'Innocent'By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 25, 2004 - 9:43 PM GMT
See Also: 'Innocent' Episode Guide
Gina and Kyle, a pair of college lovebirds make out in a park. Suddenly, Gina hears a cell phone ring. She spots an abandoned phone several feet away, and goes to check it out. When she does, she spots the dead body of a young woman.
When Horatio arrives on the scene, he notes an abundance of police officers surrounding the body. The dead girl is Ashley Anders, a pornography star. When one of the officers mentions her resume, Horatio notes that she's also someone's daughter.
Delko and Alexx find some sort of sticky substance in Ashley's hair. Alexx notes that she was strangled, but not raped. The contents of her stomach reveal she ate caviar the night she was killed, most likely at a party. This leads Horatio to David Jeffers, the head of Palm Grove, which owned the adult film company Ashley worked for.
Calleigh finds a suspicious recording on the answering machine in Jeffers' office, during which Jeffers tells someone to solve the Ashley problem. Jeffers claims he tussled with Ashley when she wanted to leave the party early, and she scratched him. He tells Horatio he let her leave after that happened. Jeffers' lawyer, Max Snowden, escorts him away when Horatio admits he doesn't have enough evidence to arrest Jeffers.
Delko is copying the Jeffers tape in the lab when suddenly he notices some sort of chemical smoke. He grabs the copy of the tape and flees the lab, pulling the fire alarm as he does. When Horatio arrives, Delko tells him the chemical was hydrocloric acid, which had been spilled in the lab. Rick Stetler suspects Delko, and accuses Horatio of covering for his people. Horatio angrily tells him his hostile accusations are "unwise."
Calleigh and Speedle examine Ashley's house, where Speedle notices a dog's bowl and fan letters, and Calleigh discovers semen on the bed. The semen leads Calleigh to Ned Ostroff, a Palm Grove mailroom employee, who also wrote quite a few of Ashley's fan letters. He was in Ashley Anders apartment, but the semen on the bed proves he was alone. Alexx tells Calleigh that there are only seven finger marks on Ashley's neck; the killer had a hurt finger. Ostroff's finger's don't match.
Speedle views the extras on one of Ashley's DVDs and recognizes the park she walks her dog Rufus in. He decides to go to the park in the hopes of finding her dog.
Joseph Kayle identifies Carl Mercer's prints on the hydrocloric acid. Carl is a trustee--a con working in the CSI labs because of budget cuts. Jeffers' lawyer bribed Carl's wife, offering her bail money if Carl spilled the HCL and destroyed the Jeffers tape. Horatio accuses Snowdon of bribery, but Yelina tells him Carl's wife won't come forward.
Speedle finds Rufus in the park, as well as a good friend of Ashley's, Cookie Devine. She's wary of Speedle at first, but when he fends off some guys who are harassing her, she warms to him. Speedle takes Rufus back to the lab and removes some flesh from the dog's teeth.
Alexx pinpoints Ashley's age at eighteen, which means she was underaged when she started working for Jeffers. Apparently this is what Jeffers was trying to cover up--he even went so far as to alter her birth certificate. But the flesh in the dog's teeth doesn't match Jeffers or Snowdon.
Ostroff is called back in, and admits he saw Ashley talking to a man with a horseshoe on his hat. Calleigh realizes it wasn't a horseshoe, but a Greek Omega symbol. It's a fraternity letter, and Calleigh quickly connects it to one of the fan mail notes. It turns out Ashley received a letter from a fraternity which Kyle Preston is the vice president of.
Kyle claims he asked Ashley for an autograph earlier that day, but Delko examines a substance on his hat--one that matches the one in Ashley's hair--and determines it could have only come from a night-blooming flower. Kyle also has a jammed finger. Kyle breaks down and admits he was losing Gina--he only wanted the women he saw in pornography movies. Killing Ashley was meant to free him.
Horatio confronts Jeffers about Ashley's birth certificate, and Jeffers weakly claims he wasn't hurting anyone. Horatio is implacable.
Speedle runs into Cookie Devine in the hallway and barely recognizes her. She asks him out to coffee, and tells him her real name: Sarah Piper.
Stetler apologizes to Horatio about his suspicions about Delko, and then drives off with Yelina for a romantic weekend while Horatio watches in silent. There's not much time to reflect; the CSIs are soon called out on another murder.
Though it doesn't quite reach the heights of last week's "MIA/NYC--NonStop" or CSI's fourth season ender "Bloodlines," "Innocent" is a solid episode and a commendable end to a strong season. Like "Bloodlines," "Innocent" benefits from not being weighed down by a B-story to distract from the episode's main thrust. Instead, we are treated to some nice character moments which enhance the episode.
David Caruso once again turns in an admirable performance. Though it's a more subtle one than in the past few weeks, he still delivers some great lines, including the one at the beginning when he reminds one of the investigating officers that Ashley is more than just a porn star--she's someone's child. It's nicely framed by a moment at the end, when Horatio slides a slip of paper with her real name over one with her pornography name on the morgue door where her body is being kept. Once again, we are subtly reminded that each victim is not just another case for Horatio, but a real person whose life has been ended tragically early.
The villain we're quickly growing to loathe, Rick Stetler, is back and his courtship of Yelina is apparently progressing along at a decent clip. Now the two are going away together, and Stetler seems more than happy to remind Horatio of his relationship with Yelina. Yelina herself seems almost oblivious of Horatio's feelings; the smile she gives him from the car before she leaves with Rick is wide and open. Horatio's, on the other hand, is pensive but generous. Yet another nice bit of subtle acting on Caruso's part; let's hope next season he gets the chance to one-up the odious Stetler.
Speedle also gets a few nice moments in this episode as well. Of all the characters, he seems to be the most enegmatic. He openly admits to Cookie/Sarah that he's never seen her films, and his tone implies a guileless gentlemanly attitude. As he explains to her later, he didn't have to help her...he just did. He remains just as aloof when she asks him out for coffee, and, as she herself seems to realize, it's doubtful that he'll call her. Hopefully the writers will give Speedle more to do next season; he's an intriguing character.
Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.