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The Theory of Everything
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Season 8
Number 15
Writer Douglas Petrie
Director Chris Leitch
Original Airdate May 1, 2008
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The Theory of Everything is the fifteenth episode in season eight of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

While investigating a series of unusual deaths, the team discovers that all of the victims are tied together through a strange set of circumstances.

Plot

Victim: Kyle Planck (deceased)

On the case: entire team

In the station waiting room, a woman dressed in tin foil prattles on about string theory while everyone does their best to ignore her. Nick walks by and addresses her as Evelyn; it seems that she's a frequent guest at the station. Meanwhile, he's on his way to the interrogation room.

In the interrogation room, Brass is questioning an highly intoxicated man, Kyle Planck. He lays out the fact that the man shot a female victim, put a dress on her and was spotted putting the body into the back of his truck. It's revealed that the victim is a female deer shot with a crossbow. Kyle tries to explain that he was taking the deer to the vet and that the crossbow found in his truck was put there by someone else.

Nick administers the breathalyzer test on Kyle. After he's done blowing, Kyle bolts out of the room and through the station hallways, shoving numerous officers aside. One officer is pushed through a glass window. He makes his way to the waiting room, where the officer there douses him with pepper spray. However, this isn't enough to stop Kyle, who then runs down hallway and is cornered by other officers. Brass gives the order to hit Kyle with a stun gun. Instead of subduing Kyle, though, it sets him on fire, killing him.

While collecting evidence in the hallway, Greg wonders why the pepper spray didn't slow Kyle down. Grissom observes that pepper spray doesn't always work if the victim is really drunk, and Kyle blew a .28. There was no alcohol on Kyle's clothes, as it would have evaporated while he was in custody. Nick collects the stun gun from Officer Choi to have it analyzed, while Brass gets a visit from Internal Affairs. He's informed that there was an in-custody death on his orders and that an investigation will be opened.

Nick processes the stun gun and finds that it was operating normally. Elsewhere, Grissom has fitted three gel dummies with matching shirts. Warrick goes through the contents of Kyle's truck, finding crossbows and homemade moonshine in mason jars. Since there are no night-vision goggles or spotlights in with Kyle's stuff, Grissom guesses that Kyle shot the deer during the day and waited until nightfall to put her in his truck. Each gel dummy is shot with a stun gun - one is shot normally, one is shot with an alcohol-soaked shirt and one is shot with an alcohol-soaked shirt and pepper spray. In each case, the dummy doesn't catch fire. A perplexed Grissom wonders what variable they're missing.

Archie goes through the surveillance footage and comes across Evelyn. Nick tells him that the tin foil suit Evelyn was wearing was her "deflector suit" and that she comes to the station every night to file a complaint against "them." In the video, they see that Kyle rubbed against Evelyn before he was set ablaze, meaning that there could have been something on her suit that led to the fire. Meanwhile, Brass continues to get questioned by Internal Affairs. He's admonished for not holding Evelyn after the incident and getting a statement from her. Brass puts a broadcast out for her, but is sure that she'll show up at some point like she always does.

Evelyn is eventually discovered dead on the side of a road, having been a hit by a truck. The driver says that she appeared out of nowhere in a flash of light. With the sun just coming up, Greg figures that it hit the tin foil suit and blinded the driver. A cracked butane lighter is found inside the suit, leading David Phillips to wonder if that's what ignited Kyle. The problem is that if there was any butane on the suit, it's likely evaporated by now. When David turns the body over, there is a green substance oozing from her wound. Nick believes that the substance is blood.

Grissom is called to the scene of another dead body found in a vacant lot a few blocks from where Evelyn died. This victim, a homeless man, also has green blood oozing from a head wound. He's also wearing three pairs of sunglasses and earplugs; Grissom notes that that's how one makes it dark and quiet when they sleep on the street. Greg finds a pipe with green blood on it nearby, making it the likely murder weapon.

Hodges hypothesizes to a curious Wendy that the blood turned green due to high amounts of sulfur, a theory that is proven correct. He excitedly goes to tell Grissom; however, Grissom, has already figured it out. The source of the sulfur, though, has yet to be identified. Hodges also informs Grissom that the tin foil suit contained traces of bacon grease and ketchup, neither of which would cause a human to catch on fire. Nick interrupts and says that Kyle's parents are suing the department despite the fact that the investigation is still ongoing.

A video of Kyle's demise was posted online and taken at a different angle. Nick points out that a man in a suit, who is also a regular at the station, could have been the one that shot the new footage. The man, a known ambulance chaser, could also be the one filing suit. Grissom has Archie stop the video at the point where Kyle gets pepper sprayed; he sees that Kyle was hit with spray from a yellow can. However, when they conducted the experiments on the gel dummies, they used pepper spray from a department-issued red can.

Nick and Brass question Officer Casella, the officer who fired the pepper spray. He admits that he let his girlfriend borrow the pepper spray for her job, bought a replacement at a gun store and didn't have time to swap it out. The purchased pepper spray contains isobutane, a highly flammable gas. Nick reruns the experiment with the gel dummy again, this time spraying him with the purchased pepper spray. Sure enough, the dummy ignites when hit with the stun gun.

Wendy informs Greg that the blood on the blood on the pipe from the vacant lot belongs to Wayne Connor, a homeless man. There are blood smears on the other end of the pipe that belong to another person; curiously, that blood is green, too. Henry discovers that both Evelyn and Wayne had high levels of thiocyte in their systems, a medication used to treat migraines. The amount of thiocyte was enough to cause an overdose and Henry notes that none of the downtown pharmacies dispense the medication. Grissom figures that Wayne was found with three pairs of sunglasses on because he was suffering from migraines, while Greg wonders if the thiocyte was causing Evelyn to think "they" were out to get here. Evelyn died with $200 on her, leading the team to think she may have been on her way to a drug buy; they need to find out who's selling the drugs.

Catherine and Warrick are on the scene when the Martins, a married couple in their 60s, are found dead in their bed. There are no signs of forced entry or trauma, nor is there any gas odor or signs of suffocation. Doc Robbins, also on the scene, tells Catherine that he called the CSIs because the odds of two healthy people dying at the same time are slim. She finds several medications on the nightstand. With no note left behind, the deaths don't appear to be suicides.

Warrick beckons Catherine outside and shows him a backyard full of holes; several dead squirrels are found nearby. In the middle of the yard is some sort of pest control device from "Atomic Dave's." They're interrupted by a loud noise in the backyard of the neighboring house; a woman is welding something together. When questioned, she tells Warrick that she barely knew her deceased neighbors. Warrick sees that she also has a ground squirrel problem, as her backyard is also full of holes.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins shows Catherine that both Mr. and Mrs. Martin wore pacemakers. Warrick scans the serial numbers into the computer to see the reports on the pacemakers' functions. The reports show that both heart rates spiked eight hours before death, then returned to normal until the couple died in their sleep.

Mandy runs a fingerprint found on the pipe, but originally gets no result. Upon expanding the search to the military database, she finds that it belongs to a Dave Bohr. Greg, Brass and some uniformed officers storm Dave's place and find him yelling "turn 'em off!" in a darkened room; he has green blood around his mouth. When told that he's under arrest for murdering Wayne, Dave insists that it was self-defense. He went to sell some drugs to Wayne, but when Wayne couldn't pay, Dave walked away. Wayne tried to hit Dave with the pipe and missed, leading Dave to grab the pipe and hit Wayne before running off. When a uniformed officers draws back the shades to let the light in, Dave screams and grabs his head. Green blood starts oozing from his eyes as Greg and Brass look on horrified and perplexed.

After Dave's body is taken out, Greg searches the house. He comes across a box containing several large bottles full of thiocyte; they've been shipped from Desert Palms hospital. A invoice made out to Atomic Dave's pest removal company leads Greg to conclude that he and Warrick's cases are connected - his victim from the vacant lot (Wayne) was buying drugs from the guy who did pest removal for the Martins (Dave, aka "Atomic Dave"). Warrick, paged to the scene by Greg, finds evidence that Dave was trying to kill the vermin using radio frequencies, which Greg notes could interfere with pacemaker function.

In autopsy, Grissom is not surprised to see that Dave's organs were green since his blood was, too. Greg enters and informs Grissom that Dave did pest removal for Desert Palms Hospital, which is how he got his hands on the thiocyte. After Dave's brain is removed, it's discovered that he had a large tumor pressing on the amygdala, which likely caused his migraines, aggressive disruptive behavior and paranoia. As the tumor enlarged, it impacted the arteries and caused the cerebral hemorrhage that Greg and Brass observed. It appears that Dave was self-medicating for the wrong condition.

In the lab, Catherine and Warrick operate the pest control gizmo found in the Martins yard and find that it doesn't coming close to putting out anything that's lethal. Furthermore, a tox report shows that the Martins' medications weren't lethal, either. Catherine still thinks that it's too big of a coincidence that the Martins died at the same time.

Grissom performs an autopsy on one of the dead squirrels and finds undigested cyanide crystals in the stomach lining. Additionally, an expanded tox panel indicates that the Martins also died from cyanide poisoning. Henry informs Catherine that cyanide can be legally sold to a select group of people like pest control companies and jewelers. She remembers that the Martins neighbor, Margo Delphi, makes her own jewelry.

Warrick pays Margo a visit and is surprised to find out that Kyle was her ex-boyfriend. She goes on to say that she needs to be in a certain environment to do her work and that ground squirrels are disruptive and disgusting. Because she works with cyanide, she used some to poison the squirrels; however, the Martins cat got into some poisoned tuna and died. Warrick informs her that the irresponsible use of poison is against the law, as well as killing ground squirrels and neighbors. She denies killing the Martins and only says that she got in an argument with them because their pest control device was driving the squirrels into her yard. They disagreed about how to deal with the squirrels, as the Martins tried to get rid of them humanely, while she used poison.

With the help of Hodges' superior smelling skills, Catherine searches the Martins' bedroom again. Upon lifting the mattress, they find a hole in the carpet underneath the bed. Hodges smells it and confirms that it's positive for cyanide. When Catherine cuts up the carpet, she reveals another carpet underneath it that looks like it caught fire. It appears that the Martins laid the new carpet over the old one without removing it, which limited the supply of oxygen. The old carpet melted without bursting into flame. Hodges notes that older carpets contained polyvinyl chloride as a flame retardant, leading Catherine to guess that when the hold carpet got hot, it went into decomposition and released gases, including hydrogen cyanide. Hodges checks under the house and finds a dead squirrel and an exposed wire that it chewed through.

Grissom is surprised to hear that the Martins' killer is a ground squirrel. Catherine explains to him that the device the Martins were using drove one squirrel from the yard to under the house. The squirrel then chewed the wire, leading to a short circuit. The short circuit smoldered into the floor joists and ignited the carpet, which led to the poisonous gases being released into the Martins' bedroom.

The team marvels at how everything was connected - Kyle, who burst into flames at the station, was just divorced from Margo, who was fighting a squirrel war with the Martins. The Martins had hired the exterminator, Dave, whose drugs were turning everyone's blood green. One of Dave's customers was Evelyn, who was the last person Kyle touched before he went up in flames. Grissom points out that there's one more connection - Evelyn had $200 on her when she died. She was likely on her way to buy more thiocyte from Dave. Dave and Wayne waited for her; however, when she didn't show, Wayne lost his temper and ended up dying at the hands of Dave.

Grissom explains that this is all string theory, or "the theory of everything." It proposes that atomic particles are made up of infinitesimal, vibrating loops of energy, or strings. Each string vibrates at its own frequency, producing "notes." These notes make up everything in the universe. Every person in the case thought they were acting alone, but string theory brought them together.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Trivia

  • Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage made cameos as lab technicians. Specifically, they watch and take notes when Nick tests whether a stun gun can set a perp's shirt on fire after the perp has been maced. Subsequently, the two of them received many requests to put that premise to the test on MythBusters, and in a 2010 episode called Fireball Stun Gun, they did just that. Basing their analysis on the fire triangle, the two of them found that the myth was plausible because some pepper sprays use oil-based propellant. Stun guns can create a big spark, especially if they get caught in the target's clothing, and acrylic fabric is in itself flammable.
  • Christine Lakin played Margo Delphi in the episode. Her most recognizable role is that of Alicia "Al" Lambert on the 90s sitcom Step by Step.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 8
Dead DollA La CartGo to HellThe Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp The Chick Chop Flick ShopWho and WhatWhere and WhyGoodbye and Good LuckYou Kill MeCockroachesLying Down With DogsBullGrissom's Divine ComedyA Thousand Days On EarthDrops OutThe Theory of EverythingTwo And A Half DeathsFor Gedda
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