CSI: Miami--'Sunblock'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 31, 2007 - 6:31 PM GMT

See Also: 'Sunblock' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

In the middle of a solar eclipse, Ronnie Temple is garroted to death by the pool at the Woolridge Hotel. Epithelials on an open, empty case by Ronnie's pool chair are matched to Mario Montero and Natalia is shocked to discover his DNA contains wolf hormones. Mario tells Delko that Ronnie was a drug dealer--and the source of Mario's wolf hormones. When he went to purchase more hormones off of Ronnie, he found the man dead and stole his whole stash. Delko demands Mario surrender what he stole, and among the drugs he and Calleigh discover an ID badge strung on a lanyard and wonder if it could be their murder weapon. The badge's owner, Sean Hodges, a pool boy at the Woolridge, claims that someone broke into his locker and stole his badge. When Tripp notices cuts on his hands, he insists he cut himself moving on of the lounge chairs. Alexx starts her autopsy of Ronnie, but when she cuts into his chest, she faints. Ryan Wolfe comes into the morgue to tell her he's been reinstated, only to find her passed out by the body.

The CSIs discover that the night shift CSIs worked a similar case the previous evening: Diana Long was found garroted in her apartment, the fatal wound on her neck identical to the one that killed Ronnie. Clint Gilmore, the delivery boy who found her, tells Horatio that Diana stayed in her apartment on the computer alone all of the time and ordered take out every night, but that on the night she died, she ordered for two. Sam Barrish does an IP trace on the man Diana was talking to online the night she died and comes up with the name Nicholas Pike. Horatio pays the man a visit and learns the nightclub owner made plans to meet Diana the night before, but she backed out. He claims to have been at his club at the time she was killed. Alexx returns to work and tells Ryan it was fumes from crystal meth that Ronnie ingested shortly before his death that caused her to pass out. She gives him a hair she bagged just before fainting that appears to come from a wolf, giving the CSIs cause to go to Mario Montero's apartment. When they arrive, they find him on the floor, his neck cut, but still alive. Mario tells the CSIs his pet wolf saved him by scaring off the killer before he finished his work.

The CSIs match blood on Mario's doorframe to the pool boy, Sean Hodges, but he can't explain how it got there and insists he's being set up. Horatio believes him, and when the CSIs go to the Woolridge Hotel, they find a lawn chair that has been tampered with to cut anyone trying to lift it, as well as special topical cream used as medicine for photo toxicity--an allergy to the sun. The medicine rules out Sean Hodges, so Horatio calls Nicholas Pike down to the police station during the day, but when his skin doesn't break out in the sun, the CSIs assume he's not the killer. A wolf hair among the evidence gathered by the night shift CSIs from Diana Long's apartment leads the CSIs back to Mario, and he admits they were flirting online. He got her last name and looked her up, but she rebuffed him. Delko swabs his skin, but he doesn't find any evidence of the medical cream. Deciding that their killer has likely been watching his victims and picking them carefully, the CSIs isolate a building which overlooks all three crime scenes: Nicholas Pike's penthouse. Horatio and Delko rush there and discover a pre-programmed telescope with presets on all the crime scenes--and a fourth location, a college dorm room. The CSIs rush to the room and catch Nicholas Pike just outside of it, his face broken out in a terrible rash. They arrest him and find the wire he used to kill his victims inside his wristwatch. Pike tells the CSIs that he envied those who could go freely out in the sun--and became enraged when he saw people "wasting their lives." Horatio reminds him that wasn't for him to decide. Afterwards, Ryan comes to Horatio to thank him for helping him get his job back.

Analysis:

Another Halloween, another creepy, fun Miami homage to the holiday. Like "Hell Night" and "Curse of the Coffin", "Sunblock" blends superstition, science and suspense in delightful concoction. Why does it work? Perhaps because Miami does take itself so seriously, it's a welcome counterpoint when the show lets loose and has a little fun. And also perhaps because anytime a scientific explanation for "vampires" and "werewolves" can be found, it captures viewers' attention, and their imagination. This episode offers up both: lupine Mario is taking wolf hormones, believing that his true nature is closer to the wolf's than it is to a human's. And then there's suave, British nightclub owner Nicholas Pike, the very embodiment of a vampire, right down to his elegant, patrician name.

Like any good vampire, Pike is forced to shun the sun; in his case, it's because of a rare blood disease that makes his skin sensitive to the sun. The make-up department deserves kudos for making Pike's appearance post sun exposure truly painful looking. Pike develops an unhealthy ire towards those whom he deems are wasting their lives, and he goes for his victims' jugular--literally. Perhaps he chooses to frame the hapless pool boy because Sean's life is the antithesis of his: a life lived out in the sun, basking in it, working in it. Nicholas' alibi is also easily explained: who can't disappear in a crowd of five hundred club goers. I do wonder why the CSIs didn't do more extensive tests on Pike to see if he had the blood disease; one would expect scientists to be a tad more thorough.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ryan Wolfe is back! After he was fired last season at the end of "Burned", I assumed he would only be gone a handful of episodes, but I'm impressed the Miami writers didn't make his path back to the lab an easy or short one. Since being fired by Stetler, Ryan has taken several odd jobs. First he tried his hand at being an on air commentator for a news show, which, after his apparent interest with getting his fifteen minutes of fame back in seasons three and four, seemed to be a good fit until he realized it turned him into something of a vulture and earned the scorn of the team. He helped Horatio out by playing bodyguard to an endangered girl in "Cyber-lebrity", and has been working for the last couple of episodes at a shooting range. Ryan has definitely been well portrayed as a fish out of water away from the lab, unable to find work that suits him as well as his previous job.

All in all, Ryan was out of the lab for seven episodes (almost a third of a season), an impressive amount of time. After all that time, though, I can't help but wish there'd been a little more to his return to the lab beyond the fact that Horatio apparently pushed to have him reinstated. Interestingly, Ryan didn't really earn his way back into the lab: the last time he was significantly featured in an episode, "Inside Out", he was seen hiring himself out as an expert witness, claiming that Natalia had mishandled evidence by leaving it in her car while she practiced at the shooting range rather than taking it straight to the lab. Ryan's self-interest guides him more often than it perhaps should, and because of it he's a more interesting character. I hope now that he's reinstated at the lab, his weaknesses won't be entirely done away with.

The final scene between Ryan and Horatio is a nice counterpoint to the one at the end of last season when Ryan came to Horatio lamenting the loss of his job and Horatio noted that the work they did was "in [his] blood." In the final moments of this episode, Ryan thanks Horatio for going to bat for him and Horatio tells him it's good to have him back. Though I did hope Ryan's reinstatement would cause a little more friction--especially with Natalia, who certainly didn't seem pleased with him in "Inside Out"--it's nice to see the mentor/protégé relationship between Horatio and Ryan alluded to in this scene. Ryan, it seems, is getting a fresh start, and it will be interesting to see what he makes of it.

Also apparently getting a fresh start are Calleigh and Jake, who, despite tension throughout the episode, are seen briefly touching hands at the end before going their separate ways. A fresh start--or did they fake their break-up? It seems like the latter is a strong possibility, though if they're going to go to all the trouble to fight in front of their colleagues to convince them that their relationship is over, holding hands--however briefly--right outside the station probably isn't the wisest move. I'm glad to see Stetler didn't bring an end to their relationship in "Deep Freeze" since it was so abrupt, but if they're going to be covert, they might have to try a little harder. Still, it was a nice reveal at the end, because I for one bought the bickering and Calleigh's displeasure.

One person who wouldn't be happy to learn that Calleigh and Jake are still an item is poor Eric Delko, who sweetly tells Calleigh that had he been in Jake's shoes, he would have switched to the night shift rather than give up on the relationship. Calleigh freezes for a moment after he makes the declaration, contemplating his words. Does she feel guilty for lying to him? Does she realize the implication behind his words, that he has feelings for her and wouldn't let anything--even their jobs--stand in the way of those feelings? Is she perhaps thinking devoted Eric would be a better choice for her? Time will hopefully tell at some point down the road.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.