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'The Oath'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 20, 2004 - 5:23 PM GMT

See Also: 'The Oath' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Mallory Jacobs is driving and talking on her cell phone when a cop car behind her signals her to pull over. Upset, she prepares herself to flirt in hopes of getting out of the ticket, but when the police officer approaches her car, he begins to cough up blood. She screams as he collapses to the ground.

The next morning, Horatio arrives on the scene. When he sees the body, Horatio identifies the officer as Dan Coefield. Mallory Jacobs is still on the scene, but she's cleared as a suspect. Horatio calls in all the shifts. "They hit one of us, they hit us all," he says.

Alexx examines Coefield and shows Horatio that Coefield was killed by a gunshot that penetrated his lung. Calleigh notes that Coefield's car has three bullets in it, but that the casings from the bullets Coefield fired are not in the car or the area. This wasn't the primary crime scene. Speedle takes the surveillance camera from Coefield's car.

Speedle and Calleigh view the tape and discover that Coefield made a stop he didn't record. He confronted a man and then pulled him out of the camera's view, possibly to beat him up. The man is identified as Fred Rutter, a neighbor of Coefield's. The CSIs pull him in for questioning. Rutter reveals he and Coefield didn't get along, and he claims it's because Rutter had a noisy dog. Rutter tells them Coefield beat him up because he mouthed off to the officer. Horatio is suspicious and asks Calleigh to check the blood he sees on Rutter's watch.

Delko examines the police car Coefield was driving, and follows the trail the muffler left to find the primary crime scene. The squads come into examine the scene, and Horatio arrives to find Internal Affairs officer Rick Stetler there as well. Horatio isn't happy to see him, even less so when Rick flirts with Yelina. After he leaves, Yelina tells Horatio that Rick asked her out, and she went. When Horatio appeals flustered, she tells him her relationship with Rick is not complicated, and that it's hard for her to trust Horatio after learning that Horatio's brother had a child with someone else.

Delko tells Horatio that he's found blood, confirming that this was where Coefield was shot. He's also identified two other sets of tire tracks, one from a motorcycle, the other from a pricey, fancy car.

Calleigh goes to Rutter's house to return his watch. She tells him the blood isn't from him or Coefield--it's a woman's blood. When Calleigh spots Rutter's girlfriend, a shy young Latina woman named Ana, she pulls her aside and asks her if Rutter beats her. Ana demurs.

Valera tells Speedle she's come up with something from the samples Speedle took from Coefield's car: a woman's saliva and a man's semen. It seems Coefield had a prostitute in the front seat of his car.

Horatio runs into Mrs. Coefield in the police station and reassures her that he'll do everything he can for her. Meanwhile, Speedle has identified the semen as belonging to one Gary Nelson, whom he tracks down at a golf course. He reluctantly gives him the name of the prostitute he was with: Tiffany.

Horatio and Yelina question Tiffany, who at first denies being in the car. Then she relents and admits that she was there, and that Coefield agreed to let her off in exchange for some "favors." She said he was nice, and that he pays her. Horatio makes her turn over the money.

Calleigh arrives at Rutter's house with a warrant and finds him on the kitchen floor. He's been stabbed by Ana, who's fled.

When Horatio learns the money came from IA, he realizes Tiffany was an informant. He confronts Rick about Coefield's name being dragged through the mud, but Rick deflects him by saying that Horatio's anger is due to the fact that Rick is dating his brother's widow.

Horatio questions Tiffany again. She reveals that Coefield was after Jimmy Asario, a carjacker Tiffany helped. Coefield had her set up the bust by calling Jimmy to carjack Gary Nelson after she left him. Delko tracks Nelson's stolen car to a car shop and confiscates it.

Calleigh locates Ana at a seafood stand on the docks. Calleigh urges her to get medical attention because she's still in pain. She offers to go with Ana to the hospital, and Ana agrees.

Horatio brings Nelson in and tells him they've found his car, and also that they know he was present when Coefield was shot. Nelson continues to insist his car was stolen from his parking garage, not in a car jacking.

Calleigh goes to Rutter's house and figures out that he was beating her with a bar of soap in a sack. She intercepts him leaving the hospital and has him arrested for battery.

Delko finds a gun in Nelson's car, allowing Horatio to put the story together. Coefield interrupted the car jacking, which led to a standoff. The standoff was broken when Nelson fired at the car jacker in his car, leading to the shootout that killed Coefield. When Nelson tells Horatio he'll testify about everything except for Tiffany, Horatio tells him she's the least of his problems.

Calleigh calls her father and asks him to take Ana's case. Horatio pays a visit to Internal Affairs and runs into Yelina, who tells Mrs. Coefield is lucky to have him. The two exhange a meaningful look. Stetler brings up an internal affairs investigations file, this one with Horatio's name on it.

Analysis:

Love him or hate him, there's no denying Caruso possesses a powerful presence, and it is felt here in an effective yet subtle way. Caruso telegraphs with the arch of an eyebrow or the pursing of his lips; this case gets under Horatio's skin, but Caruso conveys that in an understated, and therefore even more effective, way.

The case itself is a lot less exciting and scandalous than it first appears. Ultimately it's a bust gone wrong, screwed up by the victim of the car jacking who fired his own gun and set off a gun fight. Indeed, what looks like an Internal Affairs cover up ultimately comes to nothing, and one has to wonder if Rick Stelter is on the scene merely to get under Horatio's skin. Which he does--he's dating Yelina. The scenes between Horatio and Yelina are particularly effective due to the fact that neither Caruso nor Milos milks the scenes too much. There's a lot going on between them, but it's mainly seen in the way they look at each other (or avoid each other's eyes) as opposed to what is actually said between them (though Yelina does get a shot in when she mentions that things are uncomplicated between her and Rick).

Coefield's case leads Calleigh to her own case, but alas, even that was pretty run-of-the-mill. Coefield's neighbor Fred Rutter is despicable, but he isn't given enough screentime to become truly loathable. Again, the plot is strengthened by the characters rather than the action. Calleigh's resolve and heart are what drive the subplot; Proctor manages to combine an icy determination to help Ana with Calleigh's southern sweetness.

Ultimately the small character moments drive this episode: Horatio's determination to do right by Coefield and his family, the tension between Horatio and Yelina, Calleigh's determination to help Ana (her phone call to her father at the end shows that she's still trying to help him, too). If Horatio is really going to be subjected to an Internal Affairs review, it will be interesting to see how that plays out as well.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a book reviewer and writer for TrekToday and CSI Files

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