If you're ever in a position where you're writing or directing a television show, and you need to grab the attention of the viewing audience within seconds, opening the first scene with a shot of the back of someone's head in the dark is not the worst way to go. For one, this bold move immediately inspires questions: Who is this guy? Is he using a clarifying shampoo? Will he knock Horatio off the screen for more than thirty seconds?
Answers: I don't know, probably not, and no. Horatio and (Y)Elena are walking along a sidewalk-cum-parking lot, and the Widow Caine tells Horatio, "Well, this is me." "That's right," he replies. Awkward small talk much? (Y)Elena asks if Horatio's okay to drive, and he replies, "Yeah. I was just thinking about how awkward Thanksgiving is going to be when we have to explain to your side of the family that you'll have a new husband and old in-laws. And then I was mentally rearranging our living room so there are multiple brooding nooks. Um, what? Did I say all that in my out-loud voice?"
Actually, Horatio just kind of gazes at (Y)Elena and asks if she's okay to drive. She gives him a giddy, pop-eyed look and asks, grinning, "What? Do I seem...?" "Happy," Horatio says. Then he adds, "I haven't seen that smile on your face in a while." Naturally, I'm off and running on the speculation track as to when and where he used to see that smile before. While someone could argue that these two are simply in-laws who are extraordinarily, platonically simpatico, I'm thinking that someone's been carrying a torch, or there's an affair in the background, or there's one about to start. And frankly, if we're staring down the barrel of the third option, that's kind of creepy.
Anyway, (Y)Elena smiles and lilts, "For the past two years, every morning when I wake up, I'd have this thought that comes to my head: Raymond is dead. And now in these...in these past few weeks, it's just not the first thing I think of." Oh, please God, let it not be because the first thing she's thinking in the morning now is, "I wonder if Horatio's on the market?" Horatio grins -- one hopes it's because he's happy (Y)Elena's moving on to the next stage of her life, and not because he can now move in on the Widow Caine without appearing to have pulled a Claudius to her Gertrude. Then he asks if she's bringing Ray, Jr. to see him tomorrow. I thought the kid was a girl? At least, that's what it looked like in the picture on the desk last week. Anyway, Horatio's looking forward to seeing his nephew, he and (Y)Elena wobble in each other's personal space for a moment, and she takes off.
As Horatio walks to his car and passes a conveniently shadowy area, his Crimey Senses tingle, and we see the front of the head which opened the episode. It belongs to a Pete Wilton, whom Horatio put away six years ago for knocking off a chain of grocery stores and committing a manslaughter in the process. Naturally, Horatio has Javert-like recall and can immediately recite the pertinent details of the case. Anyway, Pete mentions that he's two years into his parole and he's got a problem. He reaches into his jacket for something, and Horatio says, "Pete, if you make that move, it's going to be your last." Pete replies sincerely, "Relax, Lieutenant, it's a photograph." Horatio instructs him to take it out slowly, and Pete does. He explains, "It's of my son, Jeff. He went to school three days ago and he never came back." Horatio asks if Pete went through the usual routes; Pete replies that he went to the cops, but they weren't exactly interested in a parolee's missing kid. Pete assures Horatio, "He's not the way I used to be. I know that something happened to him." Horatio tries to blow Pete off with, "Okay, I'm sure the detectives are on it. Let Me call..." Pete insists, "It has to be you. Look, I was guilty and you knew it. You came after me with everything you had. I saw that. I know you can find my boy." Horatio asks what kind of trouble this as-yet-nameless boy was in, and Pete assures him that the kid's a good egg. He appeals to Horatio's ego some more, and Horatio finally grants him help with, "Okay, Pete, listen to Me. If you're lying, I'm out. You understand?" Pete does, and thanks Horatio for his time.