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CSI: Miami--'Permanent Vacation'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 13, 2008 - 3:00 AM GMT

See Also: 'Permanent Vacation' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year old Brian Partney, on vacation with his parents and brother from Canada, is fatally shot in an elevator at the hotel they've been staying in. Alexx determines that Brian was killed by a single shot to the face, and though it's a through and through, the bullet is nowhere to be found. Horatio talks to the family and promises to find the killer. The CSIs suspect Brian's death is gang-related when they discover a bandana at the scene. Delko discovers a key card for room 804, which was not the room the Partneys were staying in. The CSIs question Mitch Pena, the occupant of room 804, and his girlfriend Sarah, who admits to getting drunk and giving Brian her room key. She and Brian got caught by Mitch and Mitch threw Brian out of the room. Natalia views video footage from a camera in the elevator, but all she sees of the shooter is a green band on the cuff of his sleeve--indicating he was wearing a hotel uniform jacket. Delko and Natalia scour the hotel laundry room and come up with a bloody jacket with a hole punch in the pocket, leading the CSIs to Luis Mendoza, a bellhop at the hotel who also happens to live in gang territory. Luis swears he's not a member of the Cobra Familia, and tells the CSIs he wants nothing more than to move out of the area. The Partneys catch sight of Luis, and Roger tries to attack him.

Horatio talks to Shane, Brian's brother. Shane recalls being in the parking garage and seeing a person riding off on a motorcycle around the time of Brian's death. The CSIs go the garage and recover the tread, and Delko is able to identify the motorcycle from it as being an Angel 56, and Ryan identifies a substance from the treads as vegetable oil, indicating the owner is a stunt rider. Horatio questions Vasco Torres, the owner of a stunt bike shop, and asks who rode the Angel 56, but Torres says the bike has been ridden by all of the stunt riders. Calleigh and Ryan find evidence that Luis broke into Brian's bag, but the CSIs have another problem on their hands when they go to the construction site where Luis Mendoza is working and find he's been attacked and badly beaten. Horatio suspects Roger Partney, who seems to have an anger management problem, but DNA on the wooden board used in the beating exonerates Roger--and implicates his son, Shane. Shane thinks Luis killed his brother, and wanted revenge. The CSIs are forced to arrest Shane.

Delko and Calleigh return to the scene and look at the bottom of the elevator shaft, discovering a pocket watch Shane said Brian carried and the missing bullet. Calleigh matches the bullet to Mitch Pena's gun, but he denies killing Brian. Though the gun has been wiped down, but Natalia is able to get a DNA match to Vasco Torres from sweat on the gun. Delko and Horatio arrest Vasco after a tense stand off in which Vasco boldly declares he's Cobra Familia. Horatio offers a deal to whoever talks first, Vasco or Mitch. Mitch tells the CSI that Vasco shot Brian in cold blood, but Vasco claims shooting Brian was his initiation into the Cobras--at Mitch's behest. Mitch lured Brian to the room with a text from Amy's phone while Vasco snuck into the hotel in a uniform jacket and waited for Brian. Horatio convinces Luis to help him get a lenient ruling for Shane in exchange for Horatio helping him get out of Cobra territory. Natalia gives Brian's pocket watch to Denise Partney, his mother, but the woman shocks her when she walks up to Vasco Torres, who is being taken to jail, and shoots him in the chest, killing him.

Analysis:

An innocent family gets caught up in gang strife in "Permanent Vacation." It's impossible not to sympathize with Roger Partney, who laments, baffled, that he thought the hotel would be safe. I've always thought the far-fetched gang stories are among Miami's weakest, and though "Permanent Vacation" is better than most of the gang episodes, it still shifts focus from the Partneys, who could have been more interesting than they are, and puts it on the Cobra Familia and their silly posturing. Why cast Dean Cain and Leslie Hope, two recognizable and gifted actors, in an episode and then under-utilize them?

Hope in particular has little to do in the episode, up until her shocking action in its final minutes. Hope had a memorable role in the first season of 24 as the hero's wife; though in some ways it was a thankless role, Hope's elegant demeanor and smart delivery managed to keep her from simply being a screaming victim. But she's barely around in this episode save for the end, when she calmly walks up to Vasco and kills him. Her action is understandable--she's a mother who's just lost her son to senseless gang violence--but the fact that we've seen so little of her up until this point takes away from some of the impact of what should be a shocking and chilling ending to the episode.

Cain gets more to do, but while his character Roger is the one Horatio wants to keep a close eye on, he's ironically the only member of the family not bound for jail or at least trial when the episode is over. Roger certainly doesn't come off as sympathetic as Denise and Shane do; he's definitely got a cruel streak. He's downright mean to Shane when the boy can't remember the face of the motorcycle driver he saw racing out of the parking garage, saying, "You let your brother down. You let me down." The accusation is cruel, and it's not surprising when Shane flies off the handle and attacks Luis, thinking he's avenging his brother's death.

Natalia makes an interesting observation at the beginning of the episode: she's thrown by being the first to arrive on the scene, even before Alexx shows up. "Just you and me," she says to the body, sadly. As much as the CSIs see death, it is somewhat understandable that they talk casually and even occasionally banter over the bodies. Their jobs are filled with death day after day, and casual conversation or humor helps lighten what must be a very tough job. The lines could come off callously, but they don't, in part because most of the actors deliver them with just the right tone, with a bit of grimness behind the banter.

Because she's first on the scene and there is no one to banter with, Natalia makes a connection with Brian, observing to Horatio that it feels like he's trying to talk to her and tell her what happened to him. It's times like this that remind the audience that Natalia is a relatively new CSI; she's only been in the field for a little over a season. It's nice to see that the writers are keeping up with her newbie status and haven't let it fall to the wayside. Earlier in the season we saw her training with a firearm, and even making a misstep when she stopped by the shooting range rather than taking evidence back to the lab immediately. Seeing Natalia find her footing as a CSI presents a refreshing counterpoint to her more seasoned colleagues and also brings the audience closer to her.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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