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Frame by Frame
D.B. Russel & Jim Brass - S14 E5 Frame By Frame (1).jpg
Season 14
Number 5
Writer Gavin Harris
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate October 23, 2013
Navigation
Previous Episode: Last Supper
Next Episode: Passed Pawns

Frame by Frame is the fifth episode in season fourteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

The team gets a second crack at a reclusive millionaire who may have gotten away with murder 14 years earlier when a new dead body is found in his home.

Plot

Victim: Gwen Onetta (deceased)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Greg Sanders, Julie Finlay, Morgan Brody, Sara Sidle, Jim Brass

An unidentified woman is found dead in the home of wealthy movie buff and recluse Jack Witten; she's the victim of blunt force trauma to the head. There are wine bottles and drug paraphernalia near the body, which is laying at the base of a model of the never-built Premiere Casino. Greg explains to David Phillips that before the casino was built, Jack became the prime suspect in the murder of a young woman. Fourteen years later, the same thing appears to be happening again.

Upstairs, Sara pulls a white fiber from a carpet in the bedroom and flashes back to the first case involving Jack. In the flashback, she excitedly tells Catherine that a white fiber from that crime scene should be enough to get a warrant to search Jack's house; however, Catherine informed her that Jack was too well-connected to allow something like that to happen. Back in the present, Sara tells Russell about the victim 14 years ago: 18-year-old Darcy Blaine was seen leaving a bar with Jack, but was never seen again after that. Sara believes that Darcy was murdered in the very room they're standing in, but Russell tells her to focus on the present case. She laments the fact that if Jack was put away for the first murder, their current victim would still be alive.

Finn and Greg recreate the night's events, guessing that Jack shared a bottle of wine with the victim. When Jack got too frisky, the woman tried to leave, resulting in an altercation. A broken wine glass on the floor seems to confirm the theory, and Greg finds a piece of cork among the shards. However, the cork to the wine bottle is still intact. The CSIs then theorize that the victim tried to leave the house, which led to Jack hitting her with a lamp. Blood castoff on a nearby lamp is also in line with the theory. but Finn wonders why Jack wouldn't make the body disappear as he did 14 years prior.

Under interrogation, Jack claims that he was downstairs watching a movie in his soundproof screening room when the murder occurred. He also says that he's never seen the victim before, and explains that her blood is on his hands because he tried to help her. Ecklie still believes Jack is guilty of both murders, and he promises to nail him for the current one.

Sara and Ecklie pull the Darcy Blaine case files, and Ecklie apologizes for pulling rank and taking the case away from the night shift 14 years ago. Back then, he denied the request to get a warrant for Jack's house based on how much Jack and his family had done for the city. He also accused Catherine and Sara of looking in the wrong place. In the present, he and Sara look through surveillance photos of Jack and Darcy leaving the club and exiting via the parking garage. The following morning, Darcy's car was found abandoned with evidence indicating that it was driven up to Mount Charleston. There was a lot of blood in the trunk that tested positive for cocaine and GHB. Sara theorizes that Jack tried to drug and rape Darcy, but failed. She fought back, which resulted in Jack killing her and dumping the body near Mount Charleston. In the process, a carpet fiber was left in his trunk; the fiber is a close match to the one Sara recently pulled from the bedroom.

The victim is identified as Gwen Onetta, an 18-year-old high school dropout who had three drug arrests in the past year - comparable with Darcy's history. In autopsy, Doc Robbins pulls a chip of glass from Gwen's head wound, but he believes that it doesn't look like something from a wine glass. Morgan wonders if the glass is from the lamp at the scene.

Hodges gives Sara the bad news: the carpet fibers from the two cases don't match. Darcy's father, Walter, comes to the station upon hearing that Jack's name has come up in another murder investigation. Sara promises him that she'll do everything she can to get justice for Darcy.

Knowing that the fiber Sara pulled wasn't a match to the one from Darcy's trunk, Greg searches other carpets in the house to try to find a match. In the upstairs hallway, he finds a bead of desiccant gel and more cork on another carpet. He notes to Finn that both materials are used in the construction of preservation rooms, where collectors keep their art and other valuables. The team hasn't found such a room yet, but Greg soon spots a break in the baseboard. When he pulls a framed movie poster from the wall, he reveals a locked vault. A woman's muffled screams are heard inside, and Greg is able to open the vault by inputting the correct code (the date The Premiere was scheduled to open). Finn and Greg find the woman bound and gagged; when the gag is removed from around her mouth, she says that Jack tried to kill her and her friend Gwen.

The young woman, Emily Bridwell, is brought to the hospital. She tells Russell and Sara that she and Gwen met Jack at a club and got drunk on champagne. When the two went back to Jack's house, Jack pushed Emily into the preservation room, tied her up, and locked her in there. Emily claims that she heard Jack attack Gwen, something Russell confirms with another question. Out in the hallway, Russell tells Sara that he finds it curious Emily heard so much despite being locked in a vault far away from the crime scene. He adds that if they're going to nail Jack for the murder, they'll need a lot more than Emily's statement.

The piece of glass pulled from Gwen's head wound is inconsistent with the lamp. The components of the glass match something found in a flashlight and, as it turns out, both Emily and Gwen were questioned about a string of burglaries in the Summerlin area. When combining the flashlights and the burglaries, the new theory is that the girls broke into Jack's house. Greg sees flaws in the theory, as Jack's house has a top-of-the-line security system. Furthermore, this wouldn't explain why Emily was tied up and locked in a vault. The team needs to find the missing flashlight, and Greg notes that there's one place in the house they haven't searched yet. When he searches the vault, he finds the flashlight in question and it has Emily's fingerprints on it.

Greg relays the information to Sara, but he's told that Emily surprisingly died in the hospital two hours ago. In autopsy, Emily's blue-tinted body is laid out on the slab. Doc Robbins labels the cause of death as paralysis of the respiratory system caused by the ingestion of silver. He explains to Sara that the blue skin is the result of a reaction called argyria, where silver is absorbed into the bloodstream as a salt and deposited in the skin. Exposure to light then turns the salt back into elemental silver, creating the skin's bluish hue. When Emily's stomach contents are emptied, they find that she swallowed a roll of film.

Emily's car is found a block away from Jack's house; inside, a Post-It Note was found with Jack's address and all of his security codes. The girls were targeting Jack's secret vault, but something went awry. Finn reveals that Emily's boyfriend texted Gwen at a very inconvenient time, which led to the two fighting. A flashback shows Gwen trying to leave, but Emily hit her with the flashlight in a jealous rage. She then went back to the vault to find the roll of film. Upon hearing Jack call 9-1-1, she improvised by hiding the flashlight, locking herself in the vault, swallowing the roll of film, and tying herself up. But what is on the roll of film that makes it so important? When Hodges cleans up the film, he and Sara see that it contains images of Darcy Blaine.

Based on the background in the shots, Greg concludes that the film was shot in 2000. Darcy is acting flirty to the camera, which contradicts Jack's story of never meeting her before the night they walked out of the club. However, if the CSIs know that Jack is guilty, someone else does, too. Why else would they send the girls into the house to steal the film? The mystery person has to have access to the the security codes and also has to know about the film. Greg wonders if the person knows about the film because they actually shot it. He also remembers that in preparation for the opening of The Premiere, Jack hired a bunch of photographers to use vintage cameras to shoot on vintage film. If one of them was also asked to shoot the footage of Darcy, this person would know about Jack's relationship with her. It's possible the photographer fell on hard times and decided to blackmail Jack. But how do they go about finding the mystery photographer? Hodges explains that the pressure plate on a camera imprints unique scratches on film. If they can match the scratch patterns on the film to a specific camera, they may be able to find the person who used it.

Hodges is able to track down five vintage 35-millimeter cameras in the Vegas area and finds that one of them was used to shoot the film of Darcy. The camera was sold to a pawn shop two months ago by a man named Bob Geer, who was a cameraman employed by Jack. When Robert's apartment is searched, he's found dead inside, the victim of a gunshot to the head. The caliber used was a .22, which just happens to be the type of gun Jack owns. Furthermore, bank records show that Jack's corporation transferred $750,000 over to Bob back in 2000. Finn theorizes that Bob ran out of money, went back to Jack for more, and was silenced instead. The Post-It note found in Emily's car is a match to Bob's handwriting; he hired the two girls to retrieve the film.

When questioned again, Jack recalls that Bob used to work for him; however, the two haven't seen each other in a long time. When shown the film of Darcy, Jack claims that he's never seen it before. He admits to Brass and Ecklie that he met Darcy in a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The two shared a love of old films and would watch some together in Jack's screening room. He recalls that one night, both of them lost control and did drugs. The following morning, he woke up to find Darcy dead in his bed. Bob showed up at the house and offered to get rid of Darcy's body in exchange for some money. Jack pulls out a picture of Darcy's body that Bob took while they were cleaning up the scene; he claims that he keeps the picture to help remind him of the person he really is.

Ballistics on the bullet that killed Bob are not a match to Jack's gun. Sara goes through the records from the pawn shop and discovers that Bob was in possession of the film up until a month ago. Bob then pawned his camera and all of his film, including the film that had 300 frames of Darcy - and everything was then purchased by Jack. This means that Jack was telling the truth when he said he had never seen the film of Darcy before. But why would Bob try to get a hold of the film when he had proof of her murder the entire time?

Greg recalls that while working as a lab tech 14 years ago, he ran a tox panel on Darcy's blood and found that the GHB in her system hadn't fully metabolized into her blood. He decides to look deeper and has the film cleaned up and rescanned. When done so, a bank with a ticker is seen in the background of Darcy's shots. The date on the ticker reads January 6, 2001 - two months after Darcy was supposedly murdered. She faked her death and she's smiling at the camera because she got away with it.

Darcy, using the alias Vivian Sinclair, is eventually located and brought in for questioning. Bob's phone records show that "Vivian" called him 20 minutes before he was murdered. A cell tower puts Darcy a block away from Bob's apartment, and a .22-caliber handgun confirmed to be the murder weapon is found in her purse. She claims that she killed Bob in self-defense and eventually admits to Sara that, with Bob's help, she faked her death 14 years ago. Sara guesses that Jack blacked out from drug use that night, which led to Darcy putting the plan in motion. She drew her own blood, made it look like she had been roofied, and planted the blood in the trunk of her car in an effort to frame Jack.

Phone records show that Bob reached out to Darcy six weeks ago when he realized that he pawned the film with her on it - and that the film fell into Jack's hands. This would be why Bob hired the Emily and Gwen to get the film back. Darcy admits to faking her own death and framing Jack in order to start fresh, claiming that she did so to get away from her father because he was molesting her. She insists that she's not that person anymore, but Sara tells her that framing an innocent man for murder and keeping it hidden for 14 years means she hasn't changed.

Ecklie apologizes to Jack for everything they put him through, but Jack simply thanks Ecklie for giving him his life back.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Goofs

  • While Ecklie and Sara were faithfully recreated in clothing and looks to their season one selves during the flashback scenes, Catherine had short hair and most of the time she wore a blouse in the early episodes. However, in the flashbacks, she wears a ponytail and dresses less modest.
  • Darcy Blaine was 18 when she was murdered. When her case is looked at in a new light 14 years later, her father tells Sara that Darcy would've turned 30 this year. The math checks out that 18 plus 14 is actually 32.

Music

  • Bargain by The Who

Notes

  • George Eads (Nick) is credited but does not appear in the episode.
  • Flashbacks are shown of the case from 14 years ago; however, the original case was not part of a previous episode.
  • At the end of the episode, Sara shows Greg the showgirl headdress he wore in one of their old cases. He wore the headdress (which was evidence) in the season one episode Table Stakes.
  • During the ending montage (played over the song "Bargain" by The Who), evidence from past episodes are shown:

Trivia

  • Marg Helgenberger made a special guest appearance as Catherine Willows in this episode. She then returned for the TV movie and series finale of CSI, CSI: Immortality.
  • Jason Priestley, who played Jack Witten, is best known for playing Brandon Walsh on the show Beverly Hills, 90210.

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


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