CSI: Miami--'Nailed'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 15, 2005 - 9:07 PM GMT

See Also: 'Nailed' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Delko is behind the wheel of the Hummer, driving frantically. Beside him, Ryan screams in pain, a nail protruding from the upper left-hand corner of his right eye. He begs Delko take it out, but Delko knows he can't without risking harming Ryan further. He takes him to the ER but can't go further. Horatio meets him and asks what happened, and Delko fills him in, admitting he never made it to the original crime scene. Horatio did though, five hours before, and the scene flashes back to the CSIs converging on the house of Greg Hall, whose wife, Brenda, lies dead from several shots to the chest by a nail gun in the space where the new master bedroom is being constructed. The picture gets more complicated when Gary's fiancee, Charlene, happens upon the scene. Gary was divorcing Brenda to marry Charlene. Greg denies having anything to do with the death of his wife of eighteen years. He claims she came by the house to pick up china and admits she didn't want to sign the divorce papers. Calleigh starts to process the scene and is joined by Ryan, who is in on his day off because Delko never answered the page calling him to the scene.

In the morgue, Alexx shows Horatio that four nails pierced Brenda's chest, and that she died of exsanguination from the wounds. Alexx points out bruises and scratches on Brenda's arms, indicating she fought for her life. Stetler interrupts them to talk to Horatio about his trip to New York. Horatio tells him he got sidetracked by a subpoena in an old case--one he's a murder suspect in. Horatio says twenty years ago, he tried to save his mother's life and the man who killed her ended up dead. Back at the lab, Calleigh test fires a nail gun she found at the scene as Ryan looks on. She compares the unique markings on the back of the nails she just fired to the ones from Brenda's body, but the marks don't match. The nail gun Calleigh found at the house isn't the murder weapon. Calleigh and Ryan run into Delko on their way out of the lab, and Ryan and Delko exchange a few terse words over Delko's failure to show up at the crime scene. Calleigh diffuses the situation and she and Ryan head back to the crime scene. They don't find the nail gun, but they do discover some burnt clothes in the trash. They're designer, and a size two--the same size Gary's fiancee, Charlene wears.

Charlene tells the CSIs Brenda burned her clothes, but denies that there was any physical altercation between the two. Calleigh backs up her story--the DNA found under Brenda's nails is male. Horatio interrogates Gary, who admits that it's his DNA, but tells Horatio that the struggle was passionate, not homicidal. When he went over to Brenda's apartment to get her to sign the divorce papers, she came onto him violently and they had sex. Horatio sends Calleigh and Ryan to Brenda's apartment to check up on his story. They find signs of a struggle, but no divorce papers and no signs that Brenda and Gary had intercourse. Ryan does find an angry message on Brenda's machine from Gary about the divorce papers. Gary tells Horatio that Brenda flushed the papers down the toilet. Gary denies leaving the message--at the time it was left, he was with his son Lucas's baseball game. Horatio talks to Lucas at his house who backs up his father's story but admits that Gary left his game at the second inning, early enough to have made the call.

Back at the lab, Dan Cooper shows Calleigh that the answering machine message is a forgery--it's been pieced together from several different messages from Gary. Gary was being set up. The CSIs turn to Charlene, but she denies it, saying that she and Gary were both afraid of Brenda and her weekly meltdowns, but that they didn't have anything to do with her death. Ryan goes back to Gary's house and tests the phones for prints and comes up with one upstairs, which he scans and sends to Calleigh. She gets a hit on Karl Lampley, the contractor, who is in the database for a second-degree murder conviction. Ryan goes to Lampley's trailer office to look for him, but before he can open one of the closet doors, someone else does, shooting him in the eye with a nail gun. Ryan falls and the person escapes. Ryan manages to call for help and Delko picks up on the call on the radio and beats the officers to the scene. He doesn't bother to wait for an ambulance, but takes Ryan right to the hospital himself. Horatio meets Delko there and asks why he wasn't at the crime scene when he was first paged. Delko claims he had a personal matter to attend to, but Horatio remains skeptical. He gets a call--Lampley has been found.

Horatio rushes to the scene and finds Karl has five thousand dollars on him, which Horatio thinks he was paid to kill Brenda. Horatio sends Delko to process Lampley's trailer. At the hospital, Alexx stands by Ryan's side while the nail is removed from his eye. Delko quickly finds the nail gun used to shoot Ryan in the office and spots some sort of adhesive on it. Delko also finds a money band from a bank, which leads them back to Gary--the money came from his account, but Gary denies withdrawing the money. Neither Brenda nor Charlene could have, so that leaves Gary's son Lucas, who was caught on camera taking the money out. Lucas admits his mother asked for the money--she wanted twenty thousand, but the bank only let him withdraw five. Karl tells Horatio that Brenda paid him to kill Gary, but when he showed up at the house, only Brenda was there. She wanted him to kill her to set up Gary, but he refused to do it.

On the grounds of the hospital, Delko intercepts a young woman, Marisol, who was at the hospital for an appointment with a doctor. She tells him she's fine, and walks off. Calleigh, who picked up the nail that was extracted from Ryan's eye, approaches Delko and expresses concern for how his recent personal issues seem to be interfering with his job. Back at the lab, Calleigh compares the samples and determines the nail gun that Ryan was shot with was indeed the murder weapon. The adhesive Delko noticed on the nail gun was resin from Lucas's baseball glove. Horatio gently questions Lucas, who admits he overheard his mother and Karl discussing killing his father. After Karl left, the upset boy confronted his mother, who goaded him into shooting her, saying she would kill his father if he didn't. Horatio sympathizes with the boy, but not the person who shot Ryan with the nail gun: Charlene. Charlene discovered the gun in Lucas's drawer and went to take it back to the contractor's office, but when she heard Ryan come in, she hid, thinking it was Karl. She shot him and ran out, but as Horatio points out, she left Ryan there to die. Delko is waiting for Ryan at the hospital when he's released, and both men admit they were partially at fault for Ryan's injuries--Delko for not being at the crime scene when he should have been initially and Ryan for going in without back up. The men make up and Delko drives Ryan home.

Analysis:

"Nailed" is far and away the best episode of CSI: Miami this season so far for many reasons, perhaps because in some ways it feels like an episode from one of the show's earlier seasons. The plot is winding and complicated, but the characters aren't lost in it like they have been in so many third and fourth season episodes. "Nailed" is a good reminder that Miami can still be glitzy and outlandish and yet not shallow and completely beyond the realm of believability.

That's not to say it doesn't stretch--it does, but its more forgivable when the story is strong and the characters feel like the ones we got to know in the earlier seasons. Calleigh actually smiles. Horatio and Stetler have a conversation that isn't full of macho posturing and hostility. Alexx looks after Ryan while the doctor extracts the nail from his eye. Delko and Ryan argue but later put aside their differences in a final scene that reminds us there's much more depth and maturity to these men than has been shown in earlier episodes this season.

The development of the antagonistic relationship between Delko and Ryan has been one of the most interesting in all of the CSI shows. Despite the reservations he must have had about Ryan taking his friend's Speed's position, Delko at first tried to embrace the newest member of the team. There was no hostility between them until Ryan took a piece of evidence Delko retrieved to Horatio and didn't bother to mention Delko found it. That act suggested envy on Ryan's part, perhaps for Delko's confidence in the job or the fact that he's an established part of the team, but it set off a rather intense hostility between the two men that has only increased as time has gone on.

That's what makes the decision to have Delko be the one to help Ryan such a good choice. Ryan is quick to jump on Delko when Delko slinks into the lab several hours after the call to the crime scene came in, and Delko just as speedily snaps back at him. Poor Calleigh is caught in the middle, and if her line to Ryan after he accuses her of always taking Delko's side about how Delko always says the same thing about him suggests that Calleigh has been in the middle for quite a while. The two seem quick to jump on each other at any opportunity--Delko has criticized Ryan for his involvement with reporter Erica Sykes and Ryan was instantly suspicious when he spotted rolling papers in Delko's kit.

The tension, while entertaining to watch, had to come to an end sometime and writers Corey Miller and Barry O'Brien have chosen an imaginative way to bring about their reconciliation. That Delko doesn't simply call an ambulance and pursue the person who shot Ryan shows that he does care more about Ryan's wellbeing than he's let on in the past. But it's the final scene in the episode, when Delko shows up to drive Ryan home from the hospital, that really shows there is a connection between the two men. Ryan could have easily blamed Delko for what happened to him--he would have been enjoying his day off if Delko had showed up when he was supposed to--and Delko could have immediately been on the defensive. But what their actual reactions are much more interesting--Delko admits he messed up, but Ryan does too--he shouldn't have gone into the office without back up or drawing his gun. Their admissions show a depth and maturity to both characters and their relationship seems on the way to being mended when they walk out together, Delko joking to Ryan about how any more cracks about "Delko time" will land him right back in the hospital. Adam Rodriguez and Jonathan Togo have played the conflict out with a simmering intensity and I'm looking forward to seeing how their friendship will grow from here.

Thankfully, this episode reveals that there's more to Delko's neglect of his job than flakiness or a lack of responsibility. The woman Delko meets at the hospital is listed in the credits as his sister Marisol. I have to send a shout out to my fellow CSI Files writer, Carolina, who first posited that Delko purchasing marijuana might have to do more with medical reasons than a desire on the CSIs part to get high. If Delko's sister is gravely ill, that would explain his distracted demeanor and his focus on things other than his job.

Calleigh seems very concerned with Delko risking his job for a woman, and she cautions him to get back on track. Calleigh has always been Delko's biggest advocate (and Ryan's as well) and she must at least be relieved that she'll no longer be in the middle of Delko and Ryan's conflict. Calleigh seemed more like her old self in this episode than she has recently--cheerful and yet professional. Hopefully the sunnier Calleigh is back to stay; her cheerfulness is part of what has made the character so popular and Emily Procter has always been able to strike the perfect balance between Calleigh's professionalism and her generally happy demeanor.

Horatio's secret is finally revealed in this episode: he's a suspect in the death of his mother's murderer. Though its placement is odd--there's a slight anti-climactic feeling to it given that it occurs in the first act of the episode and is dropped, at least for now, after that--David Caruso and David Lee Smith are fantastic in the scene. Horatio tells the story with a sad sort of resignation, effectively getting across the idea that this case has dogged Horatio for much of his career, while Stetler listens sympathetically and even seems to feel bad that he misjudge Horatio. Could there be a truce between these two in the offing? It would be nice to see the old rivals come to an understanding and put aside their long-standing animosity. Stetler has never been a loatheable villain--Smith and the writers have often shown glimmers of sympathy from him, especially in the moments when he was suggesting to Horatio or Delko that they might be reacting to Speedle's sudden, tragic death. There's great potential here for an understanding between these two characters.

The resolution of this twisted case is as interesting as the complex character developments. The killer is revealed to be young Lucas, but Horatio has nothing but sympathy for the boy given that he was manipulated into killing his mother by the woman herself. Though it's unclear what will happen to him in regards to the legal system, Horatio shows the boy the kind of compassion that has made him a discerning, deep and wholly sympathetic character. Horatio reserves his contempt for Charlene, whom he notes left Ryan to die, and even though Ryan did not in fact die, it's clear that Horatio thinks Charlene, not Lucas, is the one who deserves to have the book thrown at her. It's that kind of layered distinction that makes "Nailed" a great episode.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.