Boston Brakes
Julie Finlay - S14 E13 Boston Brakes (1)
Season 14
Number 13
Writer Christopher Barbour
Director Eagle Egilsson
Original Airdate January 22, 2014
Previous Episode: Keep Calm and Carry On
Next Episode: De Los Muertos

Boston Brakes is the thirteenth episode in Season Fourteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The CSIs are on the case after a fatal car accident, and they are shocked to discover the victim is someone they know.


Victim: Brian Freeman (deceased)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Greg Sanders, Julie Finlay, Morgan Brody, Nick Stokes, Sean Yeager, Jim Brass

Reporter John Merchiston meets a mysterious woman while buying a cup of coffee, and she tells him she’s friends with “Suvari.” She can't give him proof that Suvari is real, but she slips him a flash drive and says the man will be in touch. John doesn’t know he’s being watched, but he hurries away and heads to the nearby parking garage.

His silver Camaro leaves the garage in a hurry and races down the street until police give chase, leading to a fiery collision with a light pole. The body is burned beyond recognition, but a passport in the car identifies the victim as John. The team is surprised that a friend of the LVPD would run from police. Finn, who was previously involved John, doesn’t think the crash was an accident, noting the condition of the car and the fact that the engine ended up several feet away. She rules out a drunk driving accident and tells Russell that John was working on a story about the government and domestic spying. He had thought he was being followed, something Finn initially dismissed. She believes John was being silenced for something he knew and theorizes that someone put a bomb in the car, which was detonated during the police chase.

Morgan and day shift CSI Sean Yeager access traffic cameras and find where the chase begin. They track John to his meeting with the mystery woman and spot him being handed the flash drive. Knowing that the woman may have been the last person to see John alive, the team needs to track her down.

Doc Robbins finishes the autopsy, determining that the cause of death was blunt force trauma consistent with high-speed impact. He tells Finn that John had cocaine in his system and a blood alcohol level of .19; however, she had told Russell earlier that John didn't drink or do drugs. The doc rules John's death an accident, but Finn already has her doubts.

A black box installed by the rental car company offers the team a look at the car’s systems at the time of the crash. Finn hopes to find evidence of a bomb exploding to prove that John was murdered, but the system only indicates that the car hit the light pole. The explosion occurred on impact, which doesn't necessarily support or rule out the presence of a bomb. However, Hodges relays the information that metals found in the wreckage are consistent with a thermite explosion, explaining the large explosion caught on tape. Greg notes that the same metals are present in electronic devices, meaning the team needs something more concrete.

John's attorney, Jill McDermott, arrives and requests that they release his body, but there are still questions that need to be answered. She doesn't recognize the woman John met in the surveillance photo, and she adds that he was frustrated because his story about the government spying on U.S. citizens was going nowhere. The point person on the case was Air Force General Robert Lansdale out of Nellis, which explains his repeated trips to Vegas over the past few months.

As Russell walks through the parking garage, he's shocked when John emerges from the shadows and confronts him, frantically telling him that they must leave quickly. The body in the morgue belongs to John's assistant, Brian Freeman, who took his coat and hat before driving the car out of the garage while John himself slipped out the back. Russell is still confused because they identified the body using his dental records. John admits that he had someone hack into the crime lab computer to change the report, but he wasn’t the only one—someone else hacked in to change the toxicology report so it looked like he was drunk and high at the time of the accident. The story he was working on involved powerful people, and he’s being targeted. He tells Russell that he and his team are the only ones who can protect him.

Russell takes John to Finn’s apartment, where he tells them all about the domestic spying program, Project Jericho. The night of the accident was the first time he ever saw the mystery woman. His inside man, Suvari, usually left flash drives for him to pick up, but this time, John wanted to meet the man in person. He wanted to be assured that the information Suvari gave him was genuine before he went public with a story that involved a powerful man like General Lansdale. The flash drive John was handed has encrypted data on it, and he gives it to Russell to take back to the lab.

Nick and Sean track the surveillance video and follow the mystery woman through the crowd, watching her get into a taxi. Records show that the woman was dropped off at the Palermo at 11:15 PM, and she's registered under the name Emily Rey. Soon, the CSIs are called to a crime scene, where they find Emily bludgeoned to death. David Phillips labels the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the back of the head, adding that she was killed approximately six hours ago. The blood spatter and cast-off indicates that she was hit several times. Sean follows a blood trail and finds the murder weapon nearby with a clear fingerprint in blood on it. The print traces back to John, which confuses Nick since the woman has only been dead for six hours.

In the lab, Russell gives Greg the flash drive and tells him to decrypt it, adding that this takes priority over everything else. Nick texts Russell and tells him about Emily's murder, including the fact that John's fingerprint is on the murder weapon in the victim's blood. Emily was killed six hours ago, but John's wreck was 36 hours ago—something isn't adding up. Nick posits that John is still alive and is a killer. Russell calls Finn to warn her; however, she's in the shower and is unreachable.

By the time Finn listens to the message, she only has time to reach for her gun before Brass and the FBI burst into her apartment to arrest her and John. Back at the lab, Greg is still decrypting the flash drive when the FBI arrives. Greg is able to hide the flash drive, while Special Agent Sturgis makes his way to Russell's office and reads him his rights.

Russell is brought into interrogation and confronted by General Lansdale, who makes thinly-veiled threats against his family if he doesn’t cooperate. Meanwhile, Finn is interrogated by Special Agent Sturgis, who suggests that she's also working for Suvari—or that she’s helping John because of their relationship. When the agent gets too personal, Brass angrily defends his CSI and threatens to kick the FBI out of the lab.

Russell talks to Nick, telling him that John is being charged with willful communication of national defense information and murder. He and Finn, meanwhile, are accused of harboring someone who stole secrets, faked his own death, and murdered two people. Russell also notes that John took forensics field training at Scotland Yard, so he wouldn't be stupid enough to leave a bloody fingerprint behind. Before being taken in for more questioning, Russell puts Nick in charge and tasks him with getting everyone out of this mess.

While the FBI collects all of the files related to the case, Nick prints a photo of John's bloody fingerprint on the murder weapon. When he shows Greg and Morgan the blown-up photo, they notice that there are no pores in the fingerprint. Greg and Nick figure that the killer used latex to transfer John's print onto the crow bar, and the team concludes that everything in the case so far has been a setup. The FBI has walked off with everything, but Greg reveals that he still has the flash drive Russell gave him. With all eyes on the CSIs, Nick says that there's one person who can help that will fly under the FBI's radar—Hodges.

A mysterious package is left at the reception desk. Nick finds that it's a new cell phone; when opening the phone, a text message tells him to meet at the coffee stand John visited earlier. When Nick gets there, he runs into John's attorney, Jill. Survari has reached out to her, as well, with an offer to help both John and the LVPD. Her job is to drive the pair to the meeting point. Unbeknownst to them, someone is watching and listening in on the conversation.

Hodges decrypts the flash drive and finds information about Project Jericho, including technology that would allow the government to hack into a car’s CPU—specifically, after-market black boxes like the one on John's rental car. The report also mentions the effects of using thermite to enhance the crash. Meanwhile, on their way to the meet, Jill's car suddenly gets a mind of its own, accelerating to over 100 MPH. They nearly crash, but the car is jerked out of the way just in time. When they get out of the car, Nick sees the barista from the coffee stand set down a remote control and a coffee cup with a flash drive inside. Someone secretly installed one of the aftermarket black box computers in the car, and Suvari saved their lives.

The flash drive is decrypted, and the evidence convinces Special Agent Sturgis to work with the CSIs. He reveals that the “Boston Brakes” tactic had been used before when former Department of Defense employee Cheryl Perez and her young son were killed in a car accident. Cheryl worked as a programmer on Project Jericho, and she resigned from the department following rumors that she had an affair with a high-ranking officer. The team knows that it was General Lansdale, but they can’t do anything until they have the evidence to prove it.

When Suvari used his controller to save Nick and Jill, he left behind a cyber footprint that they're able to trace to his location. Unfortunately, Greg and Nick find him dead inside his base of operations. An empty bottle of zolpidem is found next to the body, along with a bloody duffel bag, a pair of bloody gloves, and Emily Rey's wallet. There's also a suicide note, in which Suvari confesses to all three murders. The CSIs can immediately tell that the entire scene, including the suicide note, is staged.

This time, it's Russell's turn to interrogate General Landsdale. Russell reveals that Suvari's real name is Joseph Powers, and that he used to be a contractor assigned to Project Jericho. He resigned a week after Cheryl Perez died, and he fell off the grid until he contacted John. Russell guesses that Cheryl threatened to expose their affair and that the general used the entire national security apparatus to cover it up. General Landsdale denies his involvement and threatens to stop anyone who gets in his way. Russell is confident the man will slip up again or another person of conscience will step forward to reveal the general's sins so they can finally bring him to justice.

John's editor asks to see him immediately, and he must take the next flight out. He tells Finn that he won't give up on the case against General Lansdale and kisses her goodbye.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • James Callis as John Merchiston
  • Matthew Davis as Sean Yeager
  • Greg Ellis as Special Agent Sturgis
  • John De Lancie as General Robert Lansdale
  • Kate Danson as Jill McDermott
  • Monica Barladeanu as Emily Rey
  • Amber Bela Muse as Control Officer
  • Jon Farless as CSI Tech Murph
  • Martin Taylor as Agent Monroe
  • Colin Woodell as Barista


  • A Trick With No Sleeve by Alain Johannes, Dave Grohl, and Joshua Homme
  • Find My Way by Nine Inch Nails
  • Hustle and Cuss by The Dead Weather


  • Jorja Fox (Sara) and Jon Wellner (Henry) are credited but do not appear in the episode.
  • Finn tells John Merchiston that something happened to her since the last time they met, referring to the attempted rape on her by Darryl Walsh in the episode Girls Gone Wild.
  • When the team determines that John Merchiston's fingerprint was transferred to the murder weapon using latex, the name Paul Millander is brought up.
  • It's mentioned that Joseph Powers used to work for Ceressus Logistics, which is the company Catherine was investigating before she left the lab.


  • Kate Danson makes a special guest, and final, appearance as Jill McDermott in this episode (Kate is a daughter of Ted Danson).

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 14
The Devil and D.B. RussellTake the Money and RunTorch SongLast SupperFrame by FramePassed PawnsUnder a CloudHelplessCheck In and Check OutGirls Gone WildLost ReindeerKeep Calm and Carry OnBoston BrakesDe Los MuertosLove for SaleKiller MovesLong Road HomeUninvitedThe FallenConsumedKittyDead In His Tracks