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Lab Rats
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Season 7
Number 20
Writer Sarah Goldfinger
Director Brad Tanenbaum
Original Airdate April 12, 2007
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Previous Episode: Big Shots
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 workers 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

Grissom assigns all the CSI's to various assignments as the night shift at the CSI lab begins.

Hodges text messages his fellow lab techs Archie, Mandy and Henry, 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 cannot 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 stalkers, and there was no sign 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 have had to have taken weeks to build it. Izzy's own blood was used in the model. 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 was not left at the crime scene, as 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. 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. The techs all scatter back to their respective labs.

Warrick and Nick 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 is found electrocuted in a stun bath at his place of employment, Mannleigh Chickens. 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 in 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 the murders and killing himself on tape while Grissom watched.

Hodges pulls Wendy aside and tells her that Grissom asked him to gather a group of techs to examine the evidence, but he deliberately did not ask her to join the group because he knew she would try to take over the task. Wendy says that Hodges doesn't like her because she stands up to him, and Hodges says that she thinks 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 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. He revealed to Sara and Sofia that his parents took in dozens of foster children, any of which 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 from a disposable phone. When Hodges cannot find evidence that the CSIs called the number, Wendy calls the number using Hodges' cell phone. When she is sent to voice mail, Hodges hangs up the phone and sarcastically congratulates Wendy for giving the killer his phone number.

Hodges, Henry and Wendy Henry examine photographs of the models. Hodges suggests that they try to determine who the killer is by deducing the message he is 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). Henry describes the killer as "an obsessive, meticulous, dark-ass misanthrope who seeks recognition for his efforts"; Wendy and Henry 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 also 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.

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 sign on the barrel and he sees that it contains bleach. After Henry is called away, Hodges and Wendy realize that bleach was found in both the Izzy Delancey and the Barbara Tallman scenes, but they cannot think of where the bleach in the Penny Garden scene could be. Wendy, in frustration, quits working on the case.

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. She asks him why he did this, and he replies that today is his lucky day (he found a dollar bill on the street and won an online auction, among other things). 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.

Hodges examines the Penny Garden crime scene and pictures himself walking around inside of it. When he is interrupted by Grissom, he reveals that he has 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 thinks that the killer is triggered by something, and that that something is bleach, which means he might work in a janitorial or cleaning service. He then speculates that if the killer is a foster child, perhaps bleach played a role in some traumatic events from his 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.

Grissom praises Hodges' work, and then tells him to leave his office. Hodges leaves and pumps his fist, as his lucky day continues.


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 and find a pill containing black tar heroin and realize that their drowning victim was a mule.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Music

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

Notes

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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