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Friends & Lovers
Friends.jpg
Season 1
Number 5
Writer Andrew Lipsitz
Director Lou Antonio
Original Airdate November 3, 2000
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Previous Episode: Pledging Mr. Johnson
Next Episode: Who Are You?

Friends & Lovers is the fifth episode in Season One of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

Grissom and Warrick investigate when a victim dies of fear in the desert, apparently from being chased. Meanwhile, Catherine and Nick investigate the gruesome murder of a Catholic school dean, and Sara investigates how the body of a woman who was buried the previous week ended up in a dumpster.

Plot

Victim: Eric Berkley (deceased)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Warrick Brown, Jim Brass

In the middle of the night, a naked teenager runs through the desert. His body is found a few days later with maggots covering his face. At the scene, Grissom and Warrick find no signs of foul play, and footprints indicate that the victim was running from something and looking over his shoulder while doing so. When asked what the kid died from, Grissom guesses "fear."

In autopsy, Dr. Williams explains that the bruises on the victim's face could've come from the face impacting the ground upon death. While the victim is the picture of health internally, externally is a different story. His skin is abnormally dry, and Dr. Williams doesn't believe it's from elemental damage. Grissom tells Warrick that in order to determine the victim's cause of death, they need to the examine the maggots—the insects preserve what humans digest for long periods of time. It's found that the maggot ingested jimsonweed, which can be used as a hallucinogenic.

Bobby Taylor, Eric's friend, shows up at the police station. He's concerned about his friend and has filed a missing persons report. Bobby confirms that he and Eric were partying in the desert near Red Rock; however, they didn't take any drugs. Down in the morgue, Bobby tearfully identifies his friend's body. Warrick informs Grissom about the jimsonweed; since it was found in the maggot's blood, this means it was also in Eric's blood. Bobby was lying about the two boys taking drugs.

In Grissom's office, Bobby admits that he and Eric bought jimsonweed off of a dealer at the rave and drank it like a tea. They were told that the drug was safe and would give a "cool high." Using an ultraviolet light, Warrick finds a stamp on Bobby's wrist that shows he went to a performance by a DJ Masterband. Warrick works on tracking down the deejay, while Bobby says he can identify the drug dealer they bought the jimsonweed from.

Mentholated nose spray, patchouli, and aluminum are found in Eric's mouth and nose swabs. The odd item out is aluminum, and Warrick gets a list of things made with the items.

Grissom, Warrick, Brass and Bobby go back to the rave, where Bobby is able to identify the jimsonweed dealer. When confronted, Ethan Zalasky denies selling any jimsonweed; however, when Grissom searches his car, he finds seeds on the floor under the steering wheel. Ethan laughs off the finding, insisting that, if arrested, he'll be back at the rave before it's even over. Grissom admonishes him for selling drugs to kids and tells him that he's going to get him for murder.

In autopsy, Grissom theorizes that Eric drank the most toxic part of the jimsonweed tea—the part that's full of seeds. Dr. Williams confirms this by pulling seeds from Eric's lower intestinal tract. Unfortunately, it can't be proven that the seeds ingested by Eric came from the same place as the seeds in Ethan's car. Furthermore, Greg determines that the toxicity levels of the seeds were too low to have killed Eric. Grissom and Warrick are back to square one. As Ethan is released from custody, he taunts the CSIs, who tell him that he'll be back at some point.

Grissom sits down with Bobby and informs him that the jimsonweed tea wasn't strong enough to kill his friend. During the conversation, Bobby scratches his arm, which he was also doing earlier. He tells Grissom that he has a spider bite; however, when Grissom looks at it, he becomes concerned, telling Bobby that he wasn't bitten by an insect.

Grissom confides in Dr. Williams that he believes the bite mark on Bobby's arm is human. Warrick arrives and informs them that the test on aluminum products came back as fireworks, and Grissom solemnly mentions that Bobby works in a fireworks plant. He asks Dr. Williams to get a mold of Eric's teeth to compare with the bite mark on Bobby's arm.

Bobby continues to insist that he didn't kill his friend; however, he can't remember what happened after they ingested the jimsonweed tea. Grissom explains to him that the side effects of jimsonweed include photophobia, a fear of bright lights. Whatever Eric was seeing was frightening him, and the boys ran through the desert away from cars, which they believed were chasing them. Eric's dose shot his temperature through the roof, which is why he removed all of his clothes.

At the same time, Bobby was suffering auditory hallucinations, another routine symptom of jimsonweed. Traces of aluminum in Eric's nostrils are consistent with traces found on Bobby's hands and arms. A flashback shows Bobby chasing Eric down in the desert and suffocating him until the noises stopped. In the process, Eric bit Bobby's arm; a mold of his teeth matches the bite mark on Bobby's arm perfectly. Bobby sheds a tear and realizes that he killed his best friend.

Bobby's lawyer claims that they'll plead diminished capacity, and Grissom wishes them luck, telling them that he hopes they win. However, Bobby replies that it doesn't matter—he killed his best friend and nothing is ever going to change that.

Victim: Vernon Woods (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes

Vernon Woods, the dean of Verbum Dei Charter School has been found dead in his office, and the woman who called it in is the founder of the school. Catherine and Nick arrive on the scene and are told that the victim suffered multiple blunt force trauma wounds to the head. They note both the blood spatter on the wall and a murder weapon next to the body. The suspect who called it in, Kate Armstrong, claims that Vernon attacked her and that the murder was in self-defense.

Outside the dean's office, Catherine speaks with Kate, who claims that she hit Vernon once with blunt object when he tried to make advances on her. She denies any relationship with Vernon, saying that he was only hired because he was good at raising money. Catherine mentions that the blood spatter in the office indicates that Vernon was hit more than once, and Amy changes her story.

Nick strings up the office and determines that Vernon was hit three times, twice while he was on the floor. There's cast-off from the weapon on the window and a void in the blood spatter on one of the walls. This would indicate that someone else was standing the path of the blood spatter while Kate was attacking Vernon in self-defense. She lied; there was someone else in the room.

Kate eventually confesses that she wasn't alone; Julia Eastman, a member of the faculty, was also present. Under interrogation, Julia says that she and Kate made a plan for there to be a witness the next time Vernon sexually harassed Kate. She recalls standing in the doorway when the murder took place; however, the blood evidence shows otherwise. A video reenactment shows Julia that the dean was on the ground when he was attacked. The question is how Kate, who is half of Vernon's size, could pin him to the ground and bludgeon him to death by herself. Seemingly cornered, Julia asks to take a break from the questioning.

Catherine and Nick run through the evidence they have so far and realize they're missing one thing: the blood on Julia's clothes. When they ask Julia to hand over the clothes she was wearing when Vernon was killed, she claims that she burned them because the blood wouldn't come out. Instead, Catherine and Nick check the shirt Vernon was wearing, and they find an odd void in the middle of the blood spatter. Nick traces the void and finds that it matches the outline of a hand. One finger is larger than the others, possibly from a bandage.

Kate and Julia are interrogated together. Catherine has Julia make a fist, but she's unable to bend her pinky, explaining that she sprained it. A splint would explain the large void in the blood spatter on Vernon's shirt. A flashback shows Kate attacking Vernon; when he hit the ground, Julia held her down while Kate continued to wail on him. As the two women get up from the interrogation table, they're holding hands and neither one wants to let go. Catherine watches them leave and quickly concludes that the investigation isn't over; they still don't know why the women did what they did.

Kate's financial records show that she was frequently writing checks to Vernon for substantial amounts, and Catherine guesses that she was paying him off. When questioned, Kate admits that she and Julia are in a same-sex relationship. She had been paying Vernon off to keep him from telling anyone; however, the two had decided to start living their lives openly. This didn't sit well with Vernon, who threatened to falsely tell everyone that the women were caught having sex on school grounds. When he got up to make the phone call, Kate whacked him on the head with the blunt object; the women later finished the job. Kate claims that neither one of them would have survived a rumor like that, as the school is their whole life.

As Catherine and Nick watch the interrogation, they lament someone had to be murdered in order to protect a loving relationship. "A lose-lose situation," Catherine says.

Victim: Stephanie Reyes (deceased)

On the case: Sara Sidle

Sara arrives at a dumpster where a woman’s body, wrapped in plastic, has been dumped. The body has a glazed residue on it, and it's discovered that the substance is biotone arterial, which is used in the embalming process. Fingerprints identify the victim as Stephanie Reyes, who was laid to rest at Desert Haven Funeral Home last week.

Sara talks to the funeral director, Randy Gesek, who suggests that the grave was robbed for gold or jewelry. They exhume the grave, but find no casket, and the director suggests that the casket was stolen, too, as it would be just as valuable. When Sara checks the other caskets Randy has on display, she finds hairs from multiple donors in one of them. This should be impossible, as the coffins are supposed to be one per customer.

Fingerprints were found on the inside of the plastic Stephanie was wrapped in, and Sara guesses that they belong to Randy. The funeral director tries to explain that mortuaries are a cut-throat business and that he has to save money any way he can. Sara orders him to repay the money for the casket and pay for a proper burial for Stephanie. Afterwards, the district attorney is going to take a crack at him.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Judith Scott as Dr. Jenna Williams
  • Kelly Connell as Randy Gesek
  • Tom Beyer as L. Collins
  • Milo Ventimiglia as Bobby Taylor
  • Amy Carlson as Kate Armstrong
  • Elena Lyons as Julia Eastman
  • Jeffrey Vincent Parise as Ethan Zalasky
  • Timothy Landfield as Dean Vernon Woods (victim)
  • Paul Terrell Clayton as Detective Kane
  • Mark Collver as Detective B. Evans
  • Mike Graybeal as Eric R. Berkley (victim)
  • Susan Santiago as Kimberly Cassano
  • Elkin Antoniou as "I love you" Rave Girl
  • Jennifer Caputo as Stephanie Rayes 

Notes

  • Jorja Fox (Sara Sidle) is now credited in between George Eads and Paul Guilfoyle on the title sequence, she was previously in between Marg Helgenberger and Gary Dourdan. The credit font has also been changed from Impact to Times New Roman and shots have been swapped around.
  • Before his murder, Vernon Woods made a reference to the McMartin preschool trial.
  • At the rave Grissom mentions Teenage Wasteland.  Warrick responds "Who?" To which Grissom replies, "Yeah." The song "Baba O'Riley" was performed by The Who which has a line "Teenage Wasteland." This scene may be where the CSI:NY producers gained the idea for the theme song of the spin-off series, which uses The Who song.  
  • It is revealed in this episode that Grissom rides roller coasters to cope with bad results in cases.

Trivia

  • Amy Carlson, who played Kate Armstrong, might be most well-known for playing Linda Reagan on another CBS show, Blue Bloods.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 1
PilotCool ChangeCrate 'n BurialPledging Mr. JohnsonFriends & LoversWho Are You?Blood DropsAnonymousUnfriendly SkiesSex, Lies and LarvaeI-15 MurdersFahrenheit 932BoomTo Halve and to HoldTable StakesToo Tough to DieFace Lift$35K O.B.O.Gentle, GentleSounds of SilenceJustice is ServedEvaluation DayStrip Strangler


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