CSI: Miami--'If Looks Could Kill'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 23, 2006 - 9:18 AM GMT

See Also: 'If Looks Could Kill' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

An enraged husband chases his wife's lover to the marina only to discover copious amounts of blood in the water. The body of man is found under a boat, his corpse damaged by the boat's propellers. Though there's no ID on the body, his face is familiar to Calleigh. Alexx determines he was struck by something before he was killed, most likely a car, and pulls a piece of plastic from him that the CSIs match to a Mercedes towed by a man named Bob Norwood to his lot. The car was abandoned, but a run of the plates reveals that the car was leased to a Jason Hollings. When he's brought in, Jason IDs the dead man as Steve Dixon, and tells the CSIs he and Steve are models for J.A. Models, but he denies being behind the wheel when Steve was struck by the Mercedes. The car proves more helpful, yielding Steve's brain matter on the grille, a sticky substance on the door, and a pair of women's underwear.

Natalia Boa Vista is thrown when her abusive ex-husband, Nick Townsend, shows up at the lab, intent on applying for a job as a body hauler. She tries to send him away, but he reminds her that her restraining order has expired. Natalia confides in Calleigh that she's terrified of Nick, and that she'd like to kill him. The CSIs trace the underwear to Ashley Biggs, one of the owners of J.A. Models. She admits to sleeping with Steve, but insists she had nothing to do with his death and asks the CSIs not to tell her business partner, Janet Sterling, that she and Steve were involved. In the AV lab, Dan Cooper examines Steve's cell phone and discovers the camera button was stuck and snapped several shots, which reveal that a truck carrying exotic animals was in front of Jason's car when Steve was struck. Delko and Ryan question Janet Sterling about Steve, and she tells them that she knew about his relationship with Abby. She also mentions that Steve recently worked with a tiger and was bitten by it. The tiger was destroyed and the trainer took it hard. Steve sued the company, providing motive, but it turns out to be a dead end when the CSIs learn Steve and the trainer split the money from the lawsuit.

Calleigh and Ryan determine Steve's body was dumped at Biscayne Bay reef, and they notice blood on the coral around the reef. Calleigh examines Jason's feet, and discovers cuts all over them. They have their culprit: jealous of the jobs Steve was getting through Abby, Jason decided to take out the competition. Horatio has bad news for Natalia: her ex, Nick, has taken out a restraining order against her. Natalia is rattled, but she's soon distracted by more bad news: the body of another model, Cody Lane, has been discovered outside a posh hotel. The UV camera reveals hand mark bruising on his body indicating he was pushed, while lipstick marks on his neck provide them with DNA. The sample leads them to Janet Sterling. She admits she was sleeping with the model, but left him in the hotel room alive. Delko and Natalia go to sweep the room, but Nick, who has just been hired as a crime scene cleaner, arrives and the temporary restraining order forces Natalia to leave the hotel room. Nick finally agrees to lift the restraining order if Natalia will put their past behind them and be civil to him. She reluctantly agrees.

Dog hair at the scene leads the CSIs to the tow truck driver Bob Norwood, whom Delko recalls had a dog. Bob caves quickly: he has a sick little girl in the hospital, and when he was offered money to kill Cody, he took it. Calleigh discovers there was a two million dollar life insurance policy on Cody--taken out by none other than J.A. Models. The CSIs dig around and learn that Steve and Cody aren't the only J.A. Model deaths--a model named Kyle Jordan died in the sauna, leaving J.A. Models with a large amount of money and possibly giving Janet and Abby the idea of killing models for money. The CSIs question Janet, who coolly denies it, and Abby, who seems shaken to learn that Janet has taken a six million dollar policy out on her. Both women leave, but it's not long before the CSIs get another call: Janet is dead thanks to a gunshot wound to the chest courtesy of Abby, who has GSR in her bracelet. Abby starts to cough and then convulse as the CSIs question her--the victim of poisoned lip balm, a gift from Janet. She dies as the CSIs try to get help, the final victim of J.A. Models.

Analysis:

Jealousy and betrayal abound in "If Looks Could Kill," to the extent that out of the three CSI shows, it's probably an episode only Miami could pull off. Sexy, competitive male models, beautiful but ruthless modeling agency co-owners, secret trysts--this episode has Miami written all over it. It might be a little outlandish--poisoned lip balm! murdered male models!--but it's undeniably entertaining and fun to watch.

There's more than a little bit of sly satire in Ildy Modrovich and Barry O'Brien's script. After fessing up to killing Steve, the impossibly vain Jason Hollings tells the CSIs he's risked his life for his look, getting implants and taking drugs to ensure his look was competitive. He viewed Steve sleeping with Abby as an unfair advantage and had no compunction about evening the playing field, and then some.

Abby and Janet are quite a pair themselves. They treat the male models as expendable sex toys--Abby doesn't seem too broken up about Steve and Janet snidely tells Cody his look is "so last year" before having him offed. They're equally deceitful in their handling of each other--they are both breaking the agreement they had not to sleep with the models. And when the CSIs close in on their scheme to get rich by killing the models that work for them and collecting on the life insurance, they turn on each other. Janet poisons a tube of lip balm and gives it to Abby, while Abby, upon discovering Janet has taken out a six million dollar life insurance policy on her, shoots Janet in what she claims is self defense. That's the very definition of cutthroat business--literally. Of course, it doesn't end at all well for either Janet or Abby.

Natalia Boa Vista is facing a few problems of her own with the reappearance of her ex-husband, Nick. We first learned Natalia had fled an abusive man in "Collision", when she revealed to Horatio that she was part of an underground organization that helps battered women escape their abusers in order to aid Horatio in an investigation. Sadly, we never did hear any more about the intriguing underground group--wouldn't it have made for a great episode if one of the women had started murdering the abusive men?--but we do now have a face to put with the name of Natalia's former husband.

Played with a menacing charm by Rob Estes, Nick is not unlike a snake, waiting to strike. His decision to high tail it to the crime lab after being released from jail is no accident, and there's no doubt he has ulterior motives for trying to find a job that just happens to bring him into close contact with his ex-wife. I was more than a little surprised he was so easily able to get a restraining order against Natalia. Wouldn't his past as a convict and Natalia's previous restraining order against him at least give a judge pause? It's a stretch to think he'd be able to get the order with ease, especially given Natalia's job in law enforcement.

Given the circumstances, Natalia doesn't really have much of a choice other than to agree to treat Nick with civility. She's not happy about him being back in her life, and she even tells Calleigh she'd like to kill him. Foreshadowing? I could easily see an exciting sweeps episode in which Nick ends up dead and Natalia is the prime suspect. I don't think for a moment that he's turned over a new leaf, nor do I think that he'll meet a good end.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.