'Pro Per'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at September 28, 2004 - 5:47 PM GMT

See Also: 'Pro Per' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A posh party thrives under the hot Miami sun by the bay. Dennis de la Bec, also known as Deuce Deuce, is the host. He moves among his guests with a confidence and ease, but is irritated when several speed boats come too close to the shore and splash his guests. A young mother, Jennifer Valdez, tells her ten-year-old son, Stevie, to stay away from the boats.

Suddenly, someone on one of the boats opens fire. Deuce reacts angrily and the guests panic and scream. They run in fear. In the commotion, Stevie goes down, but he hasn't been hit. His mother, Jennifer, isn't so lucky. When the boat speeds off, Stevie finds her floating in the water.

Horatio, Delko and Tripp arrive at the scene. Delko examines Jennifer in the water, while Tripp and Horatio confer about the case. Tripp notes that Deuce is a party planner turned clothing designer, and the party was being held to launch his new clothing line. All the shots were fired from the boat--it was a drive-by Miami-style, Horatio notes.

Deuce admits to having enemies when questioned, but says he can't imagine who would have wanted to shoot up his party. He expresses concern for Jennifer's son, Stevie. Horatio goes over to Stevie, who first says he didn't see anything, but then tells Horatio that he remembers the shooter's gun was black. Horatio gently tells Stevie he wants to take him to the station to look at some pictures.

The Coast Guard has the boat involved in the shooting in sight, and Horatio dispatches Delko and Tripp to check it out. They bear down on the boat, which is being driven by one Bob Davenport, a white rapper wannabe. Davenport claims to have found the boat abandoned, but Tripp and Delko are suspicious. Tripp takes Davenport into custody, while Delko examines the boat.

Horatio talks to Stevie and asks him to look at photos of suspects. The boy says he can't recall his mother's voice. Calleigh goes over the casings and bullets at Deuce's house. She removes one from the wall. At the boat, Tripp points the casings in the bottom out to Delko, and also notes that the boat appears to have been hit by two shots from the outside as well.

Back at the CSI offices, Horatio questions Deuce. He points out that Deuce must have fired at the boat, and Deuce admits to having gotten off two shots. Deuce reluctantly gives up the name of Byron Middlebrook, an old associate from his party planning days. Stevie, looking at photos of perps, recognizes Middlebrook and wets his pants. He identifies Middlebrook as the shooter, and Horatio sends Yelina in to take care of him.

Horatio has Middlebrook picked up for questioning. While Middlebrook strips down so the CSIs can process his clothes, Delko dives in the marina looking for the gun. He locates it on the ocean floor and rises to the surface, triumphantly holding the gun up.

Before going to court, Horatio confers with Don, who will be prosecuting the case. Don tells him Middlebrook is going to act as a "Pro Per;" he's going to be his own defense attorney. Middlebrook spent three years behind bars and took that time to study law.

The judge listens to Deuce's testimony, but after Deuce steps down, Middlebrook provokes an altercation during which Deuce punches him. The judge holds Deuce in contempt of the court and has him thrown in jail for three days. Middlebrook is out on bail.

After Horatio advises Calleigh to hold off on her report so that Middlebrook can't subpoena it, Middlebrook storms into the CSI offices and tries to intimidate Calleigh and Eric. He demands their evidence, but Calleigh knows procedure and holds him off, telling him his legal aide will have to come into subpoena it. When Middlebrook tries to push past Eric, Eric holds up a hand to stop him. Middlebrook finally leaves, but Calleigh is angry with Eric for interfering.

Horatio questions Deuce in prison about his gun, and an examination of the gun backs up Deuce's story about having only fired two shots. While Horatio looks over the gun, Rick Stetler drops by and offers Horatio help with the case. Horatio turns him down.

Horatio receives a disturbing call that will greatly affect the case: Deuce has been murdered in jail. One of Middlebrook's associates, a lifer just transferred to Miami, killed him, clearly at Middlebrook's request. Horatio asks Yelina to take charge of Stevie, and asks if the boy can stay with her. She acquiesces.

Calleigh is upset when Middlebrook subpoenas her to answer questions about the gun and the fatal bullet. On the stand, he forces her to admit that she can't yet prove the bullet that killed Jennifer Valdez came from the gun Delko recovered on the ocean floor.

Delko goes back to the boat, where he recovers Bob Davenport's prints amid the blood on the steering wheel. Davenport maintains that he found the boat, but finally admits that there was a body on board: the boat's driver, whose blood was on the wheel.

Delko goes looking for the body, but comes up empty. However, he suspects illegal shrimpers may have gone trolling for shrimp in the area. He tracks down the most disreputable company and questions the captain. Sure enough, the driver's body is discovered in one of the shrimp nets amid the day's catch.

Alexx identifies the driver as Walter Simmons. She shows Horatio the shots that killed him. Horatio runs into Tripp, who tells him that Middlebrook has introduced a motion to do away with the testimony of the eyewitnesses. Horatio realizes that Middlebrook knows about Stevie, and races to Yelina's house.

When he gets there, he finds a man in a car shooting at the house. Horatio leaps out of the Hummer and starts firing at the car, but it speeds off.

Yelina, Stevie and Ray, Jr. are safe, thanks to a warning call Horatio placed before he arrived at her house. Horatio offers to stay, but Yelina already has protection: Rick Stetler is there.

Back at CSI, Tripp has discovered the person who told Middlebrook that Stevie was at Yelina's house: Monica, Middlebrook's legal aide, who overheard Horatio asking Yelina if Stevie could stay with her. She claims she was just doing her job, but Tripp tells her he intends to see that she is disbarred.

Delko looks over the boat again, and notes the blood spatter from the driver. Based on the pattern of the splatter, he could have only been killed by someone in the boat with him, not by a person firing from the shore.

Back in court, Middlebrook moves to get the eyewitness testimony thrown out, and the charges dropped. The judge agrees to both, but Tripp re-arrests Middlebrook, this time for the murder of Walter Simmons. When Middlebrook protests that there was no reason for him to shoot his driver, Horatio chalks it up to tunnel vision--an accidental shooting while he was focusing on the shore. Middlebrook is dragged off; no bail this time around.

Horatio waits with Stevie, whose aunt is coming to pick him up. Horatio gives the boy a locket Jennifer wore and tells him that his good memories of his mother will come back to him soon.

Analysis:

Miami's third season sure is off to a roaring star, with its second entry of the season being a high octane, exciting and suspenseful hour. "Pro Per" boasts a despicable villain in the nefarious, intelligent Middlebrook, a child's life at stake, and twists and turns like Deuce's murder and the drive-by at Yelina's house that keep viewers on their toes, and completely involved with the episode.

Like last week's "Lost Son", "Pro Per" is more than just a run-of-the-mill murder investigation. Again a child's life at stake; this time, it's little Stevie, who witnessed his mother's murder. Horatio does his best to protect the child, even going so far as to (presumably) break the law by trying to conceal the fact that there was another eyewitness to Middlebrook's drive-by shooting spree.

Once again, we see Horatio determined to protect a child. The character often comes under criticism for exuding arrogance and hogging the screen, but say what you will about Horatio, he's a man who genuinely cares for not just the victims of the crimes he investigates, but those who survive them as well, particularly children. David Caruso turns in some of his best acting when paired with a pint-sized partner, and his character is never more sympathetic than when he's looking out for a child.

Interestingly, there's another person who comes off as surprisingly sympathetic in this episode, and that's Rick Stetler. Previously, I was firmly on the Rick-Stetler-loathing bandwagon; the character's arrogance and the intense scrutiny he directed at the CSI team were irritating and grating. But last week he showed more sympathy for Horatio's plight than Yelina did, and this week he actually went out of his way to offer Horatio help on the Middlebrook case. That doesn't mean viewers should be any happier to have spotted him at Yelina's house than Horatio was, but it at least adds a layer of complexity to a previously one-note character. If this season is building to a confrontation between Horatio and Stetler, fleshing out Stetler's character can only help get viewers involved in the conflict.

Many viewers are no doubt upset that there was no mention of poor Tim Speedle in this episode. Has he been forgotten so soon? I'd posit the answer is no. Given Rory Cochrane's comments about when he told the producers he wanted to leave (in June, when the first episode was set to film in July), it's likely several episodes were already scripted. I can't help but wonder, had Cochrane not exited, if "Pro Per" would have been the season opener.

Either way, it's a genuinely exciting episode, and along with "Lost Son," proves that Miami's third season is off to a genuinely exciting start. Next week, we'll get to see how newcomer Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo) fares in the mix.

Next week: Calleigh's father may have been involved in a murder.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.