CSI: Miami--'Legal'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 19, 2004 - 5:28 PM GMT

See Also: 'Legal' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

At the entrance to a trendy Miami club, a girl lifts her shirt to get past the bouncers. Inside the club, the young clubgoers make out and do drugs. Inside the bathrooms is more of the same. But then a girl's bloody hand appears through the frosted glass on one of the bathroom doors.

At the scene, Yelina tells Horatio that the girl was stabbed. Alexx can't find an ID on her, and assumes she was underage. She points out the jagged stab wound and the fact that girl's larynx was crushed. The killer punched her in the throat--that's why no one heard her scream.

Alexx finds a microchip in the girl's shoulder, which club owner Chase Shaw says is where many of the women who come to the club store their ID and credit card information. Shaw claims he doesn't recognize the dead girl.

Calleigh and Ryan Wolfe go over the bathroom. Calleigh notes that the girl had traces of something on her mouth, probably deposited there right before she died. Ryan finds a broken martini stem; it's the murder weapon. Ryan takes prints from the bathroom and then goes to get prints from the clubgoers. One, rich boy Jack Warner Bradford, asks if the police are perpetuating some sort of high tech identity theft, while another, Venus Robinson, flirts with Ryan when he tries to swab her mouth for DNA.

Tyler gets an ID off the microchip: the victim is Jenny Price, age 18. But the address on her ID doesn't match the credit card billing address. Horatio recognizes the billing address: it's the address of the Alcoholic Beverage Control building. ABC officer Mia Eckhart tells Horatio that Jenny was working for them, but that she wasn't supervised because they are understaffed. Chase Shaw was going to be busted for selling to underage kids the following week.

When Horatio and Delko pay Chase another visit, he denies knowing that Jenny was underaged. He says he didn't kill her, citing a beautiful Hungarian woman, Nina, as his alibi. A knock on the side door gets Horatio's attention. When Chase dismisses it, a suspicious Horatio goes to investigate. A black car makes a run at the building, nearly hitting Horatio. The driver flees, and Horatio quickly learns why: there's a man's dead body in the back seat.

Alexx can't find an ID on the victim, but she posits that he's Eastern European. Ligature marks on his neck indicate he was strangled. The CSIs get a break when Horatio finds a bit of torn skin in the man's watchband.

Back at the lab, Calleigh and Ryan have the prints from the bathroom: Jack Warner Bradford and Venus Robinson. They question Jack, who Jenny was going to bust for underage drinking. A morality clause in Jack's parents' will would have cost him an island in their will if Jack was busted, but Jack says he was with his friend Kevin Lewiston at the time Jenny was being murdered. At first Kevin confirms the story--Jack was getting high off Kevin's asthma inhaler--but when Calleigh puts pressure on him, he admits he didn't see Jack until the police arrived on the scene. Calleigh examines Jack's shirt and finds blood on the back of it.

The skin from the Eastern European man's watch belonged to one Wayne King, who admits to getting into an altercation with the man at a spa he was getting a massage at. He says he was just defending himself, and that the owner pulled the man out of the room and that was the last Wayne saw of him.

Tommy Novac, the manager of the spa, says the men were fighting over Sandy, the girl massaging Wayne. Horatio and Delko inspect the massage room, where Delko finds a condom wrapper and semen stains on the sheets. Horatio wants to talk to Sandy, but Tommy says she quit. When Delko gets Sandy's prints from the condom wrapper, he finds they match Nina's--Chase Shaw's alibi. Shaw first says Nina took off because she was on an expired tourist visa, but when Horatio reminds him that she's his alibi for two murders, Shaw says he thinks he can find her.

In the question documents lab, Ryan is examining Jack's shirt. When Calleigh asks him why he's examining it in there, he says a guest lecturer at night school once told him to "think outside the box." That instructor was Calleigh herself. She smiles. Ryan tells her the blood on Jack's shirt was transfer. Someone else touched it first.

They go back to Jenny's dress, which was stained with cranberry juice and vodka. The CSIs decide to talk to the only other person whose prints were in the bathroom: Venus Robinson. She says Jenny was hitting on her sometimes boyfriend, Jack, and that she threw a Cosmopolitan on the girl. She refuses to implicate Jack.

Horatio and Yelina show Nina the picture of the dead man, whom she identifies as her fiancé, Ivan. When the CSIs try to question her, she says she doesn't know who would hurt him. It's apparent that she's afraid of someone.

Horatio and Delko go back to the spa with a translator. In a linen closet, the find a secret door behind a shelf. The men enter, and find a room that looks like it was used as a prison. Delko finds a cord, possibly the weapon used to strangle Ivan. Horatio accuses Tony of pandering, trafficking and murder, saying that he forced them to work off their plane tickets in the spa. He's got Tony for murder based on the cord, which has both Ivan and Tony's DNA on it, but Horatio needs to find the women. Tony says he doesn't know where the women or their passports are--he doesn't keep the passports. Horatio knows who does.

In the morgue, Ryan is staring sadly at Jenny's body. Calleigh asks him if he's okay, and tells him he'll get used to it. The lab has identified the substances from Jenny's lips: zentol, from an asthma inhaler. Kevin claimed Jack used his inhaler that night, so they get the inhaler from him. But the inhaler Jack used had cocaine in it, and there is no cocaine on Jenny's lips. Jack isn't their killer; Kevin is.

Kevin tells the CSIs he didn't mean to kill Jenny, but he liked her and wanted to buy her a drink. He kissed her, and then was going to buy her one, but she told him no. In a rage, he hit her in the throat and stabbed her. Ryan tells him she wasn't rejecting him, instead, she was protecting him. When Calleigh tells him she was working for ABC, Kevin breaks down.

Horatio finds the Hungarian women's passports in Shaw's safe, but Shaw says he doesn't know where the women are. Horatio gives Nina her passport and tells her she's safe. He asks her where the other women might be, but Nina says they were blindfolded when they were taken to the cells. She does recall a buzzing sound and the smell of burning tires. Horatio knows of a storage facility across from an oil refinery, and he and Delko head there. They cut the lock on one of the storage lockers and find a group of two-dozen frightened Hungarian women inside. Horatio reaches out to one of them and she takes his hand. The women exit to freedom.

Analysis:

Another strong entry for Miami, which is enjoying an especially intense season thus far. The episode draws on the trendiness of Miami again, this time with a high-tech club and super-hip club-goers. Is VeriChip the future of identification? Unfortunately, the episode doesn't really touch on that. The chip is just used as a device to ID Jenny, which is a wasted opportunity. What if the sleazy duo of Shaw and Novac had implanted them in the Hungarian women to keep track of them? There are some sinister and frightening aspects to this technology, but unfortunately Miami doesn't tap into any of them this time around.

Moreso than the other CSI shows, Miami often relies on cutting-edge technology or gadgets outside of the CSI lab to propel their shows. It's beneficial in that it certainly catches the viewer's attention, but it also detracts from the story just slightly, as viewers spend time wondering whether flash mobs are real or if the VeriChip is a bit of science fiction. In the case of the former, from last week's "Murder in a Flash", was integral to the plot, but here the VeriChip is just a tantalizing distraction. As Venus Robinson would say, "that's hot," but unfortunately, there's not much more to its inclusion than that.

Human trafficking is also hot topic these days. Shaw and Novac make despicable villains; the pair are a stark contrast to Kevin. His act was atrocious as well, but it was born out of passion and his regret at the end of the episode is palpable. Not so for Shaw and Novac, who squirm under Horatio's scrutiny but never repent. For those who want to learn more about the topic of human trafficking, Victor Malarek's book The Natashas explores the plight of women, mostly from Eastern Europe, who immigrate with the hopes of getting better jobs only to find themselves essentially sold into slavery.

Jonathan Togo (Ryan Wolfe) really proves he has what it takes to be on this show in this episode. His devastated expression as he looks at Jenny's body gives the viewer a fresh perspective on the show. While Horatio and Alexx react emotionally to the cases, they do it in a more jaded, resigned way. The pair know they can't help the victims, beyond bringing their killers to justice and giving closure to those who survive them. Calleigh and Eric (and, while he was alive, Speedle) have always worked their cases with a cool, slick professionalism. For the most part, they do not get emotionally involved in their cases.

Ryan provides a touchstone to the experience of the other characters. He is likely a good deal younger than most of them (and he looks it, too), as he mentions taking a class in night school that Calleigh guest-lectured for. He brings an outsider's perspective both for the CSIs and the viewers. Calleigh is reminded throughout the episode how green he is in experience, both when he cites her lecture and when she finds him by Jenny's body. The pair shares a nice chemistry; Calleigh may have found someone she can mentor, a role she is certainly suited for.

Ryan's reactions are also particularly refreshing for the viewer. Of the three CSI shows, Miami is usually the one teetering closest to the edge of "too slick." Horatio usually provides the emotional gravity in an episode, but it's nice to see him step aside for the most part and share the duty with Ryan. With three CSI shows, there's the danger of each becoming more about the next "cool" murder (which is understandably inescapable in some cases). Ryan should help keep Miami from straying over that edge for the time being.

On a lighter note, Ryan's clothes have not improved from his initial appearance. Again he pairs a t-shirt with a collared shirt and a mismatched jacket. Why all the layers? He's in Miami! The characters in New York wear fewer layers, and New York is a good deal chillier than Miami is. Someone needs to call 911 on his wardrobe--the boy needs a makeover, fast.

Next week: Halloween brings a hellish night to Miami.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.