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Heavy Metal is the ninth episode in Season Three of CSI: Vegas.

Csi vegas lg
Heavy Metal
Csi vegas
Season 3
Number 9
Writer Jason Tracey
Director Tom Camarda
Original Airdate May 12, 2024
Navigation
Previous Episode: The Artist is Present
Next Episode: Tunnel Vision (Vegas)

Synopsis[]

The CSI team investigates the death of a local antique shop owner who died from an apparent gunshot wound that is missing one important clue—the bullet. Also, Max makes an important breakthrough in the ongoing case with "Ocho" from the robotics factory.

Plot[]

Victim: Neil Dellino (deceased)

On the case: Allie Rajan, Beau Finado, Catherine Willows, Chris Park, Joshua Folsom, Maxine Roby, Penny Gill, Det. Serena Chavez

A man is seen staggering down the middle of a busy road holding his side. Passing motorists honk their horns, yelling at him to get out of the way. When a party bus comes to a screeching halt to prevent an accident, one of the bus's occupants confronts the man. The man exclaims that he's been shot before dying in the street.

Coroner Jack Nikolayevich looks over the body in autopsy. The approximately 65-year-old victim presents with a ballistic entry to the abdomen, which Jack guesses came from a 9mm caliber weapon. There's no exit wound to be found, but more interestingly, there's no bullet showing up on the x-ray.

Allie and Penny are perplexed by the findings, noting the rather ragged entry wound of the missing bullet. Fingerprints and gunshot residue will be hard to recover due to the EMTs overuse of disinfectant around the wound. A gelatinous substance around the wound comes back as tapioca starch and brown sugar, which Penny recognizes as being the ingredients in boba tea. There's no bullet, no ID, and no crime scene, seemingly leaving the team in the dark. However, there are at least two types of glass ground into the victim's palm, one of which tests positive for lead. Penny notes that there's an antique store just down the block from where the victim was found, making it likely that this is where the glass (and victim) originated from.

Penny's hunch is correct, as the antique store, owned by a Neil Dellino, is found partially ransacked; broken glass and a locked cash register lie on the floor. Allie allows Penny to run point on the case, as she found the crime scene and has to practice if she wants to level up as a CSI. Scratch marks on the cash register lead Penny to think that someone tried to jimmy it open with a screwdriver in a failed robbery attempt. She theorizes that someone shot Neil from the outside, then tried to unsuccessfully get the register to open. Neil then waited for the perpetrator to leave before looking for help. However, Allie notes the amount of blood spatter at the scene along with tiny bits of flesh, something that's inconsistent with Penny's theory.

Neil's daughter, Shawna, and her husband, Jim, are both devastated by the news of Neil's death and say that he had no enemies. Penny finds a ceramic cactus that was housing a security camera. When Shawna tries viewing the security feed to hopefully get a glimpse of the killer, she sees her father get shot followed by the feed going blank. Det. Chavez takes a closer look at the video and sees that two vintage guitars that were present at the time of the recording are now gone. Shawna believes that the perpetrator also took some Elvis Presley memorabilia, as well, and Det. Chavez offers to scour the local pawnshops.

The missing memorabilia is located and dusted for fingerprints; however, the prints yield no matches in AFIS. Penny finds sweat on the cash register that tests positive for cannabis, while Beau runs an oily residue that he recognizes as being chemically equivalent to popcorn butter used by movie theaters. This makes Jim Vikner, Neil's son-in-law, the prime suspect, as he works as a movie theater manager.

Under interrogation, Jim denies stealing from his father-in-law's business, but Det. Chavez reads his rap sheet, which includes petty theft, grand theft, and receiving stolen goods. He denies killing Neil, claiming that when he got to the store, the window was already broken. Neil then stumbled out and was clearly in pain; however, Jim decided to use this to his advantage and help himself to the merchandise. Jim says that all he did was flip the guitars and some other "junk" for a few bucks, a statement that's backed up when his hands test negative for gunshot residue. He's arrested for grand larceny, but nothing else.

As Penny stands outside the crime scene digitally mapping the store, she overhears Shawna telling someone that she's having a hard time getting people to give her father's eulogy. The man she's speaking to is her godfather and Neil's friend, Lou Shelbourne. Penny speaks privately with Lou, surprised that someone as popular as Neil isn't getting a rousing send-off. Lou explains that he and Neil used to have a band in the '80s and that Neil had more fans than friends. The band broke up when Neil decided he wanted to start a family, but Lou says that he still gets calls to perform some gigs. However, these days, he spends his time as a roadie, helping out old friends in need.

Allie, Chris and Penny set up a grid inside the store to aid in processing the evidence. Back at the lab, they discover that the majority of items on the floor—including a tie clip, a thimble, and cuff links—were all discovered in the same row. The only thing not found in that row was the broken glass found near the area where Neil was shot. Chris goes through the security footage and sees that the cuckoo clocks on the wall were all working at the time of the shooting; however, they were all inoperable when the store was being processed. Finding the shooter on camera turns out to be impossible, as they managed to short-circuit the camera before entering the store, frying the coaxial cable in the process.

While conversing with Jack, Penny realizes that she's been looking at the case backwards, particularly the entry wound to Neil's abdomen. Further analysis of the wound shows that it's actually an exit wound, and she figures that they're not even looking at a bullet. She pieces together the fried electronics, the stopped clocks, and the lack of gunshot residue and forms a conclusion.

Penny has Beau build a large electromagnet to help demonstrate what happened in this case. She gathers the team and shows them that a small metal ball is the murder weapon. This tiny ball is actually a neodymium magnet, one of the strongest magnets on Earth; it contains a powerful magnetic field that can attract small matter over a large range. The more force behind the magnet, the more likely it can be used to kill someone. However, for this to work, someone would've had to have implanted the magnet inside Neil. Penny explains that someone actually fed Neil the magnet, having slipped it in with the boba tea he was drinking. Since the balls of tapioca were the same size as the magnet, Neil wouldn't have known what he was ingesting. On top of the damaged security footage and nonfunctioning clocks, Penny also believes that this would account for the inside-out damage to Neil's abdomen and the extra blood and viscera at the scene. Furthermore, magnetic waves can penetrate a brick wall, which would explain the broken window. Her theory is proven correct when the electromagnet sucks out the magnetic ball she placed inside of a gelatin dummy, leaving behind the same exit wound pattern found on Neil. Penny has found the murder method, now she needs the murder weapon.

Allie, Folsom and Penny head back to the crime scene. Using the location where Neil was hit and the direction the metal items were pulled by the magnet, they're able to determine that the electromagnet was set up just outside the store. Outside, they find tire tracks from a vehicle with a wide wheel base, likely a truck. Folsom identifies a blotch on the ground as chewing tobacco (dip), as it's located right where the driver of the truck would've been sitting. DNA from the tobacco might lead the team to the killer.

The DNA comes back to Lou Shelbourne, who comes to the station for some informal questioning. He's presented with the evidence against him—the chewing tobacco, the tire tracks from a truck that appears to have been weighed down by something heavy, and the fact that he started brining Neil boba tea a few weeks back. Det. Chavez mentions that the magnet was the murder weapon and that, as a roadie, Lou has access to several pieces of music equipment that contain magnets, as well as the copper wire needed to build an electromagnet. Neil dismisses this evidence as circumstantial and leaves the questioning session.

While Folsom and Det. Chavez were keeping Lou occupied, Chris and Penny went down to the parking garage to check out Lou's truck and find the magnet sucked out of Neil's body. Penny searches the area where the magnet should've ended up, but comes up empty. Their search is cut short when Lou enters the parking garage and heads towards his truck. As he drives away, Chris notices the left taillight flickering and tells Det. Chavez to give chase.

Lou is pulled over just a short distance from the police station after making an un-signaled right turn. Chris explains that the left taillight is flickering because it's damaged, meaning that there's something lodged in the right one. Sure enough, Penny pulls the bloody magnet from the right taillight. Lou immediately asks for a lawyer. Penny confronts him and concludes that while Neil was ready to give up the spotlight of a music career, Lou wasn't. Neil ended their careers right as they were about to make it big, which is why Lou sought revenge. He had the equipment needed to make the electromagnet and slip the murder weapon into Neil's boba tea.

A flashback shows Lou sitting in his truck outside the antique store and activating the electromagnet, killing his friend. The magnet wedged itself in the right taillight before Lou drove away. He angrily explains that an agent reached out to him last month and offered both men a second chance—only Neil said no again. As he's hauled away in handcuffs, he laments the fact that his path to stardom and a different life was crushed because he chose the wrong partner.

Under Investigation: Truman Thomas

On the case: Catherine Willows, Chris Park, Joshua Folsom, Maxine Roby

Recapping the ongoing case, the murders of two employees at a robotics factory led the team to Valerie Hammond, who was present at the time of the first murder. However, Valerie was abducted by an unknown assailant and synthetic DNA was left behind at the scene. When Max tried decrypting the encrypted DNA, the case files started deleting themselves one by one. The DNA was malware, meaning the lab was hacked.

The lab is air-gapped, preventing any future cyberattacks and limiting the lab's digital contact with the outside world. Fortunately, the databases are still online, allowing the team to continue working. Max shows Folsom that she was able to reverse engineer the synthetic DNA, explaining that all one has to do is convert the DNA code into a string of As, Ts, Cs, and Gs, then let a DNA/RNA synthesizer input the message into the DNA. She celebrates by flexing her wrist in a circular motion, which Folsom laughingly calls the "Ocho Shuffle". When he mentions that "Ocho" the robot does the same motion when he starts up, Max comes to a realization.

It appears that Ocho was built to create synthetic DNA and that the malware used to destroy the files was likely cooked up by another robot at the factory. Everything ties back to the original case, which the FBI says has now gone cold. The perpetrator has to be tech-savvy enough to encode Trojan horse software into a blood sample, leading that team to think that Truman Thomas, the factory's owner, is responsible for everything.

With help from a computer expert at Quantico, Catherine and Folsom are able to locate Ocho's hard drive and access its start-up code. It turns out that the code frequently has two letters appearing over and over: 'T.T.' for Truman Thomas. The tech-savvy Truman may have mistakenly signed his own work, putting him right back in the team's crosshairs.

Truman voluntarily comes down to the station with his assistant and lawyer in tow. He's under the impression that he's there to answer questions about robotics; however, he's blindsided when the topics of murder and synthetic DNA are brought up. Keeping his cool, he explains that his company is going to "change the world" and that he just came from one of his labs in the process of doing just that. When told about the cybersecurity attack, he claims to have nothing to do with that, adding that he's a "concerned citizen". All other questions go unanswered for "security" reasons, and he tells Max and Catherine to direct everything else to his lawyer. After Truman and his team leave, Max spots a white residue on the floor where he was standing and collects it as evidence.

Max explains to Chris that they can use the XIRF to measure the crystal structures in the dust from Truman's shoe and the composition of that dust. From that, they can find out what's in the air at Truman's biotech firm and whether synthetic DNA is involved in any way. The composition comes back as tellurium, which can be used to synthesize DNA. It just so happens that Truman owns a tellurium mine, which could be where the synthetic DNA is being cooked up.

Knowing that Truman would want to stay out of the public eye with his gene editing, Max guesses that the billionaire is working out of a subterranean lab—like a "bat cave". Since the tellurium mine is just a few miles from the robotics factory, the thought is that the underground lab is there, as well. Max takes Catherine and Chris with her to the mine in the middle of the night. As they traverse through an office, Max finds tellurium residue on the floor and follows it to an elevator that takes them underground.

The trio splits up. As Catherine heads one way, Max and Chris go another, eventually finding themselves in a room where robots are mixing synthetic DNA. Unbeknownst to them, the robots are recording their every move. While Chris takes photos and video of everything, Max tries to call Catherine, but gets no signal. They're soon alerted to the sound of loud muffled explosions and try crouching out of sight. Soon thereafter, someone throws a gas canister into the room. Chris tries grabbing the canister and throwing it back out of the room, but burns his hand on it. With his other arm in a sling due to a previous attack, he's unable to cover his mouth and starts to choke on the gas.

Max calls Catherine in a panic, but someone comes up from behind and points a gun at her head. "Drop it, Dr. Roby," the man instructs her before taking her hostage. Max leaves a message on Catherine's voicemail describing her abductor before being taken away, while Chris is seen choking to death on the ground.

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[]

  • Sarah Gilman as Penny Gill
  • Joel Johnstone as Jack Nikolayevich
  • Don McManus as Lou Shelbourne
  • Owain Yeoman as Truman Thomas
  • Kyle Harris as Jim Vikner
  • Taylor Cooper as Shawna Dellino
  • Sarah Grace Hart as Sabrina
  • Reuben Grundy as Howard Rossman
  • Daniel W. Barringer as Neil Dellino

Music[]

  • Push to Start (ft. No/Me) by Noizu & Westend
  • Papá Loves Mambo by Blake Swann
  • Dust & Fire by HIPPØ & THE JACKET
  • Don't Cry for Me Argentina by Julie Covington
  • I Don't Need a Hero (Cody Crump Remix) by Danz CM & Computer Magic

Notes[]

  • Chris's arm is in a sling, the result of his being attacked by the killer in the previous episode The Artist is Present.
  • Allie recalls Grissom telling her about the case of the "meat bullet," referencing the Season Two episode of CSI:Crime Scene Investigation entitled Burden of Proof.
  • While working on Ocho, Folsom remarks that the team should be solving cybercrimes. This, of course, was the main premise of CSI:Cyber, the CSI spinoff that lasted two seasons.
  • With Allie concerned that her "partner plan" in the lab isn't working, Max tells her that the plan helped her from "becoming lunch in that basement." This is referring to the episode Health and Wellness, where she was trapped in a basement with a cannibal and eventually taken hostage.

See Also[]

CSI:Vegas Season 3
The Reaper
Scar Tissue
Rat Packed


See[]

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