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CSI: Miami--'Silencer'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at January 24, 2006 - 7:59 PM GMT

See Also: 'Silencer' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A concert in a park on a sunny day turns deadly when a man and a woman are gunned down. Jose Sambrano and Claire Trinner are the only two hit, and when Horatio discovers a pitchfork tattoo on Jose's chest, he recognizes the Mala Noche gang symbol. On his way to the morgue, Horatio runs into Marisol Delko, who tells him she had a great time at dinner the night before, and also expresses concern about how her brother will react to their burgeoning relationship. Horatio promises to speak to Eric and heads off to the morgue, where Alexx shows him a white powder found on Claire's leg and a recent addition to Jose's tattoo, a red triangle in the pitchfork handle which Horatio recognizes as the symbol for him being "made," or a full member, safe within the gang. Tripp and Delko pay a visit to Hector Ramirez, the tattoo artist who inked Jose's tattoo. Hector doesn't give them anything useful, but Delko takes a picture of Jose with another man's tattooed arm in the picture with him.

In the ballistics lab, Calleigh examines the bullet and discovers a second set of striations on it, indication it went through a silencer. She runs it through IVIS hoping for a match. Aaron has analyzed the powder on Claire and determined it's a new drug not yet in the system, so he begins to break it down. Delko and Dan Cooper compare the tattoo on the arm in the picture of Jose in a tattoo database and come up with Carlos Mojena, who refuses to talk. Because Jose was made, Horatio and Delko begin to suspect Claire may have been the target. Aaron determines the powder is a pain medication compound, leading Ryan and Delko to Claire's place of employment, Cantor Pharmaceuticals. Alyssa Prince, the company's CEO, tells then the drug is Xorax and they are awaiting FDA approval for it. Delko and Ryan turn to Paul Burton, the company's head of research, who would have had access to the drug. He tells them he got it on Claire's thigh when she was teaching him how to dance during lunch so he could impress his girlfriend. The CSIs turn to a blog being kept by one an employee of the company about all the gossipy goings-on at Cantor, but they aren't able to decode the nicknames the blogger has given everyone, so they decide to track down the blogger.

Calleigh gets a lead on the silencer--it was used two days ago in an armed robbery at a botanica. She questions the man charged with the crime, Mario Pilar, but he proclaims his innocence, claiming that the Mala Noche set him up. Mario is a landscaper, and Calleigh asks for a list of all the addresses of houses he works at. She brings the addresses to Horatio and tells him she believes that Mala Noche might be using these houses to hide weapons. Horatio notices Claire's address on the list and pays a visit to her house, only to find her husband, Jim, frolicking in the hot tub with his next door neighbor, Cindy, leading Horatio to suspect Jim may have stored weapons for the Mala Noche in exchange for them killing Claire. Dan Cooper is able to trace the blog to Sally Jensen, a secretary at Cantor. She blogged from her desk using a virtual keyboard. Delko prints it to try to see which letters she typed most frequently. This leads him to a hidden text message in the blog which reveals that Xorax didn't get FDA approval. Ryan knows Sally could only have heard this from one person: Paul Burton, as Alyssa was in a teleconference at the time.

The search for weapons turns up dry at all the houses, but Mario is holding out one address: Alyssa Prince's. The weapons are found at her house, but Alyssa denies any knowledge of them. She says when Mario was arrested, other men took up the work and she didn't question them. Calleigh finds the silencer used in the shooting among the weapons and discovers a substance on it that turns out to be liquid flux, used in needle-making. This leads Horatio back to Hector, the tattoo artist. He caves and admits Jose got the tattoo even though he hadn't been officially made yet, so Carlos signaled Hector to kill him. He'd also been hired to kill Claire, so the Mala Noche told Jose they wanted him to abduct Claire, bringing the two together and making the hit easier. The motive behind Jose's murder is solved, but who hired the Mala Noche to kill Claire? Delko turns to Paul Burton's girlfriend, who turns out to be none other than Alyssa Prince. She believed Claire and Paul were having an affair, and when she discovered the Mala Noche were hiding weapons at her house, she hired them to kill Claire. Delko tells her the irony in her action: Claire was teaching Paul how to dance so he could impress her. With the case closed, Horatio tells Delko about his date with Marisol, but Delko knew and isn't concerned for his sister, though he is worried about Horatio. He tells Horatio Marisol likely only has a few months to live, but Horatio reassures him that he can live with that.

Analysis:

Confused? You weren't alone. Miami specializes in long, winding plots that leap from one connection to the next. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. There are cases when it's a stretch and the writers just manage to pull it off, but one connection too many can tip the scale and I think that's what happened here. Connecting Claire and Jose was a clever idea, but I think throwing in Mario and the crime he was framed for and having him being the connection between the Mala Noche and Alyssa was the one twist too many. Maybe not--it's always hard to pinpoint the twist that sinks the boat.

It may have been having to jump back and forth from the world of the Mala Noche to the pharmaceutical company over and over again that created the confusion--trying to connect all the threads together was dizzying. It was a clever twist that the drug substance found on Claire's leg wasn't a new drug the Mala Noche had gotten ahold of but actually an experimental drug the company Claire was working for was trying to get FDA approval on, but the drug didn't end up being as central to the story as the revelation of the hidden text in Sally's blog suggested it might be. Red herrings are fine, but the drug was played up as a major plot point and then suddenly dropped, which was puzzling to say the least.

I was disappointed in the end to discover that Claire's death didn't have to do with a company cover-up or dirty dealings that brought her into contact with Mala Noche, but a lover's dispute. Alyssa thought Claire was moving in on her man, so she hired the Mala Noche guys who were concealing firearms in her backyard to do Claire in. Carlos was right when he called Alyssa "crazy"--consorting with a gang and paying someone to kill the woman she believes her boyfriend cheating on her with is hardly in line with the kind of person who works her way up the company ladder to become a CEO. It seemed a stretch to think she'd risk throwing that all away to get a woman offed just because she "do[esn't] like to lose."

In addition to making the story somewhat hard to follow, the convoluted plot also buried what was really a very nice parallel between office gossip at Cantor and the inter-office relations at the Miami crime lab. Office intrigue turned deadly at Cantor, and though the same thing probably won't be happening at the Miami lab, there's potential for tension there. Ryan mentions to Delko that he was thinking of asking Natalia out before he saw Delko and Natalia canoodling. Given that these two just got their shakey relationship back on solid ground, will this be a new source of tension. Ryan says he's "glad" he saw them together, but his voice tells a different story. Ryan even goes so far as to say he thought Natalia might have been interested in him when she visited him at a crime scene in her neighborhood in "Shattered". Delko dismisses the idea of Natalia being interested in Ryan in a way that suggests he's already a little possessive of her.

One person Delko clearly doesn't want to know about his relationship with Natalia is Calleigh, who, when she makes an offhand comment about office romances in reference to Cantor, he assumes is making a reference to Natalia and him. He immediately suspects Ryan of telling her, another indicator that he still doesn't trust Ryan fully. Calleigh innocently asks what Delko is referring to, twice, but he doesn't give her an answer. It will be interesting to see how Calleigh reacts to the news when she does find out, given that she doesn't seem too fond of Natalia's tactics when it comes to drumming up publicity for her work, and, of course, the attraction and easy camaraderie that's always existed Delko and Calleigh.

Delko has no qualms about the relationship developing between Horatio and Marisol, except that he's concerned about how Horatio will cope with getting involved with Marisol only to lose her in the end. Horatio takes the news in stride, perhaps because he's in that flush of first falling in love. Horatio was practically giddy as he spoke with Marisol in the beginning of the episode. It's clear he's very taken with her, and it's refreshing to see, especially after all of the soulful, unfulfilled looks that passed between Horatio and Yelina in the first three seasons of the show. Of course, relationships between characters on television shows are rarely uncomplicated, and with Marisol's eventual death looming over them, it's uncertain how long the bliss will last. But for now, it's really nice to see Horatio smiling.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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