Tuesday, December 9, 2008

CSI Miami: “The DeLuca Motel” Checks in Strong, Checks out Flat

This episode of CSI Miami “The DeLuca Motel” had an intriguing opening. But, the episode proceeds to get ruined as it is cluttered with somewhat "forced" murders and dull forensics. In its attempt to construct and interesting story for Eric, it only does the job halfway, probably because the writers don’t know how to dial down the camp.

Here’s what happened:

The show opened strong, with a scenario that piqued my interest. Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez) seems to be living in the DeLuca Motel, and being overly cautious on top of it. He’s taking great pains to check out his car, he’s very aware of the people at the hotel in the surrounding area. And before you can say “Horatio”, there is a shooting death at the hotel, with Eric getting grazed in the process. Of course, Horatio Caine (David Caruso) has to show up to investigate. And Horatio is wondering –as are the viewers – what is Delko doing in a dive like this?

As his colleagues investigate the crime scene, they wonder the same thing, but Eric remains tight lipped on the subject. Ryan (Jonathan Togo) picks up a piece of paper in Eric’s room referencing a meeting with an "Enrico Moldano." Meanwhile, ME Price ( Megalyn Echikunwoke) discovers a clue that makes her believe the victim’s death was part of a hazing, and before you can say “Horatio, ” the victim’s frat brother is being scrutinized by Horatio. He admits to the hazing but denies having anything to do with the murder. Red herring.

Calleigh (Emily Procter) and Eric examine the crime scene and use lasers to find out where the bullet originated. I am not quite sure why they needed lasers, because a simple line of sight could have been just as useful. A broken bottle is found in the suspected path of the bullet, and Eric recalls exactly when he heard the bottle break, when a couple was arguing by the pool right before the shooting. Before you can say “Horatio,” the arguing couple, Carl and Molly Reston, are brought in for questioning. Of course they deny having anything to do with the murder.

Ryan, under the guise of concern for his colleague, tattles on Eric about the paper he found in Eric’s place about a meeting with Moldano. This is just another case as to how the CSI Miami team really doesn’t act like a team. It seems Ryan’s first instinct is to report Eric, rather than check things out first. Horatio thinks it’s none of their business but Ryan also say he “knows the signs” and thinks Eric is in trouble. It seems more to me that Ryan is dealing a little payback here, just because he once got in trouble himself, he thinks this is his chance to cast a dark shadow on the sainted Eric. But ultimately Horatio decides to check it out anyway. Before you can say “Horatio, ” Caine confronts Moldano at a nearby bar, who tells him Eric gave him $1,000 in exchange for "documents." But Moldano offers nothing more.

Back at the scene, Frank (Rex Linn) and Calleigh are still looking for a gun, and when Calleigh crawls through a vent, she sees a dead body in another room, lying in a bathtub on ice. (Frank looks clearly uncomfortable having to hold Calleigh's backside at his face level while he kept her propped up in that duct.) A pregnant woman in the hotel room with the body says she didn’t kill her boyfriend, but he had been in the vent before he died and was suddenly happy about their future when he came out…and then he just died. She kept him literally on ice to continue to collect his disability benefits.

Back at the lab, Eric chides Ryan for sticking his nose into his business, but the annoying Ryan tells Eric he thinks someone is gunning for him. Eric decides to check on Moldano, who turns up dead in the alley behind the bar. Before you can say “Horatio,” he is at the scene. When Horatio finds that Enrico had obtained Eric’s birth certificate for him, and that Eric has been trying to find out about his family, and that Eric feels like he is being watched, Horatio pulls him off the case.

When a .38 is found at the scene, it points them back to Carl Reston. Before you can say “Horatio,” Reston is being questioned by Horatio and Frank. Reston can now be tied to Moldano’s death and the death of the frat boy. Reston admits he came into a lot of money and hid it in the air conditioning duct, but when he came back for it the money was gone. He argued with Molly about it, and the gun accidentally went off. He tossed the gun away. Ryan and Natalia (Eva La Rue) find the area where the gun was probably tossed, but it is not there, but they see very clear tire tracks, from a three-wheeled vehicle.

Calleigh tells Linda that her husband died of a heart attack. When she asks about what he had found in the air vent, Linda says she didn’t know what it was. When Calleigh asks Linda where she found him, she tells her it was by the ice machine. Calleigh find a sack of cash hidden in th ice machine. That's some cold hard cash for you.

At the lab - why he wouldn't speak to her in a private place outside the lab I have idea - Eric has a discussion with his mother and talks about the inconsistencies in her stories about how they got to the US and his birth. He tells her, "My birth certificate is a fake" and that he got the real one from Enrico Moldano. He was born in Cuba and his biological father’s name is Alexander Shirova His mother says Eric's real father was her boss at the factory, saying it was a mistake, he was a bad man, and to let it go. She days he doesn’t know Eric exists. She apologizes to Eric and they share a hug.

Later at the lab, Calleigh questions Molly Reston. She admits the money is hers. But, the uniform nature of the bills make it appear that it has something to do with drugs. And when Calleigh confronts her with possible charges, Molly says "I must have misheard you, I've never seen that bag before in my life."

Later, back at the motel. Calleigh hands Linda an envelope with money in it, saying it was what Joe found in the vent, and according to Florida law, whoever finds the money has the right to claim it if the real owner refuses to claim it. As the real owner, Molly, changed her mind and said it wasn’t her money, it goes on record as being unclaimed by the real owner. Calleigh is now free to give the money to Linda. Linda of course is thrilled to receive the $26,000. Now really, how ludicrous was this? First of all, wasn’t this money evidence in a murder? While it wasn’t directly involved in the cause of the murder, it belonged to one of the murderers, and probably should have been given to the victim of the crime first, not to someone that Calleigh simply felt sorry for. Usually Calleigh is super ethical and in this case she seemed to be completely out of character, not to mention being simply cheesy and corny as well.

Back at the lab, tapping Horatio’s infinite wisdom, Natalia finds an unusual match to the vehicle for the three wheeled tire marks found at the first murder scene. He also tells her to look for a woman since lipstick was found at the Moldano scene. Among the owners of the vehicles, only three are woman, and Horatio recognizes one of them: Kate Hawkes, who was spotted at Moldano's bar when Horatio first visited Moldano at the bar. It means Hawkes has now been placed at both scenes.

Before you can say “Horatio.” Ryan and Horatio confront Hawkes, and she admits it’s her vehicle and blood found on it means they can put the gun in her hand. In a flashback we see she shot Moldano – not sure why - and that she was also gunning for Eric but she missed. She knows that they don’t have all the information, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. She tells them, "It was a job. " They think she was hired by Alexander Shirova, and they ask his whereabouts, but asks for a deal instead. Horatio thinks this means she doesn’t know, and he speeds off. As they take her into the Miami Dade police department, Eric arrives and talks the matter over with Horatio and his real father. Caine comments, "He's not going away. This is just the beginning." Eric drives off, as Horatio poses, and poses, and poses, and walks straight into the camera.

As I said earlier, the episode started off very well, creating great interest in finding out exactly what Eric was up to. It’s really too bad that dull, secondary cases caused all the drama to be sucked out of the story. It is implied, though, that the story of Eric’s background is just beginning. Let’s hope that as they continue this story that they don’t clutter it up with cheesy, half-hearted crime stories to go along with it. This show has a chance to actually come up with something decent for one of the characters that could get the series out of the all-cheesiness-all-the-time rut for CSI Miami. But I won’t be holding my breath waiting for it.

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