CSI
Fahrenheit 932

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Flame-broiled confrontation

In the next scene, Brass gets his screen time for the week by playing Captain Exposition, laying out the basics for Gil: Frank Damon was seen fleeing from his burning house with wife and son -- the same ones he would have, in theory, given his life for -- still inside. Apparently the marriage was on the rocks and there was money trouble. When Gil uncharacteristically asks, "How would burning down your house solve your money problems?" -- causing me to wonder if the writer of this episode considered for just one second that a) arson was a time-honored Mafia tactic, b) Vegas is a time-honored Mafia hangout, and c) anyone working in Vegas might be conversant with both the Mob and their work habits -- Brass connects the dots for him. The theory is that Damon torched his place for the insurance and the fire got out of hand. Gil rejects Brass's theory and retreats to his usual argument of following the evidence. Brass points out that there's evidence to support the arson theory, noting that gasoline was found in the closet. Gil corrects him by noting that hydrocarbons were found in the closet; I immediately flash back to the many semesters of organic chemistry I suffered through in college and recall that many complex hydrocarbons are highly oxygen-reactive; unless you can identify the functional groups -- little clusters of distinctive elemental combinations -- that go on the hydrocarbon chain, whatever burned in that closet could be based on anything from alcohols to esters. And that little digression into the world of organic chemistry now constitutes both the first and the last time I've actually used whatever I learned in o-chem. I'm now off to roll up in a ball and begin rocking back and forth, mumbling about benzene. But Gil, who is unburdened by the emotional baggage I carry with regards to organic chemistry, listens to Brass blather on about Ecklie's report, blows him off, and drives off into the night.

And now the final writing credit rolls: whatever happens in this show, blame it on Jacqueline Zambrano. She's the one responsible for this episode.

Nicky and Catherine walk through a parking garage, bemoaning the tragedy of short-fused gamblers shooting each other hours before the Superbowl. Well, it beats the tragedy of short-fused linebackers allegedly stabbing people, then going on to win the MVP for a Superbowl. They wander over to an SUV, then peer at the slumped body inside. He's sporting the world's tidiest bullet hole, smack in the center of his forehead. Although Catherine identifies the crater as the exit wound, it looks far too neat; it looks like the entry wound. But I nitpick. While Nicky stares at the body in front, Catherine rolls around the backseat looking for clues; she extrapolates via flashback that the killer was lying in wait in the back seat, waiting for the kid to get in the car. What, so he could shoot him and clean out his wallet? That's pathologically stupid, even for a criminal. Nicky notes the small cone-shaped device in the dead kid's ear and wonders if it was a hearing aid. He then wanders around to the driver's side backseat and notes the condensation on the window. Oh, that eye for detail! Catherine, who is still rooting around her side of the backseat, pulls out a fast-food bag and opens it. She snorts incredulously then calls, "You hungry, Nick? I got a burger --" and here she pulls out a stack of bills that looks to be roughly an inch and a half thick -- "extra lettuce." Close, Catherine, but you lack that flair for the food metaphor that Gil so effortlessly displays. Nicky gapes at the stack of bills and says, "Rule of thumb, $2500 per inch, there's gotta be $15,000 in there." No, there does not: that would entail the stack be six inches thick. Catherine is merely holding a wad of unmarked bills, not a brick. She looks at the ticket -- it says it's a $50,000 straight bet -- and says, "Giants, negative nine." Meanwhile, my closed-captioning reads, "Rams, negative nine." Now legions of CSI's deaf viewers will think that this kid was shot for being stupid enough to bet $50,000 on a team that was eliminated the first week of the playoffs. Way to go, guys. Anyway, Nicky corrects Catherine and points out that it's the Giants minus nine, and that it's a bet for $30,000 -- raising the question, in my mind anyway, as to what happened to that extra $20,000. Catherine asks what kid would go wandering around with $30,000 in cash placing those kinds of bets. Nicky notes that it was Teller 12 at the Monaco sports betting pit.

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