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A Kiss Before Frying
A Kiss Before Frying.jpg
Season 11
Number 12
Writer Evan Dunsky
Director Brad Tanenbaum
Original Airdate January 20, 2011
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Next Episode: The Two Mrs. Grissoms

A Kiss Before Frying is the twelfth episode in season eleven of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

While the team searches for a serial killer who is killing their victims with an electric chair, Greg falls for a classic film noir "femme fatale" who may be connected to the case.

Plot

Victim: Carlton Doreen (initially alive)

On the case: entire team

A black-and-white flashback is shown of a woman being wrestled away from a man and being killed in the woods.

In the present day, a man is found with burns covering 90% of his head and face; however, the rest of this body is free of burns. There are indications that it was a body dump that happened somewhat recently. When David Phillips cuts into the body to establish time of death, the burned man screams and startles David, Greg and Langston. Langston hitches a ride to the hospital with the victim, while Greg stays behind to process the crime scene.

Langston photographs the victim's injuries in the hospital and shares the photos with Greg and Nick in the lab. The victim has ligature marks on his wrists and ankles, as well as abrasions across the chest. Combined with a few burn patterns, Langston theorizes that their victim was fried in an electric chair, then dumped.

Hodges leads a tour group through the lab and stops at the layout room, where Greg, Langston and Nick are congregated. One of the members of the group is an attractive teacher named Ellen Whitebridge, who sees the photos of the burn victim and expresses concern. She catches Greg's eye, and after the tour leaves, Nick convinces him to get her phone number and ask her out.

Langston builds a makeshift electric chair and attempts to fry a gelatin dummy; however, he's unsuccessful despite turning the amperage up to 18.5 milliamps. Hodges informs him that the material pulled from the victim's head came from a polyethylene sponge. Langston explains to Catherine and Hodges that during an electrocution, a natural sponge has to be used to conduct electricity. In this case, however, a synthetic sponge was used, which impeded the charge, increased resistance and set the victim's head on fire. Using the synthetic sponge, Langston replicates the victim's injuries.

With the evidence that their victim was thrown from a moving vehicle right after being electrocuted, Langston tells Catherine that they need to be looking for a mobile killing machine. Meanwhile, Greg tells Catherine that the tire treads found at the scene (two tires in the front, four in the back) are consistent with a pick-up truck or cube van. He also says that the victim has been identified as Carlton Doreen, who appears to just be a regular guy with no priors.

The day after an unforgettable date with Ellen, Greg is called to a crime scene with Nick. They find evidence eerily similar to the first crime scene - tire treads at the top of a hill, and a dead body at the bottom of it with burn marks to his head. The CSIs also confirm that the victim has the same five-point restraint marks as Carlton. Doc Robbins confirms that this victim is dead, much to the relief of Greg and Nick.

The second victim is identified as Elijah Newbloom III, and he has nothing in common with Carlton Doreen. Greg finds that Vegas has a Doreen Avenue and a Newbloom Boulveard, indicating that the killer might be picking out victims by street names. Hodges tells Catherine and Greg that both the victims' skin and clothing showed trace amounts of ammonium perchlorate, and Catherine notes that perchlorate contaminated some land in Henderson over twenty years ago. Meanwhile, using surveillance footage from the storage facility across from the body dump, Archie is able to find the truck and its license plate number. The truck belongs to a Johannes DeSmoot, who owns an appliance shop in Vegas. Johannes also used to work as an interrogator for the South African secret police before he fled the country at the end of apartheid.

Under interrogation, Johannes tells Brass that he sold his truck and lost the paperwork. The buyer, who he doesn't remember the name of, was in a hurry and paid cash. Brass notices that Johannes' work permit expired six months ago, which is enough to hold him in custody. Brass says that he'll find the truck and threatens to send Johannes back to South Africa for people to get revenge on him.

After Greg had to cancel their date, Ellen stops by the lab with a picnic lunch. Henry interrupts the date and, in the hallway, tells Greg that both burn victims had chloroform in their system, indicating that they were knocked out before they were abducted. When Greg returns to his office, he finds Ellen going through one of the case files. She apologizes for overstepping her bounds and abruptly leaves. Now suspicious, Greg follows her to a nightclub, where he finds her masquerading as a burlesque dancer named Rita Von Squeeze.

While at the club, Greg lifted a drinking glass that was used by Rita's manager. In the lab, he lifts fingerprints from the glass and is able to identify the shady-looking man as Roderick Hammerbacher, who has a long history of psychiatric incarceration. Nick tries to get Greg to cut his new girlfriend loose, but Greg admits that he called her and asked for an explanation.

As Greg tries to contact Ellen at her school, Langston and Nick look over the body of a third burn victim found dumped in an open area like the first two. The CSIs observe that this victim has less collateral burns around the head and less distinct ligature marks, leading them to believe that the killer is improving his technique. Greg receives a phone call telling him that their first victim, Carlton Doreen, died in the hospital, leaving the CSIs without their best witness. To make matters more complicated, Johannes was in custody at the time their newest victim died, letting him off the hook.

The third victim is identified as Hammish Hershkowitz, a professor at WLVU. Greg recognizes the name and goes through his books about mob history. He finds the name Herzog "The Rat" Hershkowitz and tells the team that the three cases are connected.

At the end of World War II, mobster Bugsy Siegel brought popular French singer Agnes LaPlouffe to Las Vegas to make her a star. During the war, she had fallen in love with a Russian dancer named Boris Kuchko. She was under the presumption that he died during the war; however, he survived and made his way to Vegas to reunite with her, where they had a daughter out of wedlock. Agnes and Boris had to hide their love from Bugsy, but he had his henchmen follow the couple to a motel in New Mexico. The henchmen dragged Agnes out of the motel room, brought her to the woods, decapitated her and left her in dance pose to implicate Boris (a repeat of the scene in the beginning of the episode).

Bugsy framed Boris for Agnes' murder, relying on the bogus eyewitness statement of Herzog "The Rat" Hershkowitz, the grandfather of their third victim. The prosecutor and defense attorney in the case were Ambrose Doreen and Elijah Newbloom I (grandfathers of the first two victims), and both men were in Bugsy’s pocket. They got paid to throw the case, and they became rich men and pillars of Vegas society, even having streets named after them. Boris, meanwhile, was sent to the electric chair for Agnes' murder, proclaiming his innocence until the day he died.

The team concludes that someone is out there avenging history, and Greg shows them a picture of Agnes - she's a spitting image of Ellen. In fact, Ellen is Agnes' granddaughter. Despite being told that his new girlfriend is guilty, Greg insists that she's not capable of killing three people. He gets interrupted by a phone call from Ellen; she's in trouble and asks Greg to meet her at a diner.

When Greg arrives at the diner, he sees Ellen sitting in a booth by the window. As he makes his way across the parking lot, a car speeds toward him and the driver shoots at him. He's able to get out of the way and rushes into the diner, only to find that Ellen is gone. In the pocket of her discarded sweater, he finds a bus pamphlet indicating that she's leaving town soon. When he gets a phone call from the real Ellen Whitebridge, confirming that even her name is a lie, Greg leaves to meet Ellen at the bus station.

The presence of magnesium oxide leads the team to an abandoned paint company that's within the radius of the perchlorate contamination. When units head to the location, they're met with gunfire from Roderick Hammerbacher. He takes refuge in the back of the box truck and yells out that he and Ellen were going to go away together. Realizing that he was lied to and that he's surrounded, Roderick straps himself into the electric chair and kills himself.

Greg finds Ellen at the bus station and confronts her about her lies and her role in the deaths of three men. He realizes that Ellen was playing him from the start and had Roderick switch trucks when she saw that the CSIs were making headway on the case. She tells him her grandparents didn’t deserve to die like that, and asks Greg to leave town with her. He refuses, and she's arrested before she can reach the door of the bus.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Archie Kao as Archie Johnson
  • Jon Wellner as Henry Andrews
  • Dita Von Teese as Agnes Kuchko/Ellen Whitebridge/Rita Von Squeeze/Agnes LaPlouffe
  • Andrew Howard as Johannes Desmoot
  • Tim Aslin as Young Uni
  • Micheal Adam Hamilton as Boris Kuchko
  • Jim Pirri as Roderick Hammerbacher
  • Jared Benjamin as Hammish Hershkowitz (uncredited)

Episode Title

  • The name of the episode is a take on the 1956 movie A Kiss Before Dying, a film noir starring Robert Wagner and Joanne Woodward.

Notes

  • Jorja Fox (Sara) is credited but does not appear in the episode.
  • After Hodges is put to work, Langston leads the tour group to the reception area to introduce them to "Judy." That would be Judy Tremont, who was the on-screen receptionist for twelve episodes, the last of which was Goodbye and Good Luck in season eight.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 11
Shock WavesPool SharkBlood MoonSqweegelHouse of HoardersCold BloodedBump and GrindFrackedWild Life418/427Man UpA Kiss Before FryingThe Two Mrs. GrissomsAll That CremainsTargets of ObsessionTurn On, Tune In, Drop DeadThe ListHitting for the CycleUnleashedFather of the BrideCello and GoodbyeIn a Dark, Dark House
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