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Grissom's Divine Comedy
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Season 8
Number 12
Writer Jacqueline Hoyt
Director Richard J. Lewis
Original Airdate April 8, 2008
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Grissom's Divine Comedy is the twelfth episode in season eight of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

Grissom and his team battle the flu when they are called upon by D.D.A. Madeline Klein to investigate the deaths of several key witnesses for a grand jury case against a dangerous Las Vegas gang.

Plot

Victim: Don Cook (deceased)

On the case: entire team

Deputy District Attorney Madeline Klein is on the phone with Ecklie, telling him that their investigation into La Tijera, a local gang has been compromised. Don Cook, a witness to one of the murders committed by gang member Emilio Alvarado, has been killed himself, his car having been set on fire. Madeline meets Brass at the scene and is shown that Don was shot before he and his car were set on fire. She asks for Grissom personally despite that the fact that he is at home with the flu. Meanwhile, Grissom gets a call from Ecklie, which he promptly ignores.

The following day, Catherine, Greg, Nick and Warrick are at the crime scene. Madeline is still unhappy that Grissom refuses to leave home and show up to the scene. Catherine is his eyes and ears on the case, filling him in on every detail and e-mailing him photos of the scene. She sums things up - on the side of the highway, there's a burned car with the burned victim twenty feet away. The victim also suffered a gunshot wound to the back. The fire department arrived quickly; however, since the fire was so hot, they had to use foam to put it out, which destroys evidence. Finally, the debris path starts approximately 100 yards from where the vehicle came to rest.

Greg, who also has a cold, theorizes that based on the debris pattern, the victim was driving the car when the fire started. Nick, who seems to be in the beginning stages of a cold, tells Catherine that there aren't any gasoline pour patterns on the car and that it seems the fire started in the engine compartment. On the rear bumper, he clears debris to reveal an "LAT" tag, which represents the La Tijera.

Madeline shows up to Grissom's apartment unannounced and fills him in on the case. She plays for him a DVD of Don's interrogation from a few weeks ago. In it, he admits to having seen Emilio leaving the house of gang leader Little Gordo. Little Gordo was found dead with "LAT" carved into his cheek, a signature of La Tijera's #1, El Matocho. This was enough to not only connect Emilio to the murder, but also to identify him as the man in charge. Emilio was caught in a gang sweep the following day and got 30 days for violating his parole; the police thought he was another lowlife. He's now scheduled to be released in 52 hours and the only witness to his crime is dead. The CSIs need to prove that Emilio ordered a hit on Don.

Brass speaks with Don's wife, Cody. She was aware that Don was going to testify in front of a grand jury, but she was against it. However, Don found out about another one of the gang's victims and wanted to go through with testifying. Cody reveals that she told her parents and hairdresser what Don was going to do and Brass asks for their phone numbers.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins shows Catherine that Don's burns are concentrated on his face, hands, knees and feet - injuries consistent with an engine fire. The bullet removed from the body is a .38 caliber, and the doc says that the gunshot, not the fire, was the cause of death.

In the CSI garage, Nick is going over the burnt wreckage when Greg walks in to assist. Greg informs him that they need to figure out if Don was shot before he got in the car, while he was in the car or after he got out of it. Nick rules out the "before," as there was no blood trail at the crime scene. Finding blood on the burnt drivers seat will also be difficult. Greg finds skin on the seat belt buckle, and they conclude that someone who was shot and bleeding wouldn't take time to buckle their seat belt, which eliminates the first scenario. Since there's no evidence of anyone else being in the car, they figure that Don was shot while he was engulfed in flames after exiting his burning car. Nick finds a piece of burned cloth under the hood and wonders if the same person who tampered with the car also followed Don until the job was done.

Grissom and Madeline inform the grand jury that their key witness was murdered. They don't know who killed him and they can't reveal what Don was going to testify. One juror says that they've been locked in the courtroom for ten hours a day, so La Tijera doesn't know they're being investigated. Grissom, however, reveals that La Tijera's signature was found at the crime scene, leading several jurors to ask off the case for fear that they could be the next victim.

It's Brass' turn to visit Grissom's apartment now. There, Brass tells Grissom that Don was originally reluctant to testify against La Tijera until Brass showed him a picture of a teenage girl they tortured and murdered. Brass promised Don that if he testified, he and his family would be protected. However, Don soon reversed his decision and two days later, he was dead. Brass laments the fact that he couldn't protect Don like he said he would.

In the CSI garage, Warrick takes over for an under-the-weather Nick and continues processing Don's car. In the glove compartment, he finds a .38 caliber handgun embedded in the melted plastic. The gun is registered to a Richard O'Malley, who turns out to be Don's father-in-law. Brass pays him a visit and finds out that he gave Don the gun because Don wanted protection. A flashback shows Richard giving him the gun and telling him that it has no safety on it. Richard tells Brass that he begged his son-in-law not to testify.

Through testing, Greg determines that the gun fired on its own when the car fire's temperature reached 400 degrees Celsius. The trajectory of the gun lined up with Don's body as he tried to exit the vehicle. Grissom and Madeline present this finding to the judge; however, they still don't know who set the fire. Emilio can't be charged because any one of the gang members could have painted the gang's tag on the rear bumper. They are denied a warrant to search Emilio's apartment on the mere grounds that they're trying to keep him from getting released from jail. Grissom shows the judge the photo of Little Gordo with "LAT" carved into his cheek, and they know Emilio was seen leaving the house the night of the murder. They ask for the clothes Emilio was wearing the night of the murder and convince the judge that the grand jury will be on board with this.

Grissom and Warrick visit Emilio's apartment; however, before they can get in, an explosion knocks them back. Once the fire is taken care of, the two CSIs search the apartment. The place reeks of sulfur and there are butane cans all over the floor. Burn patterns on the wall indicate that the perpetrator sprayed butane all over everything. Warrick finds the point of origin along with a shard of green plastic. There are also nails scattered in several places. Grissom notes that sugar, butane, nails and egg whites mixed in a soda bottle will make a crude but effective bomb. They guess that they were being watched and that the bombmaker was looking to destroy more than evidence.

Several La Tijera gang members that were nearby are lined up against a wall, their pockets emptied. Grissom smells each one to see if he can get a whiff of butane. He comes across a gang member who has a lighter amongst his belongings. When his pockets are turned out, Grissom and Warrick find that they were full of sugar. The gang member, Raphael Gomez, is arrested.

At the station, Brass interrogates Raphael while Madeline watches from behind the glass. Raphael plays dumb and says that he has a mental illness, which is setting things on fire. When he threatens to set the "lawyer lady's" house on fire, Madeline enters the room and tells him that all his fellow gang members will hear that he ratted Emilio out. She and Brass leave the room; in the hallway, Brass tells her that she's not helping matters. Madeline eventually reveals to Brass that she took Don to Little Gordo's house to help verify his story. All a gang member had to do was trail her back to the courthouse and watch her enter with 18 escorted jurors. This is how they became aware of the grand jury.

Hodges informs Nick that the tag on the car's rear bumper was actually green mixed with cerulean blue, something a gang member would likely not take the time to do. Meanwhile, Warrick visits the prison where Emilio is being held and processes the clothes he was wearing when Little Gordo was killed, finding that the boots were cleaned with bleach. He then checks Emilio's cell, but finds nothing to incriminate him. There, Emilio gives the story of how he got the nickname "El Matocho" - he killed eight of his family members with a machete. He got the name from the Spanish words "mata" (to kill) and "ocho" (eight).

In the layout room, Greg, Grissom and Nick go over the cases Emilio is a suspect in: the murder of Little Gordo, the murder of Don and the order to set fire to his own apartment. La Tijera is responsible for all three crimes. Nick relays the information about the tag used on the car and says that it was an oil-based paint, not spray paint. Grissom examines a photo of the tag and notes that the "L" looks like it was stenciled. The tagger then painted over it a second time to make it look freehand. Nick takes a closer look at the photo using a magnifying glass and sees that the tag has brush strokes around it, and gangs don't use paintbrushes.

Nick and Brass visit Richard O'Malley again. While Brass questions Cody, Nick searches the garage, noting that Richard paints and sells handmade birdhouses. He takes a crate from the garage to gather prints and tells Richard that he will have to be fingerprinted to exclude him as a suspect. Outside, Cody tells Brass that she wasn't in the car with Don because they had had an argument, which caused Don to drive away. Brass tells her that her fingerprints will be needed, as well.

In the lab, Nick goes through Richard's personal belongings and finds a stencil in the shape of an "L" with green paint all around it. The stencil contains Richard's prints. Furthermore, the paint from one of the brushes is a match to the paint from Don's car. In the interrogation room, Nick tells Richard that his daughter said he disappeared into the garage after dinner that night, which is when he stuck a rag in the engine between the catalytic converter and the heat shield. Richard, in handcuffs, refuses to say anything. On his way to be processed, Cody confronts her father and yells at him, accusing him of killing Don so he could take over his business and make some money.

In his office, Grissom continues to go over the court personnel files looking for the leak. He tells Catherine that 90 minutes after the warrant was issued for Emilio's apartment, the place went up in flames. Everybody involved in the judiciary process has been cleared; the only people Grissom hasn't looked at yet are the grand jurors and Madeline.

Catherine provides Archie with a list of the grand jurors and has him check their outgoing phone calls during the time frame between the warrant for the apartment and the explosion. They find that juror Marie Leahy is receiving text messages containing a phone number from a disposable cell phone and calling that number the next day. Grissom and Madeline talk to Marie. She tells them that she was approached by a woman with short brown hair who knew everything about her wrongfully incarcerated brother. The gang got the brother released from jail in exchange for information on the case.

With hours to go until Emilio is released, Nick continues to try to figure out how information was relayed to him. Warrick tells him that there's no way for that to happen, as Emilio is in isolation with a hand-picked guard. However, he remembers that Emilio was reading something when he visited him earlier.

Grissom goes to the prison and asks to see all of the books that Emilio has checked out. He sees that every book has a page torn out and finds out that Emilio still has The Inferno in his possession. Emilio is just about to be escorted out of his cell when Grissom and the guard pay him a visit. Grissom inspects the book and comes across a wrinkled page that smells of urine. He concludes that Emilio was using his urine to write messages on the pages. The book would then be returned to the library and checked out by another inmate. That inmate would rip the page out and give it to a visitor to pass along the message. Emilio is placed back in his cell.

The message written in The Inferno read "CARVE MK FOR ME. SEND A PHOTO." Madeline thanks Grissom for his efforts and tells him that he's the only man who's never let her down. Grissom returns to his apartment just as his cell phone rings. He answers it and laughs; the viewer can assume that Sara is on the other end.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Archie Kao as Archie Johnson
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Larry Mitchell as Officer Mitchell
  • Bonnie Bedelia as DDA Madeline Klein
  • Jack McGee as Richard O'Malley
  • Natasha Gregson Wagner as Cody Cook
  • David Burke as Don Cook
  • Robert LaSardo as Emilio Alvarado
  • Dave Shalansky as Tim O'Shea
  • Van Epperson as Judge
  • Ashley Sherman as Marie Leahy
  • Andrew Hawkes as Ron Penn
  • Daniel Louis Rivas as Raphael Gomez
  • Toya A. Brown as Juror #1
  • Kim Delgado as Discharge Guard
  • Andy Forrest as Juror #2

Episode Title

  • In the episode, gang leader Emilio Alvarado is found to be passing messages from inside prison through library books, one of which is The Divine Comedy

Quotes

Hodges: (after Nick coughs) You know, in China people wear masks when they're sick. It's considered impolite to infect your coworkers.
Nick: Maybe you should go work in China.
Hodges: Maybe you should wear a mask.

Goofs

  • When Warrick examines the burnt car and discovers the gun you can see a shiny earring in his left ear in the close-up only to discover it is gone in the next scene.
  • When Warrick and Grissom head up the stairs to search the gang-leader's apartment, Warrick goes over the banister twice. First immediately after the explosion, then the camera pans out and he goes over again.

Trivia

  • William Petersen's dog, Bruno, made his second appearance on the show. The first one was on the episode "Leaping Lizards."
  • This is the first episode to be written and taped since the ending of the 2007 WGA Strike.
  • Emilio Alvarado's actor Robert LaSardo is well known in the CSI franchise for playing one of the greatest villains of CSI:Miami, Memmo Fierro, the leader of biggest Latin gang of Miami, the Mala Noche and the killer of Horatio Caine's fianceé/wife and Eric Delko's older sister, Marisol Delko and personal archenemy of both (Horatio Caine and Eric Delko).
  • Jack McGee played Richard O'Malley in the episode. He also appeared as the road manager in season 3's Abra-Cadaver and had minor roles in episodes of both CSI: Miami and CSI:NY.
  • When talking to Grissom about his team, Deputy District Attorney Madeline Klein brings up their checkered past:
    • Warrick got mixed up with a crooked judge (the story arc ending in the season 1 episode Pledging Mr. Johnson).
    • Greg hitting a civilian while on duty (Fannysmackin', season 7).
    • Catherine lying about being at a crime scene (Weeping Willows, season 5).
    • Nick being suspected of killing his hooker girlfriend (Boom, season 1).

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 8
Dead DollA La CartGo to HellThe Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp The Chick Chop Flick ShopWho and WhatWhere and WhyGoodbye and Good LuckYou Kill MeCockroachesLying Down With DogsBullGrissom's Divine ComedyA Thousand Days On EarthDrops OutThe Theory of EverythingTwo And A Half DeathsFor Gedda
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