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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Loco Motives'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at January 9, 2007 - 7:10 AM GMT

See Also: 'Loco Motives' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A man is discovered at a construction site, buried up to his chest in concrete, beside the dead body of a woman. He refuses to give Brass his name--or that of the woman. Across town, Warrick and Nick stand over the body of Aloyna Ivonova, an elderly woman found dead in her oven. They follow a trail of green jello to another apartment, which is being sublet by a woman named Paula Sutherland. Neither Paula nor her husband, Max, is anywhere to be found, but Warrick does discover blood on the floor, which someone clearly tried to clean up. Grissom and Greg show up at the Mannleigh Chicken slaughterhouse, where the body of the nightshift cleaner, Raymundo Suarez, is lying facedown in the tank used to electrocute the chickens. Ernie Dell, another maintenance worker, tells Brass that Raymundo was sleeping with the wife of the owner, Ike Mannleigh. Grissom is surprised when he discovers a miniature replica of the crime scene at the slaughterhouse, like the ones discovered in "Built to Kill, Part 2" and "Post Mortem".

Warrick talks to a young girl named Suzy, whose mother dropped her off for daycare at Paula's apartment. She recalls a mess of "red and green" in the kitchen, and remembers Max coming to clean it up. The CSIs remain puzzled until Suzy spots the man they freed from the concrete and recognizes him as Max. Brass sits back and listens as the man explains his truly horrible day: after a fight with his wife over a broken bowl of jello, he accidentally stabbed her with a shard of glass. His neighbor, Aloyna, caught sight of him holding Paula's body, but when he went over to explain she panicked and took a fatal spill while running for the phone. Max tried to make it look like a suicide by sticking her head in the oven before taking his wife to the construction site to dump her body...only to trip and fall into the concrete and find himself trapped. To add insult to injury, a mugger sees him as an easy mark and steals his wallet. All in all, not a good day.

Sara finds a connection between Izzy Delancy, the victim from the first miniature case and Mannleigh Slaughterhouse: Izzy filmed a PSA revealing the cruel way Ike Mannleigh has chickens slaughtered at his farm, costing Mannleigh sixty percent of his business. The CSIs question Mannleigh, who admits to holding a grudge against Izzy, but he claims no such hard feelings towards Raymundo, even though the man was sleeping with his wife. A logo on the shirt of the man who delivered the second miniature to Penny Garden's house leads the CSIs to Locomotiveville, a model-making club. The club's website reveals that Ernie Dell, the maintenance man from the Mannleigh Slaughterhouse, is a member. The police storm Dell's house and discover it filled with model towns and miniature depictions of murder scenes. Dell, who appeared in Izzy's PSA and also was Penny's handyman, denies any involvement. Sara is able to trace minutes purchased on a disposable mobile phone to Ernie Dell's credit card, and the police head to Ernie's house. Grissom receives a video missive of Ernie confessing to the murders--and shooting himself--just as the police arrive.

Analysis:

The end of the miniature killer's spree...or is it? The case appears to wrap up awfully neatly, with a killer connected--at least tangentially--to all three victims. He worked with Raymundo, was Penny's handyman and appeared in Izzy's PSA...but aside from holding a possible grudge towards Izzy for putting his face on national TV for slaughtering chickens, we never find out any possible reason why Ernie might have hated Penny and Raymundo enough to kill them. Or are we to believe he was just plain psycho?

I spotted Ernie right away--whenever a witness gives his or her full name while being questioned, that person is generally someone to keep an eye on. And there was something about Ernie's hangdog look that stuck with me--he had an air of unhappiness and dissatisfaction about him. Dayton Callie does a notable job of making Ernie seem disgruntled without appearing overtly threatening. But Ernie is awfully convenient--he's reclusive, lives in a house filled with miniature models and apparently has a fixation on murder. He fits what the bill for the miniature killer, at least on the surface. But where's the cunning, the crafty evil we'd expect of someone capable of that kind of careful plotting?

It's certainly shocking to see the man kill himself in real time on Grissom's computer, just seconds before armed officers storm his basement. The look on Grissom's face is one of pure, abject horror, and William Petersen's expression leaves little doubt that this is indeed the straw that is breaking the camel's back as far as Grissom's job burn out is concerned. He's dealt with these baffling serial killings, with the tragic death of a young boy in "Burn Out" and now he's witnessed a man killing himself right in front of his eyes. Is it any wonder that the CSI leader is going to need a break?

The other storyline presents a stark contrast to the gravity of the miniature killer's storyline. Max Sullivan's truly bad day, as gruesome as it ends up being, is good for a laugh, even if you feel bad about it afterwards. How often does someone accidentally kill two people in one afternoon, get himself stuck in concrete trying to dispose of one of the bodies and then get mugged on top of all of that? Max is uniquely unfortunate to say the least.

Max's interactions with Brass are truly hilarious. Guest star Matt Molloy and Paul Guilfoyle play off each other so well; it's a rare day when a homicide cop as experienced as Brass meets a murder suspect more cynical than he. But Max figures things can't get much worse than they already are, so not only does he refuse to give Brass his identity, but he even bets the detective that he won't be able to discover who he is.

It's a bet he almost wins. Alas, Max apparently forgot his bad luck when he made the bet, for it just so happens that he's in the hall at the exact same moment Suzy and her mother are leaving questioning, and of course, Suzy spots him. The scene is good for a laugh from the audience, and even a smile from the usually dour Brass, who gets his money back. It's a great comic moment, and leads seamlessly into the even funnier scene where Max reveals to Brass the details of his truly awful day. Too bad poor Grissom wasn't on this case; he could have used the chuckle.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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