CSI: Miami--'The Score'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at January 17, 2006 - 6:13 PM GMT

See Also: 'The Score' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

What seems to be a simple pick up at a private party turns deadly when Paul Sanders is found dead in a bedroom closet by his friend Todd Manning. Paul was stabbed repeatedly with an ice pick. The party's host, Wayne Reynolds, is a dating guru who hosts seminars called 'Score to Win,' which teach men how to pick up women and seduce them. Horatio is just beginning to examine the scene when he's called away by an officer: Marisol Delko, Eric's gravely ill sister, has been picked up after buying five bags of marijuana. The officer witnesses the sale, so there's no way out for Marisol, and Horatio is forced to place her under arrest. Back at the station, Todd Manning recounts discovering Paul's body in the closet while Calleigh and Ryan question Wayne about his program at the scene. He's smug and gives them very little, but they take his clothes to compare to a red fiber found on Paul's clothes, which Aaron Peters has identified as soy fibers.

Ryan interrogates Heather Larkin, the young woman Paul was seen flirting with and later going upstairs with at the party. Heather knew he was a game player, so when he got upstairs she rebuffed his advances and wrote a big 'L' for loser on his chest with her pen before leaving. Heather is disillusioned with men's attitude towards women in general, but there's nothing that immediately points to her as the killer. Elsewhere in the lab, Horatio brings Aaron the marijuana Marisol purchased for analysis, and Delko spots his sister. Horatio tells Delko to stay away from the case for his own good. The soy fibers that transferred to Paul match Wayne's shirt, but he has an explanation: he and Paul got into a scuffle when he discovered Paul was going to open a competing dating program and start conducting his own seminars. Wayne admits to being angry and fighting with him, but denies murdering him.

In the morgue, Alexx goes over Paul's body and notices an indentation on his left ring finger, indicating he was married. Ryan tracks down his wife, Brenda, who is devastated to learn of her husband's death. Ryan notices a burn pattern on her arm from a sparkler--something the waitresses were carrying at the party. She admits she snuck into the party and saw Paul going upstairs with Heather. She says she went home and cried. The Sanders had only been married for four months, and Ryan goes over their registery and finds an ice pick on the list. When he asks her about it, she says their garage was broken into, and their wedding gifts were stolen. In the lab, Horatio catches Delko looking over the report about Marisol's marijuana, but when the State's Attorney, Monica West, places a call in about the case, Horatio realizes someone has talked about Marisol's case. Horatio tells Monica about Marisol's cancer, but Monica says the amount of marijuana Marisol bought means that she can be charged with a felony. Monica also wonders if the lab's integrity has been compromised by Eric's case and now Marisol's.

Back at the crime scene, Ryan discovers a pen that his failing eyesight caused him to miss the first time around. The prints on the pen match one Karen Manning, who was at the party under a pseudonym: Heather Larkin. Karen is brought back in, and she admits that she is a newspaper columnist and was looking to expose the behavior of the men who enroll in these programs and exploit women. Karen seems genuinely shocked when she learns Todd discovered the body: she was trying to expose Reynolds to save her brother. Aaron analyzes Marisol's pot and discovers that three of the five baggies don't contain real marijuana. When Horatio tells Monica West she doesn't have enough to charge Marisol with a felony, Monica suspects the evidence was tampered with somehow. Eric insists to Horatio that he never touched any of the evidence, and together they return to the park where Marisol bought the marijuana, hoping to find evidence to lead them to the dealer. They find a baggie of joints and take DNA off of the rolling paper, which leads them to Keith Gifford. Faced with being charged himself, Gifford admits to selling mostly fake pot, and testifies as much to Monica. Marisol's case is bumped down to a misdemeanor, but Monica remains suspicious about the lab.

Going back over the evidence, Calleigh finds an aromatic dispersal unit--a fancy air freshener that releases a different scene ever half an hour. She and Ryan determine which scent would have been released during the time of the murder and begin to search their suspects' clothes for that scene. They get a positive hit off Todd Manning's clothes. After Todd saw Paul with his sister, he confronted him. Paul claimed that he slept with Karen and Todd lost it, seizing an ice pick Paul had brought and stabbing him with it. Calleigh notes the irony in the case: not only had Paul not slept with Karen, but Karen was trying to protect Todd by being there. Marisol tracks down Horatio to thank him for helping her. He cautions her not to get into the situation again. She wants to thank him by cooking him dinner, an offer Horatio politely declines at first. But Marisol presses him, and Horatio relents.

Analysis:

"The Score" is a thoroughly enjoyable episode of Miami, and one which presents a handful of suspects that are all convincing possibilities. It's fun to watch an episode and not have a guess as to the killer's identity right away. Though Todd finding Paul's body doesn't automatically eliminate him as a suspect, when I did finally hazard I guess, I was thinking it was probably Wayne, who went after Paul for professional reasons. But Karen/Heather and Todd were both viable suspects as well and I wasn't disappointed by any means when Todd turned out to be the killer--quite the opposite in fact.

As Calleigh points out, there's more than a little irony in the reasoning behind Todd killing Paul. For one, Paul was lying about sleeping with his sister. Given the arrogance inherent in this program, it's no surprise that Paul felt the need to lie about sleeping with Karen. To admit that she rejected him would have (in his mind at least) made him less of a man in Todd's eyes. But the real irony is that Karen was only at the party and up in Paul's room in order to expose the disgusting attitude that the program breeds and encourages. Todd couldn't have known that for sure, though given his sister's passionate beliefs, you'd think he'd know better than to think she'd sleep with a sleazy guy like Paul.

Did anyone find the men's attitudes towards women too extreme to be believable? Because I found it rung quite true. Miami often shows cocky men who go to clubs and pick up women with little regard for them as people. We've seen it before in episodes like "Legal" and "Prey", where men often show little or no regard for the women they meet or pick up at clubs and parties. Dating advice programs, seminars and books are very popular, and I have a feeling there are ones not unlike Wayne Reynolds' sleazy "Score to Win" program in operation right now.

If there's any man who represents the antithesis of the kind of guy found in these programs, it's Horatio Caine. Horatio is pulled off the case early on to help out Marisol Delko, who seems to have more than a friendly interest in the heroic detective. After he saves her from drug charges--and yes, it's a little convenient that the drug dealer Marisol was buying from just happened to be dealing more fake stuff than the real thing--she asks him to dinner and when he demurs, she persists and Horatio gives in with a shy duck of his head. The final shot of Horatio's face is one of charming befuddlement--the look suggests he's thinking, "Did I just say yes to a date with a colleague's sister?" It's an endearing moment.

Though the charges were bumped down to a misdemeanor after three out of the five bags of pot were found to be fake, Marisol's arrest is not without consequence. Because she's Delko's sister, the case attracted the attention of State's Attorney Monica West. Monica first made her appearance in "Urban Hellraisers" as Treasury Agent Peter Elliott's fiance, and at the time she seemed to be little more than a convenient way to end the flirtation between Calleigh and Peter. This is her fourth appearance, making it clear that Monica is going to play a much bigger role. Indeed, as she threatens Horatio at the end of the episode, she is suspicious of the lab and intends to look for evidence that the integrity of the lab has been compromised. It remains to be seen if she's just overzealous or an actual villain.

One person we can be pretty sure is villainous is the lab mole, but though there are a few possible hints dropped in the episode, there's still no real way to tell who it might be. Dan Cooper is the lab gossip--could he be talking to the wrong people? Aaron Peters seems to distrust Eric after his brush with marijuana use charges; could Aaron be bitter and disillusioned enough to actually start sharing lab secrets with someone he shouldn't? I'm wondering who the mole is spilling to--is it just the press, or is it other government offices, such as the State's Attorney's office? Both Erica Sikes and Monica West indicated they have a source in the lab, meaning that the mole is clearly funneling information through more than one source.

Ryan's ongoing eyesight problems are still plaguing him, and they seem to be getting worse. Alexx notices in the morgue that Ryan is unable to see the indentation in Paul's ring finger from his wedding ring, and when Ryan and Delko return to the scene, they discover Karen's pen--a piece of evidence Ryan clearly overlooked at the scene. As Alexx notes in the morgue, Ryan's eye problems are not merely an infection, which would have cleared up at this point after the course of antibiotics Alexx prescribed. Ryan's problems are clearly far from over.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.