'Lost Son'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at September 21, 2004 - 4:05 PM GMT

See Also: 'Lost Son' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Cars wait on a bridge for a boat to pass. The drivers and passengers seem irritated at the delay. One couple in particular is especially annoyed; they bicker back and forth as the boat approaches the bridge. Suddenly, the approaching boat slams into the bridge, rather than going around it. People scream and start to flee from their cars. The arguing couple try to, but the bridge starts to break up beneath their feet. Suddenly, it gives way under them and their car plunges into the ocean.

Horatio Caine arrives and surveys the scene. The couple have been pulled out of their car, which is now sinking into the ocean. Tim Speedle and Eric Delko approach Horatio. Speed expresses doubt that they’re looking at a crime scene, but Horatio notes that witnesses claimed the boat was heading directly for the bridge.

On board the crashed boat, Yelina Salas (Sofia Milos, now a regular in the opening credits) stands over the body of a dead man in his fifties or sixties. Horatio tells her the boat was on autopilot, and then observes that their victim was shot at close range. Horatio notices the shooter’s muddy footprints leading to the edge of the boat. Horatio believes something must have gone wrong—it’s unlikely that the shooter would have wanted to draw this much attention to his crime.

Alexx Woods gives Horatio an id on their victim: Reed Williams. Calleigh Duquesne finds a casing from the bullet, from a .22, but the bullet itself is still in the victim. Calleigh takes out her crime light, but she isn’t able to turn it on. “I may kill Speedle,” she sighs to Alexx. He borrowed her crime light and didn’t recharge it.

Horatio and Yelina go to Williams’ house, where an anxious Mrs. Tawny Williams, considerably younger than her husband, greets them and ask for news of her son. Puzzled, Horatio and Yelina listen as Mrs. Williams tells them that their son, Joey, was abducted and her husband was paying the ransom. Yelina informs her that her husband has been killed, and Mrs. Williams lets them in. She explains that her son was taken from a martial arts class, and that the kidnappers had demanded three million dollars in jewels. Her husband had gone to take the kidnappers the jewels.

Horatio calls Speed to let him know the case involves a kidnapping. Delko has discovered a dead fish in the kidnapper’s bag; he thinks it’s a major clue in the case. He leaves Speedle to handle the muddy footprints and heads back to the lab to analyze the fish.

Horatio and Yelina question Ken Timmins, Joey Williams’ martial arts instructor. First he tells them that Joey was taken by someone in a Mercedes, but Horatio can tell from the tire tracks that he’s lying about the make of the car. Ken admits to taking a bribe, and tells the detectives that the car was actually a Pontiac Grand Prix.

Back at the lab, Calleigh confronts Speed about the crime light. He admits to borrowing it, and she asks for his in return, which he tells her she can take. He jokes to Delko that he hopes she doesn’t need another item from his kit. Delko is working on the fish he found, which is a grass carp, genetically engineered to eat vegetation to keep the canals clean. Delko uses the size of the fish to trace what may be the location of the kidnapper.

Horatio and Eric head to the canal where the fish was dumped and find Pontiac tire tracks. Delko dives and locates the car, but he can’t open the trunk, so they get a crane to lift the car out. The boy isn’t in the car, but Horatio finds scratches in the trunk and footprints that prove he was there. The kidnapper still has him.

Delko heads back to the scene of the boat crash when the CSIs learn that the Department of Infrastructure wants to start their investigation of the bridge. Delko notices a piece of jewelry clinging to the boat; a quick dive turns up the rest. Meanwhile, Calleigh has examined the car and uncovered a pair of palm prints on the trunk door.

Valera delivers the DNA results to Horatio, which reveal that Mrs. Williams is Joey’s stepmother, not his biological mother. Delko brings the jewels to the lab, and Speed quickly identifies them as fakes. He tells Delko they were made in a lab. Horatio joins them and notices a bite mark on one of the emeralds. The kidnapper must have bit into the jewel, he concludes, and shot Mr. Williams when he realized they were fakes.

Horatio and Speed go to Mrs. Williams house and tell her that her husband was killed because he tried to pass off fake jewelry as the real thing to the kidnappers. She insists the jewels were genuine, but Horatio and Speed both imply she may have set the whole thing up to get rid of her husband and get insurance money for the jewels. She maintains her innocence, and Horatio turns the questioning back to the jewels. When she tells them she got them cleaned at McCauley jewelers, Horatio and Speed head to the shop.

Outside the shop, Speed comments on a Porsche sitting outside and notes that he’s happy with his motorcycle. When Horatio says Speed might someday need something with doors, Speed says “There’s plenty of time for that.” Inside the store, the two are greeted by Rudy, the new owner, whom Horatio starts to question. Speed is immediately uneasy; he notices a man hiding under a table in the back and puts his hand on his gun.

Horatio picks up on Speed’s discomfort and begins to scan the store himself. Suddenly, a door slowly opens. A man appears, gun drawn. Horatio screams, “Speed!” and draws his own gun. The shooter fires first and Horatio returns fire. Speed tries to fire, too, but his gun chokes up. Speed pauses for an instant to check his gun. The shooter fires again, directly at Speed, and the shot hits Speed in the heart. Speed goes down, the wound spouting blood. Horatio takes out the first shooter, but another appears, and he and Horatio exchange shots before the second man runs off.

Horatio kneels by Speed and calls frantically into his radio that a man is down at McCauley jewelers. He then turns to Speed, who is bleeding profusely, and tells him, “You’re going to be okay, Speed, you’re going to be okay.” Speed, who can barely speak, replies, “I can’t feel anything.” Horatio wipes the blood from his mouth and tells him to hang in there and keep breathing, but Speed murmurs, “can’t fight...” convulses, and dies. Horatio continues to say his name, leans down to listen for Speed’s heartbeat and raises his head when he can’t find one.

Alexx races to the scene. She runs in to the jewelers to find Calleigh looking on as Horatio continues to kneel by Speed’s body. Gently, she says, “Give him to me, Horatio. He needs to go with me.” A shell-shocked Horatio nods and rises as Alexx kneels down next to Speed.

Horatio hands his gun and Speed’s to Calleigh, asking her to process them. Calleigh asks if there’s anything she needs to know, and Horatio admits Speed may have had to look at his gun. When Rick Stetler from IAB arrives, Calleigh turns on her heel and goes. Stetler apologizes to Horatio and asks about the guns, and Horatio tells him they’re with Calleigh. When Stetler suggests Horatio consider seeing a counselor, Horatio shoots back that the only therapy he needs is to find the Williams boy.

Horatio, followed by Yelina, goes outside to interrogate Rudy, who is in cuffs. The second shooter is also in custody, but he doesn’t speak English. Horatio angrily asks Rudy where the boy is, but Rudy insists he doesn’t know about the kidnapping. He admits to being a thief, and tells Horatio that the gunmen were security to protect the stolen merchandise.

Back in the lab, Calleigh processes Speedle’s gun. A CSI shot reveals that dirt prevented the gun from firing when Speedle attempted to discharge it. Calleigh opens the gun to reveal the dirt. She sighs, “Oh, Speedle,” as she fights back tears. She leaves the lab and runs into Stetler. When he asks her about Speedle’s gun, she tells him she hasn’t processed it. Stetler brings up the shoot out in ”Dispo Day”, when Speedle’s gun misfired as well. Stetler suspects poor gun maintenance, but Calleigh demurs and says she’ll give him her reports.

Delko, frustrated with the palm print search, finally gets a match for one Pete Heller. A SWAT team picks Pete up, and he points the finger at Mrs. Williams. Yelina does a computer search on Mrs. Williams and Pete Heller, and learns that Mrs. Williams used to be Sissy Huber, and together with Pete, scammed wealthy men out of their money.

When Horatio and Yelina bring her in, she admits that this is what she’s been hiding from them. She says she hasn’t seen Pete in years. She confesses that Reed was originally a mark, but that she fell in love with him and his son. She says she’s changed.

In the morgue, Alexx sobs quietly as she starts to examine Speed. She undresses him and washes the blood off his body. But when it comes time to make the first cut, she finds she isn’t able to. In the observatory, Horatio looks on, but he finds he can’t watch. He shakes his head and walks out, grief etched into his features.

Horatio questions Pete, telling him he got a CSI killed, and he’d better cooperate. Pete isn’t forthcoming, but Carrie gets something off the envelope the martial arts instructor gave them. It came from the Karate academy. Ken Timmins is Pete’s partner.

Delko and Horatio head to the dojo, where they find sap. Delko traces it to Hell’s Bay, and Horatio realizes that Ken is going to throw the boy to the alligators, literally. When he arrives he finds the boy in the middle of the bay, terrified. A bloody shirt in the water tells Horatio that Ken was taken care of by the alligators. Bravely, Horatio goes to the boy and carries him back to the shore. He then takes him back to CSI where Joey and Mrs. Williams are reunited. She thanks Horatio and tells him how sorry she is about the CSI who was killed.

On the day of Speedle’s funeral, Horatio stands in the locker room, dreading having to clean out Speedle’s locker. “You saved me,” he says sadly to Calleigh when she approaches with the report. She tells him that Speed’s gun malfunctioned, but doesn’t elaborate beyond that. The case is closed. The pair embrace, and Horatio tells her, and perhaps himself, to hang in there.

The funeral procession heads through Miami. Horatio, Calleigh, Delko, Alexx, Yelina, and Stetler gather along with countless others to bury Speed. A flag lies draped on his coffin; an officer gives it to Speed’s parents, who sit by the casket. The officers fire the gun salute as Horatio and the other CSIs look on.

Analysis:

Talk about a season opener--a fast-paced case, a twisted labyrinth of suspects, a chase around Miami, and oh yes, the death of one of the show's most beloved characters, Tim Speedle. "Lost Son" isn't just one of the best Miami episodes, it's one of the most exciting hours of any CSI show in a while.

Even without the big event, the episode stands on its own. It's rare to see an actual race against time on a CSI show, since the victims are usually dead. That's not to say the pace is usually slow, but rarely is it as intense as it is in this episode. Horatio's (correct) assumption that the kidnappers will kill the child when they don't get what they want adds a real urgency to the case, and doesn't make the shift from focusing on Speedle's death as egregious as it might have been.

And what a death it was! Those that didn't already know who was going to be killed off in the episode may have been clued in by the heavy-handed foreshadowing, such as Calleigh's line about how she "may kill Speedle" when she realizes he borrowed her crime light and Speedle's oh-so-obvious line "plenty of time for that" after Horatio suggests he might need a car are cringe-worthy. They might as well have taped a "shoot me" sign to Speedle's back.

The scene itself was one of the two strongest in the episode, due to David Caruso and Rory Cochrane's excellent acting. Caruso was pitch-perfect: he was calm and reassuring before Speedle's death, perhaps hoping to convince both himself and Speedle that the man had a chance in hell of surviving a shot to the heart (or so it appeared, as suggested by the massive amounts of blood). After he died, the grief and shock in Horatio's voice when he said Speed's name over and over registered far more than any wild dramatics or hysterics could have. Caruso conveyed so much in his tone: both grief and resignation and the knowledge (that Horatio certainly possesses) that so much can go wrong in an instant.

It might sound odd to say, but Cochrane dies well. I suspect that pulling off a convincing death scene is harder than skilled actors make it look. Speed's death isn't pretty; he's been shot in the heart, and is losing massive amounts of blood, even from his mouth. Cochrane still manages to annunciate well, and convey the agony of Speed's last minutes without succumbing to overdramatic theatrics.

The most powerful scene, though, is probably the one in the autopsy room, when Alexx gently undresses and washes Speedle's body. Horatio looks on, but they aren't able to maintain their professionalism over the death of their colleague. Alexx is unable to cut into Speed; instead, she reaches up and caresses his shoulder. And Horatio, who has seen so much death, can't bear to watch her cut into Speed (as we presume she must eventually do). He shakes his head sadly, and leaves the viewing room. No one spoke in the scene, but Alexx's tears and the look of devastation on Horatio's face conveyed it all.

Calleigh does her part as well. When Speedle's gun misfires in the jewelry store, viewers who remember the episode "Dispo Day" immediately suspected what Calleigh did as well: poor gun maintenance. Calleigh's eerily prescient words to Speedle in that episode, "All I'm saying is next time it could be you, so I'm just begging you, please clean your gun!" have come to pass, and her sigh in the gun lab of, "Oh, Speedle" says it all.

Calleigh's decision to hide the truth from IAB is not all that surprising, but her resolution to not tell Horatio that her findings are conclusive, that there was no doubt that the gun malfunctioned because Speed didn't clean it, is more interesting. She's protecting Speed from IAB tarnishing his record, but she's also protecting Horatio in a sense as well. Both Calleigh and Horatio did their best to convince Speed of the importance of cleaning his gun in "Dispo Day," and it's clear now that they both failed. Calleigh decides to carry that guilt alone, rather than sharing it with Horatio. It's likely Horatio suspects that Speedle didn't clean his gun properly, but Calleigh allows him to cling to the possibility that something else may have been responsible.

The only disappointing reaction to Speedle's death is Delko's. Delko and Speed were close enough to rib each other in the lab and hang out after work; the writers should have found a way to work some sort of reaction, other than the vague frustration he expresses when running the palm print, into the episode. They missed a golden opportunity when Delko and Horatio went to the martial arts studio to look for evidence. A simple line from Eric, something like, "Was it fast?" would have spoken volumes.

The funeral itself is a fitting way to end the episode, but the scenes that precede it are far more powerful. CSI does sentiment very well or very stingily, depending on your taste. Those expecting a speech from Horatio at the funeral were likely disappointed. Likewise, viewers who wanted to see the CSIs too devastated to do their jobs found that in Miami, the show must go on, even when one of the players makes a tragic exit. For those who like their sentiment understated and subdued, this episode was likely right on target. It was a fitting farewell for a beloved character, and the beginning of what promises to be one hell of a season.

Next week: A drive by shooting by boat!

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.