The Inner Crab


[Air Date: 03-09-06]

“I Like to Watch”

Vegas. Night. The Omni Building. Or should that be the Omninous Building? From inside the lobby, we see a woman get out of a cab and enter the building. The camera pans down a little to show a bank of CCTV monitors and no guard, although his Croissan’wich is still there. In the monitors, we see the woman push a button for the elevator, and when it arrives she staggers in and hits the button for her floor. She looks a little tipsy. I know it’s a bit of a spoiler, but I’d recommend against getting too emotionally invested in this particular woman; she’s not in the title credits, if you know what I’m saying. She fiddles with her hair and makeup in the reflective surface of the elevator’s camera. The door opens and she toddles out, and the regular camera follows her at ankle level. I think that cameras are going to be a theme in this episode, what with their omnipresence (hey…) and their watchingness. At first I thought this was an office building, but it’s apparently a condo building. The woman seems to be getting drunker by the second as we follow her down the hall; she staggers against the wall for support. She gets her keys out as she arrives at her door, and while she’s trying to remember whether the key unlocks the door or the door unlocks the key, there’s a scream from the next door down. Another woman, who appears to be naked and is definitely distraught, staggers toward the first one and collapses in her arms. Goodbye, drunken woman; sorry it didn’t work out.

The distraught woman is now on a paramedic gurney, and she looks around in a daze as she’s wheeled through the building. The paramedics roll her out to the street and toss her in the ambulance. Sophia, Grissom, and Catherine are hanging out behind the ambulance, and Sophia tells us that the woman’s name is Christina Hollis. She’s a sales agent for the building, and Sophia is certain that this is a sexual assault case. She heads off to the hospital to see if she can get a statement from Ms. Hollis. Catherine and Grissom head into the building. Grissom notices a video camera above the main door, and remarks that it’s good for them. “The vic probably thought it was good for her too,” says Catherine. The second they cross the threshold, a camera crew rushes in from stage right and gets in their face. Faces. There’s a sound guy with a boom mike and a cameraman with a standard shoulder-mounted camera, and one of them (“Producer,” according to the captions) asks Catherine and Grissom to identify themselves. Grissom is not enthusiastic. “What is this?” he splutters, or as close as Grissom gets to spluttering. The view switches to the cameraman’s, and the camera bounces up and down a little as he walks backward while they walk toward the elevators. The camera crew is from a reality crime show, says the producer, and they’ll be following Our CSIs for this investigation. The producer adds that the sheriff promised them full cooperation. Catherine recalls a memo about the show, called “Hard Crime,” and I hope that there’s no relation between the nature of this case and their title, because that would be a little gauche. “We put the folks who look into the microscopes under the microscopes,” the producer tells them. What a great idea, because when your journalistic premise involves making sure the thin blue line stays straight, the CSIs are a way better place to focus than the cops, the courts, the lawmakers, or the fabric of society itself. Catherine advises Grissom that the department hopes the show will be good PR. Wouldn’t want the department to get canceled due to low ratings. “Try not to bust their chops, okay?” she adds as they get in the elevator. The producer asks if they’ve ever seen the show, and adds that it’s got a heap o’ forensics. “There’s too many forensics shows on TV,” Grissom deadpans as the elevator doors close. Snap! Did you hear that, “CSI: Caruso”?

Upstairs and away from the camera, we’re somehow still able to see Catherine and Grissom meet up with Brass outside Hollis’ apartment. Brass didn’t find any sign of forced entry; Grissom sees that as a sign that she might have known her assailant. “Either that, or he talked his way in,” says Catherine, which is why you should never let a pair of nineteen-year-old men who’ve been forced into celibacy into your place, no matter which church they’re pimping or however slick their brochures. The camera crew gets off the elevator and makes like they’re going into the apartment, which has crime scene tape across the door, but Brass tells them they have to stay outside. Their camera ogles Catherine and Grissom from behind the crime scene tape, while the producer mutters directions to the cameraman. The CSIs look around the living room but don’t appear to find much of interest. When we switch back to normal viewing mode, Grissom has spotted something in the bedroom, out of the “Hard Crime” crew’s view: there’s blood in the middle of her bed and on the sides of each pillow, and some duct-tape manacles are fastened to the headboard on either side. The HC cam takes the shot again, and the producer asks Grissom to describe what he’s seeing. “A long night,” sighs Grissom, and we cut to the credits.

After many inane commercials for things that quite frankly no one needs, we return. Ms. Hollis is in a hospital room, and she’s confused about why she’s there. Sophia explains than she was assaulted, but she doesn’t remember any of it. She’s got bruises on her wrists and inner thighs, and her toenails have been painted bright red. She wonders aloud why none of this looks right, and as she starts to freak out about her predicament, we notice the HC camera crew filming through the glass door and window of her room. A privacy curtain encloses her bed, but a one-foot gap between the curtain ends gives the crew a good enough view. Hollis notices the camera crew and asks why they’re looking at her. “Because they’re soulless parasites, my dear, siphoning off human misery to be packaged and distributed to greedy couch-bound voyeurs. Your suffering is like sweet, sweet candy to them, and best of all it’s really just a conveyance for the commercials in the middle. Be sure to sign a model release,” Sophia almost says, and shuts the curtain. She comforts Hollis and calls for the nurse.

Out in the hall, the HC crew spots something interesting and scuttles over to capture the digital rights to it. Sophia is discussing the results of Hollis’ sexual assault kit with a nurse. They speak in hushed tones and they’re at the far end of the hallway when we start, but of course we can hear it all. The kit showed sperm, which means the perpetrator wasn’t wearing a condom and the assault took place within the last few hours. Sophia figures the lack of condom means he’s not in the system, or doesn’t care if he gets caught. When the crew catches up to them, the nurse and Sophia end their conversation abruptly and Sophia storms down an intersecting hall with the samples the nurse gave her. The producer asks if he can ask her a question, other than that one, and she keeps walking. “You try something like that again and you’re gone,” she says, “I don’t give a damn what the sheriff says.” Tell it, sister! The producer, completely missing the point, assures her that they never put anyone’s face on screen without a signed release. “You invaded her privacy at her most vulnerable moment!” she says, nearly yelling. The producer explains that he was trying to give the crime a face. In complete violation of journalistic ethics, but hey. I guess worrying about journalistic ethics is pre-9/11 thinking. Sophia snaps that they’ve lost an hour because they’ll have to wait for the victim to calm back down. “That’s on you,” she says, but unfortunately she’s probably the only member of the conversation who cares. The producer schmoozes that he’s very sorry and it won’t happen again (while she’s around). We can’t see the producer or crew because the HC cam has the shot, so there’s no way to know if he’s crossing his fingers or not when he says this, but my guess is he probably wouldn’t understand the need for the crossed fingers in the first place. The producer asks her what she’s carrying, and she decides to accept his apology and play along. She tells him it’s a sexual assault evidence kit and a blood sample. She’s seen date-rape victims in dissociative states like Hollis before, and she’s going to have the lab check her blood sample to see if she was drugged. The producer, who’s apparently watched a few seasons of CSI, notes aloud that Sophia used to be a CSI but is now a detective. He wants to know which side of the fence she prefers, the subtext being that the two are naturally in conflict with one another because they all work on commission. “It’s the same side,” she sighs, regretting that she didn’t pull her gun and shoot them all the minute she saw them filming Hollis through the door. She goes into the lab and we switch scenes.

We get some close-ups on the duct-tape manacles used to tie Hollis to her headboard as Grissom photographs the scene. There’s a flashback of her struggling against her restraints. Grissom photographs some photographs on her nightstand; one is spattered with blood, and both show her smiling in happier times. I guess taking pictures of pictures is the still-image version of the larger metaphor at play here, the filming of the filming of the show for a show. And of course the show is filming him photograph the photographs…it kind of makes me dizzy to think about. Catherine is taking photos too: her closet, her shoes and yoga mat, a cluster of lit candles on a table, and a bouquet of flowers in the trash. She notes that the candles and flowers seem datelike. “Some date,” says Grissom grimly, and snaps a shot of the large smear of blood in the middle of her sheets to illustrate his point. Catherine spots a void in the puddled wax on the table, and a tiny piece of yellow fabric stuck between two floorboards. Grissom finds something white and flaky on the footboard of the bed (or whatever you call the part of the bed frame at the other end from the headboard). He gets some on one of those clear sticky evidence-trapping things they have. It could be that she just has really dry feet, but better to get too much evidence than too little. There’s also a small blob of red nail polish on the footboard. He hasn’t seen Hollis’ red toenails yet, so he tries to swab it, thinking it might be blood, but of course it’s dried and nothing comes off on the swab. Catherine figures out what it is, which one could say is a sort of gender stereotyping, but it could also be that she was hanging out with the CBS crew while the hospital scene was being shot, and saw Hollis’ toes then. She takes a picture.

The scene changes to what looks like a bank lobby – in fact, there’s a sign in the upper right corner that says “Bank & T(something),” but the camera pans down to a CCTV monitor view of a maintenance hallway with Brass in it, and we switch to regular camera view of him approaching a maintenance worker to talk about Hollis’ assault, so I guess the bank lobby is supposed to be the Omni Condos lobby and the continuity people were a little lazy that day, or something. It could be a mixed-use commercial and residential building, but I always thought that was more of a Portland thing. Brass walks up to the unnamed maintenance man, whom we’ll call Stanley, and asks him why he was working on the 11 th floor (Hollis’ floor) at 5 in the morning. Stanley says he was just trying to get in some overtime. He adds that the building’s management had told him to put a fresh coat of paint on floors 3, 7, and 11 – all prime numbers, you’ll notice. We’ll put those through the “Lost” number cruncher in a bit. “Gotta keep everything nice and pretty for the tenants,” Stanley mutters. I hear ya, buddy…tenants suck. Brass says the security guy didn’t see Stanley on his monitor – and how creepy is it that it’s just expected that you be visible to a camera no matter where you go in your job? Way of things, I know, but I reserve the right to hold a low-level grudge toward our increasingly surveillance-crazy society. You can watch me hold my grudge on my webcam. Stanley snorts that the security guy doesn’t see much. “Service elevator’s out. We have to use the stairs. God forbid the tenants ever have to look at one of us.” I’m starting to like Stanley. Brass asks if Stanley has a master key to all of the apartments, and Stanley says he does, but he and the other maintenance people only go in if a tenant asks them to fix something. He doesn’t say “or if they want to shag us and discard us like a sweaty 19 th-century stable boy while their husband’s out of town,” but I’m sure it’s understood. One of the perks of the job, along with the free tool belt and duct tape. Uh oh. Stanley’s got his duct tape hanging from his tool belt, and after Stanley denies ever fixing anything for Hollis, Brass eyes the tape suspiciously. He snags the roll from Stanley’s belt with his pen, because Grissom’s taught him well, and comments that Stanley’s running low on duct tape. “Yeah,” agrees Stanley. “It’s holding up half the building.”

Hodges is examining the white flakes Grissom picked up. Under a microscope, they look like much larger white flakes. Nick comes in with two pieces of duct tape in bags. Both have been swabbed for DNA and fingerprinted, he says, and Grissom wants Hodges to compare adhesives on the two. Hodges says it will require a laser ablation test, which he describes as “visual and dramatic,” and starts looking around for the HC crew. Nick calls him on it, and Hodges says he’s surprised the HC crew isn’t already beating down his door. Nick reminds him that “Hard Crime” is only an hour long, and the test takes six hours. Hodges, mindful of the ways in which the visual media manipulate the passage of time, points out that the edited version of the test will only take 30 seconds. Nick nods and smiles, so as not to tip his hand, then casually exits the room. He runs down the hall to the camera crew and tells them that Hodges’ lab is highly radioactive due to a non-case-related mishap, and they should avoid it for at least the next six hours. It’s a shame, too…maybe they could have made a little montage out of the tape thing, splice in some CGI shots to illustrate the parts of the test we can’t normally see, and present it in a sped-up or shorthand sort of way so we can get a sense of the exciting forensics work being done without having to endure the tedium of actually performing the long painstaking work. Some peppy bed music, too, to keep us aurally entertained, lest we wander off to get a snack while they do their humdrum crap. That’s just a thought.

Hodges cuts a piece of tape off, tosses it in the laser doohickey, and lasers and dust motes swirl around in a computer-generated sort of way while some up-tempo music plays in the background. A few seconds later, the six-hour test is complete. I was going to go get something to eat during this sequence, but I didn’t for some reason. He meets up with Grissom in the hallway and tells him that the two pieces of tape were not a match to each other. The white flakes were mostly biological, so he sent them (yes, each flake individually) back to DNA. He did find some glassy particles among the flakes that could be industrial diamonds. Are industrial diamonds an industrial girl’s best friend? Or does that only apply to loose diamonds? Grissom wants to know about the yellow bit of reflective cloth, and Hodges says it’s next on his list. They pass by Archie and Catherine in the AV lab, where the HC film crew is filming as he recaps the CCTV video – and I’m recapping it all. It’s nice of them to include me, but it’s so damn meta that I think I need to lie down for a while. Hodges scoffs that it’s a waste of film (which could mean the CCTV film, the HC crew film, or the CBS film), but I think it’s kind of got a strange, beautiful self-referentiality, folding back in on itself like a Möbius strip made out of Möbius strips made out of tiny egg-salad sandwiches. I’m hungry; I hope someone in the show gets up for a snack soon, so I can too. The HC crew shoots over Archie’s shoulder as he explains his methodology to Catherine and the HC audience and us. The film of the film of the film shows people getting in and out of the Omni elevators. Archie rattles off the counts of people by gender, but one guy is especially interesting: he’s carrying a bouquet of flowers, and he got off on the 11 th floor at 10:32 pm. There’s no footage of him coming back down (by elevator, anyway; the stairs, we’re reminded, aren’t monitored, so all sorts of crazy lawless shit could be going down in there). What’s more, another bit of footage shows him letting himself into the building with his own key, which the CSIs take to mean that this wasn’t a first date. Catherine notes that the flower guy could have been with Hollis all night. She asks Archie to get a printout of the man’s face over to Brass. The HC producer asks her how she’s going to figure out who the guy is, when all they have to go on is his face. “Good question,” she says, and leaves. Commercials.

The woman in the Discover card commercial who brags about how much she shops online probably shouldn’t have been so boastful about it on tape; it will make good fodder for her husband’s divorce lawyer when he dumps her for burying the entire family under a mountain of crushing high-interest debt.

The HC crew is filming Nick. He looks a little uncomfortable, but he plays along and gives the HC crew a narrative of how they found the flower guy. There were fingerprints on the flower wrapper, and one of them matched a fingerprint from the duct tape. The prints weren’t in the system, but the flowers came from a small floral shop, so he took a photo of the guy to the shop and got a credit card receipt. That receipt allowed him to get a copy of the guy’s driver’s license, and he shows a blown-up 8.5x11 copy of the license to the camera. It’s not blurred out, so now everyone watching “Hard Crime” knows all they need to know to steal the identity of one Dwight Reynolds. Nick says the police are bringing Dwight in now. I’m sure he won’t mind having his personal info exposed to millions of people; he is a suspect in a crime, after all. The producer compliments Nick on his clear, concise delivery of the facts. Nick says he’s used to doing it in court; if the slack-jawed yokels on the jury can’t understand the facts of the case, the bad guy usually walks. “We don’t like it when the bad guy walks,” he says. I don’t know, seems like job security to me.

Brass and Sophia and the HC crew head to an interrogation room. Sophia says they picked Dwight up at a casino, and he was very, very drunk. Still is, in fact. She says they should wait to talk with him until he sobers up, but Brass doesn’t want to wait. He suggests that Sophia come interview Dwight with him, and undo her blouse a bit to see how Dwight reacts. “Mmmm…boobies,” is my guess. Sophia laughs at the suggestion, but Brass is serious. If Dwight tries too hard not to look, she says, by way of explaining Brass’s plan, it could be a sign of a guilty conscience. Or he could be polite; some of us do try not to stare, you know. We fail, usually, but we try. She points out that interviewing him now could get the testimony thrown out of court, but Brass wins her over with logic: “It’s worth a try.” The HC camera pans down slightly to show her unbuttoning her blouse a bit, and Brass and Sophia go in. The HC crew stays outside without a reminder; Brass must’ve spooked them good somewhere that we didn’t get to see. Inside the room, we switch to the CBS-cam. Brass asks Dwight if he knows Hollis, and he says that they used to date. Dwight denies having seen her recently, and when Brass mentions the flowers with his prints, he says he dropped them off for her but didn’t see her. He admits having a key, and says that Hollis likes him to come over sometimes to help her “move stuff.” He doesn’t wink when he says this, but he might be too drunk to remember how. Outside, the HC crew zooms in on Sophia as she leans across the table and points her cleavage at Dwight. Inside, Dwight looks from her cleavage to her face to Brass’s face, probably wondering what the hell is going on. It’s a new twist on ‘good cop/bad cop,’ I’ll give it that. I wonder if this is what Gloria Steinem had in mind when she talked about equality? Probably not. I don’t particularly want to see Brass’s cleavage, but I bet chest-thrusting ability wasn’t on the LVPD’s aptitude test. Brass doesn’t buy his story. “You went over to ‘move some stuff’ and she wasn’t in the mood? Is that it?” Dwight maintains that he didn’t see her, and we get a brief flashback of him coming down the Omni hall with the flowers. He starts to unlock the door, but hears Barry White playing inside and becomes annoyed. He throws the flowers down and walks off, and the flashback ends. Dwight figured she had someone else in there with her. Brass loudly accuses him of lying, and says they found the flowers inside the apartment and didn’t see him come down on the elevator. Dwight says he was pissed about being cock-blocked and decided to take the stairs to cool off, like a cold shower but more aerobic. Sophia tells Dwight that Hollis was tied up and assaulted last night, and Dwight appears truly shocked. He wants to know if she’s all right, and laments that he could have stopped the guy. Brass and Sophia exchange looks.

Wendy has the bedroom flakes under a microscope. She tells Catherine that they’re dead skin cells from Hollis, probably from her cuticles. Catherine guesses that Hollis was giving herself a pedicure before the assault. Wendy says that if she could afford to live in a swanky place like that, she’d be in a spa every week. Catherine agrees, thanks Wendy, and heads out to the hall, where Grissom has just been cued to walk by. The HC crew is following him. Catherine tells Grissom that there were no hits on the semen DNA in CODIS. Grissom tells her that Dwight’s prints didn’t match the prints from the duct tape. Catherine says that the rape kit showed multiple semen deposits in all of the popular orifices. The decay of some of the semen suggests that the intruder raped her on and off for quite some time. There was lorazapam in her system, which Catherine describes as a hypnotic sedative. She adds that, in high doses, it causes acute amnesia, and that the perp might have counted on that to cover his tracks. Grissom says it takes an hour for lorazapam to kick in, and wonders how he kept her subdued that whole time. Catherine ticks off the highlights of the case: low-profile entry, sedatives, and duct tape. “If he’s not a serial, he will be soon,” she says.

Hodges is smoothing his hair and eyebrows in a mirror. Sara comes up behind him, looking slightly amused. “Hey there, gorgeous,” she says, and he looks around in surprise. She wants what he’s got, but only the case-related stuff. She asks him to bring her up to speed on the trace from Hollis’ apartment. “Certainly,” he says, then stands silently. A few seconds later, the HC crew comes jogging in. “Did you page us?” asks the producer. Sara says no, and gets a suspicious look on her face. Hodges acts like it’s a mystery, but doesn’t actually say no. With the crew in position, he launches into his prepared remarks. “According to the gas chromatograph mass-spectrometer, the glossy red drop you found on the footboard was nail polish.” His delivery is stiff, and he looks askance at the camera at the end. Sara counters that it’s not an uncommon thing to find in a woman’s apartment. “What is far more intriguing is the reflective yellow flakes,” he continues. “Follow me to the Fourier Transform Infrared Microscope.” Sara leans in a little bit and asks Hodges what’s wrong with him. “Nothing,” he says, and she turns and walks two steps to the Fourier Transform Infrared Microscope. “Guys…stay with the girl,” says the producer quietly. Poor Hodges. Should have waited for one of the ugly CSIs. Sara looks into the microscope, and Hodges squeezes his face into the tight shot and continues his stilted prattling. Short answer: the yellow fabric is reflective material from a fireman’s uniform. Sara steps back from the microscope and Hodges’ uncomfortably close presence, and clarifies that he’s telling her there was a firefighter in Hollis’ apartment. Hodges puts a pensive finger to his lips and says “hmm.” Sara turns to go and says “thanks” over her shoulder with a mildly exasperated look on her face. When she sees the HC crew again, she turns her head, thanks Hodges by name, and leaves before it gets any weirder in there.

Transition shot of Vegas. Sara and Brass and the HC crew are at the fire department. The fire chief grudgingly agrees to allow the HC crew to film the interview. He and Brass banter a bit, nothing worth rehashing, and then they get down to business. The fire crew responded to a call at the Omni early last night, which turned out to be three soda-can smoke bombs on three different floors. The chief says there wasn’t any serious damage, and he thinks it was the work of kids. Damn punk kids! He adds that all the evidence is already in the CSI lab, because the day shift people are trying to see if there’s any correlation to similar smoke bombs that were set off in another apartment building a few weeks ago. One of the smoke bombs started a fire, and a woman died as a result. The chief says they don’t have a suspect in that case yet. While Brass and the chief talk, Sara wanders off to examine the firemen’s coats for missing reflective bits and to see if they make s’mores in their pockets like I’ve always suspected that they do. The coats, however, have orange reflective material and no visible evidence of s’mores. Brass asks the chief which of his crew was on the 11 th floor last night, and the chief says he’d have to ask around and wants to know why. Brass explains that a woman was raped on that floor, and the chief is understandably upset at the implication. He rejects Brass’s urging to settle down, and tells Brass that he’s got a set of brass somethings, possibly windchimes, for essentially accusing one of his guys of the rape – and on camera, no less. Their tiff is interrupted by Sara, who comes back to ask which of the firemen wears a yellow reflective stripe on their uniform. The chief, whom Brass calls ‘Sparky’ at one point, says that no one does; the department’s color is orange. She tells him that the reflective flake they found in the apartment was yellow. “Then you’re not looking for a Las Vegas fireman,” he says, shooting crusty looks at Brass the whole while.

Archie, Grissom, Catherine and the HC crew are reviewing more surveillance footage. Hollis came home at 6:19 pm, and the firemen got there around 7 pm. The firemen took the stairs, probably because they knew they wouldn’t get caught harassing any innocent fires that way, and there’s some footage from the parking garage of a fireman jimmying his way into a stairwell door. He’s in full fireman gear: yellow slicker and fire hat and even an oxygen tank on his back. Someone comes out of the stairwell and the fireman rushes him out of the doorway and into the parking garage. It looks like your basic firefighter doing his job, except that the time code says it’s 6:36 pm, 20 minutes before the fire call came in. Also, his slicker has a yellow reflective trim instead of orange, and his name badge says “R. Apeguy.” Sounds Portuguese. Archie notes that Mr. Apeguy touched the door with his bare hands, and there might be some prints. When Catherine points out the time discrepancy, Archie asks what kind of fireman comes before the fire? A fireman from the future, sent back in time to save the mother of the leader of the resistance movement from dying prematurely in a fire started by cyberneoterrorcons? Grissom knows exactly what I’m talking about. “Someone who knows it’s coming,” he says. The HC producer asks him to repeat his statement for the camera, and he just stares at them. I wonder if he has any species of videotape-eating bugs in his collection. Commercials.

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Greg is dusting the parking garage door for prints. The HC sound guy has a boom mike extended toward him, and the producer asks if he’s ever heard the saying ‘only the dumb ones get caught.’ He has, but he says that they catch the smart ones too, and this perp is in the latter category. Greg explains what we’ve all figured out already: Mr. Apeguy lit smoke bombs on several different floors to hide his true target, and when he knocked on his victim’s door, she saw the fire uniform and the smoke and let him right in. There’s a flashback of the same thing, in case we didn’t get the explanation without pictures. “Who wouldn’t trust a fireman, right?” he says. Well, Ray Bradbury, for one.

Hollis has recovered enough to be interviewed by Sophia. She faces screen left, and Sophia is out of the shot. A LVPD video camera is recording the interview, and Sophia promises Hollis that she can change her mind about being recorded at any time. The CBS camera pans around behind the LVPD camera, and we see Hollis in three separate images: the CBS cam, the LVPD cam’s LCD display panel, and the LVPD cam’s eyepiece. Hollis says she wants him to see it, and Sophia says he’ll watch it in jail. Hollis’s memory is coming back a little, but not much. She doesn’t really remember what the guy looked like, but she remembers the feelings from the event and knows that he raped her. There are brief flashbacks to the event scattered throughout the interview. What she remembers most, she says, is that he kept touching her feet. We get a few shots of Sophia nodding slightly and looking grimly concerned, likely thinking that that’s probably going to ruin the whole pedicure experience for Hollis from this point on. Seems a little callous to me, but I suppose police work hardens you after a while.

Grissom and Catherine wander through the corridors together. He says that foot fetishism is a visual pathology, meaning the perp would have had to see Hollis’ feet in order to get aroused – which suggests that he first saw them somewhere outside her apartment and chose her in particular because of her feet. Catherine points out that they live in a desert, and seeing the average woman’s bare or nearly-bare feet is as easy as looking down. Even easier if you have the power to see through shoes, which I do, but I pledged long ago to only use it for Good. It doesn’t come up very often.

Sara is researching fire-fighting couture on her laptop. Greg comes in with news about his fingerprint hunt. The door, he says, was “like the arm of a slot machine: smudge city.” The janitor was able to give a full description: he said the guy looked like a fireman. Sara’s found a bazillion places to buy yellow-striped fire jackets, so they’re 0 for 3. Sara notices something in the stack of photos next to her. A normal firefighter’s oxygen tank is carried upside down, she says, with the valve at the bottom, but the perp’s valve was at the top. The hose from the tank isn’t hooked to the mask he was wearing, either; it’s hooked to a second mask in his jacket pocket. They speculate that the perp used nitrous oxide and the second mask to subdue Hollis before giving her the lorazapam, which would explain how he was able to wait for an hour while the lorazapam took effect, and how he was able to get her from the door to the bed without a struggle. There’s a flashback of Hollis opening the door, and the fireman shoving a small breathing mask over her mouth and nose and holding it there. Greg adds that nitrous is undetectable in the blood after a few minutes. If he bought the nitrous from a local merchant, there would be a record. Sara sends him off to find it so she can get back to her online Texas Hold’em game, where she’s beating the crap out of a player named W_Brown.

Warrick Brown sits on a lab stool talking to his wife on his cell phone. She’s bitching about something or another. Since we have no real familiarity with her as a person, and we’ve known Warrick for years, I’m going to take his side on whatever it is she’s on about. It happens that she wants to spend more time with him, probably so she can harangue him without using up her minutes. Apparently his double shifts solving crimes are less important than her double shifts at the skank factory or wherever she works, so it’s his fault they never see each other any more. I’m just not feeling very charitable at all tonight, am I? She wants to go out tonight with her friends. Warrick says that she’ll probably be seeing Robert as well tonight, and I’d just like to ask that you two leave me out of this. He says it’s fine, not really sounding like he’s fine with it, and then the HC crew comes in behind him. He tells her they’ll have to resume their discussion at a later time, and hangs up. “Is this a bad time?” asks the producer, hoping for a ‘yes’ so they can stay belligerently instead of passively, but Warrick puts on his happy face and tells them it’s a great time. The producer asks what he’s doing, and he tells them he’s comparing the soda cans used in the two smoke bomb incidents, the second (or first) of which we learned about from Sparky. The producer wants to know how Warrick can tell the two beat-up, smoke-blackened cans apart, and he gives them a little spiel about how CSIs always take detailed notes and pictures, but you can tell he’s thinking “Oh, shit…which one is which?” As he holds the two cans up side by side, he comes to the conclusion that they were probably made by the same guy.

Doc Robbins is working out on the treadmill while being interviewed by the HC crew. The producer asks if this is a slow day at the morgue. Doc says the job is kind of hard to predict. “Today it’s like this; tomorrow it’s a bus accident.” Friday’s pretty clear, but Saturday there’s a night club fire, and that’s gonna be crazy busy. Do you know how hard it is to get melted vinyl off of skin? Grissom comes in and wants to know if he’s looked at the blood sample from the smoke bomb fire victim. He rattles off some things that aren’t lorazapam which were in her blood, and Grissom asks him to have it tested for that. He also wants to know if there were any other sexual assault cases that came in with lorazapam in their blood, and Doc says he doesn’t remember any but will research it and get back to him. Grissom leaves. Doc is still striding along on the treadmill, and he looks at the HC crew and tells them that a slow day is a good day. Unless you’re a substitute teacher stuck with a remedial reading class, like I was once…that day just would not end.

Sophia has rounded up a pile of people who live at the apartment building from the smoke bomb fire, and they’re milling about in a conference room while she and Sara chat outside. The HC crew watches them with a watching watchfulness. Sara says the woman who died in that fire didn’t have any lorazapam in her blood, so maybe she wasn’t the target. The two head into the conference room, and the HC producer asks her if this qualifies as a fishing expedition. She replies that they call it “following a lead.” He says it’s not much of a lead. Her hackles go partway up at that, and she stops in the doorway and asks him testily to explain what he means. He says that this lead is even colder than the Hollis lead, which is kind of a stupid thing to say, since the crime still needs to be solved and intel from humans doesn’t decay like physical evidence might. He adds that the CSIs would be better off with a new victim and a fresh scene. Nice. Apparently I was too generous when I called them ghouls earlier. Sara’s hackles go up the rest of the way, and she tells the producer that that’s definitely not the outcome they’re looking for. She glares at them with such force as to put Sparky to shame, and goes into the conference room. She picks out a young woman from the crowd and takes her into another room to chat.

In the Chat Room, the young woman (who will later be identified as Stephanie Daniels) tells Sara she didn’t know the woman who died in the fire. Sara asks what she was doing that night, and she says she was alone and “reading or something.” She makes a small aside to convey her modest displeasure at the unkind fate of being alone on a Saturday night, so we’re left with little choice but to interpret ‘reading or something’ as a euphemism for watching Fight Club with a bowl of ice cream and a Pocket Rocket. She’s TV-plain, which is to say real-life pretty, and the lamentations from such a woman about being alone always seem a little hollow to me, but what do I know. Anyway, there’s a flashback to someone knocking at her door, and when she opens it there’s a fireman and some smoke in the hallway. We get a brief look at his face, but he’s wearing a breathing mask and only lit on one side, so there’s not much to go on. Sara asks her to describe what he looked like, and she says “well, he was a fireman.” Sara does not smack Ms. Daniels, because how could she know that was a particularly wrong answer to give. Sara explains that they’re looking for a rapist who masquerades as a fireman and sets off smoke bombs to get his victims to open their doors. “He knocked on my door,” says Daniels. “Are you saying he was going to rape me?” Well, he wasn’t going to sell you fireman cookies. She tells Sara that there was a point in her brief encounter with the fireman where it felt like he wasn’t going to let her go. Ominous music and commercials.

When we return, Sara and Greg are explaining their utter failure to make progress on the case to Catherine. Sara says the yellow reflective turnout was a dead end, and the smoke bombs didn’t have anything they could track. Greg adds that hundreds of people have purchased nitrous oxide in the last six months, and that’s the narrowed-down list. Catherine figures they should focus on the guy’s foot fetish; he has to be able to see the victims’ feet beforehand to make his selection. The two victims don’t have a lot in common. Hollis is African-American and single, lives and works in the Omni building, and uses its gym but not the pool. She’s on the 11 th floor, so no one’s likely to be able to see in her window. Daniels is Caucasian and single, lives across town, doesn’t go to a gym, but does use her apartment’s pool. Her windows have shades and drapes, so it’s not likely anyone could see in from the surrounding buildings either. “So they have nothing in common,” says Greg, and Grissom steps in on cue. “Sure they do,” he says. “They both have feet.” And lady parts, so there we go. That should narrow it down. Grissom has a police report from a third victim, Tara Weathers, who says she was drugged in a bar a month ago and woke up at her apartment with her toenails freshly painted. A tox screen showed lorazapam in her system. Why not try to find out where he’s getting all this lorazapam? I doubt you can buy it in vending machines. The CSIs review the pattern for those of us who just barely tuned in: the rapist started out small, drugging a woman and painting her toes a month ago, then stepping it up two weeks later with the fireman outfit and the smoke bombs. That one didn’t go as he’d planned, and he’s forced to bail. Two weeks after that, he succeeds with Hollis, and his behavior has escalated; he paints her nails and rapes her repeatedly.

Transition shot of Vegas, and then Catherine and Brass are knocking on Tara Weathers’ door. She’s home, luckily for us and the dwindling amount of time we’ve got to wrap this thing up, and Brass introduces himself and Catherine. He tells her they’re here to talk with her about “the nail polish thing,” and she says the police had told her previously that she should consider herself lucky and that no real crime had been committed. Drugging someone and assaulting their toes isn’t a crime? Catherine says that they may have been wrong about that, and Weathers is understandably miffed: “That’s what I tried to tell you the first time.” She invites them in. They all stand in the living room, and Brass tells her that the guy who drugged her is a rapist and a murderer. Weathers is a little alarmed at the thought. Catherine explains that they’re trying to figure out what Weathers might have in common with the other victims that might help them find the guy. Aside from Grissom’s helpful observation about the having of feet. Brass explains the guy’s foot fetish, and asks if there’s any way he could have seen her feet. She tells them she’s a legal secretary, and works long hours. Her firm is very conservative, and doesn’t allow open-toed shoes. She doesn’t go to a gym, burns too easily to swim much, and buys her shoes in lots of different places. Catherine notices a red yoga mat leaning against the wall next to a lava lamp. She asks about it, and Weathers says she does yoga on the balcony. She and Brass go to the balcony for a look-see. There are several other apartments across the courtyard which would give a good view of Weathers’ feet.

The HC crew runs down a hallway behind Catherine, Brass, and some cops. Apparently we’ve fast-forwarded quite a bit. The producer asks how they got a warrant, and Catherine says the tenant whose door they’re about to bust down was on the list of nitrous oxide customers. They arrive at the apartment door, and Brass shouts for the guy to open up. Nothing happens, so he orders the building manager to unlock the door. When the door’s open, Brass and the cops rush in to check the place out. Catherine stops the HC crew from following them, and the producer hands her a handheld flashlight camera and asks her to take it with her. The cops give her the all-clear, and she heads in while the HC crew watch the flashlight cam’s view on a handheld monitor. She shines it around the place, nothing much to see, and then finds Brass looking out the window. He tells her there’s a perfect view of Weathers’ balcony. We switch back to the CBS cam as Catherine keeps looking around. On a desk near the door, she finds a stack of yoga flyers from different places around town. Yoga, firemen, feet…this guy is chock full of fetishes. Next to the flyers is an open toolbox with several dozen bottles of nail polish and various other implements of footcare. A corkboard on the wall is covered with pictures of women with feet. In another room, there’s a poster with various types of high-heeled shoes on it, and a big pile of hardware, hose, and fireman’s gear on a table and the floor. The carrying case for the air tank is empty. Catherine puts on her gloves and starts sorting through the items on the table. There’s a camcorder with candle wax on the bottom, the same color as the candles in Hollis’ apartment. Brass calls in an APB for Richard McQueen, and I’m glad to have a name for the guy besides ‘guy.’ Catherine hits the play button on the camcorder, and we watch the guy, I mean McQueen, give a footrub to a tied-up Hollis. The camcorder is apparently hooked up to the nearby TV, and Catherine holds up her flashlight camera to let the HC crew see too. She zooms in as McQueen looks over his shoulder toward his own camcorder, which we’re watching on his TV through Catherine’s flashlight cam on the HC crew’s portable monitor via CBS. It’s very layered, and McQueen’s eerie look suggests that he disapproves of the whole voyeurism thing we’re doing.

Suddenly we’re outside, running along behind the cops with the HC camera. We pass a fire truck and run into the building. The hall is filled with smoke. Brass calls out that they’re with the LVPD, and down the hall a ways there’s a pile of firemen beating the crap out of someone or something. Hopefully not one of the smoke bombs, because that’s just a really inefficient way to put them out. Turns out it’s McQueen, and Brass pulls the firemen off him and one of the police take him away. “She wouldn’t let me touch her feet,” says McQueen as he’s hauled off. Not the best of the famous last words I’ve heard. Sparky was somewhere in the pile, and he stands up and tells Brass that his guys caught McQueen trying to sneak away. “You should see what he did,” says Sparky, pointing down the hall, so naturally we’ve just got to go look now. Brass runs down the hall and into an apartment, stands at the bedroom door blocking the view for a second, and his shoulders slump. That’s not an encouraging sign. He goes into the room, and we can see a woman tied to the bed with the nitrous mask over her face and a sheet over her midsection. She seems dead. At the bottom of the bed by her feet are some of McQueen’s footcare tools. Brass sighs.

Outside the morgue, Doc Robbins tells the HC camera that women are four times more likely than men to be the victim of a sex-related murder, and men are ten times more likely to be murderer. I’m all for gender equality, but I’m not sure which direction to move on that one. Doc heads into the morgue, where the latest victim lies on the slab, and starts slicing her open for an autopsy.

The HC crew is in the CSI locker room for some reason, watching Catherine as she gets her purse and jacket out of her locker. The producer asks if the photos in her locker are of her daughter, and Catherine says they’re old pictures; her daughter is a teenager now, and played by a different actress. “With all the things you see on this job, you ever worry about her?” he asks, to which Catherine replies that she keeps a vial of Lindsay’s blood in her freezer. “What, as a DNA sample in case you need to identify her?” he asks with some surprise. No, dork, in case she needs a tiny little transfusion someday. Catherine tells him that one thing she’s learned on the job is that bad things happen every day to people who never expected it. I think I’d prefer not to expect it, because if you do expect it you’d probably be jumpy all the time, and that’s no fun.

A cop leads McQueen down the hall. He’s wearing an orange jumper and leg shackles, and he turns to look at the HC crew as they film him. He’s pretty banged up; the firemen will probably get sued for that. McQueen and his escort turn a corner, and the HC camera pulls back to a shot of Brass. He tells them that they got a confession out of McQueen. “He didn’t choose women’s feet; women’s feet chose him,” Brass paraphrases. “He lit candles, he played music…he thought he was on a date.” Brass says that McQueen’s explanation for why he did what he did was that his mother was a hooker, and she used to put him under the bed while she was working. Her perfect feet dangled over the edge of the bed, warping his soul a little more each time he saw them, or something like that. As for the fireman outfit, Brass speculates that McQueen wanted to be a fireman when he grew up. He notes that juries like neat and tidy explanations, to be told that they live in a world of order and meaning, and not a chaotic cesspool where any one of them could snuff it for no reason at any time. I say juries are fooling themselves. The producer asks how Brass copes, and Brass replies that he knows they’re probably expecting him to say that he gets drunk each night to numb the pain of it all, but he takes care of himself just fine, thank you very much. “How well did you sleep after you learned you killed a fellow officer in that shootout last year?” the producer asks. Brass is dumbstruck. He stares at the producer, shakes his head, walks away, turns around and comes back to berate the producer for asking such a question when he has no idea what it’s like to be a cop, then walks away again muttering and shaking his head. He calls over his shoulder that the HC crew is done. So the short answer, I suppose, is “not too good.”

Jump cut to the HC crew following Grissom in the hallway. They’ve asked him a question, probably something like “why didn’t you catch the guy before he killed that chick,” and Grissom answers that they can only work with the evidence when there’s evidence to work with. The producer asks whether Grissom feels they did the best they could, and Grissom says yes. “Do you think forensics shows are just teaching criminals how to get away with crimes?” asks the producer of a fake forensics show to the lead character in another fake forensics show. Grissom explains that everyone learns from science, and what they do with that knowledge is up to them. He goes into his office and closes the door. The HC cam peers through his window at all the science scattered about, and then the credits roll.



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