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Working Stiffs
Stiffs
Season 10
Number 3
Writer Naren Shankar
Director Naren Shankar
Original Airdate October 8, 2009
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Previous Episode: Ghost Town
Next Episode: Coup de Grace

Working Stiffs is the third episode in Season Ten of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis[]

A mild-mannered operations support employee kills one of his coworkers. While the CSI team is busy trying to figure out the killer's identity, the motive for his crime is revealed.

Plot[]

Victim: Jason Devereaux (deceased)

On the case: entire team

In a wooded area in the middle of the night, a man attacks another man and violently slashes him to death. The body is found the following morning by a hiker. Nick says that if the killer is smart, he or she is already out of town; however, the audience sees the killer, Paulie Krill, head into work and sit down in his cubicle.

At the scene of the crime, David Phillips determines that the victim was killed sometime the night before. The only thing in the victim's possession is something that resembles a bike lock. There are defensive wounds on the victim's wrist along with multiple head wounds, any of which could've been fatal. Nick observes a deep set of tire tracks, indicating that the driver left the scene in a hurry. Meanwhile, Langston finds mud nearby and notes that it's out of place since it hasn't rained in the area in a while; there are two distinct sets of shoe impressions in the mud. He moves some dirt around and finds a metal fragment. Later, in autopsy, Doc Robbins determines that the killer was trying to dig something out of the victim's arm postmortem and is able to recover an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip. Under a microscope, Catherine sees that the chip is still intact; her hope is that she can find a scanner and determine who the chip belongs to.

A flashback to five weeks before shows the victim, Jason Deveraux, using his "magic arm" as a security key, impressing a female coworker, Belinda Mayfield. The meek Paulie tries to interrupt the conversation/flirting, but is unsuccessful. Paulie later comes to Belinda's defense when he witnesses their boss, Terrence Lombard, sexually harassing her. Belinda is grateful and notices that something is different about her usually timid friend.

In the lab, Hodges examines the metal fragment and posits that it may have been a part of something like a pipe bomb. Meanwhile, Catherine gets an ID off the implanted chip, identifying their victim as Jason Deveraux. Jason drives a Ford Ranger, which matches the tire impressions left behind at the scene. Nick wonders if their suspect killed Jason and took his car.

Greg and Nick head to Jason's address and find his car abandoned outside of his apartment building with the keys still in the ignition and the doors unlocked. Most of the car's interior has been wiped clean, but Nick collects some white trace off of one of the seats. The CSIs are surprised to find that the police are already on the premises—Jason's apartment was broken into and trashed with most of the electronics stolen. The assumption is that the killer broke in and stole something that tied him to Jason's murder. Greg believes that the killer had a prior relationship with Jason, such as a friend or coworker, while Nick finds a picture of Jason at his workplace—there are red X's over several faces in the photo.

At the office, which is an IT support operation for the Tangiers casino, Brass is told by Terrence that nobody is working there by choice and that every employee is likely disgruntled in some way. While Brass questions Jason’s coworkers, Nick and Langston go over Jason’s workspace and find that his computer, which has very few files on it, is set up to remotely access another machine, likely his missing laptop. Brass speaks with Belinda, who placed frequent calls to Jason late in the evenings, and Paulie, who openly admits he didn’t like Jason because the latter used his charm and good looks to get people to do his work for him.

The team traces Jason’s stolen computer to a hapless neighbor, who claims he found Jason’s door wide open. The items were tied up with security cables so, naturally, the neighbor decided to grab a pair of bolt cutters and help himself. Langston immediately figures that the neighbor is nothing more than a petty thief, while Catherine informs him that Jason had a juvie record for peddling drugs in high school. Combined with a party dose of methamphetamine found in Jason's system, they wonder if his murder is drug related.

The drug angle is also examined when Langston mentions to Hodges that meth dealers make "one-pot" meth by mixing chemicals in a container and leaving it in the woods to vent and cure. If disturbed, an explosion could occur. The theory is squashed, however, when trace from the metal fragment comes back as RDX, a high explosive. Greg also discovers that Jason was accessing the computer information of several of his coworkers, including passwords and e-mails.

A flashback to three weeks before shows Jason approaching Paulie and telling him that he knows what he's up to. Much to Paulie's surprise, Jason opens a folder on Paulie's computer named "The Plan" and says that he wants to help. The folder contains documents labeled "building layout," "escape strategy," "target," and "tools." He tells Paulie that he has an uncle in the mining business and can easily get his hands on a brick of RDX. Paulie is later seen opening a briefcase with a depth charge and a detonator inside.

The CSI team identifies every employee whom Jason was hacking. They wonder if the whole thing was just an extortion scheme gone bad and the murder was a crime of passion; however, it wouldn't explain the explosives. Catherine adds that Jason's juvie record mentioned his penchant for blowing things up as a child, so it's possible the traces of RDX found in his cubicle was just him pursuing his hobby into adulthood.

Another flashback to ten days ago sees Paulie showing Jason a safe, which he says he found one day while logging inventory. He contacted the City Planning Department; in return, he was provided with the building's blueprints. Paulie leads Jason to an electrical conduit that runs 150 yards outside the building and comes up on the other side of the security fence—this is his escape route. Jason convinces Paulie to get in and then pranks him, telling him that he needs to be ready for anything. He also shows Paulie that he can get all the necessary access codes just by moving his RFID-enabled wrist in front of a sensor. In the present, Jason's mother stops by the office to pick up her son's things; Paulie pretends to assist her and copies the flash drive that was on Jason's desk in order to create an access card.

Hodges informs Langston that another piece of metal was found a mile from the crime scene, only this one has blood and a serial number on it. The thought is that the fragment could've made the impact wound on Jason's back; it could also be the murder weapon. Meanwhile, the white trace collected from Jason's car is semen—and it's a DNA match to Belinda. Back in the office, Paulie consoles a distraught Belinda, who invites him out for a drink. Before that can happen, Brass arrives and places Belinda under arrest. As she's escorted out, Paulie covertly drops the flash drive with the security codes into her purse.

Brass interrogates Belinda and tells her that she wasn't the only woman in the office that Jason was having sex with. He wonders aloud if Belinda caught wind of this and killed Jason in a jealous rage. When presented with the fact that Jason's flash drive was in her purse, Belinda says that she had Jason reprogram her boss' access card so it wouldn't work. Plane tickets for Cabo are also discovered; Belinda explains that they were simply planning a weekend getaway. She vehemently denies killing Jason.

Langston tells Catherine that the metal fragment recently recovered was part of a jewelry safe, indicating that Jason and his killer were planning a robbery. She explains to Langston that when her father collected revenue from low-end operations (nickel slots, convenience stores, etc.), the money would be stored in a business office until the banks were open the following day. This leads them to think that there's a safe on the office's premises. As Catherine voices her theory, Paulie is seen exiting the electrical conduit and approaching the safe that was just locked up.

Catherine walks in on Langston and Nick working on a safe identical to the one that they found evidence of in the woods. They tell Catherine that a search of the word "safe" in Jason's files indicates that he and Paulie were doing a lot of searches on safecracking. The duo was also renting heist movies. Furthermore, records show that Paulie purchased a safe from a local store that carries them. His current whereabouts are unknown. Nick explains to Catherine that this particular model of safe contains a glass re-locker—when someone attempts to drill the door, a glass plate inside the safe breaks, activating additional locking bolts, which render the safe practically impervious. Catherine also gets a message confirming that Jason's workplace has a similar safe on the premises. Due to water being found in Jason's truck and mud found at the scene, the theory is that Jason and Paulie drilled a hole into the top of the safe, filled it with water, and dropped a depth charge into it, blowing the door off of the safe.

The final flashback takes place two nights ago, where Paulie and Jason have blown up a safe using the method just described by the CSIs. When Paulie told Jason he couldn’t go through with their plan (calling his original plan a "game" and a "secret"), Jason berated him, calling him “empty space." After Jason threated him into keeping his silence, Paulie killed him in a rage with the metal fragment from the safe. In the present, the team rushes to the office…just in time to witness Paulie detonate his bomb. The safe explodes and the door flies through the storage room. It jams up against the entrance door, trapping the CSIs and the police outside. Paulie collects the money and crawls away to his freedom.

Unfortunately for Paulie, the reality is that the door blew off and slammed into him, slicing him and pinning him up against a wall. As Langston and Nick try to help him, Paulie smiles. “I knew it would work,” he says, just before he dies.

Cast[]

Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Music[]

  • Any Way You Want It by Journey
  • Under Pressure by David Bowie ft. Queen

Notes[]

  • Nick tells Langston that he's been mad enough to kill someone, but didn't go through with it. He could possibly be referring to his showdown with undersheriff Jeffrey McKeen. After McKeen admitted to killing former CSI Warrick Brown, Nick held him at gunpoint and pulled the trigger, but purposely fired at something else. This occurred in the Season Nine episode For Warrick.

Trivia[]

  • This is the second ever episode in CSI to be from the viewpoint of the killer. The first was the Season Six episode Killer.
  • Paulie Krill makes mention of some TPS reports that he printed out. The fictional TPS reports were mentioned frequently in the workplace comedy Office Space, which took place in a similar environment to the one seen in the episode. Additionally, the movie's plot involved disgruntled employees trying to steal money from their company.
  • Tim Blake Nelson played Paulie Krill. Among his many acting roles, he is perhaps most recognizable for his role as Delmar O'Donnell in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  • Wayne Knight played boss Terrence Lombard. His most famous television roles are that of Newman in Seinfeld and Don Orville in 3rd Rock from the Sun, while he's also remembered for his role as Dennis Nedry in the hit movie Jurassic Park.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 10
Family AffairGhost TownWorking StiffsCoup de GraceBloodsportDeath & The MaidenThe Lost GirlsLover's LanesAppendicitementBetter Off DeadSin City BlueLong BallInternal CombustionUnshockableNeverlandThe Panty SnifferIrradiatorField MiceWorld's EndTake My Life, Please!Lost & FoundDoctor WhoMeat Jekyll
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