CSI: Miami--'Smoke Gets In Your CSIs'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 5, 2009 - 3:05 AM GMT

See Also: 'Smoke Gets In Your CSIs' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Calleigh and Ryan follow up on a call at a foreclosed house where a neighbor has smelled a foul odor. The pair discovers the body of a man in the attic, but before they can remove him, someone starts firing through the floor at them! The shots stop, only to be followed by an explosion below, which starts a fire. Ryan rushes out and moves to pull Calleigh to safety, but she refuses to leave without the body. The two pull the body out of the fire, coughing as they rush to safety. After the fire is put out, Horatio and Delko examine the scene. The body has no ID, and there are no witnesses to his death. Delko suspects the killer came back and set the fire to destroy the evidence of his crime. Delko finds a business card in the debris for a man named Jeff Peralta, who claims he was simply contemplating buying the house. He tells Horatio he doesn't recognize the victim. In the morgue, Dr. Price determines the victim was killed by a gunshot wound to the head the night before. She recovers some skin scrapings from under his fingernails, which DNA analysis proves belong to a man named Colin Astor. Astor claims he played basketball with the victim, but his questioning is cut short when Calleigh falls victim to a coughing fit. She collapses and is rushed to a hospital in an ambulance, Delko at her side. When they arrive, Alexx Woods, now working as a doctor at Dade General, meets them at the entrance. She is forced to put a tube in Calleigh's throat to help her breathe, and tells Horatio that Calleigh's respiratory problems are serious.

Lab tech Kevin Landau goes over the bullets recovered from the victim's body. The fatal shot came from a 9 millimeter gun and has no matches in IBIS, but the ones from the shooter who fired at Calleigh and Ryan are .45s, a match to a gun used in a robbery four months ago that was tied to a man named Ricky Gannon. Horatio, Ryan and several officers catch Gannon after an intense chase. Gannon admits he was squatting in the foreclosed house--and dealing heroin. Fearing the cops were there for him, he tried to shoot at them and then cause a fire by heating aluminum in the microwave. He denies killing the dead man, referring to him as "Doc" and noting that Doc was his best client. When they learn "Doc" paid for his heroin with prescriptions from Dade General, Ryan calls Delko and asks him to take a trip to the hospital's pharmacy. Delko reluctantly leaves Calleigh's bedside after putting his watch on her wrist to talk to the pharmacist, Teresa Vance. She identifies the dead doctor as Don Phelps and admits that they were sleeping together and that he had access to the pharmacy. She turns over Phelps' address, and Ryan and Horatio find it to be a large warehouse-like space. When they go in, they find what appears to be an underground operating room, complete with instruments and a table. Natalia and Ryan spray luminol over the plastic curtains, the table and the instruments and find large amounts of blood. Though it's clear the area has been cleaned with bleach, Ryan manages to find several blood smudges under the operating table.

Horatio talks to Wendy Kramer, the woman whose blood was under the table, and she tells him she needed a kidney and was on a long waiting list. Dr. Phelps offered her a quicker option--and saved her life. At Dade General, Delko asks Alexx for the kidney transporter. She refuses to turn over the box, noting that it could cost a life if it's not there when a kidney comes in, but she allows him to print it. He uses some materials in the hospital to get a print, which leads the team back to Colin Astor. Astor admits to being Phelps' assistant and tracking down people willing to sell kidneys for Phelps' procedures. He says Phelps' heroin habit cost the life of a patient, and tells the CSIs where they can find the body of the man who died during the transplant. After the body is recovered, the man is identified as Mauricio Colero. Dr. Price removes several staples from the incision Phelps' made, and Ryan recalls cutting himself in the attic on a similar staple. Tissue from the donor kidney leads the team back to Jeff Peralta. Horatio confronts the man, who is clearly in severe pain, and notes the incision in his belly. He admits to selling his kidney to Phelps, but he tells Horatio that after the operation, he was in agony. He followed Phelps to the foreclosed home and went to confront him, but the doctor refused to help him. Enraged, Peralta forced Phelps into the attic and shot him. Back at the hospital, Calleigh wakes up, able to breathe on her own. A relieved Delko returns to her side and promises to stay. Horatio asks Alexx how she's doing, and the former ME invites him over for dinner with her family.

Analysis:

When I first saw the title "Smoke Gets in Your CSIs," I laughed. I still can't decide whether it's the best episode title so far this season or the goofiest. Like "Won't Get Fueled Again" or last season's "CSI: My Nanny", it's a clever little wink at the fans. Sure, they're a bit on the irreverent side, but I do enjoy the wordplay and the fact that the show doesn't take itself too seriously. There tend to be fewer joking interplay moments between the characters in Miami than in the other two CSI shows, so the humorous titles allow the writers to have a bit of fun without taking any tension away from the story itself. Though the title "Smoke Gets in Your CSIs" is a pretty funny one, the episode itself is serious, with the amount of smoke Calleigh got in her lungs in the house endangering her life, and the case tying back into an organ-selling scam.

Calleigh has certainly had a rough time of it these last few seasons. While bringing evidence back in the Hummer, she was forced off the road by a suspect in season five's "Going Under". In season six, she was almost run over and killed in "Stand Your Ground". Several episodes later, she was kidnapped in the two-parter "Ambush" and "All In" and forced by two men to clean up a crime scene. This time around, she chooses to go back for the body rather than to rush to safety as Ryan clearly thinks they need to, and it's a decision that jeopardizes her life. The severity of her reaction to the smoke contrasted with Ryan's also felt off. I realize Calleigh was in the attic longer than Ryan was, but how is it that she's in the hospital fighting for her life while Ryan is literally sprinting after suspects? Because her exposure was longer, I'd expect Calleigh to be worse off than Ryan, but the discrepancy between them seems too great. And after Calleigh was taken to the hospital, wouldn't Ryan have been ordered there as well, if for no other reason than to be checked out so that Horatio could be sure that another member of his team wouldn't collapse during an interrogation?

Miami has definitely been reaching for greater continuity with its characters of late. Delko's development since his near-fatal gunshot wound to the head has mostly involved grappling with the way a bullet to the brain has affected his memory. Likewise, Ryan, who first got into trouble when he was a little too chatty with newswoman Erica Sikes in "10-7", has grappled with other missteps along the way, most significantly a gambling addiction that briefly cost him his job at the lab at the end of season five. Calleigh's recent development hasn't been as consistent; lately it seems like the only way to test Calleigh is to put her in danger. I miss the early seasons when she grappled with her alcoholic but well-meaning father, Duke, and tried to help him over and over without letting his plight interfere with her job. Calleigh is far too interesting a character to be shoved into the "victim who endures" role. We know Calleigh is a strong character, but I'd much rather see her tested psychologically like she was in "Wrecking Crew" when a witness died on her watch or in "Head Case" when she and Delko were at odds over the amnesiac suspect's involvement in a triple homicide than I want to see her victimized physically.

Calleigh's jeopardy paves the way for yet another scene between Delko and her in which their feelings for each other are evident, but no real progress is made between them. Delko telling Calleigh while she's unconscious that he can't imagine his life without her is very sweet and moving, but it's nothing we didn't know back in "And How Does It Make You Kill?" when she read the file his therapist kept of her sessions with him. I'm all for a slow build, but these feelings between Delko and Calleigh have been percolating since Delko had his own brush with death in season five's "Man Down". I had high hopes for the pair after "Head Case," when Calleigh flat out told Delko he was going to have to take a definitive step and tell her exactly what he wanted, but since then, it's been more of the same, with Delko making small gestures--like getting her the truffles in "And They're Offed"--but not declaring where he hopes their relationship will go. Yes, he tells Calleigh he can't imagine life without her, but he does it when she's unconscious. And yes, she tells him she heard him, but is a profession made while she's out cold really what she meant when she told Delko he needed to say what he wanted? Somehow I think not, and though the episode ends on a sweet note for the two, I think it's time for a definitive step to be taken.

Seeing Khandi Alexander reminds me of how much I miss the warm, effusive ME. There's nothing wrong with Dr. Price, but Alexx Woods' distinctive flair and vibrant personality livened up the morgue. In this episode, we see her in a very different capacity; this time around, Alexx is attempting to save the living rather than trying to get the dead to speak to her. She's all business; there's an urgency to her actions that we didn't often get to see when she was in the morgue. Of course, it's only natural that she'd be anxious: the life of one of her friends is in her hands. Alexx means business, too--she sends Delko out of the operating room when it becomes clear that his concern for Calleigh is interfering with Alexx's attempts to save her life. Though at the end Alexx mentions that she's only a doctor a few days a week and spends the rest of the time with her family, it's clear that she still has a passion for helping people. It drove her while she was an ME on the day shift and it drives her now as a doctor.

Horatio and Alexx share a nice scene together at the end, after Calleigh is out of danger. After asking him how he's doing, she warmly invites him to dinner with her family. Horatio, who seems to keep everyone at arm's length these days, actually accepts. It's nice to see Alexx is still able to bring out Horatio's lighter side; perhaps her distance from the lab allows him to be even more comfortable in her presence. Alexander has always imbued Alexx with a sense of motherly warmth, and that element--especially when contrasted with Horatio's distant paternal vibe--has been missing from the show since she left. It's nice to get a taste of that once again, if only to see that Alexx has moved on in a positive way. Most regulars who leave CSI shows do so in body bags--think Speed or New York's Aiden or, most recently, CSI's Warrick. Though it can't happen for every departing character, it's nice to see that now and then one of them gets a happy ending.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.