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A Night at the Movies
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Season 3
Number 19
Writer Danny Cannon,
Carol Mendelsohn,
Anthony E. Zuiker
Director Deran Sarafian
Original Airdate April 10, 2003
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Previous Episode: Precious Metal
Next Episode: Last Laugh

A Night at the Movies is the nineteenth episode in season three of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

When a man is found stabbed in the neck at the back of a movie theatre while the movie is still playing, Grissom and Catherine follow the evidence to a case of life imitating art. Meanwhile, Warrick, Nick and Sara have to piece together what happened in a bizarre case of a teenage boy shot in the chest in an empty warehouse with 109 bullet holes in every direction over the walls.

Plot

Victim: Gus Sugarman (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Gil Grissom, Jim Brass

A movie theater usher approaches a male patron after the show has begun because the patron’s cell phone is ringing. When the man is unresponsive, the usher taps him on the shoulder. He slumps forward and bleeds from the mouth into his popcorn.

Catherine and Grissom meet Brass at the theater. Brass tells them that the victim is Gus Sugarman and that he owns a local dental practice. Commenting that Thursday is “Film Noir Night” at the Art House Movie Theater, Brass does his impression of a film noir cop, describing the crime scene, noting that no one heard anything—no scream, nothing to indicate a struggle. The other patrons, however, did hear his cell phone ring three times. Grissom notes that with the loud music, four exits, and everyone focused on the screen, it's easy to do the deed and slip out.

Doc Robbins is called to the scene to examine the body. He indicates that there is a puncture wound at the back of the victim’s neck and markings around his mouth. The bruising around the victim’s mouth seems to suggest that someone approached the victim from behind had his or her hand over his mouth. Grissom sees a small red line on his neck, leading the team to speculate that a chain or some other similar item may have been torn off the victim. Catherine drops her flashlight; when she finds it, she also finds a bloody screwdriver. Brass re-enters the theater, having been out in the lobby talking to the rest of the theatergoers. He indicates that he has located a witness.

Grissom accompanies Brass to speak to his “witness”, a twenty-something movie buff. When asked what he saw, the young man says that he noticed a woman leaving during the gunfight in the movie. He thought it was odd, since it is the best part of the film. When asked to describe her he says that she was tall, with red hair and “not old." The woman is not in the lobby with everyone else. Nobody else saw this woman enter the lobby, either; the manager was not on duty and the usher left before the police arrived because he had been smoking marijuana and didn't want to get busted.

Catherine has taken the screwdriver she found at the movie theater back to the lab for review. Noting that is it is covered in blood, soda, popcorn and carpet fibers, Greg and another lab tech, Julie, begin to work on the screwdriver—Greg works on the blood trying to match it to the victim’s, while Julie uses ninhydrin (a chemical which reacts with amino acids) to try and lift any prints that may be on the weapon.

Grissom begins to review the records from Gus's cell phone. The phone company unblocks all the previously noted private numbers for the purposes of the investigation. He notes that at 10:38, two minutes before the start of the movie, Gus made a 26-second call. Because the length of the call is so short, Grissom guesses that Gus got someone’s answering machine. Interestingly, though, the person he tried to reach called him back three times in a row, at 11:26, 11:27 and 11:28.

Catherine and Grissom arrive at the house of the Audrey Hilden, the woman who called Gus. She matches the description of the woman seen leaving the theater. When asked about the calls, she tells them that Gus was her dentist. He had asked her out on a date, but she stood him up. She was screening her calls when Gus called her, but after an attack of conscience, she called him back hoping to get his voicemail and leave an apology message. Grissom notices a schedule for the Art House Movie Theater posted on a bulletin board in Ms. Hilden’s house. She tells him that she frequently sees movies there. He asks her if she is a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, but Audrey tells him she prefers French new wave films.

Catherine, Grissom, and Brass regroup to discuss their case. The blood on the screwdriver is their victim’s and the ninhydrin process managed to reveal a palm print. Unfortunately, the print is smooth, indicating the killer was wearing gloves. Most interestingly, however, Brass has uncovered that Audrey Hilden had filed a lawsuit against Gus Sugarman, claiming he assaulted her while she was under anesthesia during a visit. Gus counter sued and Audrey dropped her case. Catherine is immediately suspicious—after all, why would someone agree to go out on a date with someone they had accused of molesting them? Brass also spoke to the usher again; the usher remembers a red-headed woman making a phone call during the movie.

Back at the movie theater, Catherine, Grissom, and Brass question the usher. He says that while he was taking a small break to get a drink, he noticed a tall redhead leave the theater and make a phone call on the payphone in the lobby. Brass leaves to check out the phone records. Catherine asks if the usher noticed anything else, such as whether or not the woman was wearing gloves. Yes, she was, the usher says, which he thought was weird since was over 70 degrees inside the theater. He also noticed that she threw something in the trash and then left the building completely. However, the trash is empty. Catherine and Grissom catch up with the cleaning crew in the actual theater. There they notice one of the workers wearing leather gloves, which she apparently had picked from the trash. Believing they belong to the killer, Gil offers the worker cash in exchange for the gloves, which she surrenders.

Greg has examined the gloves suspected to be the killer’s. Because the cleaning woman was using ammonia, any evidence on the interior lining of the gloves, such as epithelial skin cells, was destroyed the moment the cleaning lady put the gloves on. However, they are able to “print” the gloves and determine that the palm print found on the murder weapon was indeed made by someone wearing the gloves. In addition, a similar impression has been found on the pay phone in the lobby of the theater and it, too, matches the gloves.

Brass is in his office discussing the case with Catherine and Grissom. He has pulled the phone records from the payphone and found out that someone called Audrey’s house from that phone at 11:25. Remembering that Audrey called Gus from her home at 11:26, they realize she can’t be the killer. They get the feeling that someone else may be involved. Brass hypothesizes that maybe the call from the lobby came from a hitman (or hit-woman), but Catherine says Audrey couldn't afford a powerful attorney. If that's the case, how could she afford a hitman? They suspect that Audrey may still have something to do with the case. Brass suggests that they go visit Audrey to question her further.

After knocking at her door, the team hears the buzzing of a phone off the hook inside Audrey’s house. They go around back and see that a sliding glass door has been left unlocked. Cautiously, they enter the house, and find Audrey hanging from an upper railing, an extension cord wrapped around her neck and a gold necklace lying by her feet. Grissom recalls something similar to this necklace being yanked off of Gus's neck in the theater. Brass calls the death in, while Grissom examines the body and Catherine heads up the stairs to look at the area around the railing.

During the initial investigation, Grissom sees post mortem bruising around Audrey’s neck. He also sees another set of marks around her neck under the extension cord. This leads him to believe that she was strangled first and then hung. In addition, he notes there are carpet fibers stuck to the heels of her shoes, which indicates that she was dragged across the floor.

Upon further investigation, Grissom observes that the movie schedule is missing from Audrey’s bulletin board. Catherine checks the living room trash for the schedule, while Grissom heads into the bathroom. The trash can doesn’t reveal anything, but noting that the floor is wet, Grissom plunges the toilet and sees the bright pink schedule stuck in the bowl. He retrieves it for examination back at the lab.

Catherine and Grissom have dried out the movie schedule found at Audrey’s house and are examining it using digital software, designed to help investigators see smeared ink. Grissom notices something written above the advertisement for the movie Strangers on a Train. He gives a summary of the movie—two perfect strangers arrange to commit murders for each other. Since neither person would have a motive for their killing, it would appear to be the perfect murder. Grissom wonders if this is life imitating art. The software is able to make the note legible; it reveals the odd phrase “Sphere E4-117”. Catherine surmises that “Sphere” may indicate the Sphere Hotel. E4-117 isn’t a room number, and after suggesting locker number, she and Grissom believe it may be a parking spot.

Assigned E4-117's parking spot is club manager Anthony Haines. Shown a picture of Audrey Hilden, he doesn’t recognize her. While Catherine questions him further, Grissom looks around the group dressing room of dancers at the Sphere Showroom. Spotting another bright pink Art House schedule, he asks Anthony which dancer uses the dressing area he’s pointing to. Anthony indicates Kelly Goodson uses that particular table. Looking closer, Grissom notices a business card from the law firm Langley & Langley tucked into the side of her mirror.

Kelly enters the dressing room while Grissom is looking at her open locker. She pulls of a red wig to reveal long blonde hair. Curious, Grissom asks her about the wig and if she ever wears it out. Complaining that she never gets to go out with her work schedule, she begins to rub her legs with a series of muscle creams. Amazed at the concoction she creates, Grissom takes note of the three different ointments Kelly is using. She also admits to him that she has been to the movie theater a few times, but has never seen Strangers on a Train.

Grissom sits at a lab table, surrounded by tubes of three different muscle ointments. Catherine walks in and they discuss Kelly Goodson. As Grissom is examining the gloves, extension cord and gold chain for traces of the creams, Catherine tells him that, like Audrey Hilden, Kelly Goodson had recently filed suit against someone for sexual harassment. That someone was, unsurprisingly, Anthony Haines. Once she found this out, Catherine dug deeper and discovered Audrey and Kelly had used the same law firm, Langley & Langley, in each of their cases. Believing that Audrey and Kelly had met at their lawyer’s office, Catherine and Grissom speculate that the two women discussed their respective problems and decided to help each other get rid of the causes—Gus Sugarman and Anthony Haines.

Grissom believes that the same cream concoction that Kelly uses could be on the gold necklace and the extension cord used to hang Audrey. Catherine tells him that he won't get transfer from the gloves, but Grissom notes that there could be trace on the outside, since one uses a bare hand to put on the first glove. Both he and Greg start swabbing the key pieces of evidence.

Catherine and Grissom meet with Kelly to tell her their theory in the deaths of both Gus Sugarman and Audrey Hilden. Like in the movie Strangers on Train, they believe Kelly and Audrey made a deal to kill the men that had sexually harassed the other. Since each of the men would be a stranger to his killer, it would be difficult to trace Kelly and Audrey to the murders—they would be committing the perfect crime as is theorized in the movie. Audrey had never really intended to go through with the murders, but Kelly killed Gus and called Audrey to let her know it was done, and even yanked the gold necklace off of Gus's neck as proof. When Audrey refused to kill Anthony, an angry Kelly killed Audrey. Confronted with their theory, Kelly denies any wrongdoing. Grissom tells her that they have found traces of her muscle cream on the gloves, extension cord and gold necklace. It appears that Kelly is caught after all.

Victim: Timmy McCallum (deceased)

On the case: Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown, Ray O'Riley

Nick, Sara, and Warrick meet Detective O’Riley out at a warehouse, the scene of a gunshot fatality. O’Riley remarks that he hopes the CSIs brought a lot of extra supplies and have a lot of time – the crime scene looks like a war zone. The CSIs are shocked as the door to the warehouse is opened and they can see the sun streaming through what looks like hundreds of bullet holes in the walls. A young male is lying face down on the warehouse floor. His driver’s permit indicates that he is 15 ½ years old and named Timmy McCallum. He is surrounded by bullet casings, but amazingly only has one bullet wound, which is in the chest.

Sara, Nick and Warrick split up their crime scene: Sara takes outside, Nick takes the walls, and Warrick takes the floor. Sara notes and photographs tire tracks and footprints outside warehouse. Rounding the back, she also sees a makeshift ladder leading to the roof, which she climbs. On the roof, Sara finds a piece of bamboo, which she tags as evidence and brings down with her. In the interim, Nick is inserting small rods into the many bullet holes in the warehouse walls – when done, he notes there are 109 holes. Warrick bags beer bottles found at the scene, and numbers each one of the bullet casing found on the floor. He also finds clear shards of glass next to some tiny pieces of black plastic.

Warrick visits Doc Robbins in autopsy. Timmy's body is peppered with small, round bruises of unknown origin. There is also large scabbing on his elbows and knees, which Doc Robbins chalks up to “boys will be boys”. There is no gunshot residue on his body or clothing, indicating he was shot from a distance. Measuring the degree of the path the bullet took in his body, Warrick figures out that Timmy was shot from above. However, the angle of the roof and the angle Timmy was shot from don't line up.

Back at the lab, Sara is working on the most puzzling piece of evidence: the bamboo. Warrick interrupts her work to let her know what he has learned from the pictures she took outside of the warehouse. The tire tread didn't come back with any distinctive result; however, the footprints did. By measuring the prints and examining the treads, Warrick has determined that five people went into the warehouse and four ran out. Sara admits that she has been unable to locate any fingerprints on the bamboo, and Warrick proposes they check it for gunshot residue. When that test comes up negative, Warrick suggests Sara abandon the bamboo. Not one to give up, Sara takes it to Trace, hoping that will reveal some hidden forensic detail.

Greg has completed the DNA testing of the beer bottles found at the scene of Timmy McCallum’s shooting. He tells Nick that one of the bottles has Timmy’s DNA but, more importantly, another one has the DNA of a relative of Timmy’s, most likely a brother. Interesting news, since Warrick is about to step into an interview room with Timmy’s mom and his older brother, Kevin.

Mrs. McCallum admits to Warrick that she knows Timmy drives the family minivan without her, despite the fact that his learner’s permit requires an adult to be in the car. She says that, due to her work schedule, Kevin often drives with Timmy. Kevin denies having any knowledge of the warehouse, even when confronted with the DNA evidence. He says that he bought Timmy and his friends the beer, and had taken a couple swigs out of one of the bottles. Believing more can be learned from Kevin, Warrick asks Mrs. McCallum’s permission for Kevin to stay for more questioning and to examine the vehicle.

In Trace, the bamboo is looked at in detail and is found to have spiral gouges on it from one end to the other. The glass from the scene has also been examined. It is coated with crystallized calcium chloride, which is common in glass used in high-end camera lenses.

Warrick begins his review of the McCallum’s minivan. The tires match the photo of the treads taken at the scene – but this isn’t surprising. After all, Timmy often drove the van. Warrick finds a ripped up beer case in the back of the van, with a price tag on it from Jenko’s Liquor. He also finds what appears to be blood on the driver’s side arm rest. Spraying it with luminol, he discovers that it tests positive for blood.

Meanwhile, in the interrogation room, Detective O’Riley is talking to Kevin. Nick is watching the interrogation from outside the room. After he and Warrick swap notes – he tells Warrick that all the bullets fired came from the same 9mm semi-automatic weapon and Warrick tells him about the blood – they decide to talk to Kevin themselves. Noticing blood coming through his shirt on his arm, they ask Kevin to show them the wound. Kevin reluctantly complies and shows them what appears to be a wound caused by a grazing bullet. Additionally, they ask him to remove his shirt and when he does, they see small, round bruises, matching the ones found on his brother’s body. After that, Kevin clams up and refuses to talk anymore.

Sara inputs all the trajectories of all 109 bullets found at the warehouse into a computer simulation. She and Warrick review the simulation and discover that all the bullets seem to be coming from one long pole from near the center of the warehouse. Sara theorizes that this could be where the bamboo stick fits in. Adding up all their clues, Sara and Warrick summarize the case. Still unable to figure out what has happened, they realize they are at the end of the road, forensically speaking.

Having pulled the surveillance tapes from Jenko’s Liquor, Nick has black and white stills made of the time that Kevin was in Jenko’s buying the beer. Looking closely at the stills, they discover that three other young men accompanied Kevin and Timmy into the store. One of the young men had a video camera with him, which may account for the lens glass found at the warehouse. Nick suggests interviewing the other kids to see which one could have been filming the incident.

The other kids who accompanied Kevin and Timmy into Jenko’s have been identified and called in for questioning. Each of them has bruises identical to Timmy’s and are reluctant to talk. One of the boys, however, admits that he got a black eye after Timmy shot out the lens in his video camera with a gun they “found”. From that point, the CSIs simply tell the boys they can talk or they will just find out what they want from the videotape.

Faced with this, Kevin begins to tell Detective O'Riley what happened. In their boredom, each of the boys came up with stupid Jackass-like stunts to perform on camera. The first one was “Speedway Surfing," where each of the boys stood atop a speeding vehicle and surfed along the highway. Next was “Human 150 yard Marker," where they all took turns standing in front of someone, who shot golf balls at them, which is how they ended up with the round bruises. Timmy’s choice was “Bamboo Russian Roulette”. At the warehouse, they all took turns going up to the roof, inserting the bamboo stick into the warehouse and sliding the semi-automatic down the bamboo. The notches on the bamboo caused the gun to randomly shoot into the warehouse. Timmy was killed during his brother’s turn.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Skip O'Brien as Detective Ray O'Riley
  • Wallace Langham as David Hodges
  • Romy Rosemont as Jacqui Franco
  • Archie Kao as Archie Johnson
  • Charlie Hofheimer as Kevin McCallum
  • Cyia Batten as Kelly Goodson
  • Megan Ward as Audrey Hilden
  • Finn Carter as Maude McCallum
  • Peter Dobson as Anthony Haines
  • Kevin Christy as Erik Barry
  • Todd Giebenhain as Usher
  • Knate Gwaltney as J.J.
  • Michael Jon Hennessy as ND CSI Tech
  • Eric Marquette as Earl
  • Mathew Scollon as Zachary (credited as Mat Scollon)
  • Erik Smith as Timmy McCallum
  • Xhercis Mendez as Woman Cleaner (credited as Xhercis)
  • Scot Belsky as Dr. Gus Sugarman (uncredited)

Music

  • F.E.A.R by Ian Brown.

Goofs

  • This episode opens and closes in a movie theater. At the beginning of the episode, one of the couples seen from behind is Catherine and Grissom. They do not go to see a movie until the end of the episode.
  • During the flashbacks of the shooting in the shed, we see the video camera lens being shot out before the boy is shot. The monitor in the lab showing the videotape made at the scene shows the boy lying on the ground when the camera has already been destroyed.

Trivia

  • The murder plot for this episode is patterned after Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. One of the planned victims in the episode is named Anthony Haines, a reference to the two 'strangers' of the film, Guy Haines and Bruno Anthony.
  • The accidental death of Timmy McCallum was inspired by the MTV series Jackass, in which thrill seekers attempt stunts.[1] 
  • The shot of the empty warehouse with 109 bullet holes at the 7 minute, 32 second mark will be used in the opening credits of Season 4.

References

  1. Flaherty, M. & Marrinan, C. (2004). CSI: Crime scene investigation companion. New York, NY: Pocket Books.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 3
Revenge is Best Served ColdThe Accused is EntitledLet the Seller BewareA Little MurderAbra-CadaverThe Execution of Catherine WillowsFight NightSnuffBlood LustHigh and LowRecipe for MurderGot Murder?Random Acts of ViolenceOne Hit WonderLady Heather's BoxLucky StrikeCrash & BurnPrecious MetalA Night at the MoviesLast LaughForeverPlay with FireInside the Box
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