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Grace Note is the eighth episode in Season Two of CSI: Vegas.

Csi vegas lg
Grace Note
Csi vegas
Season 2
Number 8
Writer Erika Vazquez
Director Gina Lamar
Original Airdate December 8, 2022
Navigation
Previous Episode: Burned (CSI:Vegas)
Next Episode: In the White Room

Synopsis[]

Catherine's frustration intensifies when a lead suspect in Grace's disappearance is found murdered. The team exhausts all their skills to figure out who killed the suspect and if his death will lead them to Grace.

Plot[]

Victim: Grace Huang (missing)

On the case: Entire team

Grace Huang, Catherine’s protégé and employee at the Eclipse, is still missing. Following a lead from friend Jodi Wallach, Catherine travels to Belarus to follow up. She tracks down Mikel Koslov and accuses him of covering up Grace’s murder. When he denies any involvement, she uses the FBI file on him to blackmail him into cooperating and takes him back to Vegas.

Catherine reveals to the district attorney that Mikel has an alibi for the day of Grace’s disappearance; however, he claims to know every detail regarding her death, including where the body is located. Mikel asks for immunity, as he can provide information on the dangerous people he works with. The district attorney refuses to grant the protection Mikel needs without his talking first. Suddenly, Mikel starts having a coughing fit, with foam coming out of his mouth. Catherine tries to get Mikel to talk before he’s taken to the hospital; if he dies, his secret dies with him. She’s unsuccessful, and she runs down to the office lobby to meet up with the paramedic. However, when she reaches the elevator doors, she learns that Mikel escaped. He used Alka-Seltzer to create the foam in his mouth and attacked the paramedic when he was alone with him.

Mikel is soon found in a stash house in Henderson; he’s been shot once through the neck with a large-caliber bullet. The stash house is full of forged artwork which is now covered in blood spatter. In an adjacent room is the body of Anton Koslov, Mikel’s nephew. Anton has a long rap sheet that includes counterfeiting and forgery.

While it’s possible the murders could be a coincidence, the thought is that everything is connected to Grace’s disappearance. Anton’s widow, Katya, explains to Catherine that Mikel bought knockoff items and enlisted Anton’s help in making them look authentic. However, she doesn’t know what Mikel was involved in. She also doesn’t recognize Grace from the photo Catherine shows her.

Folsom photographs a reproduction of Van Gogh’s “Lilies in a Jug”; the corner of the artwork has blood spatter on it, and he recovers a .41 caliber bullet from the frame. He also scoops up cigarette ash from the floor at the base of the painting, and a bloody napkin found nearby indicates that the killer tried to clean up the mess. The hope is that the killer touched the napkin or the painting with his bare hand.

The blood on the painting is determined to be Mikel’s. More interestingly, however, is the fact that a type of bacteria was found on the painting consistent with human spinal fluid; the assumption is that Mikel’s spinal fluid sprayed onto the painting when he was shot. Beau points out that the type of bacteria can also be found in soil and canal water. He relays to Allie and Folsom that only Mikel’s DNA was found on the napkin, but soon finds out that the dust on the napkin is flecked with gold. The dust contains traces of quartz silica and alunite, meaning that the killer and/or his napkin was near a gold mine. Chris, meanwhile, determines that the ashes at the scene are from a Villa Clara cigar.

While going through Mikel’s wallet, Catherine finds a business card for Rick Aziz, the COO of the Eclipse. She explains to Max that Rick was one of the board members who kicked her out when she started looking for Grace. Beau interrupts with the news about the gold mine. He explains that the napkin the killer used came from Chet’s Gas & Goods, a struggling chain that has only one location in Vegas. That location is near one of the city’s gold mines, and Catherine and Folsom go to check it out.

At the now-abandoned gas station, Catherine finds a two-pronged lock on a manhole cover; the lock matches the odd-looking key that was found on Mikel’s person. She and Folsom realize that Mikel was the one who went to the gas station after he escaped custody; they’ve been chasing him the whole time, not his killer. When the manhole cover is removed, Grace’s mummified body is lying at the bottom of the well.

In the morgue, Catherine goes through Grace’s belongings, finding a cochineal embedded in the treads of one of her sneakers. Unfortunately, the tiny insect is prevalent in the desert, which doesn’t narrow things down. Catherine is also having a hard time figuring out how the shard of tortoiseshell they found in the desert factors into the equation. She and Max determine that Mikel didn’t kill Grace; instead, he was asked to move the body from the desert when Catherine started her investigation. Instead of disposing the body, he kept it in the crypt as leverage, and he likely went back to the gas station to make sure she was still there.

During the autopsy, Sonya pulls a .41 caliber bullet out of Grace; it’s the same caliber as the bullet pulled from the painting’s frame, and it matches the caliber pulled from Anton. It’s later determined that the striations on the bullets match, meaning the same gun was used to kill both Grace and the Koslovs. Sonya also pulls a piece of paper from Grace’s esophagus; she left a clue behind before she died.

Chris processes the numerous burner phones found in Anton’s stash house and finds Mikel’s prints on one phone in particular. The phone’s call log indicates that Mikel called Rick Aziz multiple times in the days leading up to his death. When questioned by Allie and Catherine, Rick admits that he was in constant contact with Mikel; his job, he explains, is to make the Eastern European whales happy. He called Mikel at 3:00 AM on the day of his murder, but denies that it’s anything suspicious. Rick denies Catherine access to the cigar box on his desk and also refuses to produce his registered .41 Magnum handgun without a warrant. The interrogation is interrupted by the arrival of Catherine's friend, Jodi. It turns out that Rick personally called her in, revealing that Mikel was angry because someone at the Eclipse tipped him off about his whereabouts in Belarus. This is a violation of client privacy, and Rick explains that whoever is responsible will be fired; it seems that he already knows Jodi is the culprit. Rick ends the questioning without the presence of his attorneys.

Beau processes the paper from Grace’s esophagus, but it only contains a bunch of squiggles. The indentations from the page before reveal a phone number, which Catherine frantically points out is her own. When she examines the paper, she rotates it a certain way to reveal a drawing—Van Gogh’s “Lilies in a Jug.” She informs the team that the original painting is hanging at the Eclipse, which means Grace was relaying a message about it. The thought is that the real painting is about to be stolen so that Anton’s replica could be hung in its place. Folsom recalls that they found spinal fluid bacteria on the painting, and Allie remarks that the particular type of bacteria is also used in fine art. When the frame is removed, Catherine sees that the painting is faded everywhere except where the frame had been. It’s impossible that the forged artwork faded that quickly, which leads the team to one conclusion—the painting they’ve been processing is a real Van Gogh.

Catherine heads to the Eclipse and informs Rick that the painting hanging in the Eclipse’s gallery is a forgery. She goes the extra step of taking every painting with her to verify their authenticity. Rick isn’t happy that the federal government will now be investigating his casino, but Catherine reminds him that his biggest whale (Mikel) and one of his employees (Grace) both died because of something nefarious. She spots a security camera and has the footage sent back to the lab. Footage shows a previously unseen angle from the night Grace was taken. An SUV is seen rolling up, but the rest of the footage has been deleted. In another shot, Frank, the casino’s head of security, is seen on his phone eight minutes before the abduction; he’s smoking a cigar and is brandishing a high-caliber handgun.

Art forgery expert Phyllis Dupont confirms that the “Lilies in a Jug” in Anton Koslov’s possession is the real deal. The painting hanging in the Eclipse, on the other hand, is a forgery in the original frame. While Phyllis is unable to find any tortoiseshell in the frame, she does find a polyethylene fiber inconsistent with Van Gogh’s era. She marvels at Anton’s near-perfect forgery, even down to the cochineal shells he ground up to make one of the dyes.

Catherine recalls the cochineal shell found in the sole of Grace’s shoe and begins putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Her belief is that Grace stumbled on to a forgery in progress, which is why she sketched the painting in her notebook. Records show that before the Eclipse purchased the forgery, it was owned by a holding company controlled by one of Mikel’s drug associates. Mikel was already in possession of the original painting and sold the forgery to the Eclipse, with Rick okaying the sale. The belief is that Rick knew he was buying a forgery. Catherine explains that Mikel couldn’t just deposit drug money into the bank, as it would leave behind a paper trail. The Eclipse, who wanted Mikel’s business, stepped in to assist, buying the artwork at a huge markup. They then let Mikel gamble the profits at high-limit tables and let him claim his dirty drug money as winnings. In other words, Mikel laundered his drug money with help from Rick. Furthermore, the art sale goes on the books, but the art never actually changes hands; Rick commissions a forgery for the gallery while getting to keep a cut of the money. The thought is that the Eclipse may have more paintings obtained the same way.

A bullet test fired from Frank’s gun is a match to the bullets extracted earlier from the frame and the dead bodies. Additionally, ash from Frank’s cigar matches the ash found at the crime scene. Frank refuses to say anything when questioned and asks for a lawyer. While the physical evidence points to Frank, Catherine believes that he was operating under orders from someone else. On her way to confront Rick, she runs into Jodi, who has been fired for divulging information about Mikel’s whereabouts in Belarus. Catherine apologizes and offers her support; however, during the conversation, Catherine spots a compact in Jodi’s personal belongings. The compact, which is made of tortoiseshell, has a chip and a crack in it.

Catherine goes to Max with this finding; she’s sure the tortoiseshell found in Grace’s grave in the desert came from Jodi’s compact. She now realizes that Jodi was in a similar position as Rick—she knew Mikel, had access to the whales at the Eclipse, and was the one who commissioned the forgeries. Grace saw something and got killed for it. Jodi also had Grace’s body moved because Catherine asked for the security footage and knew Catherine was hot on Mikel’s trail.

While going through the casino’s surveillance footage, Chris sees that footage from the utility room behind the Van Gogh exhibit was also deleted on the day Grace disappeared. Something happened in the room that Jodi wanted Frank to hide. The team processes the utility room, where Catherine finds a pink hair consistent with Anton Koslov’s hair. She also spots a red stain on the floor that tests negative for blood; the determination is that it’s the dye from the cochineal beetle—which Grace stepped on. Tortoiseshell on the ground and a polyethylene drop cloth also match the physical evidence from the case.

In interrogation, Catherine presents the facts to Jodi. While serving Mikel drinks in the poker room, Grace overheard him talking about his Van Gogh. She decided to look for answers herself, where she stumbled on Anton and Jodi making a private deal. Grace made a sound, which alerted Jodi and forced her to hide the forgery with the polyethylene drop cloth. Knowing that Grace had seen too much, Jodi called Frank. She dropped her compact in the process, a piece of which transferred to her sleeve and ended up in Grace's grave in the desert. Jodi denies everything, but Catherine informs her that her DNA was found on the drop cloth. Now caught, Jodi laments that she was passed over for a promotion time and time again, so she decided to create her own opportunities. She says that what she was doing was a victimless crime until Grace started asking questions. Catherine tells her to remember that while she serves a life sentence in federal prison.

With Grace’s disappearance and murder now solved, Catherine hands her ID badge over to Max. She says that she needs to figure out what’s next in her life, whether it’s taking a trip with her daughter or even returning to the board of the Eclipse (Rick has asked her back for optics reasons). On her way out, Catherine fills Grace’s mother in about the case, giving both women some peace of mind. Grace’s mother points out that Catherine is the only one who cared enough to ask questions. The statement resonates with Catherine, who decides to continue working as a CSI in order to help find justice for the other Grace Huangs of the world.

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[]

  • Sherri Saum as Jodi Wallach
  • Sumalee Montano as Jennifer Huang
  • T.J. Ramini as Rick Aziz
  • Imelda Corcoran as Phyllis Dupont
  • Sara Amini as Sonya Nikolayevich
  • Nanrisa Lee as Lauren Tate
  • Veronika Dash as Katya
  • Nikola Djuricko as Alexander Novik
  • Tony Winters as Frank
  • Sue Zen Chew as Grace Huang
  • Goran Ivanovski as Mikel Koslov

Music[]

  • Kalychanka by Pawa
  • The Nothing by SWARM

See Also[]

  • Category:Images from Grace Note
CSI:Vegas Season 2
She's GoneThe Painted ManStory of a GunKoalaIn Harm's WayThere's the RubBurnedGrace NoteIn the White RoomEyeballsTrinketWhen the Dust SettlesBonedThird Time's the CharmAshes, AshesWe All Fall DownThe Promise


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