looks like it's been robbed. Delko spots a fat wad of cash in an air conditioning grate, and takes it back to the lab. Calleigh calls in treasury agent Peter Elliott to look at the money, but it's all business between them after he neglected to tell her he had a fiancée the last time she saw him ("Urban Hellraisers". He shows her the bills are at least sixteen years old and would have normally have been taken out of circulation. He's seen older bills used by drug cartels before, and notes the rat bites around the edges of the bills. Tripp has discovered a parking ticket issued to Mariano Vargas's van in front of the Miami Dade bank three days ago, so he and Horatio question the bank's manager, Jason Adams. They show him the bills, which he assures them would have been taken out of circulation if they'd come through his bank. He does recall an odd occurrence from three days ago: a bank patron's red corvette was stolen. Tripp searches the impound records and finds a record for a red corvette stolen by Leo Riggs and Sienna Stone, last seen being arrested in the corvette in "Fade Out".

Calleigh and Ryan examine the evidence from Leo and Sienna's case. The couple were caught with a 9-millimeter gun, which could have been the weapon used to shoot the Garcia brothers, but Calleigh needs a bullet to compare striations. The money seems to be from the same source--there are rat bites on the bills Leo and Sienna were caught with. Calleigh and Ryan go to intercept the couple, who have just been released from jail and are being glamorized as a modern day Bonnie and Clyde by Erica Sikes. Leo and Sienna blow off the CSIs questions and Erica is equally dismissive of Ryan's attempts to warn her about the dangers of pursuing this story. The CSIs turn back to the gun; the bullet in Mariano's head can't be removed as it's keeping him from bleeding to death, but the CSIs are able to track the bullet that killed Garcia down in one of the objects Wayne stole from the hotel--an old typewriter. Calleigh fires the gun at the lab and compares the striations, but they don't match, forcing the CSIs to try their luck with Leo and Sienna again.

Ryan and Calleigh find the couple at the Fairmont Hotel, where Erica is working on a glamorous segment featuring the couple in the hotel's penthouse. Ryan and Calleigh interrupt just as a sniper takes aim and fires at Leo and Sienna on the balcony. The pair survives, but Erica's arm is grazed and Ryan sends her off to the hospital. Horatio tries and fails to put Leo and Sienna under police protection while Tripp tracks down the corvette's owner, Danny Harper, who admits to leaving his keys in the car hoping someone would steal it. Danny couldn't make the payments, but he figured if the car got stolen, he could collect on the insurance. Danny also recalls seeing Leo and Sienna grab a back of money out of a van before jumping into his car and driving off. While Delko goes over the car again and fines the drug money in the door panels of the car, Calleigh determines the rounds from the penthouse apartment are from the same gun the Vargas brothers were shot with. Calleigh and Ryan turn to footage from the state of the art Photo Violation Meter and find a shot of Garcia Vargas loading moneybags into the van. The bank was involved somehow. Horatio interrogates Jason Adams, who admits that he was storing drug money for Nicholas Suero. He claims Suero threatened his family. Suero denies the charges when Horatio talks to him, and says he didn't kill the Vargas brothers.

Delko finds Jason Adams is in deeper than he claims when he finds UV ink used to sign documents in banks on Garcia Vargas's shirt. Horatio arrests Adams only to have Peter Elliott step in and claim federal jurisdiction over the case because he's found evidence that the bank was giving fraudulent loans to developers. Horatio has hit a major dead end. Meanwhile, Leo and Sienna are back to their old tricks--they robbed a convenience store and a civillian helped them escape. Erica Sikes wastes no time in interviewing the man. The CSIs are surprised to learn that Leo and Sienna have escaped in a silver BMW registered to Nicholas Suero. Peter Elliot brings Horatio a 9-millimeter gun from Adams' briefcase, which proves to be a match to the one that killed Garcia Vargas. Horatio gets Adams in the interrogation room--after Leo and Sienna stole the money, Suero came after Adam for it, and he believed the Vargas brothers had stolen it. He got them to meet him at the Delgado hotel and shot them execution style. When he realized that it was Leo and Sienna who stole the money, he went after them. He claims he was trying to set up Suero, who was threatening his family.

Ryan and Calleigh have tracked the car Leo and Sienna stole to a bridge, and along with a police unit, locate the thrill seekers and cut them off. Leo and Sienna decide to go out in a blaze of glory, jumping over the bridge to their deaths rather than being taken into custody again. Erica looks on horrified as the couple jumps. There's one more shock in store for the CSIs when Calleigh opens the trunk of the car and finds Nicholas Suero's dead body inside. Leo and Sienna killed the drug lord. Calleigh dismisses Peter Elliott, angry that he took the case out from under the lab and certain she can't trust him again. Erica Sikes thinks she's finally gotten her story, but Horatio takes the video footage from her of Leo and Sienna's final jump.


I have to tip my hat to Miami's attention to continuity. At the time, I wondered why Leo and Sienna were such a focal point of the opening of "Fade Out." Their memorable introduction guaranteed viewers would remember them when they showed up again in this episode, this time with a more central role. The only thing that bothered me was that their capture in "Fade Out" apparently happened three days prior to this episode, meaning that the five episodes in between all happened in the space of a few days. That doesn't really make a lot of sense, so it might have been a better idea to air this episode a little closer to its predecessor.

That said, I love the idea of seeing a pair of criminals captured in one episode and then learning their story later in a subsequent episode. Leo and Sienna didn't get enough development for me to feel one way or another about them as characters, but I think that was part of the purpose. Leo and Sienna were supposed to be larger-than-life: young, in love and committing crimes just for the hell of it. Erica Sikes was trying to glamorize them, but they didn't really need to be glamorized. If ever there were two people who bought into their own hype, it was Leo and Sienna.

Erica Sikes was more than happy to exploit the image they were trying to project, and while I had no problem with Leo and Sienna being caricatures, I wish Erica was more. She's appeared in several episodes now and has plenty of chemistry with Ryan, but she never seems to move beyond the 'ambitious reporter' stereotype. Even after she gets hurt when Jason Adams shoots at Leo and Sienna, Erica refuses to give up the story. She appears upset when Leo and Sienna take their plunge into the sea, but she's ready to use the footage of their jump until Horatio comes along and demands she turn it over. Amy Laughlin seems to be straining to add more depth to her one note character, and there's definitely potential for Erica to move beyond the stereotype, if only the writers will let her.

One person no longer chasing fame and fortune is Ryan Wolfe, who cautions Erica about danger at every turn. Ryan is a far cry from the ambitious CSI we saw talking to the news in "10-7"; he seems to have learned the danger of talking about a case on TV for everyone to see, but he's also genuinely concerned about Erica on a personal level. He doesn't tell her how her story could hurt the case the lab is trying to build (probably in part because he knows she wouldn't care), but skips straight to telling her that she could be putting her life in danger. Ryan's attentions are good, but that's probably not the best way to appeal to an ambitious young reporter who is something of a thrill-seeker herself.

The Miami CSIs have a long history of contention with the news media, from as far back as "Dispo Day", when an ambitious reporter turned out to be behind a drug heist. I suppose now Horatio is used to pesky reporters, which is why he seems so calm and barely even irritated when he demands the tape of Leo and Sienna's suicide from Erica Sikes. While she gets under Ryan's skin, the same can't be said for Horatio, who is quite capable of one-upping her.

Peter Elliott also gets put in his place by Calleigh. Calleigh doesn't greet him with the warm smile she usually bestows on a friend, a clear sign that his out of the blue engagement really through her for a loop. Emily Procter and Michael B. Silver generate genuine chemistry together, so I'm a little disappointed that he's turned out to be less than honest. If anyone deserves a good man (and a romance), it's Calleigh.

But Peter shows his true colors beyond a shadow of a doubt when he works on the bank case from a federal angle behind the CSIs' backs. Jason Adams is guilty of murder, but it's unclear whether the murder charge will be trumped by the federal one, given that Peter took him into custody out from under the CSIs. Peter does turn in the gun for Calleigh to examine and lets Horatio get his confession, so it's anyone's guess as to which charge will be pursued first. But Calleigh is firm when she says she isn't going to make the mistake of trusting Peter again.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.