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CSI: Miami – Backfire – Review
I’ll admit that when I saw the previews for last night’s CSI: Miami episode, I considered it a gimmick. In those scenes, we saw Calleigh apparently talking to a ghost. I started worrying that we’d get CSI: Ghost Whisperer. What emerged, however, was something different.
“Backfire” opened with a house fire. Calleigh and Ryan are on the scene (why?), and they see a young man trapped inside. Calleigh charged in with Ryan and an MDPD “Red Shirt” officer (Montoya) in tow. They found the boy, and Ryan carried him out. Unfortunately, Calleigh and Montoya got trapped. Horatio helped Calleigh and Montoya out to safety. Their efforts were in vain. The young man died on the gurney. And his ghost appeared right next to his dead body. The young man (Patrick Dawson) immediately protested Ryan’s surmise that he, Patrick, started the fire since his hands had third-degree burns on them. But, like most ghosts, no one can hear him.
Patrick’s grandfather, Henry, was told about the tragedy. Patrick had lived with Henry since age ten. They were almost finished renovating the house. Sure, Patrick had issues, but he would not have started this fire.
Naturally, the autopsy revealed the obvious: Patrick died of asphyxiation. It also revealed the presence of a chemical on his hands. Ryan, convinced of the boy’s guilt, processed the chemical in the lab. Calleigh, fresh off her stint in the ambulance, returned to work. Ryan gave her the cold shoulder didn’t speak to her. But he discovered the chemical was turpentine. Horatio interviewed the contractor and questioned him about the lack of insulation, the barely-above-the-minimum safety codes in place at the house, and why the sprinkler system didn’t deploy. Sure, it was technically legal, but Horatio arrested the contractor for negligence.
Calleigh continued her own individual investigation and noticed a waxy substance on the walls, away from the main source of the fire. Curious, she kept recording her thoughts in her digital recorder until Patrick’s ghost started talking to her. Interestingly, she didn’t seem fazed by talking to a ghost until she gets in her police Hummer. Minor nit here: Patrick’s supposed to be a ghost. Thus, his hand shouldn’t have made a sound when it touched the passenger side door. But, hey, this is a cop show, not a ghost show.
Frank and Horatio learn about a dispute Grandfather Henry and his neighbor was having. She works nights, and the contractor wakes her up every morning. She followed the proper channels but to no avail. So, she set fire to his lawn, you know, to send Henry a message. (And why wasn’t she arrested for that?) Frank returned to the crime scene with Walter and Jesse, and they found the empty roll of wax paper. When confronted with this piece of evidence, Henry played the childhood card: he and Patrick made boats with the paper. Frank continued the questioning and determined that Patrick would have inherited $200,000 upon Henry’s death. Further proof, think the team, of Patrick’s culpability.
On the way to the hospital, Jesse walked with Natalia and Calleigh. He asserted that Henry “might” agree that Patrick was the culprit. Calleigh stated that “might wasn’t good enough.” At the hospital, Eric Delko showed up. For as good a friends (and more) as she and Eric are, Calleigh was puzzled as to why Eric doesn’t respond to her. That’s when we saw…Calleigh in the hospital bed. Yes, she’s also a ghost, or a spirit of some sort. Young Patrick is there with her. Like any viewer of The Sixth Sense, we now get to see the major scenes from the episode as they really happened: without Calleigh present. Good as I can be about predicting things, I didn’t see this one coming. Probably should have. I liked it.
Horatio, meanwhile, sent Jesse and Walter back to the crime scene. He wasn’t convinced Patrick’s the bad guy. He wanted more evidence. Jesse and Walter got him some: a dead body. The plumber, Ralph Zimmerman, died of electrocution. Ryan and Jesse sought out how a man could die of electrocution on a linoleum floor. The smoking gun, as it were, was a souvenir stretched penny (the kind you make at amusement parks) stuck into the fuse box. Who could have done this? Of course, the neighbor, Mrs. Hollister. She confesses to the crime. But they don’t believe her. Or do they? I couldn’t tell, frankly.
Ryan still was fixated on why the sprinkler system didn’t activate. He went to check on something, and Calleigh’s spirit was also there. He activated the sprinkler and got himself doused. Dejected, he left, but Calleigh saw something he didn’t see. She was starting to tell Patrick when, in real life, she had a medical emergency. The resulting treatment brought her back to this world. And, lo and behold, she held the key to the entire mystery.
With handwritten data only Horatio could understand, he had Jesse dig a hole in the yard of the crime scene. There, they found the water pipes with a towel wrapped around the pipes. Inside the towel was the remnants of frozen carbon dioxide. Whoever did this made it impossible for the sprinklers to activate during the fire, but the evidence would melt later on. The only problem was the tobacco juice on the towel. It implicated Henry. He torched the house for the insurance money. Off he went.
In a very touching scene, Calleigh and Eric stood in the morgue, Patrick’s body laying on the slab. She stroked his face and murmured “rest in peace.” The episode ended with Horatio, watching Henry leave the station, the trauma of losing a young man clearly evident on his face.
I liked that this episode tried to do something different. I am all about exploring the gray areas in our lives where the spirit world and the human world collide or coexist. There were some issues with how the ghost stuff was handled, but, as I said, it’s a cop show. “Backfire” was clearly a better episode than last week’s “Spring Breakdown,” and the emotions of the characters–especially Emily Proctor’s Calleigh–were on their sleeves. It’s a nice reminder that even televised police procedurals rest on their characters and not always on the plot.