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Malice in Wonderland
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Season 12
Number 18
Writer Joe Pokaski
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate March 21, 2012
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Malice in Wonderland is the eighteenth episode in season twelve of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

A robbery at an Alice in Wonderland-themed wedding becomes the first in a series of unpredictable and inexplicable robberies targeted at wedding ceremonies.

Plot

Victim: Andrew Milner (deceased)

On the case: entire team

Two gunman in animal masks (cat and rabbit) interrupt an Alice in Wonderland-themed wedding, robbing the guests and shooting the groom, Andrew Milner, in the head execution-style. Nobody at the event saw how the robbers left, and the response time from the police was in under five minutes - a tight window for a robbery and escape.

Morgan removes a zip-tie from the door that was used to prevent the guests from leaving; she also finds shell casings and a blue circular disk on the floor. The bride's mother tells Nick that a broach was stolen from her, while the bride, Lisa Kravitz, tells Finn and Russell that one of the robbers hit her in the leg with the butt of his gun when she refused to give up her antique wedding ring. When Andrew tried to intervene and defend his bride, the robber shot him in the head. Outside, Russell asks one of the paramedics to give Lisa something to help calm her down.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins confirms the cause of death as being caused by a projectile penetration to the skull. The obvious thought is bullet; however, the doc actually pulls a button from Andrew's brain. It's the same size as the entry wound, meaning it's likely the weapon that was fired.

Fingerprints recovered from the scene match every guest, but there's one discrepancy. When questioned, the wedding's officiant (dressed as the blue caterpillar) gave his name as Charles Dodson. However, his fingerprints identify him as Alan Widcom, an ex-convict. Sara and Ecklie question Alan, who's now dressed as a glitzy Elvis. His rap sheet includes a few crimes, including armed robbery. He explains the incident was a mistake and says that he used the pseudonym because the state of Nevada wouldn't allow him to be an ordained minister for ten years. In order to keep his license, Alan provides some information about the robbery, saying that the robbers were very efficient and professional, indicating that they've done this before.

At a drive-thru wedding chapel, the robbers strike again, robbing Walter Gersh and his much younger bride, Crystal Hasselbeck. The robbers stole the car the couple was in, escaping from the scene just moments before the police arrived. This robbery was also quick and efficient. Greg interrogates the couple, who laments the loss of their belongings, especially the custom Rolls Royce and the $500,000 wedding ring. Walter's jacket was torn, while Crystal's dress ended up with a white smudge on the strap. Hodges later identifies the smudge as denture cleaner.

Russell analyzes the bruise from Lisa's leg, figuring out that it belongs to a World War II gun. The blue disk Morgan found earlier is identified as an overpowder wad, used to keep the gunpowder in the gun. Russell concludes that the robbers were using blanks; however, when the one robber placed his gun against Andrew's head (and hat) and fired, it turned the button on the hat into a projectile. The same gun showed up at the drive-thru chapel, meaning it's likely the same pair of robbers were at both scenes. Russell notes that the targets of both robberies are completely different, as was the method - one was carefully planned, while the other was a smaller, spur-of-the-moment robbery. Finn realizes that there's one common denominator in both robberies - the expensive wedding ring.

Greg and Russell visit the jewelry store where Walter and Crystal purchased their ring. The clerk tells them that the ring is one of a kind, making it impossible for the average thief to fence it and make any kind of profit. It would also be too high-profile to sell at auction. The clerk recognizes Crystal as a frequent visitor to the store, as she had purchased two other rings in the past.

Back at the station, Greg questions Crystal, showing her pictures of her three rings. As it turns out, she insured the stolen ring for over $1 million, twice what it's worth. She admits to selling one of the rings in order to make some money, but denies setting up the recent robbery. To Greg's surprise, she adds that she's actually in love with Walter and wants to marry him, despite their age difference.

The stolen Rolls Royce is located and brought back to the CSI garage. Sara finds polyester fabric wedged in the steering column, while she and Morgan see that all of the emblems and hood ornaments have been ripped from the car. The car's custom radio, which is worth a few thousand dollars by itself, hasn't been touched. Sara spots gold filings on the passenger's side floor and figures that the thieves wanted to make sure they were stealing real gold. Morgan points out that filing the emblems would make them less valuable and harder to sell, just like the wedding ring. She concludes that the thieves are actually melting the gold down.

Sara and Ecklie head to a cash-for-gold store run by Frederick Ladd, the go-to guy in the gold trade. They find him dead inside his store with gold poured down this throat - and wearing the cat mask worn earlier by one of the robbers. Tools on a nearby workbench indicate that Frederick's side business was turning stolen jewelry into untraceable gold. The broach stolen from the bride's mother is on the bench, as is Walter's empty wallet containing his driver's license. The cast iron used to pour the gold is on the floor; it has some trace on one of the handles. Sara wonders if Frederick was one of the robbers and had a falling out with his partner.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins determines Frederick was still alive when the killer poured the liquid gold down his throat. Following through on a theory, Russell tests the gold and discovers that it's actually iron pyrite. He concludes that Frederick isn't one of their robbers, but the killer wanted to make it look like he was. But why would the robbers do this and not already have fled the country with the gold? Russell figures that they're planning another heist.

Nick works on trying to figure out how the robbers got away clean in both robberies. In each case, the robbers successfully evaded radio cars without even being seen. Both times, the main roads were blocked off, so Nick believes the robbers knew some shortcuts. He suggests checking out cab drivers, high-end liveries and limousines.

Russell finds out that their wedding robbers also hit weddings in New York City and Chicago. In both cities, they hit three weddings on three consecutive days. There have only been two robberies in Las Vegas so far, meaning that the robbers are due to strike one more time - today. Russell divides a task force into three different teams and has them stake out three locations that he feels are most likely to be hit.

Latex and a piece of seared flesh are found on the cast iron from the cash-for-gold store. Combining the latex, the polyester from the Rolls Royce and the fact that the robbers knew all of the roads, Morgan has Mandy search the National Paramedics Registry. The partial print from the flesh comes back to Ryan Hartley, the paramedic who was at the first wedding (Russell had him administer a medication to the bride). Morgan realizes that the robbers got away easily because they were driving an ambulance, which nobody would think twice about stopping. Ryan moved to Las Vegas recently from Chicago along with his wife Emily - the clerk at the jewelry store.

Hodges' mother, Olivia, is in town and is under the impression that he's in a serious relationship with Morgan. The two visit the jewelry store in question to (prematurely) look for a ring and are greeted by Emily. Hodges spots denture cleaner on the counter and is told that it's used to deoxidize the metals. He puts two and two together and tries to leave the store, but both Emily and Ryan hold him and his mother at gunpoint. The security guard has been tied up, and Emily fires a bullet into his leg to prove that they're not shooting blanks anymore. Hodges and his mother are in a tight spot.

Russell and Ecklie arrive at the jewelry store, but are too late. The security guard tells them that the Hartleys disabled the alarm, cleaned the store out and took Hodges and his mother hostage, leaving only a few minutes ago. In the getaway ambulance, Hodges realizes that the Hartleys always knew where to be because they were listening to the police radio. Furthermore, they had the ability to change traffic lights. They're on their way to the desert, where the Hartleys will kill Hodges and his mother before leaving the country.

In the lab, Morgan and Nick listen to the police dispatches. Morgan realizes that if they can hear them, then the Hartleys can, as well. She hurriedly calls her father and asks him for a favor.

Back in the ambulance, Hodges admits to his mother that he enjoys his tedious job and that he and Morgan aren't in a relationship. As he prattles on, he breaks through the duct tape he's been tied up with and stabs Emily in the neck with a syringe of Haloperidol, an antipsychotic medication. Emily is knocked out, and Hodges points her gun at Ryan. Ryan drives faster, telling Hodges that shooting him will kill everyone. He's still under the impression that the police are on the other side of town, but is surprised to find a line of police cars heading towards him. Per Morgan's advice, Ecklie switched the police channels to flush the Hartleys out. The ambulance is cornered, the Hartleys are arrested, and Hodges and his mother are safe.

Back at the lab, Finn, Russell and Ecklie admit that the Hartleys had a well thought-out plan, complete with a storefront and escape routes. Ryan takes the rap for the whole thing, but it's revealed that his wife threw him under the bus five minutes into her interview. While Hodges and his mother have a heart-to-heart talk, Finn returns Lisa's stolen ring to her and is present for Andrew's Alice in Wonderland-themed funeral.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Sheeri Rappaport as Mandy Webster
  • Sam Harris as Alan Widcom
  • Amanda Jane Cooper as Lisa Kravitz
  • Cameron Richardson as Emily Hartley
  • Pedro Pascal as Kyle Hartley
  • Jeffrey D. Stevens as Paramedic Jeff
  • Peter Jason as Walter Gersh
  • Nadia Bjorlin as Crystal Hasselbeck
  • Christopher Knight as Pastor
  • Jaclyn Smith as Olivia Hodges
  • Evan Parke as Eli
  • Sara Van Horn as Nana of the Bride

Episode Title

  • The title of the episode is an obvious take on the Lewis Carroll's 1865 novel Alice in Wonderland (actually titled Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) and the animated Disney movie made from it.

Music

  • Smell of Incense by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
  • Chapel of Love by The Dixie Cups

Notes

  • Despite being credited here and on IMDb, Paul Guilfoyle (Brass) does not actually appear in this episode.

Trivia

  • There are numerous references to Alice in Wonderland throughout the episode.
  • Jaclyn Smith, who played Olivia Hodges, is best known for her role as Kelly Garrett in the television series Charlie's Angels.
  • Elisabeth Harnois, who plays Morgan Brody, starred in a show called Adventures In Wonderland when she was younger.
  • When told about the cause of death by Doc Robbins, Russell says "curiouser and curiouser," a direct reference to the iconic line spoken by Alice in movie adaptations and the book.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 12
73 SecondsTell-Tale HeartsBittersweetMaid ManCSI DownFreaks & GeeksBrain DoeCrime After CrimeZipperedGenetic DisorderMs. Willows RegretsWillows in the WindTressed to KillSeeing RedStealing HomeCSI UnpluggedTrends with BenefitsMalice in WonderlandSplit DecisionsAltered StakesDune and GloomHomecoming
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