CSI: Miami--'Tunnel Vision'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 30, 2008 - 5:24 AM GMT

See Also: 'Tunnel Vision' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Road rage turns fatal when the instigator's car literally falls through the road when it crumbles beneath him. The crash kills him, but when the CSIs arrive, they discover a makeshift tunnel beneath his car leading to a bank vault. In addition to an apparent robbery, the CSIs also discover the body of Lori Stoltz, the bank's assistant manager, crushed in the tunnel. Given the location of her body and the fact that her code was the one used to disarm the vault, it's apparent that she was involved. Horatio and Delko go over the vault; Horatio finds an electronic detonator and Delko asks the bank manager for a list of the owners of the safety deposit boxes that were robbed in the vault. Across the street, Calleigh and Natalia investigate a construction site where they suspect the tunnel originated. Calleigh notices tire treads and surmises they're from the getaway vehicle. The women discover the entrance hidden behind a tarp, and they ask the foreman, Keith Farrell, about the project he's on, learning that the new headquarters for Amanda's Orchards, a popular brand of orange juice, is being built at the site. Back at the lab, the CSIs find prints on one of the safety deposit boxes that matches Carlos Santiago, a known drug trafficker. When Horatio questions him, Carlos claims he's now earning an honest living selling artwork and that his box was robbed as well. Horatio is skeptical, especially when Carlos refuses to tell him what the contents of the box were.

Alexx has a shocking piece of information for Calleigh: Lori Stoltz was killed by a nine millimeter bullet--not the collapse of the tunnel. Semen in Lori's underwear is a match to the DNA of Charles Brighton, the owner of Amanda's Orchards. Delko goes to Brighton's estate in search of the businessman and meets his daughter, Amanda, the face of the company. Now a young woman, she flirts openly with Delko, who notices her engagement ring. She tells him her father is at the port, and Delko calls Horatio, who heads off with Tripp in tow to find the man. Charles tells them he was seeing Lori, and is shocked to learn she was dead. She's the first woman he's dated since the death of his wife two years ago, and he's saddened to learn she was using him to gain access to the construction site. Back at the lab, Ryan recognizes the style of the bomber's work as belonging to Freddie Mays, a guy he busted back when he was on patrol duty. Freddie confesses but denies shooting Lori. He gives up his accomplice, Dan Kirkland, whom he says took one item from the vault, though he doesn't know what it was. Natalia goes to arrest Dan, but when he reaches for a weapon, she fires at him, hitting him in the shoulder. When he arrives at the scene, Horatio reassures Natalia and notes that Dan's gun isn't a match to the one that killed Lori. Horatio and Delko go over Kirkland's valuables and find a video camera with explosive trace on it. The footage on the camera reveals a sex tape featuring Amanda Brighton--and Carlos Santiago. Horatio confronts Santiago, but he says Brighton never paid him a cent. Horatio impounds his car to see if its treads match those of the car that sped away from the construction site.

Dan Kirkland tells Calleigh that Lori hired him to dig the tunnel, and that all she cared about was the video camera. He and Freddie were allowed to take anything they could grab. Calleigh tells him that he'll be charged with felony murder because the tunnel collapsed and killed a man. Delko interrogates Amanda Brighton, but she seems surprised by the existence of the tape. She claims she was going through a rough time after her mother died and that her fling with Carlos was brief. She insists she had nothing to do with the robbery and readily turns over her car. Delko runs the two treads and finds Amanda's are a match. Inside the vehicle, Natalia find trace that turns out to be a substance used in construction. Calleigh and Ryan return to the site and find a gun buried beneath the newly poured concrete. They retrieve it, and the serial number gives them a suspect: Charles Brighton. Horatio confronts Brighton: Carlos Santiago was blackmailing him with the tape, which he knew would be devastating to Brighton's company. Charles got Lori to steal the tape for him and shot her to tie up loose ends, but the tunnel collapsed before he could get the tape. Carlos has been forcing Brighton to allow him to smuggle drugs in his orange shipments. Horatio arrives at the dock, finds cocaine hidden at the bottom of a crate of oranges and arrests Santiago.

Analysis:

"Tunnel Vision" had me right up until the murderer was revealed. I found myself trying to solve the mystery alongside the CSIs much more than I usually do. I'm more of a 'sit back and let the CSIs do the work while I watch and enjoy' type of viewer. But every once in a while, I get pretty involved in an episode or a specific case--usually when there's someone I want to be proved innocent. In this case, I was hoping Charles Brighton was as honest as he seemed to be in his first scene. I also suspected Amanda given how she came off in the interrogation scene with Delko; Kaitlin Doubleday did a good job of playing the red herring, making the audience think that Amanda was hiding something more than one unfortunate fling in her past.

John Schneider is unfortunately underused in this episode--we only see him twice. Casting Schneider was a wise move; because of his sympathetic, earnest demeanor, I really didn't think he was guilty of the murder, and I believed him when he told Horatio that he'd do anything he could to help. Perhaps because of that, the final scene, where Charles Brighton is revealed to be a heartless killer who was only trying to protect his company doesn't quite work. Maybe it's because Schneider is so naturally sympathetic, but I would have been far more convinced if he'd come across as a desperate man in an untenable situation, trying to protect his daughter's reputation and his company's integrity, being torn apart by the knowledge that his company was being used to smuggle illegal drugs. I just didn't buy him as a psychopath willing to use a woman to commit a crime and then kill her in cold blood.

One thing I've noticed this season that's been a extremely welcome trend is that Horatio is once again processing evidence. Though Miami has made its mark as being far and away the most action driven of the three CSI shows, it was a little absurd to see Horatio brandishing a gun episode after episode while never rolling up his sleeves to examine a little evidence. After all, Miami is still a procedural, and to not have the lead do any forensics work whatsoever doesn't really fit with the premise of the series. It's gratifying every time we see Horatio put on a pair of gloves or sidle up to a lab table to do something other than to check up on someone else's results. Horatio belongs in the lab--or examining evidence at the scene--at least part of the time, and it's nice to see him doing actual CSI work again.

Natalia finally gets her certification to carry a firearm--and, unsurprisingly, she has to use it in this episode. Was Natalia a little quick to fire? Possibly, but when a suspect is reaching for a weapon--and we saw Dan's gun in the back of his pants--hesitation can literally mean the difference between life and death. Not to mention that Calleigh's abduction a few short episodes ago in "All In" may have crossed her mind--at the very least, it's a forceful reminder that law enforcement can be a dangerous business. It's nice to see that Natalia went with her gut instinct, but--as Dan comically points out--she needs to work on her aim. Perhaps a few more trips to the firing range with Ryan are in her future?

Though it's unclear whether he's gotten anywhere with Calleigh, Delko has been on fire with the ladies lately, drawing admiring female attention when out on the job. This week Amanda Brighton flirts shamelessly with him. A blue-eyed, sweet-faced blonde, it's understandable that Delko would be drawn to her, but he cuts off the flirting when he notices her engagement ring. He was similarly standoffish when Lexa Knowles offered him sexual favors in "You May Now Kill the Bride" to help her recover money from a client who walked out on a hefty bill. Delko has always been something of a ladies man, so to see him backing off from even a simple, charged flirtation is definitely something of a change for him. Delko really seems to be serious about his feelings for Calleigh; let's hope it's not too long before we find out whether she's still with Jake, or considering moving forward with Delko.

Seeing this episode, and every episode this season really, I'm not surprised Khandi Alexander is departing the show at the end of the season. Alexx gets approximately two scenes per episode: one in the field examining the body of the victim and one in the morgue where she reveals a surprising piece of evidence to someone--usually Calleigh. It's almost always Calleigh who pays the obligatory visit to the morgue: Alexander and Emily Procter have great chemistry together. Both exude warmth and steely determination when it comes to their jobs. Still, I wonder why none of the men on the show or even Natalia end up visiting the morgue. But Alexander's departure itself really isn't baffling, though it is a loss for the show. Alexx hasn't had a major storyline in several seasons so it's not shocking that Alexander would opt out; the only mystery is why the powers that be at CSI: Miami underutilized such a talented actress.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.