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CSI: Miami – “Mommie Deadest” – Review
Last week’s CSI: Miami episode was a good heist caper. The week before that, it was CSI: Ghost Whisperer. Coming in to last’s night twenty-second episode, the title put me off my guard a bit. “Mommie Deadest” it was, and immediately images of Faye Dunaway entered my mind. I figured the episode would be harsh. I wasn’t expecting the kick in the gut I eventually received. In fact, both stories had elements of sadness to them.
The A-story was, of course, a murder. The episode opens with handheld camera footage of an anniversary party for Chuck and Laura Williams. Twenty years married, with two beaming children–Andrea and younger brother Cody–each with handheld cameras. Like Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford, as soon as the guests left and the camera stopped rolling, an entirely different Laura Williams emerged. No more the huggy-kissy wife, she’s cold to her husband and goes to clean up. Upon hearing a crash outside, she fumes that “those kids” have broken her exterior lamp again. She grabs a video camera with the sole purpose of capturing the vandals with hard, visual evidence. What the camera records, however, is her murder. Bludgeoned to death.
Dr. Tom Loman’s diagnosis is sober: whoever killed Laura Williams was swinging wildly, fueled by rage, and very, very angry. Naturally, suspicions fall on the husband, Chuck, especially after Natalia, while reviewing some of the footage from the party, finds a scene with Chuck and an attractive woman being a bit too close. His response is that he found his wife’s dead body while taking out the trash. The two children both assert that they were upstairs in the house, they heard nothing, and knew nothing until their dad told them about their mom. Cody, the son, is an artist. He’s sitting by himself, drawing his heroic pictures. Forlorn, he comments that in his pictures, he can control everything and the bad guys always get theirs. Horatio extols his record and, always, promises to find the killer.
The B-story sub-plot is a continuation of Eric Delko’s investigation into who stole the stolen diamonds from last week’s episode. Upon encouragement from State Attorney Rebecca Nevins, he has subpoenaed the bank records of his former colleagues. One entry stands out: a deposit of $25,000 into Walter’s bank account. He’s sifting through more evidence when Calleigh breezes into the room, ready to go to work. Proof that they’ve remained a couple despite Eric’s sometimes absences this season.
At the station, Calleigh interviews Bridgette Clark, the woman who was seen in the video with Chuck Williams. “I like to flirt,” she says, because it’s fun, I’m pretty, and I work out. Most of the soccer moms she deals with in her job as a history teacher couldn’t find a treadmill with a map and a GPS device. She is the first one to suggest the cops look into what was happening at home. She suspected domestic abuse. Tech Dude Wes Ramsey uses his computer magic and finds an earlier recorded video under the current one. It was Thanksgiving, and Laura went all Joan Crawford on her daughter. Laura got so mad that Andrea swiped some food that she forced her daughter’s face into the dog’s bowl. Question #1: who’s filming this stuff and doing nothing about it?
Eric’s having second thoughts about spying on his friends. Rebecca assures him he’s just doing his job. Besides, she can’t have a dirty lab and the possibility that evidence could get tossed from court simply because a CSI is on the take. Eric gives up Walter’s name.
Walter and Ryan are at the crime scene. They determine that the Williams’ family sports car was parked close enough to the murder to acquire blood spatter. Horatio doesn’t like that Chuck tampered with the crime scene. When questioned about the previous year’s Thanksgiving “celebration,” Chuck resignedly says that Laura had one bad day. I travel a lot, he says. Well, Horatio retorts, someone was home with the kids.
Natalia and Horatio follow up with Andrea who is at her boyfriend’s (Logan) house. Andrea has a lighter. Whenever she gets agitated, she lights it and stares into the flame. Horatio finds a piece of glass in the carpet, the same glass found near the broken lamp and Logan’s shoes. He cops to being there but only because he had to sneak into the house to see Andrea on account of Laura hating his guts. He looks good for the murder, too, since the instrument used to kill Mommie Dearest was something metal. Perhaps the aluminum bat Logan the Baseball Player uses in his games. Sure enough, Ryan finds evidence of blood on the bat.
Eric’s investigation leads him to John “Sully” Sullivan, Horatio’s old partner from this season’s premiere. Eric confronts him–in a nice way–with evidence that not only were the diamonds stolen, but also the numbers regarding some confiscated heroin do not add up. As in there wasn’t as much entered into evidence as was confiscated. Sully denies any wrongdoing, mainly because there were five fellow officers with him. Eric calls Rebecca with this news and wants to meet. She rebuffs him, saying she’s interviewing someone. Interestingly, she’s outside somewhere when she says this. In another scene, Eric and Internal Affairs Officer Rick Stetler have some fun words. And it’s witnessed by Calleigh.
When Logan’s about to go down for the crime, Andrea suddenly bursts out, in the middle of the station, that she killed her mom. Horatio doesn’t buy it, especially when Andrea’s chain of events doesn’t match the evidence. Natalia (clearly a star in this episode) tries a different approach. She talks with Cody and looks at some of his drawings. That’s when the bombshell–or, rather, the kick to the guy–lands. The third person Cody draws is Bradley, his younger brother. But you don’t have a younger brother, Natalia says. And viewers across America put two and two together. Cody merely confirms it: “Not anymore.”
Bradley, five years old at the time of his accidental death, died from ingestion of lighter fluid. I don’t think I was the only one watching who immediately jumped to the conclusion that Laura became such a hateful mother only after her youngest was killed by her daughter. Well, while that was wrong, the truth is worse. Laura blamed Bradley for burning the carpet. His punishment was to drink (yes, drink!) lighter fluid. Angry mother then wondered why her son didn’t respond. (I have to admit that this was when the empty hole in my stomach opened wider and deeper.) What’s got Andrea so screwed up is that it was she who burned the carpet. She did it, but Bradley was punished for it.
Horatio, disgusted as we all are, brings in the dad again. Chuck confesses that Laura got very angry with the kids. Laura blackmailed him into saying nothing about Bradley’s true death or else the state would take away the children. That’s motive, according to Horatio. Chuck falters and says that he wishes he were that kind of man, but he isn’t. That, states Horatio, leaves the kids.
From there, unfortunately, the trail becomes very straight. Natalia processes the aluminum bats and find red ink under the grip, the same ink Cody uses in his drawings. With Natalia, Horatio, and Chuck present, Cody reveals the truth: he killed his mother. And, he says, as he looked down on his lifeless body, he felt relief for the first time in a long time.
That huge downer of an ending would have been bad enough. Actually, for greater dramatic power, it should have been. But there was an epilogue ending. Eric, file in hand, walks to meet Rebecca outside near the water. He looks to her and she looks defeated, lifting her hands in a gesture of surrender. He stops, perhaps wondering if he should walk over and show her what he’s found. At that point, a gust of wind blows one of the pieces of paper from the file onto the ground. He bends to pick it up…and Rebecca’s car explodes. Dazed and confused, Eric looks up to see the burning car. And he also sees Calleigh. Fade to black.
I understand the need to set in motion events that will lead to our season finale. I have to say, however, that melding these two stories together seems contradictory. The emotional content of the main story easily could have shaped an entire episode, the end result being a more profound and powerful episode. Throwing an admittedly interesting sub-plot took away from some of the power.
The ending bothered me. That’s not to say I didn’t like both. I did. I just didn’t like them both together. I felt the raw emotion of the child confessing and the living family in a group hug. That’s a good ending. But then to tag on the explosion–another good, but different feeling ending–pulled me right out of the other emotional context.
Now, I’m certainly looking forward to next week’s episode where we see, in the promos, Ryan being led away in handcuffs. But Calleigh’s our wild card here. She was at Eric’s apartment. Even though she didn’t see the files on his desk during her one scene, who’s to say she didn’t already see them earlier. And she witnessed Eric’s conversation with IA Rick Stetler. And she’s the first on the scene at the end. Calleigh’s got a story to tell. I’m hoping it’s a good one.