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Skin in the Game
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Season 13
Number 22
Writer Christopher Barbour,
Don McGill
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate May 15, 2013
Navigation
Previous Episode: Ghosts of the Past
Next Episode: The Devil and D.B. Russell

Skin in the Game is the twenty-second episode and season thirteen finale of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

The crime lab searches for a serial killer inspired by Dante's Inferno, and Brass's daughter may be one of the killer's next victims.

Plot

Victims: Megan Ramirez (deceased), Teresa Hill (alive), Chloe Rudolph (deceased), Greg Lee (deceased)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Greg Sanders, Julie Finlay, Morgan Brody, Nick Stokes, Jim Brass

Russell and Ecklie attend a Black Sabbath concert in preparation for meeting with reporter John Merchiston, who wants to follow the #1 crime lab in the country around and see how they work. The meeting is cut short when Russell gets a text about a dead body. John happily follows along, and Russell signs him up for the grave shift.

The mummified remains of an unidentified female body are found lying on a bed on the set of a porn stage. Finn observes that the victim's hyoid bone is broken, likely a result from strangulation. A sweet smell in the air is identified as a scent called "honeysuckle summer," and the lingerie the victim is wearing still has the price tag on it. So, why is everything new on an old mummified body?

Finn and Nick process the crime scene and note the attention to detail—down to the Bible on the nightstand. When Nick opens The Good Book, he finds a dowel placed in some hollowed-out pages. He opens the dowel and a spider crawls out. The spider appears to be a black widow, but Nick identifies it as a "false black widow" and deems it harmless.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins and David Phillips explain to Greg that they can rehydrate the mummified body. Doing so will restore the skin and vital organs; however, there's a risk of destroying additional evidence during the process. Greg agrees with the suggestion, as identifying the victim gives them the best shot at catching the killer. The rehydration process gives the team a face to work with, but searches in the Missing Persons database and CODIS come up empty.

During autopsy, Doc Robbins pulls a gold heart-shaped charm from inside the victim's mummified heart. Meanwhile, former stripper Angela Banner (who no longer uses the street name "Miss Kitty"), recognizes the victim as Megan Ramirez, another ex-stripper/porn actress who wanted out of the game. Angela was helping Megan and others like her at a "stripper church" called the Fellowship of Fallen Angels, run by a "Brother Larson." She tells Russell and Brass that she last saw Megan two months ago and, since then, several other girls have disappeared. Brass flips through the files of the missing girls and comes across his daughter, Ellie. He calls his ex-wife Nancy, but only tells her that Ellie is in Vegas.

Finn goes to the hospital, where one of the missing girls has been in a coma for two weeks. The girl, Teresa Hill, was found strangled and left for dead. She advertisted online, with her angle being that she claimed to be auctioning off her virginity. Morgan gets Teresa's personal items from the evidence locker and is taken aback when one of the items is a gold charm bracelet with a heart pendant.

Meanwhile, Greg and Nick follow up on another missing girl. They find Chloe Rudolph, a food fetish porn actress, dead with her face and upper chest covered in chocolate. The camera used to film the shows went live an hour ago, which is when people started calling in about the body. Chloe's pimp boyfriend, who owns the place, is found dead in a freezer, the victim of a gunshot wound to the head. Nick guesses that Chloe choked on dessert and finds a tin of chocolate-covered locusts on the table. Also on the table is another Bible with another dowel inside. When Nick opens it, he dumps out another gold heart pendant. There's now officially a serial killer on the loose.

Chloe's x-rays show that her hyoid bone was broken, as well. While processing the body, Hodges sees strange abrasions on Chloe's back. Under a UV light, he and Greg see that the killer etched "Thou shalt not bear false witness" into the skin. Greg notes that in order for someone to do this, they would have to create the bruises under the skin right around the time of death, knowing they would only be visible during autopsy.

Religion seems to be the killer's motivation; however, he or she doesn't seem to have a specific signature or even a specific type. All the team has is what Angela told them—seven girls went missing all around the same time eight weeks ago. With John observing, Finn and Russell go through the cases so far. John wonders why the first victim, Teresa Hill, is still alive, while everyone else is dead. Russell believes that this is part of the killer's method; he or she wanted the police to find Teresa the way she was found. He suggests they start back at the beginning at the stripper church.

Greg and Nick pay Brother Larson a visit during one of his sermons. While searching his office, Nick finds a hollowed-out Bible that matches the one at the other crime scenes. Brother Larson questions the CSIs' mission, as they only seem to care about the missing girls now that one of them is Ellie Brass.

DNA and fingerprints from Brother Larson's Bible identify him as Daniel Larson, a former street hustler who has priors for pandering and pimping. He also has a .38-caliber handgun registered in his name, which is the same caliber used to kill Chloe's pimp boyfriend. Meanwhile, Nick traces the webcam broadcast from the food fetish show and discovers that it was turned on remotely—from a computer at the Fellowship of Fallen Angels.

Greg and Nick go back to the church, taking John along with them. While John stays out of harm's way outside, the CSIs search the inside of the church. In Brother Larson's office, they find a recording of one of his sermons playing on his computer. They're soon alerted to a woman screaming, and they find Angela trying to strangle someone who's been strapped to a bed. Outside, John sees someone smoking and decides to investigate. The mystery person soon disappears, and John goes to pick up the cigarette butt as evidence. Before he can do so, though, the smoker arrives and knocks John out.

Under interrogation, Angela insists that she and Brother Larson are innocent and are only trying to help those less fortunate. She explains that the girl strapped to the bed is an addict who was detoxing. Brass has had enough and demands to know where Ellie is. Angela is unsure, but she blames Brass for Ellie's current life and unknown whereabouts, causing the detective to leave the room.

John, who only suffered a concussion, figures Brother Larson was the one he saw smoking outside. Based on Angela's helpfulness in the past, Russell believes that she truly wanted to help the girls, but she unwittingly recruited converts for Brother Larson instead. John looks over photos from the crime scenes and notes the presence of round objects in every photo, ranging from lamps to plates to a broken clock. Even the dowels have rings drawn on them. Russell comes to a realization—the objects aren't rings, they're circles.

Russell does some research, eventually turning his eyes to Dante's Divine Comedy, the first part of which (Inferno) describes the nine Circles of Hell. Each scene so far has been staged to represent a different Circle of Hell: Teresa Hill (Limbo), Megan Ramirez (Lust), Chloe Rudolph (Gluttony), and Chloe's pimp boyfriend (Greed). All of these have been staged to look exactly like engravings from a 16th century volume of Divine Comedy. There are still missing women and five more Circles of Hell to complete; the killer isn't done.

The CSIs figure Brother Larson is the culprit, and he's soon found and brought into custody. Russell accuses him of three murders and one attempted. Ballistics from Brother Larson's gun match the bullet pulled from the head of Chloe's pimp boyfriend. Furthermore, the computer used to access Chloe's webcam came from the computer in the church. Brother Larson's phone also contains photos of women, including all of the dead girls.

When confronted with the evidence against him, he admits that his only crime is being a pimp looking to make some money. He tells Russell that he recruits girls off the street and gives them a better life by introducing them to a better class of clients. In fact, the same client (named "Anonymous") has reached out to the ministry recently, picking girls from the pictures and bios provided by Brother Larson. The arrangements are always the same—the girl is dropped off at a corner and a car comes to pick her up. Brother Larson refuses to confess for the sins of others and asks for an assurance of freedom. He reveals that Ellie is alive and that he knows where she is. The deal is his freedom for Ellie's safe return.

Brother Larson's home computer is searched, and online messages from "Anonymous" are found. The client has even put in a request for another girl for that night. Morgan offers herself up as the girl, believing that she can get inside the killer's home and get him to identify himself. Ecklie is completely against the idea, but Finn reminds him that without an undercover operation, they're all just waiting around for another body to drop.

Morgan stands on the side of the road and is eventually picked up by someone driving an SUV. Every angle is covered—Greg and Nick are in a nearby car and will follow Morgan, Morgan herself is wearing a necklace with a hidden camera, and Finn and Russell are watching the camera feed back at the lab.

She's driven to a luxury condo, where she's greeted by a middle-aged man who invites her inside. As the two discuss art, Morgan fixates on a set of dowels in the man's display case. Back at the lab, Finn is able to identify the man as Oliver Tate, an employee of a biotech company; he has no criminal record. Oliver gives Morgan a gift—a drawing of Anger, the Fifth Circle of Hell. He soon has Morgan remove her clothes and he rips the necklace off her body, breaking visual contact with the lab. When Morgan tries to get Oliver to talk about his past conquests, he suddenly has a change of heart and sends Morgan on her way. Outside, Greg and Nick watch her get back into the SUV.

Back at the lab, a Bible has been sent to Nancy Brass' hotel room. Inside the Bible is another dowel; his one contains a vial of blood with a flash drive inside. When Russell plugs the flash drive in, a message on the screen reads "Fraud"—the Eighth Circle of Hell. Upon clicking the button, he sees it's a video of Ellie confessing her sins and getting slapped repeatedly. During the confession, she yells out that "we" have sinned.

Russell comes to a realization, telling Finn that Morgan wasn't thrown out of the condo. Greg and Nick are instructed to stop the SUV; upon doing so, they see the driver is a member of Brother Larson's congregation. Morgan, however, isn't in the back seat. The killer now has both Morgan and Ellie.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Music

  • Skin in the Game by Black Sabbath
  • God is Dead? by Black Sabbath

Notes

  • Jorja Fox (Sara) and Jon Wellner (Henry) are credited but do not appear in the episode.
  • When Brass talks to his ex-wife, she brings up his trip to Los Angeles to find Ellie. This happened in the season five episode Hollywood Brass.
  • Brass tells his ex-wife that Ellie had her engagement ring and sold it to another girl, which occurred earlier in the season in Strip Maul.
  • Angela Banner (aka "Miss Kitty") first appeared in the season 12 Willows in the Wind. After Catherine had been shot following a shootout at her house, Angela set her up in a motel room. She then helped Catherine and Russell stay under the radar by giving them a disposable cell phone and a gun.
  • When Finn refers to "I've seen this movie before", she is referring to Seven, a movie where the killer engages in a series of murders based on the Seven Deadly Sins.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 13
Karma to BurnCode Blue Plate SpecialWild FlowersIt Was a Very Good YearPlay DeadPick and RollFallen AngelsCSI on FireStrip MaulRisky Business ClassDead AirDouble FaultIn Vino VeritasExileForget Me NotLast Woman StandingDead of the ClassShelteredBackfireFearlessGhosts of the PastSkin in the Game
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