February 22 2024

CSI Files

An archive of CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds and crime drama news

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Kill Me If You Can'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 28, 2009 - 2:32 AM GMT

See Also: 'Kill Me If You Can' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The Vegas team has a busy night when the body of a man is found crammed under the steering wheel of a car, a woman's body is discovered in a hotel room and a man ends up dead in his swimming pool. The man by the pool is Carsten Pennington, an art collector who lived with his fiancée, Darcy Farrell, and threw a party the night of his murder. Ray Langston gets some help from Wendy Simms at the scene, who notices Carsten's cat, Gareth, licking pieces of a shattered vase in the studio housing Carsten's art collection. Darcy tells Brass that Carsten fought with a guest at the party before abruptly kicking everyone out. Viewing footage from Carsten's surveillance camera, Langston and Archie zero in on the man Carsten was arguing with and identify him as a Marrakesh casino employee named Jeffrey Luvan. When brought in, Luvan denies that he was purchasing the vase for his boss at the casino--or that he killed Carsten. Wendy brings Langston startling news: the vase was a fake, made in part out of yogurt. They wonder if Luvan might have killed Carsten because he discovered the vase was a fake, and return to the house to look for more evidence. Wendy discovers blood on Darcy's dress and suspicion falls on her, but Darcy refuses to talk. Catherine flags Ray down: she's discovered a person of interest in her case, a producer named Tripp Linson, who is a dead ringer for Carsten. Catherine's case involves the death of Jenny Mackin from Hollywood, CA, who is found dead in her hotel room, two bullets in the ceiling. The only witness is a large tortoise with blood--and a print--on him. The print matches an actor named Mickey Ross, who tells the CSIs Jenny was his wife and the tortoise, Gareth, belonged to them. Jenny left him for Tripp Linson, who also swindled Mickey out of money. When his wife followed Tripp to Las Vegas, the man rejected her. Mickey brought Gareth up to help win his wife back, but after he had sex with her, Jenny shot herself. Catherine is skeptical--no one commits suicide with two shots--until Greg shows her the first bullet caught in the barrel and didn't release until the second one was fired. Mickey's story checks out, but the mystery intensifies when Nick recognizes Tripp as Ryan Morton, a person of interest in his case!

The body of a private investigator named Sam Hagen is discovered behind the steering column of a car outside a casino. Dr. Paul Anton, the man who Sam was working for at the time of his death, tells Detective Cavaliere that he hired Sam to find his business associate, Ryan Morton. Anton gives Nick an advertising DVD Morton gave him. Nick and Riley discover a contact lens on the body, and also a bullet hole in the man's hand. Doc Robbins points out that the man died when the bullet ricocheted through his body and hit his spleen. Nick views the DVD and sees Ryan, his dog Gareth beside him, advertising property for the Royal Tahoe Group in Lake Tahoe. The gun that killed Sam is traced back to Anton, who tells Nick that he met Ryan at a tennis club in Tahoe and grew close to the young man, to the point that he felt he was a surrogate son. He gave Ryan his gun as a gift, and invested in property--only to find himself swindled by the young man. Wendy turns up surprising DNA evidence--the DNA on the contact is a familial match for Carsten Pennington. Collectively, the team realizes Carsten, Tripp and Ryan are all the same man. Ryan Morton is the man's real name, and he has a brother named Gareth. Gareth is caught speeding and gets brought in. The CSIs surmise that Gareth was found by Sam Hagen, the PA searching for Ryan. They posit Gareth killed the PI after learning his brother's debts were falling on his shoulders and then came to the party and argued with Ryan and ended up killing him, too. Gareth denies killing Hagen and his brother--he claims he went to see his brother about buying Ryan's half of their family house in Tahoe, but Ryan refused. Gareth claims he left his brother alive. Riley and Nick turn back to the evidence, finding only one contact lens in Gareth's car...as well as clothes from a discount warehouse mixed in with one pair of Burberry underwear. Suspecting something fishy is up, Langston brings in Darcy, Carsten's fiancée, to look at Gareth. He tells her she's going down for the crime unless she tells the truth--and she admits the man in the interrogation room is Carsten/Ryan, not Gareth. After killing the PI sent to find him, Ryan killed Gareth when his brother came to his house and assumed his identity.

Analysis:

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I got a little confused while trying to summarize "Kill Me If You Can." Though the story all holds up, it's a little mind-boggling given the killer has no fewer than four identities throughout the course of the episode. Keeping track of the fact that Ryan was both Tripp and Carsten wasn't too tricky, but when Gareth got thrown into the equation, the waters definitely became muddied. The most perplexing detail? The DNA on the contact belonging to Hagen's killer that was a familial match to the victim, initially thought to be Carsten, but who turned out to be Gareth, meaning that the contact was actually Ryan/Carsten's. Confused yet? Despite all the twists, everything did hold up, and in the end Ryan turned out to be one fascinating killer. "You're just one lie wrapped in another," Brass says in disgust after Ryan's been exposed. "It's the truth," Ryan insists. "Even if it never happened." The exchange is a great--and chilling!--way to end the episode.

As Ryan/Carston/Tripp/Gareth, Michael Weston turns in a great performance, slipping into each role seamlessly. As Carston, he's the effete, cultured art collector. As Tripp, he's the epitome of the Hollywood player. As Ryan, he's an open-faced, warm salesman. As Gareth, he's a nerdy, nervous guy. Kudos to the make up and wardrobe teams for helping Weston slip into character so effectively. Aside from his bright blue eyes, the different personas don't really resemble each other in the slightest. As Carston, we're drawn to those blue eyes and his angular features, which are lost beneath stubble and a baseball hat in the Tripp persona. Ryan looks like the boy next door, while brother Gareth is unkempt and messy, his eyes hidden behind large glasses. Even more effectively than the killer in season seven's "Living Legend", who disguised himself to take revenge on the men who'd left him for dead decades earlier, Ryan is a true master of disguise.

"Kill Me If You Can" is similar to episodes like "4x4", "Toe Tags" and even last season's "You Kill Me" in its multi-case format. The rewind method used in "4x4" is once again used here, allowing all of the cases to line up chronologically, and for all roads to lead to Ryan Morton. Because the cases are brief, they allow for the little oddities in them to take center stage, like the gun misfire that allows one bullet to barrel into another as they both are fired at the same time. That little malfunction almost contradicted Mickey Ross's (accurate) story that his wife committed suicide. Though it was fun to see John Schneider turn up in an episode of CSI as an actor, it would have been nice to see more of him than one scant, albeit memorable, scene. I did love the description of the character Ross played on Crimson Orchid--a vigilante surgeon who "shoots them on the streets and then fixes them up in the ER!" Crimson Orchid sounds like quite a show.

Though grouped together under the episode title "Kill Me If You Can," each act is given its own title. The investigation into the death of "Carsten" falls under the header "Lifestyles of the Rich & Felonious." Indeed, at both of the other crime scenes, a picture of Carsten and Darcy from the society pages of a glossy magazine can be seen. Jenny's sad story is entitled "Hooray for Hollywood," though Jenny's sad end--and obvious disillusionment--clearly speaks differently. "The Son He Never Had" is the title of the third act, expounding upon the illusion that Ryan Morton set up for Paul Anton, who lost his own son in a bitter divorce and was clearly looking for a surrogate. That Ryan played on that so effectively shows what a skilled con man he was, but the illusion is finally ripped away in the final act, "The Brother He Never Wanted." In addition to ultimately tearing away the many masks Ryan had crafted, Gareth also shed light on Ryan's true background--and his previous life under the thumb of his controlling mother, played by the excellent Diane Salinger, who is seen only in flashbacks. Put together, they are the chapters of a complex and twisted life.

Due to the number of bodies the team is faced with in one night, Wendy Simms gets the opportunity to step out of the lab and into the field. She proves to be a valuable asset: she notices Gareth the cat has tracked blood into the bushes, and later takes note of the fact that Gareth is licking the remains of the supposed antique vase. That rouses her suspicions, and sure enough, a little digging proves that the vase is in fact a fake, made out of yogurt, which was what drew the cat to it. In addition to her duties in the field, Wendy is still running DNA on the evidence from all three cases, making it a very heavy workload for the lab tech. Wendy thanks Langston for letting her have the opportunity to come out into the field; now that she's had a taste of fieldwork, will she want more? Unlike Hodges, she definitely seems to enjoy it.

If anything an episode like this, with a complicated set of linked cases, shows just how seamlessly the team is still working together, despite the death of Warrick and the departures of Grissom and Sara. While I would have liked to see a little more fallout from Warrick's passing, CSI is clearly not a show that looks backwards. Ultimately, the lab is a place of business, and the job must go on, even as people leave or, tragically, pass away. This episode illustrates why perhaps this method of not lingering works best for CSI; rather than focusing on the characters that are gone, we're looking at the ones that are here, both the new members of the team and the ones who have been there all along. Though fans do miss Grissom, Sara and Warrick, we're in good company with Catherine, Langston, Nick, Greg, Riley and the rest of the team.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

You may have missed