The Inner Crab


[Air Date: 05-04-06]

“Time of Your Death”

A dark-haired man and a blonde woman speed through the night in a red Ferrari. They, or possibly the sports car, are available in HD 5.1 Surround. The woman runs her hand up the man’s leg. He gives her a look, the kind of look a man might give an attractive woman who’s running her hand up his leg while he’s driving a high-end sports car, and then he taps a lever on the steering column. I assume it’s the eject button for her seat, but it doesn’t seem to work. Instead, the car speeds up and zooms away from the camera. The man, woman, and car pull up in front of a hotel, and valets swarm over them like a Nascar pit crew that works for tips. The man tosses his keys to one of the valets, and then palms him a hundred-dollar bill. “Fill up the trunk with cocaine,” he probably says, although there’s no dialogue so I’m only surmising here. The woman seems very pleased to be stepping out of a handsome sports car with a reasonably handsome man – one who has at least $100 and a sports car to his name, no less – and there’s a spring in her steps and in the front part of her dress as she takes his hand.

Suddenly they’re in a dance club, and there’s dancing. The man and the woman kiss on the dance floor. Then they kiss some more in a hallway. The woman yanks the man into the women’s restroom and closes the door, and then he dies in an alleyway. And not in the Shakespearean sense of the word. Seriously, he’s on the ground dead in the very next scene. There’s probably some missing time between the women’s room and being dead, and hopefully in the interim he got laid, because there’s nothing more frustrating than dying with blue balls.

Grissom and Catherine join Brass and David in the alley, which is actually more of a loading dock. Brass says a delivery driver found the corpse, and David says he died about two or three hours ago. The victim has a bruise on his neck, and his knuckles are also pretty banged up. He doesn’t have any ID, but he does have a keycard for the Palermo, the hotel in whose dock he currently lies. Doesn’t he know you’re supposed to turn those in when you check out? “Nice clothes,” Catherine comments, and Brass responds with “Well, they do make the man,” in his best New Jersey/butler accent. The man’s nice clothes have white paint or something (it’s paint, but we shouldn’t assume – but it is) on them. Grissom makes a completely forgettable zinger about the party being over, and the opening credits launch.

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Catherine and Grissom are still processing the scene. They’ve each found additional white paint smudges on the ground around the body, which tells them he rubbed against wet paint. There’s no wet paint outside, so Catherine goes inside. In a service hallway of the hotel, she finds that one wall has wet white paint and some scuff marks along the bottom. Judging from the amount of paint that comes away on Catherine’s ungloved fingers, the wall has been painted within the last 12 seconds, which kind of messes with the timeline of the guy’s death. There aren’t any “Wet Paint” signs up, nor is there any sign of painting equipment, and this is at least 3 hours after the victim got paint on himself and the loading dock. I know some types of paint take a while to dry, but I think it’s those types of paint specifically that mothered the invention of “Wet Paint” signage. It just doesn’t add up, and I’m starting to think that this hallway is a fake.

Catherine takes a photo of the scuff mark, which seems less useful than collecting a sample of the paint for comparison, but what do I know. Maybe they can use what’s on her fingers. She goes the rest of the way down the hall and comes out into the hotel’s lobby. A friendly concierge scans the keycard she found, which opens room 2147. If this were Lost, I’d start searching the internet for that number and its squares and roots and so on, but it’s not. However, I will suggest that if you look up Psalm 21, Verse 47, you’ll find something veeeeeery interesting.

The concierge leads Catherine and Nick to room 2147. Where did Nick come from? Maybe he logged out in the elevator last time he played. The room belonged to Jeffrey Powell from Van Nuys, California. Jeff checked in alone, paid with a corporate credit card belonging to “Sheritown Inc.,” and his was the only name on the reservation. Nick asks the concierge for access to the hotel’s surveillance footage, a hair dryer, a shoe tree, and something sweet for later. In the hotel room, Nick spots two champagne flutes and wonders whether Jeff got lucky. Catherine finds some long blonde hairs, and confirms Nick’s suspicions about the vic’s luckiness. Well, that’s a relief. Nick finds some faded, ripped-up jeans, and the two CSIs suppose that the victim either wore the jeans for a long time to get them in this condition, or just bought them and paid a lot of money for the distressed look. Seriously, are people still doing that? Huh. Some people will buy anything, I guess…pet rocks, pre-trashed jeans, “Intelligent Design.” Must be one of those lowest-common-denominator things…I wouldn’t know.

Nick finds a blackjack book in Jeff’s bag, and reminisces about his wide-eyed first visit to the big gaudy city. “Everybody dreams of hittin’ it big out here, don’t they?” he says, to which Catherine responds “Yeah, well, if that ever ends you can kiss Vegas goodbye.” Ooh! Burn on Vegas and everyone in it! Nick finds a small, drug-sized baggie of white powder in the nightstand drawer. Catherine notes that the victim had a very expensive leather jacket, a “Sasan.” I’m glad CSI isn’t shilling for anyone, except maybe the makers of high-end gas chromatographs – I bought two thanks to this show. There’s blue pool-cue chalk on the jacket, but we don’t know that it’s pool-cue chalk yet. But it is. Catherine hands Nick the dead guy’s wallet. Driver’s license, corporate credit card (a “Vista” card), Amateur Speedway Association membership card (expired). What, no Bikini Inspector card? Nick says, for those who just tuned in, that the vic liked fast cars. Catherine jingles his keys and points out that he drives a Shmoyota. Actually, she does say ‘Toyota,’ but they can’t make everything up. She didn’t point out how alive he felt while driving his Toyota, because that would have been in poor taste. Nick doesn’t find any cash, and he immediately assumes that they’re looking at the ol’ trick roll. It’s just sad that a few bad prostitutes have ruined it for all the others. The Wayback-cam shows us Jeff playing cards, having a lucky streak, and hooking up with a faceless blonde woman. Well, she probably has a face, but it’s on the other side of her head. The imaginary blonde gets him naked and drunk, and Nick concludes with “jump him and dump him.” Such a cynic.

In the corpse-molesting room, Warrick is photographing Jeff while David takes off his clothes. Jeff’s clothes. I’m guessing there’s not much fan fiction about a Warrick-David pairing. Jeff is wearing boxer shorts, and they have a red wine stain on them. “Mom was right,” says David. “Always wear clean ones, because you never know what could happen.” Score one for Mom. Later this episode, we’ll learn that Jeff would have lived if only he’d met a nice girl like that Clara next door. David wonders what the red wine stain could be. Warrick suggests that he take a whiff. “Why am I always the guy who has to sniff the shorts?” asks David. Okay, maybe there has been some fan fic out there. Warrick points out, correctly, that it’s part of David’s job. There’s just not enough money in the budget for a full-time corpse-shorts-sniffer. David asks Warrick to do it. He does, brushing the aroma toward his nose like a professional smeller of things. “Red wine,” he pronounces. Told you. There’s no wine on his other clothes, so Warrick figures he must’ve changed after getting wined. Warrick checks the pants pockets and finds an unwashed “Inspected By” sticker. It’s number 17. If you look up who was the 17 th person to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, you’ll find a fascinating correlation. So the victim’s pants are brand new, never washed, and he’s got a callus on the webbing between his thumb and forefinger, whatever that’s called. Warrick takes a picture of it.

Nick and Archie are watching surveillance video. Jeff is in an elevator with his blonde friend, and Nick notes that it’s 10:52 pm in the video. Archie says he’s been watching the hotel’s video for a while now. He sounds a little punchy. Nick says the last time Jeff used his room key was at 10:54 pm. Archie fast-forwards by an hour, and there’s Jeff getting back in the elevator. He’s not wearing his fancy leather jacket. The biometric data from the hotel video indicates that Jeff has been recently laid. Okay, maybe not, but don’t think it’s not coming. The technology. That’s what’s—forget it. Jeff gets off on the casino floor. No, that’s Warrick, but he’s better now. Jeff exits the elevator on the casino floor. Nine minutes later, the blonde woman gets on the elevator and rides in the exact same direction as Jeff! Nick asks Archie to hit PrtSc so they can get a photo of the woman. The picture will be printed on a printer called ‘PC-Print,’ from ‘A/V LAB #4.’ I guess they don’t have one of those network managers who names all the computers after Star Wars characters and all the printers after the hot alien women of sci-fi lore who indirectly taught him about self-gratification. Weird. Also, Archie’s last name is Johnson. I didn’t even know he had a last name.

Archie loses track of Jeff for about 15 minutes after he gets out of the elevator. Nick wonders how that’s possible when there are a hundred cameras in the casino. Archie counters that 100 cameras times 4 hours of video each equals 400 hours of video. Which came on one enormous video tape that had to be delivered on a flatbed truck. It’s kind of a lame excuse, since he knows exactly when Jeff got off the elevator, but that missing 15 minutes will come up again later, so this must be the writers’ way of saying “Look! Shiny thing over there!” Archie picks up Jeff again 15 minutes later, walking toward the arcade, which is the last time he’s seen on video. Maybe it’s just me, but an arcade should have video games. I don’t see any here, unless “Where’s Jeff” counts as a video game. Which it doesn’t. Nick says that the arcade, or “arcade,” is near the loading dock where Jeff snuffed it. Nick spots a woman coming from where Jeff went off camera, carrying a “Sasan” bag. There’s a Sasan Boutique in the arcade, and Nick decides to go shopping.

There’s a transitional shot of Vegas in the daytime, which is kind of like looking at Dracula in the daytime, and then we’re in the Sasan Boutique. Nick is talking to a shopgirl. She has an English accent, because this is a classy store. She says she was working last night, but she doesn’t recognize Jeff or his lady friend from the picture Nick shows her. She does, of course, recognize the picture of Jeff’s leather jacket: “That’s from the new spring line. The leather’s like skin – it’s incredible.” Hairy and dotted with moles? She asks to see Jeff’s picture again, and now she remembers that he came in and wanted a complete outfit, including underwear. Cheeky monkey! Sasan, however, doesn’t sell underwear, which is why he still had on the wine-stained boxers. Jeff was flashing a cash wad around, and his lady friend was helping him pick out the leatheriest leather jacket Sasan had to offer. The shopgirl tells Nick that Jeff’s lady friend didn’t buy anything for herself, but she was making the shopgirl’s job much easier. “That guy would have bought anything she wanted him to, Mr. Stokes,” she says. Nick’s surprised that she knows his name, but then he remembers that it’s stitched in 72-point font on his jacket. He gives her a smile, clearly impressed by her mystical sales skills, then thanks her and leaves.

Doc Robbins has Jeff’s corpse under the Blue Light of Examining. Jeff’s got some neck problems, not the least of which is the big strip of flesh that’s been peeled back during the autopsy. He tells Catherine that there’s a lot of bruising in Jeff’s neckal area, and there are several cartilage fractures and a bone fracture as well. Catherine asks if it’s a result of blunt-force trauma to the neck, and he says “Yeah.” I would have gone with “Duh” here myself, but his is good too. Jeff’s cause of death is asphyxiation due to obstruction of the airway. It took him a few minutes to die, says the Doc, and it doesn’t sound like a fun way to go to me. Personally, I’m planning on ‘heart attack while underneath a woman dressed as a Romulan commander.’ Doc pulled out the Bruise-Cam to photograph the deeper bruises under Jeff’s skin, and shows Catherine that there’s a bruise mark on his throat that looks like it was made with something that had a defined edge. It’s too general of a shape to tell what it was at this point. Perhaps later we’ll find out. Jeff’s tox report shows he had methamphetamine, sildenafil, and oxycodone in his system, which Catherine translates as “stimulant, erection, and a pain killer. Party in a pill.” Whee! “Where was that on my wedding night?” asks the Doc, and Catherine does her best not to make her face go “Ew.”

Greg and Sara are talking to the valet (“Lenny Andretti – no relation”) who took Jeff’s keys last night. He remembers the couple, and definitely remembers the “sweet red Ferrari – F360 Spyder” they were driving. They took the car out at around 8:15 pm, and came back around 10 pm. He doesn’t know where they were going, but he pledged his life to defend the car from the other valets’ lustful advances after Jeff gave him the $100. Lenny doesn’t remember seeing Jeff’s companion around before. When Sara asks him if the woman seemed like a working girl, he says that if she was, she was “top shelf, just like that car.” She’s blushing somewhere, I’m sure. Lenny says he felt like the valet in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” except that he didn’t take the Ferrari out for a spin, and he definitely didn’t have anything to do with the damage to the car. Apparently the bumper was scuffed up pretty badly when Jeff and friend came back from their evening drive. That’s all Lenny knows.

Back in the lab, Hodges has finished examining the mysterious blue powder from Jeff’s jacket. He tells Catherine that it’s a mix of talc, silica, and axolite, the latter two being abrasives. Like Hodges. Pool cue chalk, he tells her, doesn’t contain chalk at all, and the silica and axolite give grip to the tip of the pool cue when striking the ball. He’s doing his best to make it sound dirty, which she calls him on. She mentions the victim’s callus, and stops Hodges from whatever seamy comment he was about to make. She guesses that the callus means Jeff was probably playing a lot of pool. “Where do you go in this town to shoot stick with a hot blonde and a Ferrari?” ponders Hodges. I’m gonna guess he’ll only ever know the answer to that in an academic sense.

Cut to the Hot Blondes and Ferraris Pool Hall, where Brass and Catherine are looking around. This particular pool hall is close to the Palermo Hotel, so they reason that it’s a good place to start. Catherine picks up a cube of pool cue chalk from a nearby table. It’s blue! This must be the right place! Brass watches two guys finishing up a game. The loser pays the winner, and the winner goes over to the guy behind the counter and gives him a cut of the money. The vig, as they say in the gambling trade, which is short for vigorish. Brass approaches the latter fellow and shows him the picture of Jeff and his senorita. Pool hall guy says he doesn’t recognize them, and adds that it’s too dark to see faces that well in the pool hall. Brass and Catherine pressure him to think harder, pointing out that he took a cut from a pool game but doesn’t have a gambling license on display. Suddenly he remembers the name of the woman: she’s Heidi Wolff, and she’s a regular here. Brass encourages the fellow to call Heidi and summon her to the pool hall with the pretext of having a high roller to play against, which he does. Heidi arrives and starts looking for her pool client, and sees the pool hall guy standing between two cops. He meets her eyes and looks ashamed. She turns to leave, and Brass is right there. He asks her if she knows the guy the photo he’s holding, and she tries to play it coy, all “Apparently you think I do.” “Oh, I know you do,” smiles Brass, and asks her if she might know how he happened to turn up dead. She seems dismayed.

After commercials, Heidi is in the interrogation room talking with Brass. She admits that she spent the evening with Jeff, but adds that he was alive when he left her. “He left you?” queries Brass. “Yeah, believe it or not,” she says. Well, well. Someone thinks highly of themselves. Jeff was getting weird on her, she says, and we flash back to Jeff in the hotel room expressing feelings of affection for Heidi, which sure is weird for a guy to do after the sex, and then he leaves. He says he’ll be right back. She says she was just looking for a good time, so after he left, she did. Brass suggests that she took Jeff’s money, and she denies it. Brass tells her he knows Jeff was flashing a wad of cash earlier, and that it wasn’t on him after he died. Heidi tells Brass she’s a professional gambler, and an honest one at that. Brass still thinks she’s a hooker, or was on that night anyway. She says that she and Jeff had sex, which isn’t illegal. They also played pool and won some money, which is also not illegal. Brass points out that she gave him drugs, and that part was illegal. Brass proposes that she left the hotel room after Jeff did, and then called her partner. The two of them killed Jeff and took his money. “Let’s get this straight,” she says. “He was a sweet kid, and I’m sorry he’s dead, but I had nothing to do with it. And I’m done talking.” And she is. For now.

Greg and Sofia are at Extravagant Auto, a high-end car dealership, having followed the paper trail on red Ferraris in Vegas. This dealership has the only one that’s not privately owned, and since Jeff and Heidi both own different kinds of cars, this seems like a good place to start. The car salesman comes out to greet them as they enter, but he’s soon disappointed to learn that they’re not here to buy, nor even to pick up a brochure. He takes them out back to show them the Ferrari, which fortunately hasn’t been repaired yet, although the interior has been cleaned. Greg looks at the rear bumper scuff and says that the paint’s been peeled front to back, and Sofia interprets the clue for the audience, saying that the Ferrari was the faster vehicle in the collision. The salesman, having heard one of his trigger phrases, blurts out involuntarily that the Ferrari is always the faster vehicle. Sofia walks around to the front and notices a deeper scuff, more like a chunk missing really, and she asks the salesman who rented the car. He won’t say. He doesn’t plan to report the damage to the police, though. Sofia says they’re going to have to impound the car, which the salesman isn’t happy about. He takes several pictures of the car with his cell phone, and tells Sofia that he plans to file for crime victim compensation. I don’t know what that is, exactly, but my guess is it wasn’t intended for this type of scenario.

In the lab, Hodges has been given a paint flake from the car. I couldn’t tell what he was doing the first time I saw this, but after watching it again, it makes sense. He uses a little cylinder mold to encase the paint flake in Lucite, or a similar clear plastic, so he can examine it from all angles without crumbling it all up. A little later, Greg tells Grissom that the paint transfer came from a black Corvette, and Grissom says he’ll have Brass put out a broadcast about it. He tells Greg that Nick ran the credit card and got ahold of Mick Sheridan, the owner of Sheritown Inc. Mick is waiting to talk with him at the police department. Greg is very excited by this, as Mick Sheridan is a movie producer and Greg is a big fan of his blockbuster films. “Car chases, ninjas, cyborg death machines…we used to make body armor out of tin foil and re-enact the scenes all over the neighborhood,” says Greg. “What about you? You a Green Beret kid? Secret agent?” “I’m not telling,” says Grissom. “And stay away from my tin foil.” Snerk. He walks off, leaving Greg to ponder why Grissom has tin foil and why he’s protecting it.

Judd Nelson, former brat-packer and teen heartthrob (I’m supposing), is in Brass’s office with Grissom. He’s playing Mick Sheridan, and he’s very upset by Jeff’s death. Good minions are hard to come by. Brass asks him if he wants a drink, which he does. He turns to the uniformed officer standing nearby and says, “Small Pellegrino, room temperature.” What, no bowl of M&Ms with all the green ones removed? Brass and Grissom raise eyebrows at each other. The uniformed officer leaves, presumably to find a used styrofoam cup and scoop some toilet water for the mogul. Grissom asks Mick if he’s ever seen Heidi before, and shows him a picture. He has not. Mick says that he loved Jeff like a son, and hired him right out of law school to be his assistant. Jeff apparently wanted to learn the movie biz from the ground up, as Mick had. Mick used to be an actor, but left acting because he had a “nasty habit: [he] wanted to eat regularly, and [he] didn’t want to work as a waiter to do it.” Grissom asks if Jeff had any nasty habits, which gets him a puzzled look from Mick. He explains that they found several drugs in Jeff’s system. Mick doesn’t answer. Brass asks what Jeff was doing in Vegas. Mick tells them that, a month ago, Jeff spotted something in Mick’s divorce settlement that his attorney had missed, something his wife’s attorney had slipped in. Jeff saved Mick millions of dollars, so to thank him, Mick gave him a couple hundred bucks in cash and the company credit card and packed him off to Vegas for a vacation. “I’ll be regretting that for the rest of my life,” says Mick, and then there are commercials.

When we come back, Greg is dusting a black Corvette’s dashboard for prints. Brass’s broadcast paid off, and the abandoned car was picked up by Parking Enforcement on a street between the pool hall and the Palermo. It’s pretty banged up, partly because it was on the losing end of a clash with a Ferrari, and partly because it’s a cheap piece of American-made fiberglass crap. Greg is still saddened by the damage, though, and Sara asks him to explain the “guys and cars thing” without falling back on the “obvious penis-extension metaphors.” She’s been reading “How to Get a Guy’s Hackles Up Without Really Trying” again. “So you want me to lie?” he retorts. That shuts her up. She continues photographing the penis-extender, and Greg notices some red paint transfer on the Corvette. He says he’ll get a sample to Hodges for comparison to the Ferrari’s paint. Sara finds a rental receipt in the glove box, and we learn that the car came from a rental company called Zenith and was driven by Randy Bolen, a local. “Bad night to be in the car rental business,” says Greg. They decide to round Randy up for a chat.

Another transition shot of Vegas in twilight, and when we get back Sofia has rounded up Randy and is thumbing through his police record. Drug possession and assault, and some more drug possession. “You can’t help but break the law, can you?” Sofia jabs. Well, if you want to get nitty-gritty about it, I suspect that’s true of most of us. Randy ignores her taunting. She asks about the gash on his forehead, but he’s still not talking until she threatens to charge him with leaving the scene of an accident. He tells her it was a fender bender, and not his fault. He kind of looks like a younger Val Kilmer. But only kind of. Maybe it’s the “Real Genius” haircut he’s sporting. Very faux-messy, very late 1980s. Sofia asks why he would need to rent a car when he’s a local. He says he can’t afford one all the time, so he rents one when he can. For going to the laundromat, Home Depot, that kind of thing, I’d imagine. On the night of the accident, Randy was playing pool at the Cue-T. Sofia asks if he won any money. “You win some, you lose some,” is his existentialist reply. We flash back to Randy getting hustled by Jeff and his fancy pool-playing girlfriend, although Jeff does all the shooting here. Jeff wins. Ten grand. Who the hell bets ten grand on a pool game? Even Minnesota Fats has an eight-grand limit. Sofia keeps goading Randy. “That’s a lot of money for a guy like you,” she says. It’s a lot of money for a guy like most people, I think. In the flashback, Jeff takes the money and leaves with his ho, while Randy looks like he’s been kicked in the stomach. Poor guy. Back in the present, he tells Sofia he’s had worse nights. “I bet you have,” she taunts. “You’re having one now.” She shows him a picture of Jeff and Heidi, which he confirms are the couple he played against. “They were in the Ferrari,” she says, “Which makes you a very sore loser.” I’m thinking she’s still mad from finding out at 15 that the headshot of Val Kilmer she wrote and asked for was signed by his PA. We flash back again, and the Corvette catches up to the Ferrari. Glares are thrown every which way, there’s acceleration and maneuvering, and ultimately the Corvette gets bonked by the Ferrari and spins out. “Okay, so I rubbed him a little,” confesses Randy. “It was a stupid thing to do.” This reminds me of a conversation my parents had with my scoutmaster for some reason, but the details are fuzzy. Sofia says it wasn’t as stupid a thing to do as killing him. Randy suddenly realizes what this is all about. He quietly soils himself, and then asks for a lawyer.

Sofia and Nick are comparing notes on Randy. Sofia tells Nick that Randy used to be a professional stunt driver, and he still teaches at a nearby track where “middle-aged men get to act out their Grand Prix fantasies.” Enough already with the bashing men who enjoy cars. I’m no gearhead, but if they replaced the word ‘car’ with ‘computer’ in this episode, I’d be feeling fairly insulted at this point. Some men like cars, some women like buying shoes and devouring men’s still-beating hearts. Vive la difference. Nick posits that getting beat by some punk kid on the street would be an assault on Randy’s manhood, and Sofia adds that he’s got a temper. Nick says he’ll try to place Randy at the hotel. They part ways, and Nick continues on to the A/V lab. Archie is still reviewing the surveillance footage from the Palermo. He’s found footage of Heidi, and we see her sit down at the bar next to Jeff and start crying. I am immediately suspicious. She has Jeff’s attention by now, and she points at something across the way. When Jeff turns to look, she moves her wine glass to the edge of the bar, and then whacks it into his lap with her purse. Oopsie! She sets her purse on the bar so she can pretend to apologize to Jeff with both hands. Archie zooms in on the purse, which has fallen open, and we see a big wad of cash poking out. So she wasn’t after him for his money, unless the money in the purse is seed capital for some elaborate long con.

Sara comes into Catherine’s office with news about the car rental records. Catherine guesses that Jeff went a little nuts with the corporate credit card and rented it himself. Sara says that Heidi Wolff rented it, and that the reservation was made for her by a company called Caprice Unlimited. That same company also rented Randy’s Corvette for him. Sara hasn’t been able to find out any more info on Caprice so far. Catherine Googles them (using “Spyder Finder” instead) and finds a vague website with vague music and a vague slogan that says “Anything is Possible.” Catherine immediately assumes it’s a sex service, probably because that’s the same slogan she was going to use for her sex business someday, back when she was a teenager. The phone number, by the way, is 1-702-555-0104. It’s a fake number, of course, but you’ll note that it starts with 17, and where have we seen 17 before? Jeff’s pocket. The rest of the numbers are the 2139 th through 2147 th digits of pi, and you no doubt recall that 2147 was Jeff’s room number. It’s all starting to make sense now. Catherine calls the number despite its obvious fakeness, and is sent directly to voicemail. She does not leave a message.

We will now assume that the phone number given is a cell phone, for the simple and reasonable reason that it’s convenient to the plot. Sara uses technology to see where the cell phone has been making calls from. Good old technology. We may be terribly, hopelessly enslaved by you, but at least you give us cool gadgets to play with. Technology gives Sara an address for Caprice’s phone, and she and Grissom drive right over to surprise Caprice. The building’s inner courtyard is done up in Japanese style, with a koi pond and lots of greenery and some of those round paper lamps. There are even some geishas. A man finishes fussing with the geishas’ jewelry and comes over to meet his surprise visitors. Grissom introduces himself and Sara, from the crime lab, and the man tells them his name is Anthony Caprice. “There’s no crime here,” he says, and I’d throw in a barb about the fashion-illegality of wearing X with Y, honey, if I knew anything about that, but I don’t.

Mr. Caprice is preparing this particular geisha squad to entertain some businessmen from Kansas City. He pontificates about how the geisha’s submissiveness is quite suitable to the businessmen’s “inherent midwestern restraint.” Sara smiles tersely but does not go off on him. Grissom says he understands now what Caprice’s company is all about: “You’re one of those companies that stages fantasies,” he says. “Everything appears real, but it’s all been worked out in advance.” Just like Bush’s town hall meetings. Caprice says that his scenarios take weeks to set up. He learns all about his client’s wants and desires without the client knowing. I’m guessing his preferred method involves hypnotic drugs, a tranquilizer gun, and a nine-page questionnaire. That seems a little invasive to me. Caprice adds that people’s secret longings are often much more apparent than the person would want them to be, and Sara glances at Grissom just as Caprice knew she would. He’s kind of spooky. He won’t tell Grissom who paid for Jeff’s scenario, but he does print out a copy of the script that Heidi and Randy used. Sara asks why, if his business is so law-abiding, Heidi and Randy lied to the police. He replies that although he does have his actors sign a strict non-disclosure agreement, he would never expect them to lie to the police. “Maybe you just asked them the wrong questions,” he says. Everything that happened that evening was carefully planned out and timed to the minute. Except his death. Caprice excuses himself so he can get back to work, but as he leaves, he pauses and turns back to the two CSIs. “Oh…” he says to one or both or neither of them, “and may all your dreams come true.” Grissom and Sara ponder his words in awkward silence, and we cut to commercials.

We’re back, and so is Mick the producer. He’s surprised that his Gulfstream was stopped as it was about to take off. Brass ushers him into the interrogation room. “Something wrong with your office?” asks Mick. “No,” Brass says blandly. But they just upgraded the scrotum shocker in the interrogation room, and he’s eager to try it out. Once they’re inside and seated across from each other, Brass notes that Mick seems to have bad luck with his employees. Mick isn’t amused. Brass has done some studying up on Mick while he was off-camera, and exposits that Mick was busted three years ago for heroin possession. How much is an eight-ball, anyway? Mick claimed at the time that his personal assistant had planted the drugs in Mick’s luggage. “The charges against me were dropped,” he says. “The poor kid had a serious problem. I got him into a program. I understand he’s doing better now.” Brass isn’t buying it. “I heard you bought him a car to shut him up and take the rap,” he counters. Mick tries to blame the media, but Brass makes his just-shut-yer-hole face, and Mick falls silent. Brass tells Mick about the ounce of cocaine they found in Jeff’s room. He thinks Jeff was buying drugs for Mick. Mick, however, says he doesn’t do drugs, and he had no idea that Jeff had a drug problem. “Last time, you bought a car. This time, an elaborate fantasy to shut him up.” As a result, Mick is responsible for Jeff’s death. “Captain Brass, you’ve seen too many of my movies,” says Mick. “I’d like to call my attorney now.” “Attorney?” snorts Brass. “You’ve seen too many of your movies.” And with that he turns on the scrotum shocker. Some of that may be untrue.

In the Light Table Room, Sara, Catherine, Grissom and Nick are reviewing the timeline from Mr. Caprice. Heidi and Randy picked up their cars at 6 pm, and then Randy goes to the pool hall to wait. Heidi hooks up with Jeff. Her instructions said to act upset, and to make up a story about an abusive high-roller boyfriend. We flash back to Heidi working her mojo (moja?) on Jeff at the bar. He, like me, is apparently a sucker for damsels in distress. And, as is often the case, his reward for helping a troubled beauty was an evening of high-adrenaline foreplay and sex, followed by an ignoble death in an alley. If I had a nickel…anyway, Grissom points out that some men are intimidated by beauty or inhibited by their fear of rejection, but Caprice apparently knew that Jeff had the DiD gene. The timeline shows that everything that happened was scripted: splash of wine, new outfit, pool game, car chase, narrow getaway. The script says that Heidi’s employment ended with the goodnight kiss. In other words, when she was on the cock, she was off the clock. Sara said that. Or probably would have. Nick says that he’d have felt like Superman (Green Lantern would be a good choice too) after a night like that, so why leave Heidi when he did? His question makes Grissom go all pondery.

Cut to Grissom and Archie in the A/V room. There’s a 15-minute gap between Jeff leaving the elevator and his arrival at the shopping arcade, and Grissom wants to know where he was in between. Archie pulls up two camera shots of Jeff walking through the casino, and in both shots he seems to be drawn to something that’s out of frame. Grissom consults a map of the casino floor, and thinks Jeff’s attention was focused on something near the baccarat tables. Archie tells him that Heidi also gestured toward the tables when she first met him. Archie pulls up some footage of a baccarat table, and there’s an Asian man playing solo with the dealer. “That’s ten or twenty thousand a hand,” Grissom says. “The guy’s a whale.” I guess that’s Vegas slang for High Roller +3. Or some weird racial epithet, but coming from Grissom, probably not. Jeffrey comes into the shot and jabbers at Player 1. There’s no audio, but he’s definitely on about something. Player 1’s goons push Jeffrey back. Grissom figures that Heidi might have actually picked someone out to point at when giving Jeff her story about a mean high roller boyfriend. Archie stands up and shakes his legs out. Grissom asks what he’s doing. “I’ve been looking at video three days solid now. My butt fell asleep.” Three days solid? Isn’t that against OSHA regulations or something? Grissom gives a disdainful look, because a professional’s butt doesn’t fall asleep on the job.

Jeff leaves the shot, and Player 1 confers with his goons. Archie thinks he’s seen them somewhere before. He scans through some other video, and finds them following Jeff out the door to the arcade. Grissom makes a Moby Dick joke that seems intended to convey his (or the writers’) literateness than to convey humor. Archie doesn’t get it, and Grissom tells him he should read more. Hey, some people just don’t like Dick jokes, okay?

Grissom, Sofia, and Catherine walk through the casino. They figure that Jeff had been successful at everything he’d tried that night, plus he was falling in love, and therefore was in a prime position to do something stupid. They show Player 1’s picture to the pit boss, who identifies him as Dennis Kim. Dennis flies in from Seoul several times a year to play baccarat, not because they don’t have baccarat in Korea, but because he really likes this casino’s mojitos. The pit boss describes him as a “very generous player,” which may mean he tips the dealers well, but I think it means he loses a lot. He gets his own special table, because the casino loves him so. He’s still in town—in fact, he’s sitting right over there! We move to right over there, and Sofia shows Dennis a picture of Jeff. Dennis doesn’t recognize him, and wonders why they’re asking. Because he’s…dead! Dun dun dunnnn! Grissom says that Jeff was talking to Dennis just before he died. Dennis looks at the picture again, and now he remembers. This is like the fourth time they’ve had to show someone the picture twice – maybe they keep showing it wrong the first time. “He was shouting about some girl,” he says, and we flash back to Jeff shouting at Dennis about some girl. Well, that checks out. Okay then. In the flashback, Jeff tells Dennis that Heidi doesn’t need him or his money any more, because she’s found herself a real man. He lays the braggadocio on pretty thick, because apparently none of his boss Mick’s movies taught him that high rollers who can afford two goons should probably not be taunted. Back in real time, Dennis dismisses Jeff as a “crazy boy.” All the while, the dealer is sitting right next to him, trying to look interested in something on the far wall. Awkward. Catherine shows Jeff’s picture to the goons, who try not to look at it. Dennis tells them something in a foreign language, probably Dutch, and they respond the same way. Catherine notices white paint on Left Goon’s shoe, and tells Dennis she’ll be needing those shoes now. Dennis wants to know what would happen if he refuses, and Sofia tells him they’ll just hold his goons until they get a warrant. Dennis accedes, and tells his men to comply. There’s probably a formal ritual for stripping a man of his goons in Korea, but here in America we don’t like to stand on ceremony. Plus it probably takes a while to perform, and there are only six minutes left in the episode. Grissom puts his shoe-holding case up on the table, and says something in Dutch to Dennis, probably about bugs. Dennis mutters a reply, and then everyone was kung fu fighting. Okay, that’s not true. They were all about the goon-shoe finding. It wasn’t the least bit frightening, but we got to hear some old-song citing.

Back in the Shoe Examining Room, Catherine examines the shoes. She scans them and makes some transparencies of the soles, then compares those to a transparency of Jeff’s bruised throat. First shoe…no match. Second shoe…the heel lines up with the odd bruise on Jeff’s throat. We flash back for a wrap-up, in which the bodyguards drag Jeff through the freshly-painted service corridor. He’s still pumped up from the drugs Heidi slipped him, so he’s struggling the whole way. The guards toss him out onto the loading dock, then turn to leave. Jeff shouts at them, and when the closer goon turns, Jeff punches him in the face. This earns him a boot to the head from the other goon, which crushed his throat bone. The goons leave him alive, thinking they’ve simply taught him a lesson, and he dies a few minutes later.

The goons did teach Jeffrey a lesson, says Grissom: “Don’t confuse fantasy with reality.” He and Sara exchange meaningful glances. Well, Sara exchanges them. Greg thinks that the idea of one’s boss buying their employee an elaborate fantasy, whether for hush-money purposes or otherwise, is very cool indeed. Hint hint. Sara faux-nonchalantly asks Greg whether he has a birthday coming up, which he does. “I’m thinking…ear-shredding rock, a beautiful model, boatloads of sushi, and latex,” says Catherine. “Eh, that was last year,” says Greg. This year he’s into furries. Grissom says he thinks fantasies are best kept private. Like Lady Heather. Sara exchanges another meaningful look. Nick strolls in with more news about dead Jeff: he left her in the hotel room so he could go buy her a diamond-encrusted necklace. It was gift-wrapped but never picked it up. We get one last flashback of him counting out his pool-hall winnings in the jewelry shop, while Dennis’ goons wait patiently just outside. “The biggest fantasy in Vegas is that everything here happens by chance. Nothing here happens by chance. The odds are set before you get off the plane,” says Nick. “You know, I’d settle for a birthday breakfast,” says Greg. “Now that is a fantasy,” says Catherine, and everyone leaves except Grissom and Sara. She finally gets him to play her meaningful-look-exchanging game, and then the credits roll.

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