CSI: Miami--'Sink Or Swim'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at March 4, 2009 - 2:41 AM GMT

See Also: 'Sink or Swim' Episode Guide


Derek Powell, the defense attorney introduced in "Presumed Guilty" is hosting a yacht party with his fiancée, Nadine Alcott. He and his guests invite two speedboaters, Jack and Abby, aboard, only to have the pair turn on them and rob them at gunpoint. While the guests are lined up along the edge of the yacht, a shot rings out and Derek is horrified to look over and see Nadine has been shot. She dies in his arms. When the CSIs arrive, Horatio has them process the guests for GSR. He tells Derek he thinks the robbers had help. The coastguard spots the boat and Natalia and Ryan rush off to the location, discovering a man named Ken Vogel repainting it. He claims to work for the Parks & Recreation division, and says he found the boat abandoned. Natalia and Ryan discover a bag filled with the stolen jewelry from the yacht, but Vogel insists it was on board when he found the boat. When pressed, he admits to wanting to turn around the boat and sell it, but denies any involvement in the robbery-murder. Derek tells Calleigh and Tripp that Vogel wasn't the man who robbed the yacht. Calleigh points out that Derek's laptop is now the only item still missing, and wonders if the robbery was targeting Derek specifically. Horatio approaches Delko in the lab to tell him that the city has revoked his protection detail, making Eric once again vulnerable to any attempt Alexander Sherova, the Russian Mafioso Eric investigated after learning the man was in fact his father, might make on his life. Calleigh is able to trace the laptop to a coffee shop, where Abby and Jack are found by Ryan. Both deny murdering Nadine--they claim that after the robbery there were so many cops around they had to ditch the jewelry, and they fled with only the laptop. Yelina Salas approaches Gregor Kasparov pretending to be a hit woman inquiring about the woman who was hired to kill Delko--and failed. Kasparov sizes Yelina up and hires her for the job. Yelina covertly meets up with Horatio, giving him a notebook with information about Sherova in it--and telling him she's been hired to kill Delko. Horatio finds Sherova and brings him to Delko. Delko tells Sherova that he's his father, and asks the man how he could have abandoned his mother. Sherova maintains he owes Delko nothing and the younger man punches him in frustration, knocking out one of Sherova's teeth. Sherova walks off, leaving Delko disappointed.

In the morgue, Dr. Price shows Calleigh the object that killed Nadine, which Calleigh recognizes as a projectile from an underwater assault rifle. Horatio tells Derek that Nadine was the target; the robbery was just a distraction. Derek claims Nadine didn't have any enemies, and bristles when Horatio suggests he might have had her killed over their very public prenuptial dispute. Horatio sends Delko on a dive to see if the shooter left anything behind. He discovers a sophisticated scuba tank tangled in a fishing net that nearly takes Delko down as well. Delko brings the tank back to Natalia in the lab, only to be interrupted when immigration officers come in to arrest him, claiming they've learned Delko is not a U.S. citizen. Over Natalia's protests, Delko is taken away. Natalia recovers DNA in the tank linking it to Ken Vogel but tells lab tech Michael Travers that because the evidence was collected by a CSI whose citizenship is being called into question, the evidence might be inadmissible. Calleigh visits Delko in jail to bolster his spirits. Wondering how immigration got the information on Delko, Horatio turns to Derek's laptop and discovers Delko's Cuban birth certificate on it. Horatio confronts Derek, who admits he was gathering evidence to discredit Horatio's team during their investigation of his client, Kevin Sheridan. Horatio questions Ken Vogel, noticing the man is showing signs of decompression sickness. He wants to know who hired him to kill Nadine, but Vogel insists that he doesn't know the man's name--he just took the cash from him in exchange for the job. He does recall that the man was vocal about Derek, claiming he defended murderers and "took my whole heart." Horatio relays the information to Derek, who thinks the killer is Paul Garland, the father of Lindsay Garland, who was killed by Derek's client Kevin Sheridan.

Tripp brings in Paul Garland, who tells Natalia he didn't pay someone to kill Derek's fiancee. He points out the evidence Delko collected will be discounted because of his citizenship status, and Natalia realizes he was the one who pulled Delko's birth certificate off Derek's computer and got Delko arrested. Paul maintains he simply learned to manipulate the information he has to his advantage--a skill he picked up from watching his daughter's murder trial. He turns to Derek in the mirror, saying he took the thing Derek loved most and got away with it. He asks the defense attorney how it feels. Yelina tells Horatio she's done some digging into Alexander Sherova's past and has discovered he didn't exist before 1960--she can't find any legal documents or a birth certificate for him. Calleigh and Horatio use Sherova's tooth to find an isotope that indicates where the tooth developed. The isotope is unique not to Russia but to New Mexico. Horatio confronts Sherova, telling him that he knows he was born in New Mexico and is an American citizen. Sherova tells Horatio he was in Cuba just prior to the Bay of Pigs in the early 60s, and that after the incident the CIA threw him over--so he in turn rejected his American citizenship and reinvented himself as a Russian. Horatio persuades Sherova to come forward and reveal his citizenship so that Delko will be released--and have his status as an American citizen confirmed. Derek makes a case for getting the evidence Delko collected admitted in court, while a happy Calleigh meets a now free Eric at the jail. The two embrace and kiss, and he goes home with her. As Paul Garland is led away, Derek tells Horatio that he doesn't want to defend criminals anymore. Horatio points out that the county is always in need of prosecutors. When Derek asks Horatio about the loss of his wife, Horatio tells him that "you don't get over it, and you never will."


Like its predecessor, "Presumed Guilty," "Sink or Swim" is yet another gripping, twist-filled episode of CSI: Miami featuring Sean Combs's surprisingly sympathetic Derek Powell. Derek's arc over the two episodes shows him transitioning from an arrogant defense attorney to an earnest, somewhat disillusioned do-gooder, going so far as to defend the character of Eric Delko, a man whose reputation he once would have gladly tarnished, in court. A bit hasty over the course of two episodes? Perhaps, but then, the man did realize his wealthy client was a murderer and a kidnapper, and also lost his fiancée. Certainly the latter is something that would lead a man to reevaluate his life. Indeed, I found it quite gratifying that despite Horatio's suggestions that perhaps Derek had Nadine killed, Derek turned out to be completely innocent of any direct involvement in her death. His indirect involvement--in defending Kevin Sheridan and in digging up Delko's birth certificate--led to her murder and to her killer nearly walking free. No doubt Derek registered this, and it factored into his decision to give up practicing law as a defense attorney.

Combs is at his best in opening scenes, when he's horrified to see Nadine shot down and then rankled by Horatio's suggestions that one of his guests--or perhaps even he himself--may have had something to do with her murder. The loss of Nadine ultimately gives him something in common with Horatio, who lost his wife Marisol (who was also Eric Delko's sister) back in season four's "Rampage". Horatio went to Brazil to avenge her death, but he hasn't been involved romantically with anyone since. So when Horatio tells Derek that he won't ever get over his fiancee's death, he's definitely speaking from experience. Though Horatio isn't one to wear his grief on his sleeve, we've certainly gotten references here and there to his sadness over the loss of Marisol. It allows Horatio and nice moment of connection with Derek, who he's clearly warmed to. Horatio's suggestion that Derek consider a career as a prosecutor leaves the door open for Diddy to return one day.

Yelina Salas pops up in this episode--she's apparently become skilled enough as a PI that she's able to convince the Russian mafia that she's an independent hitwoman capable of taking out a CSI. A stretch? Certainly, especially since she goes right from her meeting with Sherova's lackey to Horatio's car. Given that we learned that Ivan Sarnoff bragged to Horatio that he was watching the team, it seems unlikely that a woman could saunter in, be awarded a major hit and then waltz out without being watched. It's an example of how Miami relies a little bit too much on conveniences--the bad guys are really sharp when they need them to be scary, but when it's more conducive to the plot to have them drop the ball, that's exactly what they do. Characters should always drive the plot and not vice versa, so if CSI: Miami ever wants to have a really scary, formidable, threatening bad guy, he's going to have to be on his game all the time--and not helpfully looking the other way when the CSIs need him to. Even if her inclusion stretches credibility a bit, it's nice to see a face from the earlier seasons of CSI: Miami. All the sexual tension between Yelina and Horatio seems to have dissipated, though.

In a refreshing change of pace, Alexander Sherova proves not to be an evil, soulless killer but a man disillusioned by his country's abandonment of him decades ago. The realization that he perpetuated that same kind of abandonment on his son is perhaps what brings about his change of heart in the end and causes him to come forward to help Delko. His cold "I owe you nothing," to Delko in the beginning of the episode makes for a sad reunion between father and son, and it's impossible not to sympathize with Delko when he loses his temper and clocks Sherova in the face. It's awfully convenient that the team gets a tooth out of the deal that allows them to pinpoint Sherova's origins, but the exploration of Delko's past has been interesting and compelling enough that its forgivable. Is Sherova a horrible man, as Delko's mother told him in "The DeLuca Motel", or is he a man who erred in his youth and is capable of reform? He certainly came through for Delko in this episode, and I hope we'll see their relationship, and Sherova's true character, explored further as the season goes on.

Delko's plight leads to a revolution that has been a long time coming: he and Calleigh are romantically involved. It's about time! The storyline between them has been developing since Delko fought for his life in "Man Down" after being shot in the head, but their growing attraction was stymied when she resumed a relationship with her ex-boyfriend Jake Berkeley at the end of season five in "Born to Kill". When things finally petered out between Calleigh and Jake, Delko was still there for her, still clearly smitten. Calleigh obviously returned his feelings, but the two danced around it until she confronted him in this season's "Head Case", telling him he was going to need to verbalize his feelings. Easier said then done, and Eric continued to hem and haw around his feelings for her, but when Calleigh had her own brush with death in "Smoke Gets In Your CSIs", Delko was finally able to say the words she needed to hear. Despite the fact that Calleigh was unconscious at the time he said them, when she woke up she told him she heard what he said, and apparently this allowed the two to move forward together--finally.

Together, Delko and Calleigh are every bit as solid and frankly downright cute together as we'd expect them to be. When he's in jail, she gently tells him he should have told her about what was going on with him. When he tells her he feels like he's been living a lie, she lightly counters with, "It's alright. I happen to like the lie." At the end, she's waiting for him when he gets out of jail, jokingly telling him, "I was going to marry you, but your dad stepped in." Delko, relieved of the threat of deportation, banters right back, saying, "What makes you think I'd say yes? Maybe I met someone I like better inside." She invites him over for dinner, and when he reminds her of possible danger, she retorts, "I have the safest home in Miami. Do you know how many guns I have?" The rapport between them is breezy, natural and light-hearted--they're a couple that we have fun watching. Grissom and Sara on CSI were a lot more serious, and Danny and Lindsay on CSI: New York could barely be in a room together without fighting before this season, so it's nice to see a couple on a CSI show just having fun together and enjoying joking together back and forth. It's great to see Delko and Calleigh have finally found their way to each other, and I can't wait to see where the show will take them next.

One of the best things about "Sink or Swim" is that it doesn't leave Ryan and Natalia, the most neglected CSIs this side of Greg Sanders, out in the cold. Ryan gets a great scene with the two hapless robbers, who are easily tracked down by Calleigh via the IP on the stolen laptop. Ryan really knows how to play it cool; he simply walks up to the table and sits down with the pair. Natalia gets a more intense moment in the episode; she's the one with Delko when the immigration officers come to arrest him. Natalia is downright fierce with them, getting aggressive to the point where it's a possibility that she, too, could be arrested for her interference. Eva La Rue channels a great intensity in this scene, showing just how attached Natalia has become to her teammates, and how far she's willing to go to protect one of them. Of course, Natalia has a past with Delko, one that began as a romance and has grown into a deep friendship. Seeing her jump to Delko's defense is a natural, nice moment for her character. Ryan and Natalia have been neglected as of late, so it's refreshing to see that they both have something interesting to do here.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.