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Tinder Box
by Sobell for Television Without Pity

Moronic dance music plays in the background, and we get a few desultory shots of Miami at night so we know that Miami is a hot party town filled with hot party-loving people. A sports car of some sort zooms on by and ends up in front of a club. There are a lot of other sports cars there, and a queue by the door. Two hot party-loving women get out of the car and hand their keys to the valet without actually making eye contact with him or acknowledging his presence. They saunter to the door, where Ben (sigh) Browder says flirtatiously, "The girls have arrived." CBS might as well say the same thing about the Farscape fans who tuned in expressly for this episode. There's a little bit of coquettish badinage between the women and Ben (sigh) Browder -- and can you blame the women? -- and then they head inside. We hear, "DJ Scorpius is here!" It is literally the high point of this episode; enjoy the remaining 59-minute slide toward hell. For those of you who didn't watch Farscape, here's all you need to know to appreciate that joke: Ben (sigh) Browder played a space cowboy who, through various plot twists, acquired a sworn enemy named Scorpius. So now Ben (sigh) Browder is slumming on this network dreck, and the entire four-year narrative arc is reduced to a throwaway line which may or may not have been ad-libbed. Come on -- do you give the brain trust behind this show enough credit for the wit to come up with that one on their own?

We see DJ Scorpius kicking it dork-school style behind the turntable. Then we see people dancing. And then -- what do you know? Delko likes girls! He's busy whispering into the mouth of one. Speedle -- who appears to be his wingman -- takes one look at the scene and melts back into the crowd. Well, he needn't have bothered; Delko's new friend tells him she has to leave the bliss of his embrace because she's needed at the bachelorette party. Delko's all, "What party? What about you and me?" Oh, Delko. There is no bachelorette party. She lied to spare your feelings, okay? Don't push it. Actually, the girl's all, "Once I get my friend wasted, I'll abdicate responsibility for her so you and I can have a night of hasty drunken sex!" Or something to that effect. In the background, DJ Scorpius hollers, "Gs up, hos down. If you ain't quakin' and shakin' the bacon, you ain't playin'." This is simply awful. I wish the real Scorpius was DJ'ing. There's some more dancing, and then DJ Scorpius is all, "Yo, yo, let's kick it trance-style." Evidently kicking it trance-style requires pyrotechnics. And here I thought trance music was all about boring computer-generated art and pretentious light shows. Speedle's standing in the crowd, because he's either too cool to dance or he's practicing his Horatio Caine "I am a man alone, set apart by my divine mandate for justice" stance. Delko, however, is bobbing and grinning mindlessly; it's amazing what the prospect of inebriated casual sex can do for the morale.

The pyrotechnics continue until the fateful moment when the sparks hit a curtain and an actual fire begins. This is the point where both Speedle and Delko snap into cop mode. DJ Scorpius gradually notices the conflagration behind him. Speedle manages to grab Delko in the crowd, and he says, "This place doesn't have sprinklers." Delko advises that they hit the fire alarm.

Alarms are hit, flames are growing, crowds are panicking. Speedle proves that he has been taking notes on Horatio as he immediately orders, "Everybody stay calm. There's an exit over here." Well, Speedle's got a little work to do, since unlike Horatio's edicts -- which apparently override the free-will portion of the brain and compel the subjects to do whatever he wants -- Speedle's entreaty is for naught, as people would rather run around and panic instead of actually exiting the club. Delko finds the cell phone in his pocket and calls in the fire at Club Descent. Speedle manages to lead a small group to the exit, only to discover that it's chained. Locked? They should have called this place Club Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Delko's actually looking for his bachelorette-party hookup.

Just then Ben (sigh) Browder rushes to the front of the club with a fire extinguisher and begins hosing the flames. Ben, we love you -- especially in the all-black ensemble -- but the hair...did you leave your barber on Moya? Ben (sigh) Browder exposits that there's only the one fire extinguisher, it's not going to be enough, and Delko should scram. Delko takes this as a cue to continue looking for Connie. They find her, although she's making life difficult by not coming along. Speedle finds an unlocked door and stumbles outside with one of the hot party-loving girls from three minutes ago. She's a little upset that her friend is still inside. So Speedle -- whose white shirt is pristine, by the way -- goes back toward the danger.

Once inside, he directs more people to the door. We see them stumbling out of the smoky area. This makes me wonder: why on Earth does nobody remember their childhood fire training? I'm not talking about the stop-drop-and-roll stuff, but the whole "in case of a fire, drop to the floor where the cleaner air is and crawl out" thing. I doubt anyone's going to do that in a room full of panicky people -- the benefits of breathing fresh air tend to be cancelled out by the drawbacks of being trampled -- but if people all automatically dropped to their knees, we'd have fewer people stumbling around sucking in lungfuls of smoke. Anyway, we see Ben (sigh) Browder carrying an incapacitated woman out and laying her on the ground.

Just then, a CSI Humvee pulls up. So help me, if Horatio's inside...what am I saying? Of course he's inside. After he finished his sunset brood session, he probably went home, heated up a Lean Cuisine bistro meal, and ate it while talking to the propped-up 8x10 glossy of his sister-in-law. Then he did the dishes and sat down to wait for crime to strike. Cue Horatio popping out of the Humvee, screaming, "Are you okay? Eric, where's Speed?" I tend to avoid making direct comparisons to Gil over on CSI: Original Flava in every recap, but I'm cracking myself up imagining Gil's reaction to the same situation. Better, I'm imagining Gil strapped in the passenger seat of the Humvee, watching Horatio fly off and looking contemptuous. Horatio sprints toward the building, screaming, "Fire rescue's on the way." But in the meanwhile, he's got to go get Speedle, then carry him out while Whitney Houston vows that they'll always love one another.

Delko's on the phone with someone whom he's promising to call back when he sees DJ Scorpius kicking back against a wall. Delko comes over all, "There's a lot of people wanting to talk to you," and Scorpius is like, "Yeah, well, I'm right here." The real Scorpius would snap this guy's neck like a pretzel. There's some lame ¿Que es mas macho? back-and-forth, and Delko notes how DJ Scorpius happens to be soot-free. Scorpius is all, "Yeah, well, I saw the flames and I bounced, dog. I bounced." He doesn't really bounce so much as he falls flat. Delko angrily asks about the pyrotechnics, and DJ Scorpius counters that he uses them every weekend.

Horatio seeks out Quentin and asks, "You ever hear of a sprinkler system?" "Why, no! What is this spin-klar you speak of?" Quentin replies guilelessly. Oh, he does not. He says that he didn't think the club needed any sprinklers, since there are absolutely no chances that a pyrotechnics display might cause a fire or anything. Besides, the club building was grandfathered in, so it didn't need them. What the hell kind of building codes does Miami have if a recent-looking warehouse that opened all of five months ago is grandfathered into current code? Are the current Miami fire codes written on a post-it so people can easily update? Horatio asks if the chained doors were grandfathered in too, and we find out that the club owner cares little about smoking his paying customers like Smithfield hams so long as no unpaying customers come in. Horatio runs the numbers by him -- 15 dead, 58 in the hospital. Horatio then asks if Quentin's trying to get out his lease. Quentin angrily asks what Horatio's implying, and Horatio replies, "I'm not implying anything. The average lifespan of a club is six months. You were due, My friend." The two men then repair to someplace less crowded to continue this conversation.

The reason Horatio wanted discretion is because Quentin's got a flash-burn on his face, and that's usually the result of being in contact with accelerant. Horatio asks if Quentin's a base-head, and we see a flashback in which Quentin is stupid enough to slop 100-proof vodka all over his face before reaching for the pipe and lighting up. Well, all those commercials do say your deductive faculties will go once you begin using drugs. I guess they're onto something. Quentin confesses that he had an accident a couple of days ago. Horatio asks where his cocaine is, and Quentin claims to have tossed it because it's a bad habit. Horatio helpfully adds, "And stupid. Did you torch the club?" Quentin protests that he wouldn't, because the club is his life and he keeps all his money here. To illustrate, Quentin heads to the safe. Well, he had been keeping all his money at the club. Quentin promptly loses his cool. Horatio says, "It's just not your day, is it?" It's not his, either. Whoever is doing the camera work on this episode is evidently unable to bring himself to gaze directly upon the careworn visage of Horatio Caine, and so the screen is filled with two separate light sources and a man-shaped, blacked-out hole in the middle. Quentin mourns the loss of $15,000, then tells Horatio only Bartender Johnny had the combination. Bartender Johnny is nowhere to be seen. Horatio concludes, "If you were robbed, that safe is evidence."

But before we can learn more of Horatio's canny plan to do who-knows-what with the safe, Horatio trails off. He's noticed Delko leaning against a doorframe. The two men wander a little ways and have a one-on-one chat during which Horatio inquires solicitously about Delko's well-being, and Delko insists that he has to work. By doing what -- putting on his wet suit and splashing through the puddles in the sodden, burnt-out husk of Club Descent? I admire his willingness to stay on the job, and his need to reassert some control over his life by working on the crime scene, but I wish to God someone associated with this team would suggest that two CSIs traumatized by a slow-roasted mob scene might not be the best people to investigate what happened. I also wish TV shows would feature people who are like, "You know what? It has been a pretty hellish experience, and there's a big bathtub and a bottle of Calgon calling my name. Don't call -- I'm taking the phone off the hook until the PTSD flashbacks subside." Horatio directs Delko to print the safe.

Just then, Horatio's cell phone rings. On the other end, Tripp's telling him, "I've got a DB that needs your attention." Horatio protests that he's in the middle of something, but Tripp tells him, "Well, I've got orders to grab you, pull you off. Red-ball. High profile. You've been, um, requested." Horatio replies, "Political or judicial?" Why, it's both!

Cut to Horatio saying, "Your Honor, why don't you tell Me what happened?" Judge Chakotay -- nice to see that the Voyager crew reintegrated right into life on Earth when they got home; I hear that nice Seven of Nine is a teacher now -- says, "Her name's Jill Susan. She's a prostitute." Horatio nods as he mentally congratulates himself for handing that money and that lecture to the stripper a few months ago. Horatio asks, "Is your wife out of town?" Well, yes and no. Judge Chakotay points out that his wife died last year. Horatio judges the judge's grief and finds it wanting; he replies coldly, "I'm sorry to hear that." The judge elaborates, "I don't have time to wine and dine women. Jill comes once a week, same time. Spends the night. She got here right before 11:30. Usually by taxi. Tonight she drove herself. Car's in the driveway." Tripp excuses himself to go run registration on the BMW. The judge continues, "She seemed a little disoriented. Agitated. She asked if she could grab a shower. A few minutes later, I heard a loud noise. I ran in. She'd fallen. I turned off the water, called you guys." Judge Chakotay then wanders on over to Horatio and asks, "Can you help me? You know how this looks?" Horatio sanctimoniously replies, "I do. Let's see if Jill's body confirms your story."

 

 

 Quick Poll

 Well, why aren't they using Alexx more?

 The talking-to-the-dead thing is beginning to creep out the writers.

 She makes everyone else look dull by comparison.

 Nobody has any idea how to utilize their best asset.

 That would take precious screen time away from Horatio.

 

 

 

Horatio heads into the enormous, well-appointed bathroom, where Alexx is already checking Jill out. The two living people in the room commiserate briefly. Alexx gets down to business: "No semen, no defensive wounds. She does have what appears to be a fracture to the frontal skull." We then get an aerial shot of the scene, lest the artfully displayed naked dead girl go to waste -- and how convenient is it that she happened to collapse and die in such a graceful and network-friendly posture? Horatio notices the blood on the faucet, and bloody mucus by the tiles on the floor of the shower. We get a flashback to Jill's death: in her violent coughing fit, she rocked forward, smacked her head on the faucet with a loud and juicy crunch, then collapsed. Alexx swabs Jill's gums to show him the soot there, and points out, "You get this from smoke inhalation." Faster than you or I can say "Contrived coincidence" or "Bring back Ben (sigh) Browder," Alexx and Horatio have concluded that Jill was at the club prior to her work appointment. Alexx explains, "Smoke inhalation's like a time-release bomb. You walk away thinking you're okay. Soon, you're not walking at all." Just in case we missed the crunch of skull against faucet ninety seconds ago, we see it again. Just as Horatio adds 15+1 to get a new body count, we find out that Jill's BMW is, in fact, registered to Quentin Haid. Horatio replies, "Let's impound that. All roads lead back to the club owner, don't they?"

Daylight has fallen. Delko's gazing upon the dead visage of Connie "I can't feel anything" Contrivance and telling Alexx, "It's weird, Alexx. I barely even knew her, you know" -- aside from knowing what her tonsils felt like -- "and I felt like I had to pay my respects." Alexx tells him, "Don't apologize to anyone, honey, especially me." Whatever heart and soul this show has rests entirely with Alexx. Why the hell aren't the producers using her more? Did Khandi Alexander claim that she was allergic to crap, so she had to limit her exposure to this series? Anyway, Delko asks about cause of death, there's a moment when I'm mesmerized by the battle of the lips -- he's not exactly thin-lipped, but Alexx is sporting some impressively shiny vermilion smackers at the moment -- and then we learn from Alexx, "A combination of injuries led to her death. People don't realize there are so many ways you can die in a fire, and not always from flames." Delko asks if it was CO poisoning. Alexx tells him Connie breathed in super-heated air -- see? Air by the floor is cooler, that's another reason to crawl -- there was a spasm of the epiglottis, and her airways were scorched. We see all that hot, bubbling action in a TMICam shot that goes from Connie's mouth down to her crispy little alveoli. Alexx strokes Connie's hair as she says, "She was a strong girl, Eric. Made it to the front door. But human nature got the best of her. Fight or flight. These people did both at the same time. Trampled her. She's got three fractured ribs, ruptured spleen. You didn't even see it coming, did you, sugar?" The poor husband is sinking even further into the depths of the couch as I begin ranting yet again about how this could have all been prevented if everyone remembered their elementary school fire-safety training and dropped to their knees before leaving the building. Onscreen, Delko's all, "I never ever got her last name." Oh, now he feels remorse. Well, there's good news on that front; Connie was one of the few who won't have to be identified by her dental records, so she's been confirmed as Connie Wilkes. Delko thanks Alexx as the poignant grief music plays.

Cut to Quentin. If he's crying for Jill Susan's death, it's on the inside. Way, way inside. According to him, Jill was a cocktail waitress. Tripp is impressed with her documented wages -- $4000 per week for three nights' work. You know, it's funny how this show positions prostitution as immoral and illegal, then points out that it's an immoral, illegal activity that can pay well into the six figures, because then my question is, exactly how does that set it apart from so many other six-figure-salary occupations? Better outfits during court testimony? No need to earn an MBA first? We quickly work around to the obvious -- a payroll consisting of two bartenders, one bouncer, and 32 well-paid cocktail waitresses sounds not so much like a place with a extraordinarily low patron-to-waitress ratio, but a prostitution ring. Tripp asks, "You were running girls out of your club, weren't you?" "Nope," Quentin says. "Yup," Horatio counters in the same belligerent tone, continuing, "Oh, yes, you were. You were running girls. And in fact, even after this girl survived the fire, you had her go and turn a trick. That's who you are." Quentin points out that he didn't force Jill. Horatio thinks lending the car is a rough moral equivalent, and isn't it too bad the car's been impounded. He's then off and running again: "The thing I find amazing about you is that you have not inquired about her memorial service, and yet you want to know where your car is. That's pretty salt-of-the-earth. You know what? You can go. Go." Quentin does. Tripp asks, "He can go?" Horatio replies, "He can go." What's with the repetitive dialogue? Anyway, Quentin can go, but Horatio's going to mess with his head by refusing to let the car out of impound.

Out in the lobby, Ben (sigh) Browder is twiddling his thumbs. When Delko comes out, we establish that a) Delko called, and b) Ben (sigh) Browder looks as good leaving as he does arriving. Everyone's all right, albeit wracked with survivor's guilt and, in Ben (sigh) Browder's case, really dorky bangs. Delko's all about questioning the money stolen from the safe, and Ben (sigh) Browder mentions how convenient it was for him to stop by, since it was en route to the hospital where he's going to give blood for the victims of the fire. And if this isn't a signal that Ben (sigh) Browder is going down in the next thirty minutes, I don't know what is; the only morally upright people on this show are either the CSIs or the weeping female family members Horatio has chosen to counsel. Anyone else is clearly engaging in elaborate charades to hide their guilt.

Anyway, Ben (sigh) Browder gets fingerprinted, and as Delko is holding his hands, he asks about the chains on the fire exits. Ben (sigh) Browder replies that he didn't like Quentin, but the man did hire him. Delko says that Quentin's already admitted why he chained the doors, and Ben (sigh) Browder gets all contrite and replies, "Yeah, I probably should have said something, but he always told me he hired me for my size, not my opinion." Delko asks what Ben (sigh) Browder's opinion is, and Ben (sigh) Browder tells him, "That my haircut sucks, okay?" Oh, wait. That's my opinion. It's just that it's so distracting. Ben (sigh) Browder's actual opinion is that "Quentin didn't care for the club. Just the women and the money. Sometimes, when he wasn't around, I'd dump the place...to keep it under max occupancy. Make everyone go out, then recount them when they came back in." Delko's impressed, or something.

Cut to a jump-suited Calleigh at the scene. This must be a bad-hair episode, because Calleigh's wearing her hair a la Alice in Wonderland, which seems imprudent at a scene where there may still be residual embers, if not ashes. Anyway, Calleigh asks if the building's talking yet, and Speedle replies that it may be mumbling something, but they can't reconstruct anything until the floor is clean. There's some babble about the fire -- surprise, it started on the stage, and the pattern suggests it was the pyrotechnics that did it. Speedle's off to collect the fireworks and curtain fragments. Calleigh's distracted from collecting the sound-proofing stuff by finding the cassette tape deck with which the DJ recorded his shows. She's going to try to salvage the tape.

Within seconds, they've all collected evidence and headed back to the lab for a science montage. The montage is notable only in how Speedle doesn't appear to balance his centrifuge, which used to be something of a laboratory no-no where I come from. Once the results are in, Speedle finds Calleigh, but she'd rather show him the audio results from DJ Scorpius's recording. After a few listens -- accompanied by the usual whizzy graphics which illustrate how different layers of sound are lifted and isolated -- they both hear the definite whoosh of accelerant pushing the fire out of control. Calleigh points out that the scent dogs didn't pick up the smell, so it had to be something outside the usual array of accelerants. Well, Speedle's analysis results -- ethanol, sugar cane, and oak tannins -- point to rum. Speedle concludes that the curtain was doused with the stuff.

And now, DJ Scorpius is in the house. After a few seconds of hilariously bad fronting -- this guy as about as street as Disney's Main Street USA -- DJ Scorpius, a.k.a. Mason from Aspen, points out that yes, he knows it doesn't look good that he was the first one out of the club, but he'll forever live with the knowledge that people who paid to see him spin are dead. Yes, but anyone who paid to see DJ Scorpius was either too stupid or too taste-impaired to live, so he shouldn't be so hard on himself that way. He should save his self-loathing for his spinning skillz. We then move on to the pyro portion of questioning: he uses standard 8x10 -- it burns ten feet high for eight seconds. He adds, "Nine-volt triggers it, ignites black powder and titanium particles. It practically burns cold, man. I mean, the tip of a match is hotter. You can put your hand right through it." Calleigh's all, "Yeah, but a spark's a spark, and you seem to know all about it." DJ Scorpius counters that that would be because it's his job to know about it.

Horatio and Fireman Fred -- also known as Ronnie -- are talking about the soundproofing, and we learn that it wasn't up to code last month, but Quentin claimed he fixed it during the re-inspection. Bizarrely, Ronnie took him at his word. You'd think that fire inspectors would be a little more hard-ass about these things, but Ronnie claims there's a gentleman's agreement in place. Horatio points out, "Our guy is no gentleman." They look over the burn damage and conclude that Quentin violated the gentleman's agreement. Ronnie's all torn up inside.

Calleigh and Speedle are back in their jumpsuits and back at the club. Now that the room's clear, they can make headway on determining the cause of the fire, since Miami PD's arson investigation unit is apparently off fishing in the Keys. Speedle and Calleigh study the burn pattern and conclude that -- shocker! -- someone poured rum on the curtains. The curtains were on the floor at the time. Speedle and Calleigh follow the floor-based pour pattern to a small room which hasn't been cleared yet. As they enter, Horatio materializes and asks if his underlings have found anything yet. Everyone notices how the burn pattern is high outside, yet low here. Horatio asks if anyone else smells something funny. Speedle's all, "It's burnt flesh. It's everywhere." Horatio replies, "Yeah, but it's more pronounced in here, isn't it?" Well, that would be because there's a body buried beneath all the rubble. Everyone thinks it's the missing bartender, and offers up their theories as to what his crispy corpse is during buried beneath the rubble. Horatio lifts up the guy's arm, and we see all the blood on his shirt; Calleigh notes that there's an awful lot of blood for a burn victim. Horatio replies, "There certainly is a lot of blood. Someone could have started a fire to cover a murder!"

Alexx is on the scene now, looking over the body and concluding that the victim was stabbed multiple times, and there are contusions accompanying the wounds. She concludes that whatever the guy was stabbed with, it wasn't a knife blade. Horatio suggests that it was a broken bottle; the amber-colored glass Alexx pulls out of the wound confirms that hypothesis. Alexx notes that stabbers usually cut themselves in the act, which prompts Horatio to reply, "That means we're going to have to sift through every piece of debris in this area." Speedle wearily volunteers to start. Alexx then tells Horatio that the dead bartender has no soot in his nose or mouth, so he clearly died before the fire broke out. Horatio sighs, "Every time we eliminate a suspect, another one pops up." Then his phone rings; it's Tripp, and he's calling to tell Horatio that the squeeze play with Quentin's car in the impound lot is paying off.

Horatio promptly pulls up to the impound lot and tells the impound flunky to release Quentin's car. We see the guy go in and do so; then Quentin heads on back to get his car. He goes to check the trunk; there's a strongbox in the wheel well where the spare tire goes. Horatio pops up to intone, "They say that patience is a virtue. And it looks like the cash survived the fire, huh?" Quentin asks if the cops have a warrant; Tripp tells him they don't need it if it's in plain sight. This is why Tripp should have waited until he was off the impound lot before opening his trunk; it would be easier to make the case for police harassment if he weren't anywhere on their property. Horatio says, "There are $3,000, not $15,000 like you said, so what's up?" Quentin speaks ill of the dead: "I thought the bitch might have stolen it out of my safe, and you know what? I was right." Horatio tells him, "Here's the problem with that scenario: we found over 12 sets of prints on that safe -- all you." Quentin doesn't see why anyone should find his own prints on his own safe all that suspicious. Tripp asks if maybe Quentin isn't squirreling away a little cash nightly, and Horatio concludes, "Just like you did last night before you torched the place." Quentin claims he didn't. Horatio's all, "Why don't you let Me decide that? In the meantime, I want you to hear Me. If I find out you did this, if you hired somebody to do this, if you stood there and watched while it happened, I will get you. So right now, I will settle for pandering, but I want you to think about Jill while you're being booked." Just when you think Horatio couldn't get any more pompous, he pulls this paternal crap. Think about what you've done? What is he, Quentin's mom?

Back at the club, Speedle's wandering around piles of debris that have been dragged outside. He prepares to go through the evidence, but gets waylaid by a flashback to the club fire. Or, as I like to call it, remembering what happened last night. These episodes always play fast and loose with the space-time continuum. Alexx comes out with the body, and as Speedle watches them leave, he notices how the door stays propped open even after Alexx lets it fall. Speedle comments, "It's weighted. It should've closed by itself, but it didn't. And it didn't the night of the fire." He has another flashback to last night -- talk about your unnecessary drama. You'd think that these guys spend all their time flashing back to what they had for breakfast that morning. Speedle then goes into the whole "I found this open and got people through it, and it doesn't make sense, blah blah blah." Understandably irritated, Alexx asks, "What are you getting at?" Speedle's getting at this: "Somebody left the club in a hurry, right before the fire, and forgot to shut the door." We flash to that fatal instant. Alexx adds, "And maybe, just after he stabbed our bartender." We flash to that fatal instant again. This is how we figure out that there was blood on the door, and since Speedle was the first one out after the killer, he must have some on the sleeve of his shirt, since he used his sleeve to prevent getting burned by the door handle. Then we flash back to the beginning of that scene. Kidding! No more flashbacks.

Alexx asks, "You still have that shirt?" Cut to Speedle dumping out multiple trash cans until he finds it. Suddenly, so much of his wardrobe makes sense. Sure enough, there's blood on the shirt. However, after testing, there's neither a hit in CODIS nor a sample to match it to. Vin Ethanol chooses that moment to come in and tell us the results of his background check: Ben (sigh) Browder applied three times to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and was rejected all three times. There's apparently no need to tell why. Delko can't believe Ben (sigh) Browder would have anything to do with the fire, what with him running in to try and put it out, then staying to rescue people, since wannabe firemen would never stage a stunt that they could use to get into a long-desired job. Speedle's not nearly so charitable. Suddenly, the camera pulls back from the clutch of CSIs discussing this to Horatio, who's at the opposite end of the lab bench with his back turned to them, brooding in the shadows once more. You know, spending all his time hanging out in the dark has got to have some irritating side effects, like not being able to see clearly when he shaves. Anyway, Horatio's all, "He started the fire so he could pull people out because it was his dream to be a hero, right?" Speedle concludes, "And in the middle of it, he stabbed his witness, the bartender. I'll get a warrant for his DNA and I'll work him." Horatio would rather have Delko do it, since he's got the relationship with this guy. Delko's all, "Well, he's going to give blood today..." which raises a few more space-time questions, like "Exactly how quickly did Speedle and Calleigh work during their multiple trips to the burnt-out bar?" and "Is there an extremely long line at the blood bank, or is Ben (sigh) Browder going back multiple times?" and "Exactly how many trips has Horatio made all over Miami with the judge's house, the interrogation room, the club, the impound lot, et cetera?" and "How can all this be crammed into fewer than 24 hours?" Anyway, Horatio warns Delko that Ben (sigh) Browder could be unpredictable. No, Horatio, he could not. Nothing in this episode is unpredictable.

Naturally, Delko heads into the hospital alone and catches Ben (sigh) Browder while he's giving blood. Ben is pretty sanguine, no pun intended, and is all, "Mister Big CSI. I must be in trouble now." I'll say -- we're at the fifty-minute mark, and that's usually the cue to begin wrapping things up on this show so the last minute or so can be devoted to Horatio's picturesque Brood of the Week. We find out that Ben (sigh) Browder burned off half the day waiting in line; Delko confesses that he's never donated blood before. He adds, "I think I get enough on the job." Delko does understand that he's not donating someone else's blood, right? We see Ben (sigh) Browder getting the cotton pad applied to the needle-stick area and preparing to saunter on out. He and Delko make small talk about the investigation, and Delko lies about how it's looking, and adds, "We wanted to see if you would testify as to what you saw at the club." Ben (sigh) Browder's up for that. He then rips his little cotton thingie off his arm because he's too manly to need anything like direct pressure to staunch a wound. Delko makes his excuses, then goes back and picks the pad up from the trash. I suppose this qualifies as "out in the open" and all, but I'm still moderately creeped out by the idea of CSIs slinking around and lying to potential suspects while they wait for incriminating evidence to fall at their feet. I can't imagine some lawyer wouldn't make a stink about that too, arguing that her client had no idea that he was a suspect, he was entrapped into giving a sample without a warrant, and so on. Delko asks Ben (sigh) Browder to head on down to CSI to give a formal statement, as opposed to asking him to head down there because he's about to be hoisted on his own petard.

There's some blah-de-blah between Horatio and Calleigh about the soundproofing, the upshot of which is that Quentin put in the bad stuff on purpose, possibly for insurance fraud reasons.

Delko stops by the DNA lab and finds out that the blood from Speedle's shirt matches the blood from Ben (sigh) Browder's "sample" taken from the clinic, so that clinches the "whoever stabbed the bartender with a broken bottle sustained cuts his own bad self" theory. Delko then runs out to tell Horatio, and offers the resident Angel of Vengeance an audience with Ben (sigh) Browder, but Horatio suggests that Delko should be the one to take down his little friend. Or, as Horatio puts it: "You've gained his trust -- now use it."

Cut to Ben (sigh) Browder going into the righteous snit so familiar to those of us who watched Farscape: "Kill someone? I saved lives in there!" Yeah, well, that doesn't count for anything if you started the fire. Ben gets a little more worked up, and then the rest of the scene unfolds predictably: the CSIs accurately speculate as to how and why Ben (sigh) Browder set the fire and killed his witness; then Delko busts his chops for being too dumb to realize that it's hard to set easily controlled fires. You know, when Delko is ragging you for being a tool, you've hit rock bottom. Then there's a pathetic plea on Ben (sigh) Browder's part about how all he wants to do is be a fireman. And then the scene is over. L-A-M-E, lame.

And now that Ben (sigh) Browder has exited the episode, I see no reason for me to continue recapping. Except for that contract I signed. Damn!

Delko goes to donate blood in memory of his aborted one-night stand. Well, that's it. This must be the end of the episode, since there's no need for Horatio to have the last word.

Oh, wait, what am I saying? All episodes end with Horatio. This time, he pulls up to the club, where an impromptu shrine has already been erected so grieving people have some place to stop and publicly mourn. Horatio does a quick brood, then heads in to talk to Quentin. He tells the man, "We've able to prove that the fire was set intentionally. Your bouncer, Ben (sigh) Browder, will be held responsible." Quentin stupidly says, "So you were wrong about me," which is Horatio's cue to point out that no, he was not. He points out the doctored soundproofing and mentions how Quentin was going to defraud his insurance company. Cut to the conveniently-present insurance agent reading the boilerplate legal disclaimer out loud, which tells us all that Quentin will be not be collecting on his policy. Horatio's all, "So you will never, ever get insurance again, and you will never open another club." Well, that just gives Quentin more free time to concentrate on the call-girl business. It just goes to show -- for every door that burns down, a window full of Florida call girls opens, 'cause it's not like he needs insurance to run that business. After a few more threats to Quentin to stay on the right side of the law, Tripp points out that there are currently 67 wrongful death lawsuits against him. Horatio adds, "I know at least one judge that would love to be there for that." What, so he can recuse himself from the case on account of the call girl he procured from Quentin, however directly or indirectly? Or does Horatio not have a problem with a fixed court system so long as it's fixed in his favor? Tool.

Horatio then stalks off to go brood at the memorial some more before Fireman Fred comes over to tell him, "I'm going to resign. I wanted you to be the first to know." Horatio assures him, "You could not have prevented what happened in there." Fireman Fred is all, "All those souls, Horatio." Horatio pontificates, "I understand that. But we need more good men, not less. And now, more than ever -- you know that." Fireman Fred can't live with the guilt. Horatio exhorts him, "The guilt keeps us sharp. It makes us pompous and overbearing, ready to cut corners and railroad a man into prison to satisfy our arbitrary definition of justice. It makes us brood." Well, that's the subtext anyway. Fireman Fred is convinced not to quit, thanks to the power of Horatio's oratory. That deed done, Horatio stands on the corner and watches the grieving before putting on his sunglasses and brooding some more.



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