CSI: Miami--'Power Trip'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at December 3, 2008 - 4:13 AM GMT

See Also: 'Power Trip' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The body of a woman is found dumped on the street, her body covered in electrical burns. Though Delko notices no signs of a struggle, Dr. Price points out that there's no sign of a struggle or that she was restrained. Dr. Price determines the woman died of heart failure caused by electrical shock, noting that the victim's pupils were fully dilated at the time of her death. Horatio gets an ID on the victim: Kathy Meyers. At the station, he runs into Reggie Mastow, a homicide detective stuck on desk duty after being too aggressive in an investigation. Reggie has checked out Tim Erickson, Kathy's boyfriend, and informs Horatio that Tim has a record. Horatio and Ryan question Tim, who reported Kathy missing the night before; he tells the CSIs he was going to propose to her. Natalia finds no evidence of GHB or chloroform in Kathy's system, but does discover that Kathy had eyedrops in her eyes, which caused her pupils to dilate and effectively blinded her. Natalia finds a connection to an old case through the dilated pupils: Allison Nouvell, who was murdered a year ago. The lead suspect was an ophthalmologist named Max Paulson. The CSIs question him, but he denies killing either woman. Tripp notices he's sporting a black eye, and he tells the CSIs it's courtesy of Reggie Mastow. Horatio speaks with Reggie and learns the case he was fixated on was Allison's; he's convinced Paulson is guilty and paid him a visit to "put him on notice." To Reggie's dismay, Horatio asks for his badge and his gun, telling Reggie to let him handle the case--and promising to personally reinstate him once the case is solved.

The CSIs find a victim who escaped the clutches of the killer: Jessica Davis. Her fiancé Dennis Chilton tells Horatio that Jessica has breast cancer that's metastasized. Jessica tells Horatio that she was attacked but released after she refused to plead for her life. She's upset that the police dismissed her after she reported the attack, and Horatio promises this time will be different. Not long after he leaves, Horatio gets a call from Jessica that there's a man outside her house. He rushes to the house and finds Reggie outside in his car. Reggie tries to tell Horatio that Jessica isn't safe, but the CSI tells him if he finds him near Jessica again, he'll have his badge. Delko takes infrared pictures of Kathy's body and discovers deep tissue bruising on her neck, indicating she was being held in a blood choke, indicating their killer might have professional training. Delko suspects Reggie, but Calleigh defends him--though an encounter in an elevator with Reggie in which he tries to intimidate her into giving him details on the case leaves her doubting his innocence. Natalia notices Allison had her eyebrows threaded, which leads the CSIs to her car, parked outside a salon. At the scene, Natalia finds industrial grease. Horatio is soon called away: another body has been discovered.

Rachel Calvado has similar pupil dilation and obvious bruising around her neck, indicating the killer might be escalating. A hair found on her body is a match to Max Paulson, but Paulson has an alibi--he was at a movie theater at the time of the murder, and an usher recalls seeing him there. Calleigh wonders if Max is being set up, and sure enough when the CSIs reexamine the scene, they discover a clasp for an ankle holster. It proves a match to Reggie's holster. Horatio and Tripp find Reggie at his house, where the detective tells them that he was afraid Paulson was going to get away with two murders, so he picked out a girl with a long record and killed her in an attempt to frame Paulson. Horatio and Tripp are left with the sad duty of arresting a fellow officer. Certain Reggie didn't kill Allison or Kathy, or attack Jessica, they go back to the evidence and find two prints overlapping on a button Jessica's sweater from the day she was attacked. The technology exists to separate them, and they find a match: to Jessica's fiancé, Dennis Chilton--who she didn't even know at the time of her attack. They arrest Chilton and learn he fell in love with Jessica when he abducted her and she refused to plead for her life. He went out of his way to meet her and romance her, thinking he could give up killing. But when Jessica was diagnosed with breast cancer, he once again felt a loss of control, and murdered Kathy Meyers. Horatio tells Reggie of Paulson's innocence, and the former cop expresses regret--and later hangs himself in prison, believing he needs to pay for becoming what he despised the most.

Analysis:

"Power Trip" opens with a glimpse into the daily lives of the CSIs, a gateway into what proves to be a more personal episode overall for the Miami team. We see Calleigh going for a a jog, the fierce determination we see from her character in her job flashing across her face as she runs. Sexy Delko is emerging from the shower, beads of water trickling off him. One thing the CSI shows do well is sexualizing their male leads over the female ones; though Calleigh, Catherine on CSI and Stella over on CSI: NY wear form-fitting outfits, it's Delko, CSI: NY's Danny and occasionally CSI's Nick who show skin to titillate viewers. It's always refreshing to see men as opposed to women being played up as sex symbols. Female viewers love their eye candy as much as male ones, something those making the CSI shows wisely seem to realize.

The biggest tease in the teaser doesn't come from Delko's bare skin; it's seeing Ryan dropping a little boy off at school that provides for a surprise. Is it possible that Ryan has a son that viewers don't know about? After four and a half years, it seems unlikely, but then we get so few glimpses into the Miami characters' personal lives that it's within the realm of possibility. In his latest CSI Files interview, Supervising Producer Corey Miller noted that the writers were "using this device to tease a personal story for Ryan which will play out over the remainder of the season." It's definitely a shocking intro, given that viewers' first instinct will be to assume the child is Ryan's. Is he? Hopefully it won't be long before we figure out what his relation to Miami's maverick young CSI is.

Because the case casts suspicion on a renegade cop, Reggie Mastow, the CSIs are naturally more personally involved than they are in the average case. David Caruso in particular gets some really nice moments with Reggie, in which he initially maintains a delicate balance between respecting Reggie and doing what's best for the investigation. Caruso always does a great job in scenes where Horatio's compassion is in evidence, and it's clear that Horatio really does feel for Reggie. He can sympathize with Reggie's desire to close the case and catch the killer; at the same time, Horatio is restrained enough to realize Reggie's myopic fixation on Max Paulson is hindering rather than helping him in his efforts to bring the killer to justice.

Horatio is a guy who's crossed a few lines himself--most notably when he made clear his intention to make it look like a pedophile resisted arrest in "To Kill a Predator"--but he certainly isn't going to condone interfering with a murder investigation or strong-arming a possible suspect. He clearly feels for Reggie, at first promising to personally reinstate him after the investigation even after he's learned Reggie roughed up a suspect. It's when Horatio discovers Reggie outside of Jessica's house that the CSI really starts to worry about Reggie's state of mind, cautioning, "Don't do this, man." When Reggie reaches the point of no return, killing a girl with a record in an attempt to pin a murder on Paulson, Horatio looks as sorry as Tripp does when they conclude Reggie is responsible.

Calleigh has her own face off with the renegade cop in the elevator when he attempts to intimidate her. If he was looking for an easy target, he clearly picked the wrong CSI. Emily Procter conveys Calleigh's steely strength in the scene; Calleigh stands her ground, not one to be bullied. Reggie presses her for information about the case, and even goes so far as to try to physically intimidate her, but Calleigh puts her hand on her gun and gets him to back off, exiting the elevator without ever taking her eyes off him. Calleigh is definitely not one to be messed with, and if Reggie's had any interaction at all with her, he should know that. The scene illustrates just how far Reggie's obsession with catching this killer is taking him, setting up for the murder that takes him over the edge.

As Reggie, Malik Yoba convincingly portrays a man on the edge, someone who clearly thinks he's doing right even as he does things--beating up a suspect, threatening a fellow officer, killing a woman--that are clearly unconscionable. Though we know Reggie has crossed the line in a completely irrevocable way, as an audience we can see where he's coming from, just as Horatio and Tripp no doubt do. Of course, Reggie's fixation on the case is what costs him his objectivity: at the end of the day, the man he was so certain was the killer, the man he went so far as to frame for murder, was in fact innocent. Reggie's obsession not only nearly put the wrong man behind bars, but also would have allowed the actual killer to go free. It's a bitter pill to swallow. Reggie's intentions were good, but too misguided to produce actual justice. It's a cautionary tale for Horatio and his team.

Shanna Collins also turns in a great performance as Jessica, who survived a horrible attack only to battle breast cancer...and learn her loving fiance was in fact her attacker. If there's a poster girl for the slogan "life isn't fair," Jessica is it. I thought the fact that technology the CSIs have now but didn't when Jessica was first attacked ended up saving the day was a nice twist. It certainly underscores how quickly technology is evolving in the field--and how important it is to have the most current machinery in the crime lab.

After showing frustration with Delko in the last few episodes, Dr. Price is almost sugary sweet to him this time--at least with her tone of voice. She asks him, sweetly, why he doesn't just get the pictures of the body from the case file as opposed to taking them himself when he shows up in her morgue with a camera. Her tone might be light, but there's something behind the question. Might Tara be fighting a crush on the handsome--and oblivious--CSI? Given his rather obvious feelings for Calleigh, she'd have good reason to try to quash the feelings if they are starting to grow, but then, that's something that's easier said than done. I'll be interested in seeing how their relationship progresses in the coming weeks.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.