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CSI: Miami--'Murder In A Flash'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 12, 2004 - 10:48 PM GMT

See Also: 'Murder in a Flash' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Several men are golfing at a fancy Miami golf course. Suddenly, high school students swarm onto the course. They carry golf balls, which they throw in succession as the chant three times, "The best of all the lost arts." When the mob clears, the body of a teenage boy is revealed.

When the CSIs arrive, one of the golfers tells Calleigh about the sudden appearance of the high schoolers. Calleigh tells him the students were a "flash mob"--a group of students summoned by e-mail or text message to a certain site at a certain time. Alexx says the body has been there for about nine hours, while Horatio notes a bottle of expensive alcohol lying near the body. Horatio wonders whether the mob was sent to hide the body, or to draw them to it.

Horatio examines one of the golf balls, which has the word "mob" written on it. Delko says it will be hard to get prints off the balls, but he does find a slipcase from a cellphone or pager. Calleigh says one person would have sent out the message out to all the others, and that every flash mob has a theme.

Alexx finds no ID on the victim, but when she tells Horatio he had knee surgery, Horatio suggests she check the knee for a serial number. The serial number gives them an identity: Daniel Kleiner. Danny was eighteen and attended Palm Crest Academy, a ritzy private high school.

Calleigh has traced a golf ball to one of the students, Chad Van Horn. Chad says he was just part of the mob. When asked about Danny, Chad says Danny had an argument with Justin Gillespie, another student at the school. Both boys were taken to the headmaster, Phillip Brooks.

Horatio, Calleigh and Delko head to Palm Crest, where Horatio tells Brooks that the CSI team needs to see the cell phones. Brooks says the students are all very aware of their rights and that interviews are out of the question. Horatio doesn't back down.

With Tyler's help, Calleigh traces the originating message to the phone of Justin Gillespie. She also notes that one student, Sara Mitchell, failed to show up for the cell phone examination. Horatio goes to see Sara, while Calleigh heads off to talk to Justin.

In her dorm room, a nervous Sara tells Horatio and Yelina that she sold her cell phone that morning for money. When Horatio spots a baggie filled with crystal meth, he knows what she bought. He spots a blood drop on the bag of meth and decides to bring Sara in.

At Justin's house, Justin tells Calleigh and Eric that he organized the mob but didn't attend himself. The headmaster's daughter, Stephanie, is studying with Justin and she says she didn't attend either. Delko lifts a sample of beach sand off the deck just as Martin Gillespie, Justin's father and one of Miami's top defense attorneys, arrives and kicks the CSIs off his property.

Alexx tells Calleigh that a tox screen revealed that Danny ingested GHB--the date rape drug. While some boys take it to get high, Danny had more than enough in his system to kill him. Calleigh suspects someone dosed the scotch found at the scene.

A trace of lipstick on Danny's underwear and mulch on his shoes lead the CSIs to Marie Mancini, a chemistry teacher at Palm Crest who was having an affair with Danny. She says he was with her the night of the murder, but that he left while she was in the shower. Calleigh and Delko decide to check her lab for GHB, since it would be easy for a chemistry teacher to make.

A security guard at Palm Crest tells them that Ms. Mancini would have had to log in all requests for chemicals for her lab. Calleigh doesn't find anything and instead puts in a request for suspicious substances or drugs confiscated by the headmaster.

Valera has identified the blood on Sara Mitchell's bag of meth as coming from a woman named Madonna Arias. Horatio demands the dealer's address from Sara, which she reluctantly turns over. Horatio and Yelina head to the apartment, where they discover more bags of meth with blood on them, and one very scared teen: Raoul Arias. He says he is looking for his sister. Horatio finds blood on and under the cushions of a ratty couch in the apartment, and he looks out the window to see a dumpster. Madonna's body is found inside, rolled up in a carpet.

A piece of fabric from Raoul's shirt matches one in Madonna's ring, and Horatio tells Raoul he knows they must have scuffled. Raoul admits he was trying to get his sister to get off the meth, and that he took a packet of it from her and flushed it down the toilet. After he did, she left upset. Raoul tells Horatio that he doesn't know what it's like to watch someone beautiful be ruined by drugs. Horatio is silent. Yelina shows Horatio that Madonna's credit card was used to charge $500 worth of gas, after her death, and she's got a station location and pump number.

While going through Danny's unread e-mail, Delko discovered a threatening e-mail from Chad Van Horn. Chad tells Eric and Calleigh that Danny was stealing chemistry tests from Ms. Mancini and selling them to students for fifty dollars each. Chad needed the test desperately.

Calleigh has another lead: the sand from the Gillespie house matched that on the golf course. But when she gets a warrant for Justin's clothing and goes over it, she doesn't find anything. She goes to Justin and tells him she knows the quote he used is from Mark Twain: "The best of all the lost arts is honesty." Calleigh tells the boy her father is a trial lawyer, too, and that he saw his only job as defending his clients, guilty or innocent. Justin confesses that he overheard a conversation between his father and another person about a body on the golf course. Justin couldn't bear the idea of the body just lying there, so he sent the flash mob to draw attention to it.

Ryan Wolfe hands Calleigh the report from the security guard, which reveals that some GHB was turned into the headmaster two weeks prior to Danny's murder.

At the gas station where Madonna's card was used, Fidel offers Yelina "half-priced gas--her cash for his card." Horatio arrests him, but when asked about the card, Fidel points the finger at Donny Slater, a meth freak. While Valera examines the card, Horatio goes to Slater to get a DNA sample.

Calleigh and Delko arrive with a waiver to search Brooks' office and house. When they go over the clothes, Calleigh is surprised to find some GHB on a red bra. The GHB from Brooks' office matches the GHB that killed Danny. Calleigh and Delko go to Brooks, saying they think Stephanie killed Danny. He starts to say she's left for Europe, but Stephanie comes out the door of a back room and confesses. She says she was tired of so many people cheating, and planned to drug Danny so that he wouldn't give out the chemistry test. But she gave him too much and he died. Brooks feels as though he let Stephanie down, and Justin is crestfallen when he learns that it was she who killed Danny.

The killer's blood sample from the couch cushion isn't a match for Donny Slater. He brings Fidel back in--Fidel wore leather gloves when he beat Madonna to death, but the impact of hitting her tore open an old wound, which bled when he dumped her body. Fidel says he was doing Madonna "a favor" by giving her a bag of meth to sell, but that she came back with the lame excuse that her brother flushed the drugs. Disgusted, Horatio says she was telling the truth. But when Raoul asks him if Madonna's killer said why he murdered her, Horatio says he didn't.

Analysis:

"Murder in a Flash" lacks the adrenaline rush and depth of the three episodes that preceded it, though it is a perfectly adequate episode for the most part. It's another example of a CSI show taking something that's trendy and new--in this case, the flash mobs--and using it in the context of a murder mystery. One question: how does Calleigh know so much about flash mobs? She comes across as a veritable expert on them. It was probably done to save explanation/research time, but it is slightly odd.

Neither case feels especially fresh. This is hardly the first time the CSI team has entered a ritzy world only to meet with resistance from its residents. Nor is this the first drug-related killing, or even the first one related to crystal meth. Meth must be especially big down in Miami; Horatio sure can't escape it.

There's a nice bit of irony to both of the cases. Stephanie didn't intend to kill Danny; she just wanted to keep him from cheating. By doing so, she ironically cheated herself out of the kind of future she was trying to secure by working so hard and not cheating. And Raoul thought he was helping his sister by flushing the bag of meth, but ultimately his action led to her death. The moment when Horatio spares him the knowledge of this is a poignant one.

Ryan Wolfe turns up briefly to hand Calleigh a report, but beyond that, he's not in the episode. It's a shame--a new character usually means character development, and there wasn't really any in this episode. Even Horatio's sparing of Raoul isn't anything new; we know Horatio will spare people pain if at all possible.

Next week: A murder in a trendy club leads Horatio to a cover-up.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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