The Devil and D.B. Russell
Season 14
Number 1
Writer Christopher Barbour,
Don McGill
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate September 25, 2013
Previous Episode: Skin in the Game
Next Episode: Take the Money and Run

The Devil and D.B. Russell is the first episode in season fourteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


With Morgan and Ellie's lives on the line, the CSIs race to stop a serial killer from completing his twisted homage to Dante's Inferno.


Victims: Morgan Brody and Ellie Brass (both missing)

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

The CSI team sits at a funeral listening to a preacher's sermon, and Morgan is noticably absent from the proceedings.

Three days earlier, we pick up where the last episode left off. Morgan is missing, and a search of Oliver Tate's condo comes up empty. Traffic cameras picked up two SUVs in the area when Morgan disappeared; the other SUV is found parked outside a storage facility. The back window of the SUV is broken, and Greg follows a blood trail inside the building. He and Nick happen upon a storage locker where a blonde woman sits dead in the middle of the room, impaled on a spear. The scene is staged to look like Anger, the Fifth Circle of Hell.

Greg and Nick are relieved to find that the victim isn't Morgan, despite the fact that she's wearing the same dress and has blonde hair. Nick guesses that the victim is one of the missing girls from Brother Larson's church. Back at the lab, journalist John Merchiston gives the team hope by pointing out that if neither Morgan nor Ellie were intended to be the next victim, it's quite possible they're both still alive.

Brass and Ecklie question Jake Tarland, the member of Brother Larson's congregation who was driving the decoy SUV. He continues to insist that he knows nothing about the missing girls. After Jake taunts Brass about his daughter, Ecklie picks him up, shoves him to the wall, and punches him the face. Jake says that he works for Brother Larson, and that he should be the one being questioned.

In a separate interrogation room, Russell accuses Brother Larson of setting them up. Brother Larson believes that Oliver is pulling the strings, explaining that he shared Oliver's dark secrets with his friends and family when he wouldn't give in to blackmail. According to Brother Larson, there's one girl who was once Oliver's favorite—Angela Banner (aka "Miss Kitty"). He then warns Russell that if Oliver is truly in charge, the game won't stop until everybody burns.

In a remote location in a darkened room, Morgan wakes up to find that she has a brace tied around her neck; the brace is tethered to her bed. Ellie is in the bed next to her and says that she, too, came from Oliver's condo. As Morgan looks around, she sees pictures of the Circles of Hell all over the walls.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins looks over the body of the most recent victim, Denise Tyler. Her hyoid bone was broken via strangulation, just like the other female victims. There's latent bruising on Denise's back; when put under a UV light, it reads "barb thee thorns." Neither Doc Robbins nor David Phillips knows what this means. The doc sees a spot of dried secretion on the victim's face that's perhaps a bead of sweat from the killer.

Greg and Nick continue to process the storage locker. Nick notes that the entrance to the locker is about four feet wide; however, the boat the victim was found has a width of at least six feet. It seems that the killer put the boat together in the storage locker. The CSIs find a seam in the bottom of the boat and pull it apart. When pulled apart, they see that the boat was being held together with several more dowels, similar to what was found at the other crime scenes. However, instead of zeroes, these dowels have zeroes, ones, and twos written on them.

Hodges finds some trace on the spear and the planks of the boat. It comes back as halide, which is rock salt; however, they're 300 miles away from the nearest ocean. Meanwhile, Henry runs the dried secretion for DNA, but ends up with a problem—there's no amelogenin, which is a sex gene. Sara, back from San Francisco, confirms that Angela was arrested for solicitation last year after spending time with Oliver, which confirms Brother Larson's story. The story about blackmail also seems to be true, as Oliver was fired from his job for personal indiscretion; afterwards, he became a recluse who became mad at the world.

Finn searches Oliver's condo with a UV light, eventually finding messages that lead her to the fireplace. When she turns it on, she sees that some of the burners aren't working. She removes a panel and examines one of the burners closely. While she's doing so, she's alerted to a noise in the condo. She pulls out her gun, only to find John Merchiston standing behind her. He explains that someone left a Bible outside his hotel door; the book contains a vial with blood and a flash drive, just like the one that was sent to Brass' ex-wife, Nancy. There were also instructions telling John to go to the condo.

Finn plugs the flash drive into her laptop. A message appears on the screen that reads "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," a quote from Dante's Inferno. When Finn clicks the link, Morgan is seen on the screen. She recites a Bible verse and says that the CSIs have six hours to make a decision on whose life to save—hers or Ellie's. If no decision is made, then one will be made for them. Nearby, a masked figure holds a knife to Ellie's throat.

Back at the lab, Russell watches the video on repeat. Since no instructions were given on how to communicate, Finn wonders if they'll be receiving another flash drive. As Russell keeps watching the video, he notices that Morgan keeps looking up while she's speaking. The CSIs guess that Morgan is trying to send a message. Meanwhile, Brass talks with Nancy in his office. When pressed, he admits that, if having to make the ultimate choice, he would choose to keep Morgan alive.

Finn examines the video and notes that every time Morgan looks up, there's a spike on the audio track. When isolated, the audio is a low-frequency humming that surges then dissipates. She and Nick figure the noise could be from a jet engine; if they can identify the audio, they might be able to identify the plane. When combined with FAA flight logs, they might be able to identify a flight path and narrow down a location.

The dowels from the boat are clean, and Greg tells Sara the numbers on them are ternary code, which uses zeroes, ones, and twos. He also reveals that the gas cap found in Oliver's condo actually contains synthetic DNA in a saline solution; this would explain the dried secretion found on Denise's body. The DNA has been engineered for data storage, and Sara remembers that Oliver used to work at a biotech company. Greg explains that the dowels are a decryption key that's needed to translate the pixels of the ternary code into the nucleic acids of DNA. The next step would be to get biometric scanners from Oliver's company in order to read the decryption key.

While Morgan tries to free herself from her contraption, Ellie keeps an ear out for their captor. As the two converse, Ellie admits to knowing that Brass isn't her biological father. Morgan reveals that Nancy is in town to help Brass look for their daughter, much to Ellie's surprise.

Russell gets a call from a scared Angela, who says that she withheld information about the murders. She tells Russell that she's at the church, but wants him to come alone, as she doesn't trust anyone else. When Russell gets to the darkened church, he finds another hollowed-out Bible with a dowel inside. Soon thereafter, he finds Angela's dead body beaten and tied up above a pile of thorns. Before he can call in the murder, Oliver arrives, holds him at gunpoint, and tells him to slide his phone over. Russell offers to give Oliver anything he wants in exchange for the safety of Morgan and Ellie ("a deal with the devil"), but Oliver says he's not responsible for their kidnappings. He pins the murders on Brother Larson, but is told that Brother Larson has been in custody for two days.

Oliver says that everything has been set in motion; the girls will die and he'll be wrongfully held accountable. As Oliver flees the premises, Russell retrieves his phone and calls for backup. Out in the street, Oliver angrily drives towards Russell as the CSI radios in the license plate number of the car. Before Oliver can get to Russell, his car explodes. At the scene, Brass and Ecklie figure Oliver's accomplice is responsible. However, Russell looks over the scattered remains and notes the similarity to Violence, the Seventh Circle of Hell. Oliver was just another victim—and there are two circles left.

The Bible and the dowel are clean, but Finn finds a SIM card inside the dowel along with a message for Brass. When loaded into the phone, the SIM card shows one contact ("Solomon"), which Brass calls. Ellie answers the phone and tells him it's time to make a choice on who lives and who dies. Brass tells her that he can't make that decision, and Ellie hangs up. The call doesn't last long enough to be traced.

DNA is found underneath Angela's fingernails; she got a piece of her attacker before she was killed. However, the DNA isn't a match to Oliver. Sara is able to get Oliver's former company to decrypt the files; when decrypted, they show that Oliver was using his DNA gigabytes for one thing—porn. As Russell and Sara go through the photos, they see every girl is one of the victims in the case. Oliver, though, didn't kill them; in fact, he wasn't even participating. Sara believes that Oliver was watching—and that he was using teenage boys as sexual surrogates to live out his fantasies.

Whoever the killer is has been talking in code, and Russell suddenly comes to a realization. He remembers the phrase "barb thee thorns" engraved on Denise's back. When rearranged, the letters spell out "Theban Brothers." In Dante's Inferno, the Theban brothers were the sons of Oedipus, cursed for life because of the sins of their father. Russell guesses that they're looking for brothers that Oliver used, and he has Henry run the skin from Angela's fingernails against Jake Tarland.

Russell's hunch is right, as the DNA confirms that Angela's killer is a familial match to Jake. Matthew Tarland, Jake's brother, has been arrested in the past for solicitation. In addition, his fingerprint is a match to the print pulled off the trigger remote that blew up Oliver's car. It doesn't seem that Jake is going to rat out his brother to the police, but there's someone he might confess to.

Brother Larson is brought in to speak to Jake. Jake denies his involvement, but Brother Larson reminds him that Oliver cast him and his brother out on the street after using them. The brothers have framed Brother Larson because he pimped out the girls to Oliver. Brother Larson believes there's still love in Jake's heart. Russell shows him a photo of Angela's body and tells him that Matthew killed her. The CSIs have narrowed down the area where Matthew is hiding out, and they hope Jake can reveal the exact location.

Left alone temporarily, Morgan is able to unhook a pin from her mattress and hide it amongst her person. When Ellie and their captor return, Morgan goads the man into his removing his mask, and Matthew Tarland reveals himself. When Matthew leans in closer, Morgan stabs him in the side with the pin, briefly incapacitating him. She and Ellie tie Matthew up, free themselves, and leave the house. Outside, Ellie mentions that she thinks there's another girl in the house. When Morgan goes back inside to check, she sees that Matthew has freed himself. Morgan leaves the house again and finds herself held at gunpoint by Matthew. He forces Morgan onto her knees, but she punches him in his privates, which makes him drop his gun. As the two tussle, Ellie arrives, picks up the gun, and points it at Matthew. She shoots him in the chest, killing him. Morgan thanks Ellie and starts to walk away to look for help—and Ellie shoots her in the back.

Jake eventually reveals his brother's location, and the police rush to the spot. Upon arriving on the scene, they find Ellie in hysterics while Morgan and Matthew lie on the ground. Ellie tearfully explains that Matthew shot Morgan and that she couldn't get the gun from him because he was too strong. In the hospital, Ellie doubles down on her story—Morgan got the girls free, but Matthew hunted them down and shot Morgan in the back. This led to a struggle, where Ellie was able to get the gun and shoot Matthew. Morgan is alive and in surgery, but is unable to reveal what really happened.

In the lab, Sara finds debris in the firing mechanism of the gun. She figures it's from the struggle between Ellie and Matthew; however, Hodges reveals that there was no gunshot residue on Matthew's shirt—he was shot from at least four feet away. Sara has Henry search Matthew's cell phone, which contains photos of Ellie and Matthew as a couple. There are a few photos of the couple meeting Nancy, and Sara remembers Nancy telling Brass that Ellie brought a guy home to New Jersey with her last year. Sara calls Russell to relay the new information, but she's too late—Ellie has been discharged and Brass has left with her.

Brass heads back to Nancy's hotel room with some takeout. He soon finds Nancy stabbed to death on the bathroom floor. When he turns around, Ellie is pointing a gun at him. Ellie reveals that Nancy saw her with Matthew, which gave her no choice but to kill her mother. She also blames Brass for always having the cop mentality, as he had earlier refused to make a choice as to whose life he should save. Brass replies that Nancy was the only woman he ever loved, and that Nancy was the only person who ever loved Ellie. He tearfully walks over to Ellie and implores her to pull the trigger, as he's already dead inside. She decides not to and is soon arrested when the cops storm into the room.

Morgan awakens in the hospital and tells her father about Ellie, but is informed that she's already in custody. The funeral the team attended earlier is revealed to be Nancy's. As the preacher gives his sermon, Brass tearfully looks on.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Episode Title[]

  • The title of the episode is a play on the 1936 short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, written by Stephen Vincent Benét.


  • Ellie tells Morgan that she knows Brass isn't her biological father. Way back in the Season Two episode Ellie, Brass confirmed the same thing to Warrick Brown. "Call it the mailman's," he told Warrick, adding that Ellie didn't know.
  • Ecklie comments to Morgan that they should work on steering clear of hospitals, referring to his stay in the hospital after being shot (Season Twelve, Homecoming).

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 14
The Devil and D.B. RussellTake the Money and RunTorch SongLast SupperFrame by FramePassed PawnsUnder a CloudHelplessCheck In and Check OutGirls Gone WildLost ReindeerKeep Calm and Carry OnBoston BrakesDe Los MuertosLove for SaleKiller MovesLong Road HomeUninvitedThe FallenConsumedKittyDead In His Tracks