CSI: Miami--'Raging Cannibal'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 22, 2008 - 7:32 PM GMT

See Also: 'Raging Cannibal' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A forest service worker out on a romantic rendezvous is shocked when a bleeding man falls out of the foliage. Detective Tripp identifies the man as Vince Koslov. Dr. Price determines the man was stabbed, but also finds something shocking in his stomach: a large section of human flesh! From the tattoos on the flesh Koslov consumed and on his own neck, Horatio realizes they're dealing with the Russian mafia. Calleigh and Delko trace the blood trail back and discover a second man's body--clearly the man who Vince bit into. Delko notices a sticky substance on the man's hands and thinks it comes from tape used by fighters. Their victim is identified as Andrew Brodsky, but his prints aren't on the knife that killed Vince. Delko gets a partial print match to a man named Greg Donner, who works at Diver Tech Supply. The man recognizes the knife and claims he sold it to a beautiful woman. Donner got her name and number: Cassandra Gray. The CSIs catch her leaving Oceanside Travel, having just purchased a plane ticket. When they ask her about Vince, she immediately confesses to killing him. In questioning her, Horatio learns Andrew was her boyfriend, but he's skeptical of her insistence that she killed Vince. The CSIs swab Cassandra's hands and find glass, leading them to think she fell while running--and was perhaps being chased. Tripp uncovers a Russian mafia-owned fight club, and the CSIs go to the gym and question the owner, Ivan Sarnoff, who insists he runs a legal club. Ryan finds a rather large pool of blood under one of the mats on the floor, and runs it through the system, getting a match to a man named Nathan Madden, whose wife Susan reported him missing two days prior. The CSIs question Susan, who recalls her husband arguing with a man named Jason Weller.

Natalia tells Calleigh Weller is in the wind, and the CSIs uncover a housing scam: the Russian mob was buying beach-front dock property for a fraction of the cost and turning them over for a tidy profit. Nathan owned one of these "slips" and was refusing to sell. The CSIs track down Nathan's missing boat and find arterial spray on it consistent with Andrew Brodsky's murder. The inside is wiped down, but Ryan finds shoe prints matching a shoe called the Surf Glide--which happens to be sold at Diver Tech Supply, where Greg Donner is employed. Donner killed Vince, after Vince killed Andrew for not following orders. Donner admits to borrowing Nathan's boat while Nathan was inside the club fighting for his slip, but Donner won't tell the CSIs who Nathan was fighting. Cassandra was a loose end he was hoping the CSIs would take care of for them. Horatio turns back to Cassandra, who admits she's afraid of the mob. She and Andrew witnessed someone dumping a body outside the club; Andrew pretended to shoot her and told her to run to protect her. Horatio puts her in witness protection and sends Calleigh and Delko to the club, where they discover Nathan Madden in the dumpster. A print on his body leads them to his killer: Ivan Sarnoff. Horatio confronts Ivan, but the man claims Jason Weller killed Nathan, and Weller steps up to take the fall for his boss. Horatio assures Susan Madden she's safe, and vows to Ivan that he'll bring the mobster to justice.

Analysis:

The title is a little misleading--Vince is more of a raging psychopath than a cannibal. Who really takes a bite out of someone to kill him? It's over-the-top in the way only Miami can get away with, but like previous titles this season, it does stick in one's mind. Unfortunately, the title also promises a more exciting episode than the one that's delivered: I went into the hour expecting, well, a raging cannibal, and got a Russian mob story. It's kind of sad when a Russian mob story is a let down, but with all the gang stories Miami does, the Russian mafia is just one more big, bad crime syndicate that Horatio is determined to go up against...and bring down.

That being said, the Russian mob ends up being less outlandish than most of the other gang stories Miami ends up doing. They're not trading in high tech weapons or designer drugs; this mob is simply making a profit in real estate, albeit in a highly illegal way. It's much more convincing and realistic than much of the fancy high tech stuff--interesting as that can be, it also pushes the limits of believability. It's a little surprising that Nathan Madden was the only one willing to fight for his beachside condo, but then, if lore is to be believed, the Russian mafia is pretty scary.

In the end, Ivan Sarnoff walks free, gloating to Horatio as he does so. This sets up a moment that's all too familiar to Miami viewers: Horatio vowing to take down someone who thinks he's impossible to catch. There's only so many times that card can be played before it becomes totally passť. How many times have we seen Horatio vow to collar a big gang leader or crafty killer who's just gotten away with murder...only to do so with ease a few episodes down the road. Walter Dresden, Antonio Riaz, Clavo Cruz, Ron Saris...Horatio always gets his man. The baddies get less interesting as time goes on though, and the take downs more routine. Does anyone really think Horatio won't end up getting Ivan in the end?

Even if it is predictable, I won't be sorry to see Ivan again. Andrew Divoff gives Ivan a strong presence, clearly dangerous while being outwardly solicitous. If we're to see him again, I kind of hope he gives Horatio the slip for a while; it would be nice to see Horatio go up against a nemesis with some depth, who truly proves to be a challenge. Ivan Sergei gives a delightfully smarmy performance as Greg Donner. Most suspects come across as simplistically smug when the go up against the Miami CSIs, but Sergei makes Donner's nonchalance believable.

I didn't remember that Delko was half-Russian, so when Calleigh said early on in the episode that it was something she was always forgetting, it came as a surprise to me. The show has explored Delko's ties to the Cuban community in the past, but I can't recall a storyline that delved into his Russian background. If the show does indeed pit Horatio and the rest of the CSIs against the Russian mob, perhaps it's a worthy journey for the character to take? Delko has enjoyed a wealth of development since he was shot in season five, but I certainly wouldn't object to a situation that goes into his past and explores his cultural background.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.