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Atomic City is the sixth episode in Season Three of CSI: Vegas.

Csi vegas lg
Atomic City
Csi vegas
Season 3
Number 6
Writer Ryan Lee
Director Kenneth Fink
Original Airdate April 21, 2024
Navigation
Previous Episode: It Was Automation
Next Episode: Coinkydink

Synopsis[]

The CSI team investigates a radioactive crime scene that left a father and son dead.

Plot[]

Victims: Harry and Nick Pallatine (deceased)

On the case: Allie Rajan, Beau Finado, Catherine Willows, Chris Park Joshua Folsom, Maxine Roby, Det. Serena Chavez

During a stormy night at a truck stop, a prostitute makes her way through the parking lot and picks up a broken lock that falls off a departing truck. When she picks it up, it burns her hand, causing her to drop it. A figure wearing a gas mask watches this display from a nearby hiding spot.

At the Pallatine residence, Harry Pallatine is watching an old episode of The Twilight Zone while his disinterested son Nic scrolls through his phone. Nic suddenly complains of a stomach ache, but is more alarmed to see that his father is bleeding from his eye. Harry collapses and implores his son to call 911. Before Nic can complete the call, he exhibits the same symptoms as his father and collapses, as well.

The team arrives at the scene the following morning. Det. Chavez informs them that both men died and that Harry was an important figure in the city, having sat on a few state committees. As it turns out, the EMTs who arrived on the scene first and rendered aid to the victims also started exhibiting signs of illness.

Allie, Folsom and Det. Chavez enter the house wearing Hazmat suits. The lack of carbon monoxide in the air rules out a gas leak, but the CSIs don't think that could cause someone to bleed from their eyes. Folsom takes photos of the scene; upon viewing them, he spots particles in the air. He comes to the horrifying conclusion that they're looking at radiation particles. The team quickly evacuates the house, but not before Det. Chavez sees an award that indicates Harry Pallatine was some sort of nuclear expert.

Max informs Folsom that the radiation dose they absorbed was safe for the five minutes they were in the house—bad news for the EMTs who were in there for hours. Harry and Nic died from complete circulatory collapse, which is consistent with the effects radiation has on the body. Even if they had gotten to the hospital on time, they stood no chance of surviving. Folsom believes that this has to do with Harry's work on the state nuclear committee and wants to investigate further; however, Max tells him that she's called in "the cavalry"—Nevada's Department of Radiation Management. He convinces Max to let him take the lead on the case, though he will have to answer to the experts.

Upon hearing about her husband and son, Renee Pallatine returns from her trip to Palm Springs. She fears that Harry was the target due to his position on the nuclear committee, for he had recently supported Yucca Mountain, a plan to store nuclear fuel outside of Vegas. His belief is that this would be safe and create jobs; however, people opposing the idea had sent death threats.

Angela Hoppe, the Radiation Management supervisor, arrives on the scene. Folsom helps her carry a large case from her car, and she reveals that she knew Harry informally from their work in nuclear regulation. Angela introduces herself to the rest of the team and provides them with dosimeters that will keep track of radiation levels; local cell towers have been shut down to prevent any interference. She then gives them a "playbook" to follow to the letter—make sure the dosimeters never read above 25 rads, establish a hot zone around the crime scene using the dosimeter readings, and the proper personnel are only allowed into the house for 30 minutes at a time. Before they can continue, the entire neighborhood has to be evacuated.

Max and Det. Chavez are tasked with the overseeing the evacuation process, but find that the Pallatine's next door neighbor, Dennis Rosner, has his own plans. He claims that he needs to get his "perishables" into his underground bunker before he evacuates, adding that the bunker is safe from any attacks and viruses. All of these precautions needed to be made, he says, due to Harry's line of work as a "nuke lover."

The team goes through the Pallatine house with the dosimeters, but find that no one area exhibits more radioactivity than the others. Back in the lab, Chris inputs the readings into the computer and produces a heat map of the house. The map shows that the radiation is everywhere, leading Allie to question whether it's actually in the walls. She theorizes that if there's "gray water" in the pipes, it can be carried throughout the whole house and cycled repeatedly. They see that the entire bathroom is covered on the heat map.

Back at the house, Catherine and Angela check out the bathroom. Upon removing the lid to the toilet tank, Angela spots something glowing in the water. Using tongs, she removes a cracked uranium pellet, which she says could only have come from a nuclear fuel rod. Catherine spots something taped to the lid that turns out to be a picture of Harry with his fellow nuclear committee members; there's a skull sticker over Harry's face. This appears to be a personal attack, and the rest of the committee members are also in danger—especially when Angela says that a fuel rod contains hundreds of uranium pellets.

With the pellet contained, Angela explains that each one creates a huge amount of gamma rays that fly around at the speed of light and destroy everything in their wake. Using a gamma ray spectrometer, they can determine the ratio of photons to gamma rays. This, in turn, will tell them the age of the pellet, help them determine the specific reactor the pellet came from, and hopefully lead the team to the killer. Test results show that the pellet is uranium-235; based on the decay rate, it's about ten years old. Angela believes the pellet is from a North American light water reactor, but is concerned how something like this could go missing from a facility that has the tightest security in the country.

Renee Pallatine is put into protective custody, as are the rest of the members of the nuclear committee. She talks with Max and reiterates that Harry received death threats for his support of the Yucca Mountain plan. While the threats didn't seem credible, Renee believes that neighbor Dennis Rosner could take his threats into the real world. She tells Max that Dennis has enough guns and ammunition to cause serious damage and even keeps his money in gold because he thinks the U.S. dollar is going to collapse. It's possible he killed Harry because he thought he was saving the world, and Max assures Renee that they're looking into Dennis as a suspect. There's still the question of how the killer got onto the property, as Renee says that they had a top-notch security system set up.

Using radiation detectors from various locations in Vegas, Chris is able to digitally map out their ranges and cover the city. The system will make them aware if and when the presence of uranium-235 trips one of the detectors. Meanwhile, Det. Chavez is contacting various nuclear sites and storage facilities to find out where the fuel rod and pellets could've come from.

Though the uranium pellet has been removed from the Pallatine house, Angela informs the team that it will take 36 hours for the house's rad levels to normalize; the team will still need to wear isolation suits and work in shifts. Catherine and Beau enter the house and find sand on the living room floor along with some sort of acidic corrosion near the lock to the back door; Beau notes that he spotted the same corrosion somewhere else in the house earlier. Allie and Folsom soon take over and are greeted by Angela, who receives an an e-mail informing her that the uranium pellet's point of origin hasn't been found yet. The running theory is that it was stolen from a transport truck, but nothing further has come to light.

Back in the lab, it's determined that the acid found was muriatic acid strengthened with alum; something Beau notes is overkill. Chris processes the fuel pellet and notes how it looks like it was broken open. A rust-colored residue around the opening turns out to be a metal-eating bacteria; all the killer had to do was put some of the bacteria in with the pellet inside the toilet tank. Over time, the bacteria would eat through the metal and release the radiation. Since this is a time-release process, the killer would be able to get far away from the radiation—say, to Palm Springs. This puts Renee back on the suspect list; however, Beau notes that one of the bacteria's uses is to make dirty water drinkable. Someone concerned about the end of days might find the bacteria's use to be of utmost importance.

Dennis Rosner is brought in for questioning. His arms are covered in sunscreen to protect himself from the radiation and he rants about how he had to "liquidate" his chickens because they may have been contaminated, making them an unhealthy food source during the apocalypse. Dennis admits to opposing Harry's policies, but swears that he would never kill anyone. When Angela goes to test Dennis for radiation, a drop of blood falls onto his hand. As he panics, Angela realizes that she's bleeding from her nose and has been exposed. She collapses, telling Max and Folsom that "she's dead."

In the hospital, test results show that Angela's blood contains a low level of lymphocytes. From her experience, she knows that the lymphocyte level is the first thing to drop when one has been exposed to a fatal dose of radiation. Folsom shows her a tiny hole in her isolation suit, which is how she got exposed. She implores the team to check the other suits and to go back to the Pallatine house and retest everything to make sure there's no more contamination. Folsom, who has bonded with Angela during the investigation, offers to drive her home. After a heartfelt conversation, Angela enters her house, hugs her cat, and wishes Folsom well.

Folsom suddenly realizes that Dennis was possibly wearing sunscreen to hide radiation burns. He calls Allie to have the search expanded to Dennis's house; however, the call doesn't go through since the cell towers are still shut down to prevent dosimeter interference. Upon being informed of this, he rushes back to the interrogation room and takes the bloody tissue Angela used earlier out of the garbage. In the lab, he tells Max that despite the cell towers being shut down, Angela was still able to receive an e-mail while in the Pallatine house. The only way this could occur is if she knew the Wi-Fi password, meaning she knew Harry more intimately than she had let on. Things get even more surprising when Folsom tests the blood from the tissue and finds that it's feline blood. Angela has been lying the whole time.

In the Pallatine's backyard, Allie and Chris find sand and some shoeprints that traversed through the garden. The shoeprints lead to a fence; on the other side of the fence is Dennis's house. A search of the chicken coop there turns up more sand along with another drop of acid. Allie and Chris brush the sand aside and find the entrance to Dennis's bunker—which has a brand new lock on it. The CSIs conclude that someone used the acid to break open the lock and replaced it before Dennis could notice. Down in the bunker, they follow dirty shoeprints to the area where Dennis is storing his gold for the end of the world—except most of the bags are filled with metal washers. This was a heist.

The team gathers and realize that they got played. Angela knew that she would get called in for a radiological incident and she used the playbook she wrote to sneak into Dennis's bunker and steal most of his gold. Folsom realizes that Angela hid the gold in plain sight by storing it in the giant containers; he even helped her load it into her car. Since she had total authority over the uranium pellet, Folsom was an unaware participant in the heist. By faking her poisoning, she was able to buy herself a few hours and slip away unnoticed.

Meanwhile, Renee Pallatine informs Max and Folsom that Angela was a good friend of the family who would have dinner with them once a month. There, they would laugh about Dennis, his chickens, and his paranoia about the end of the world. Max tells a betrayed Folsom that he shouldn't take the case personally and did a good job by following the evidence.

The team realizes that the gold was moved with the uranium, making it irradiated and possible to track. Their idea is successful, and Angela is soon located. In the interrogation room, Folsom informs her that they tested her blood again and found that she took corticosteroids to lower her lymphocytes temporarily. Furthermore, it's discovered that the uranium pellet came from a truck on its way to a nuclear reactor in California; Angela was the masked person in the beginning of the episode hanging out at the truck stop. Thanks to her position with radiation management, she was able to hide the theft by making some adjustments in a spreadsheet.

Angela tearfully confesses, saying that nobody was supposed to get hurt. Her belief is that Harry would've known what the telltale signs of radiation poisoning were before he got sick. He and his family would've evacuated followed by the whole neighborhood. This would've allowed Angela to slip in unnoticed and steal Dennis's gold. However, things didn't go to plan and two people died. "I just wanted one more shot at the good life," she says. She tries to connect once more with Folsom, but he tells her that her shot cost two people their lives and that he'll never understand her point of view. Angela is arrested and Dennis's gold is eventually returned to him.


In the meantime, Max sits in her office deep in thought and eyes "Ocho," the robot she still has on loan from the factory the team recently investigated. She dismisses a concerned Allie, then does the same to Det. Chavez while at the radioactive crime scene. Allie later shares her concerns with Folsom and then spots Max supposedly crying while walking through the lab. On a visit to the hospital, Max pulls a doctor aside and speaks to him privately.

At the end of the episode, Max is once again sitting in her office staring off into the distance. Allie and Det. Chavez confront her, and she finally reveals what's bothering her. She admits she's been working the Robert Cuevas murder despite the fact that the case was already closed. Cliff Roland was also killed when his car drove into a tree; his seemingly empty camera had a sliver of a photo left in it. Max developed the photo in the trace lab and got fumes in her eyes, which is why she was seen crying and talking to the doctor in the hospital; she was prescribed eyedrops. Upon developing the photo, she found that there was someone else at the crime scene with platinum blonde hair; unfortunately, the person's face has been blurred out. The case is no longer closed.

Cast[]

Main Cast[]

  • Paula Newsome as Maxine Roby
  • Matt Lauria as Joshua Folsom
  • Mandeep Dhillon as Allie Rajan
  • Ariana Guerra as Det. Serena Chavez
  • Jay Lee as Chris Park
  • Lex Medlin as Beau Finado
  • Marg Helgenberger as Catherine Willows

Guest Cast[]

  • Anne Ramsay as Angela Hoppe
  • John Ross Bowie as Dennis Rosner
  • Chuti Tiu as Renee Pallatine
  • Matt Kaminsky as Harry Pallatine
  • Kev Martinez as Nic Pallatine
  • Kaipo Schwab as Dr. Apan
  • Danny Yang as EMT Doyle

Music[]

  • Silence by Slang Dogs & Lichwood

Notes[]

  • Throughout the episode, the team notices Max acting "off". She later reveals that she's been uneasy about the last case the team solved, believing that there's still work to be done. The case she's referring to is the deaths of Robert Cuevas and Cliff Roland in the previous episode It Was Automation.
  • Anne Ramsay played Angela Hoppe in the episode. She previously appeared in CSI:Crime Scene Investigation playing a different character in Season Two's Organ Grinder.
  • Matt Kaminsky played Harry Pallatine in the episode. He previously appeared in the CSI:Crime Scene Investigation playing a different character in Season Three's Blood Lust.

See Also[]

CSI:Vegas Season 3
The Reaper
Scar Tissue
Rat Packed


See Also[]

  • Category:Images from Atomic City
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