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Lab Rats
Lab
Season 7
Number 20
Writer Sarah Goldfinger
Director Brad Tanenbaum
Original Airdate April 12, 2007
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Next Episode: Ending Happy

Lab Rats is the twentieth episode in Season Seven of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis[]

While the team members are out on cases and Grissom and Doc Robbins hunt for a rat that crawled out of a floater and escaped into the lab, Hodges gathers the other lab techs to take a look of their own on the evidence in the Miniature Killer case.

Plot[]

On a fact-finding mission: Archie Johnson, David Hodges, Henry Andrews, Mandy Webster, Wendy Simms

As the night shift at the lab begins, Grissom gives his team various assignments out in the field. Grissom, meanwhile, will be spending the night in autopsy with a body that was pulled out of Lake Mead.

Hodges texts his fellow lab techs—Archie, Henry and Mandy—telling them to meet him in Grissom's office, seemingly leaving Wendy out of the loop on purpose. He tells them that Grissom has been distracted recently because the Miniature Killer is still at large and implies that Grissom has asked the techs to go over the crime scene models with fresh sets of eyes. Hodges notes that "field guys deal with people, we deal with things," and convinces them that even if they can't find the killer, they can find the thing that links all four murders. "Tonight," Hodges adds, "we could be heroes."

The techs examine the crime scene models from the Izzy Delancey and Penny Garden murders, while Hodges briefs the other lab techs on the details of the two crimes:

Izzy Delancey scene: Izzy was a washed-up rock star, bashed over the head in his kitchen with a rolling pin. He had no known stalkers, and there were no signs of forced entry at the scene. Sex and money were possible motives, but every suspect was exonerated. Based on the detail of the model, the killer would've had to have taken weeks to build it, which suggests premeditation. Izzy's own blood was used in the model, so the killer stuck around to match the blood pool at the scene. The crime went unsolved.

Penny Garden scene: While drinking and cutting coupons during a storm, the elderly Penny was thrown through a glass window in her house. Suspects included her junkie nephew and drug-dealing neighbor; neither suspect had ties to Izzy. The model wasn't left at the scene; instead, it was delivered anonymously to Penny's doorstep the following day. Evidence shows that the killer planned on having Penny die in her chair. Knowing that Penny liked to drink her cherry liquor when clipping coupons, the killer laced the drink with liquid nicotine, which sent her into convulsions. Those convulsions ended up sending her through the window. The killer felt forced to match the model to the murder, which explains why it was delivered late.

Wendy shows up at Grissom's office and asks what's going on, as Hodges' phone has been constantly ringing off the hook with no answer. The techs gather in front of the models to shield them, then head back to their respective labs. Hodges tries playing off the clandestine meeting, but Wendy knows that something is up.

Nick and Warrick arrive from their crime scene and provide Mandy and Hodges with mountains of evidence to process. As Hodges is thus occupied, Wendy joins Archie and Henry in looking over the file for Raymundo Suarez's murder at the chicken factory:

Raymundo Suarez scene: Raymundo was found electrocuted in a stun bath at his place of employment, the Mannleigh Chicken plant. The death looked like an industrial accident until a model of the scene was discovered. Despite Raymundo having an affair with his wife, owner Ike Manneligh was exonerated. Ernie Dell, a co-worker of Raymundo's, then became the main focus, as he was spotted on tape in a PSA made by Izzy against the company. A search of Ernie's house revealed that he was really into model trains and had gruesome miniatures all over his layout. Some of the molds recovered matched pieces from Izzy's model. Ernie was also caught on tape delivering Penny's model crime scene to her house. All of this culminated with Ernie confessing to the murders and killing himself on tape while Grissom watched.

Hodges arrives, pulls Wendy aside, and tells her that Grissom asked him to gather a group of techs to examine the evidence; however, he deliberately didn't ask her to join the group because he knew she would try to take over. Wendy replies that Hodges doesn't like her because she stands up to him, and Hodges accuses her of thinking that she's too cool for the other techs.

Hodges, Henry and Wendy then examine the murder of Barbara Tallman:

Barbara Tallman scene: The model of Barbara's condo was sent to the lab and addressed to Grissom; it remained unopened on his desk while he was away on sabbatical. However, that wasn't the only anomaly: the model was sent before Barbara's death actually took place. Barbara was identified as the intended victim, and she had a routine where she would take a nap on the couch every afternoon. Thinking the the killer was going to suffocate Barbara with a pillow, the police set up a sting to catch the killer in the act. However, the killer actually rigged a timer to the fireplace that dropped charcoal onto the flames. Carbon monoxide filled the apartment, killing the undercover officer and Barbara's cat. Ernie's son, Lionel, was interrogated. It was revealed that not only did he know Barbara, but he also had a connection to the other victims (through Ernie) and was known for being good with his hands. Lionel, however, surprised Sara and Sofia by telling them that his parents took in dozens of foster children, any of who could be responsible for the murders.

After Archie leaves for the weekend, Hodges tells the remaining techs that the only connection found between the four victims is that they all received calls from the same phone number. The calls all came from a disposable phone that had additional minutes purchased on it with Ernie's credit card after his death. When Hodges can't find evidence that the CSIs called the number, Wendy calls the number using Hodges' cell phone. As the techs wait with bated breath, the call goes to voice mail, Hodges hangs up the phone and sarcastically congratulates Wendy for giving the killer his phone number.

Hodges, Henry and Wendy examine photographs of the models. The idea of "hypocrisy" (ex: the cancer-stricken Penny smoking a cigarette) is thrown aside. Hodges suggests that they try to determine who the killer is by deducing the message he's trying to send. They note that each model has a picture of a bloody doll, with Wendy believing that the murderer is using the doll to represent himself and his abusive childhood (something Grissom also jotted down in his notes). When Henry describes the killer as "an obsessive, meticulous, dark-ass misanthrope who seeks recognition for his efforts," he and Wendy turn to Hodges, who is meticulously arranging his carrot sticks and bags of potato chips in front of him. Without looking up, he replies, "When would I find the time? I'm always here."

They try to find a common element in the four models. Henry notes that all four models include food and/or beverages (bacon/eggs, liquor, chickens and cookies/tea/milk), but Hodges dismisses this, believing that there are better ways for the killer to make an anti-food statement. After Wendy is called away, Hodges and Henry delve deeper. Three of the models include something related to music (gold records, record player, stereo), but the chicken plant is the odd model out. Flowers are also present in a few of the models, but not all of them. Mail is displayed in three of the models, but once again, the chicken plant is the exception. A newspaper is in every model except for (you guessed it) the chicken plant. Since the chicken plant seems to be the anomaly, Hodges suggest that they focus on that model in particular and work their way out.

Hodges notices a barrel in the chicken factory model and in his effort to examine it more closely, he breaks the barrel off the model. This allows him to read the label on side of the barrel; it displays a symbol and the chemical formula for bleach. After Henry is called away, Hodges and Wendy realize that bleach was found in both the Izzy Delancey and Barbara Tallman scenes, but they can't think of where the bleach in the Penny Garden scene could be. Wendy, in frustration, quits working on the fact-finding mission, pointing out that even the trained CSIs haven't been able to crack the cases.

Sara gives Wendy evidence to process, and Wendy asks her if the Miniature Killer case has been keeping Grissom up at night. She says that Hodges told her that Grissom confided in him, and Sara questions whether Grissom would confide in Hodges about anything. Wendy realizes that Hodges lied about Grissom asking for help and confronts him. When asked why he would do such a thing, he replies that today is his lucky day (he found a dollar bill on the street, won an online auction, received his favorite snack and is going to date a beautiful woman among other things all to the theme song "Mr Blue Sky"). He overheard Grissom commenting to Sara about the Miniature Killer case and decided to help. Wendy asks him how, as a scientist, he could believe in luck, and tells him that Grissom would never have asked him for help.

After taking some time to reflect on Wendy's biting remarks, Hodges examines the Penny Garden crime scene and pictures himself walking around inside of it. When he's interrupted by Grissom, he reveals that he's found a coupon for bleach crumpled up on the floor in the model and tells Grissom his theory that bleach is the common element in all four models. Given the lack of regular intervals between murders, he believes that the killer is triggered by something—in this case, bleach. The thought is that the killer might work for a janitorial or cleaning service, which would allow them to know the ins and outs of each location. Hodges then speculates that if the killer is a foster child, perhaps bleach played a role in some traumatic events from their past. Grissom realizes that this theory could be true, and notes that people with this pathology often become vocal towards the institutions they feel propagate the triggers. Hodges says that they should call bleach manufacturing companies to see if any got any hate mail. The correspondence could be cross-referenced with Vegas postmarks, allowing the CSIs to possibly narrow down the neighborhood where the killer lives.

Grissom praises Hodges' work, then tells him to leave his office. Hodges apologizes for crossing any lines, leaves, and pumps his fist in the air—after all, it's his lucky day.


In a separate story, Grissom and Doc Robbins perform an autopsy on a drowning victim found in Lake Mead. In the middle of the autopsy, a rat jumps out of the body and runs out of the morgue. Doc Robbins and Grissom set rat traps, but as they do so, the power goes out in the lab and the backup generator kicks in. The rat is later found fried in a fuse box. They perform a necropsy on the rat, find a pill containing black tar heroin, and realize that their drowning victim was a mule. Sofia later informs Grissom that the victim was a drug runner for the Jamaican mob. The man had been skimming drugs for his personal use and mysteriously disappeared a few weeks ago. Whether his death was retribution or simply an accident is never explored upon.

Cast[]

Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Music[]

  • Lollipop by The Chordettes
  • Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra

Notes[]

Trivia[]

  • This is one of the few episodes where it centers on Hodges narrating and getting the other cast members to play in his "games". The next episode to do this is You Kill Me.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 7
Built to Kill, Part 1Built to Kill, Part 2Toe TagsFannysmackin'Double CrossBurn OutPost MortemHappenstanceLiving LegendLoco MotivesLeaving Las VegasSweet JaneRedrumMeet MarketLaw of GravityMonster in the BoxFallen IdolsEmpty EyesBig ShotsLab RatsEnding HappyLeapin' LizardsThe Good, The Bad, And The DominatrixLiving Doll
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