CSI: Miami--'Nothing To Lose'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 23, 2005 - 11:38 PM GMT

See Also: 'Nothing To Lose' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Delko and Alexx are summoned to the Everglades, where the body of a young man has been discovered in the mouth of an alligator by several rangers. Despite the fire raging around them, Delko retrieves the body, but a lightening strike spreads the fire, forcing the CSIs to flee with the body. Alexx notices shotgun wounds in the man's back, but Delko notes that the fire will make difficult to determine where he was shot. Horatio convinces the fire chief to let them back to the crime scene. Claire Bushnell, a freelance photojournalist, tries to convince Delko to let her take photographs of the scene, but he refuses and sends her away. A group of inmates arrives from Miami Dade jail, and one of the firefighters, Craig Adams, gets into an argument with Rico Garza, one of the inmates. Horatio breaks the fight up.

In the morgue, Alexx tells Calleigh that the cause of death on their victim is hemothorax, the collapse of his lung, from the shotgun wounds. Alexx pulls the lead out of the wound and hands it to Calleigh--it's homemade bullet constructed from lead, which is illegal in Florida. Alexx also hands Calleigh a set of keys and a College of Miami ID card. Back in the Everglades, Delko and Horatio find the spot where the alligator dragged the body away, but their attention is diverted when they notice Rico Garza leaning against a tree, impaled by a shovel. Horatio immediately suspects Craig Adams, but the firefighter denies involvement.

Tripp learns one inmate is missing from the firefighting team: Cyrus Everton. Everton is back at the jail, which should be impossible as he's supposed to be on the firefighting detail. Everton is in jail for sneaking a gun into the trial of Ty Radcliffe, an actor who Everton says raped his nine-year-old son. Horatio and Tripp go to the jail, where they see Everton is without his wristband. Horatio checks the prison records and learns that a spree killer named Todd Kendrick, was in the cell next to Everton. Everton must have switched their wristbands and sent Kendrick out to kill Radcliff. Horatio and Delko call Radcliffe into the police station to tell him he's in danger, but he refuses police protection completely.

At the College of Miami campus, Calleigh and Ryan question Pam Carpenter, whose ID card was on the body from the Everglades. She identifies him as Paul Travers, who was making an alcohol run with her boyfriend, Jeff McGill. The boys were fraternity brothers and were in the Everglades to get 190 proof alcohol from a seller Jeff claimed to know. Pam turns on her cell phone and finds a message from Jeff telling her he's being shot at. Calleigh and Ryan head back to the Everglades, where they find Dale Buford, the man who was going to sell Jeff alcohol. In his garage, they find a shotgun with some shot shells. Dale claims his brother took the last of his bullets.

At the CSI offices, Suzie Barnam approaches Horatio. She's come to make a claim on Ray's pension: Madison has Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, a rare blood cancer, and Suzie can't afford the hospital bills. Horatio insists on paying the bills and embraces Suzie, comforting her. Yelina happens by and casts questioning glances at the pair.

Calleigh has located Jeff: he's at the hospital with a shotgun wound. He tells Calleigh he was haggling with a man over the price of the alcohol when he started firing at him and Paul, but when she shows him Dale Buford's picture, he says Dale isn't the man. Ryan has located Dale's brother Norm, but Norm, too, denies shooting at the college kids. Calleigh tests his hands for GSR, and Ryan finds a wallet with fraternity letters in Norm's pocket. Norm admits to finding Paul's body, but claims he was already dead when he did. Calleigh's test for GSR comes up negative, but she says that by now the GSR could have been washed off. She makes her own buckshots using the Buford's tools and determines that the shots that killed Paul came from their shotgun. Norm sticks to his story: so long as they can't put the gun in either his or Dale's hands, they can't prove anything.

Tripp shows Horatio the files on Kendrick, and Horatio surmises that Kendrick will go after his own personal enemies before trying to kill Radcliffe. Delko finds fish food on the shovel, leading him and Tripp to a fish farm in the Everglades. They find an abandoned handgun case that Kendrick must have dug up and assume that Garza must have surprised Kendrick when he was digging it up. They also find another body: that of Claire Bushnell, who also happened upon Kendrick. Tripp notes that Kendrick now has a gun and a car. Horatio locates the person who buried the gun for Kendrick: Patty Johanson, who used to date Kendrick. He continued to harass her after they broke up, but promised to leave her alone if she buried the gun for him. She tells the CSIs she thought the gun was for Larry Van Owen, an old associate of Kendrick's who was released a month ago. Horatio and Tripp pay a visit to Van Owen at his boat home, but they're too late: the man is dying, a machete stuck in his gut. Kendrick paid him a visit and took the money the two of them stole together, which had never been recovered.

A SWAT team is dispatched with Horatio and Tripp to Radcliffe's house, but it's too late: the man is dead, killed by a shot to the groin. The CSIs find a gun by the dead actor and surmise that he got a shot off: Delko follows a blood trail out to the back but loses it by the water. Tripp interrupts Horatio to tell him that Suzie is trying to reach him. Horatio leaves for the hospital, where Suzie is sitting by Madison's bed. She's devastated because her bone marrow doesn't match her daughter's; Horatio decides to get his own marrow tested.

Alexx and Delko find a hidden child's room in Radcliffe's house: he was a child molester. Alexx gets in her truck and drives off, but when she makes it past the roadblock, Kendrick appears behind her in the truck, puts a gun to her head and orders her to drive. At the scene, Delko discovers one of the bodies from Alexx's van and realizes Kendrick has switched places with it. He calls Horatio and tells him that Alexx is in trouble. Kendrick forces Alexx to hand him her badge; he promises to kill her children if she doesn't help him. He pulls her out of the van and orders her to dress his wound. He tells her they have one more stop to make. He takes her to Everton's house, where Joey Everton, Cyrus's son, is playing video games. Kendrick steals some files and then forces the boy to go outside, where he shows him the body of Radcliffe. Alexx tries to fight Kendrick off, but he throws her down. He aims his gun at her, but the sound of sirens chases him off. Horatio, who traced her vehicle, runs up and asks her if she's okay and sends her home. Horatio gets call from Madison's doctor, who tells him he's not a match for Madison. He calls Yelina and tells her he needs to talk to her.

After Pam comes in to get Paul's personal items and confesses that she was in love with him, Calleigh brings Jeff in for further questioning and notices flecks of dirt in his hair. Testing a theory, she fires the Bufords' shotgun and gets similar flecks in her hair. She and Ryan zero in on Jeff: Pam was in love with Paul. Jeff got the Bufords' shotgun and killed Paul, but after he returned it, Norm caught him leaving and shot at him. It almost bought Jeff an alibi.

Horatio finally tells Yelina that Madison is Ray's child, not his. She's angry with him for not telling her, and when he explains Madison's condition to her, she tells him she doesn't want her son to have to pay for his father's mistakes.

Horatio asks Cyrus Templeton about the file Kendrick stole, which turns out to be password information on wealthy clients whom Cyrus's company provided security systems for. Horatio rushes to the house of the wealthiest client only to find Kendrick has already hit the house and is fleeing on the man's airboat. Horatio and Delko get an airboat of their own and give chase, through the Everglades, where the fire is still raging. Eventually, Kendrick is forced to give up the airboat and flee on foot, but Horatio and Delko soon corner him. Rather than surrendering, he walks into the raging fire. After the fire finally dies out, Alexx identifies Kendrick's body.

Horatio pays Suzie and Madison a visit at the hospital to console them. As he's telling Suzie there are other options, Yelina and Ray, Jr. arrive and Ray's two children meet for the first time.

Analysis:

Miami's ninety-minute extravaganza is a high octane episode that has the feel of an action movie. It certainly has all of the elements of one: a homicidal bad guy on the loose, a hero that's his match and ultimately more (that would be Horatio), a hostage situation involving a character the audience cares about, and a high speed, guns blazing boat chase through a hostile terrain. The episode even has an emotional touchstone, with Madison's plight and Horatio's confession to Yelina that Madison is Ray's daughter, not his own. The only part of this episode that feels like an ordinary CSI staple is the B-plot, which is a pretty routine whodunnit.

Luckily not too much time is spent on that B-plot. It gets the episode started, and though it's pretty exciting to watch Delko actually pull the body from the jaws of the gator, that's about the only really thrilling part of the subplot. When Pam starts crying upon identifying Paul's body, it's apparent that something is up, given that she didn't have the same reaction upon learning Jeff was missing. And then Jeff turns up in a Miami hospital, hurt but with no knowledge of what happened to his friend? It wasn't hard to put the pieces of the puzzle together, given that the only other suspects, the hapless, shifty Buford brothers, were way to obvious to actually be guilty.

The main plot more than makes up for it. Todd Kendrick is one heck of a bad guy, but he at times shows signs of actual depth, which is what makes him interesting. For one, he keeps his promise to Cyrus Templeton when he's under no actual obligation to. It's very disturbing when he goes to Templeton's home and show's Templeton's son, Joey, the body of Ty Radcliffe, but Jeffrey Donovan conveys in his facial expression that he thinks he's giving the child a sense of closure. Alexx, and the audience, are horrified, but it's clear from Donovan's performance that he thinks he's actually doing something good. And he lets Alexx go--he obviously considers shooting her, and despite the fact that the sirens cause him to flee, it wouldn't have taken him long to shoot her and run. But it's clear that Kendrick feels at least some gratitude towards her for dressing his wound. There's no doubt that Kendrick's a monster--he's killed several innocent bystanders at this point--but he clearly has his own code of honor, which makes him a more interesting villain than he could have been.

Of course, he's being pursued by a man who also has his own code of honor, and its a rigid one. Horatio doesn't get a lot of character development in the A-plot itself: he's essentially doing what he always does: chasing the bad guy and in the end, of course, getting him (or cornering him, as the case may be). Of all the CSI show leads, Horatio is the one who most often seems larger-than-life, but then, a plot like this, which ends in a chase through the burning Everglades, demands just that kind of hero. Compare this to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation's "What's Eating Gilbert Grissom?", which features Grissom pursuing an equally-worthy nemesis. Both Kendrick and the Blue Paint Killer are diabolical, but each mirrors the man chasing him. While Kendrick is all explosive energy and violence, the Blue Paint Killer is cerebral and cunning. Kendrick is a foil for the man of action, Horatio, while the Blue Paint Killer's evil is quieter, more insidious, making him a match for the man pursuing him, thoughtful, introspective Grissom.

I'd love to know what the budget was for "Nothing to Lose." Though it's not quite as showy as "Crime Wave", which featured, among other things, a tsunami and a massive explosion, the fire in the Everglades looked pretty extensive. I imagine some or most of it was CGI, but it was an impressive display, especially in the end, when Horatio and Delko were chasing Kendrick on the airboat.

"Nothing to Lose" packs an emotional punch, too, thanks to the reappearance of Suzie Barnam, and the child she shares with Ray, Madison. Madison's grave illness is perhaps the only thing that could have forced Horatio to reveal the truth about Madison's parentage to Yelina. Again, Yelina's character is given the short shift--she barely has time to react to Horatio's information. The conclusion is pretty much a forgone one: Yelina's not a monster, and if Ray, Jr. can help Madison, she's going to consider the option. The scene between her and Horatio is a decent one, and she musters up some anger, but it comes late in the episode, and the next scene we see is the final one at the hospital. Yelina again is relegated to being a victim of circumstance: she's just found out some crushing news about her late husband, but all she can really do is bring her son to the hospital to help the other child Ray has left behind.

Horatio doesn't get short changed, though, and both David Caruso and Azura Skye shine in their scenes together. Horatio and Suzie have developed a genuine bond and it shows in their first scene together, when Suzie comes with paperwork to make a claim on Ray's pension. She clearly isn't comfortable taking so much from Horatio, who, as she astutely points out, is paying for his brother's mistakes. Horatio is clearly acting from more than just a sense of duty: he clearly genuinely cares for not only Madison but Suzie as well. Suzie has turned her life around in a way Ray was never able to, either because he simply wasn't capable of it or because he never got the chance, and Horatio clearly admires her for it. The way he so genuinely cares about those around him is part of what makes Horatio such an appealing character.

"Nothing to Lose" concludes February sweeps month in pure Miami style: lots of action with a little heart thrown in to ground the episode. Less outlandish than "Crime Wave," it's ultimately a satisfying tale, a small screen action flick that reflects Miami's third season by highlighting its strengths.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.