CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Season 7 Episode 20

Lab Rats

Aired Sunday 10:00 PM Apr 12, 2007 on CBS

Episode Recap

Grissom's got a full roster of cases tonight for the team, sending out all the CSIs to various locations while he works down in the morgue. But Hodges has a covert plan, bringing all his cohorts together for a meeting on the miniature killer. His idea is to work together secretly on the cases, even though Mandy, Archie and Henry are all dubious about Hodges' efforts. But Hodges brings out the big guns by implying that Grissom needs a hand. "We have one shift to show Grissom what we're made of," Hodges says. "Tonight, we could be heroes," convincing them all to give it a shot-to hunt for the thing linking all four murders, looking "outside the box" for answers.

The seven-month cold Izzy Delancy case is up first. Hodges presents the facts of the case, including the detail that all suspects were exonerated. As the lab crew banters, Hodges tries to bring their attention to the case at hand. That is, until Henry asks if it's okay for them all to be in Grissom's office. Hodges dodges the question skillfully, moving on to Penny Garden. They go over the motives of each of the suspects and ponder the fact that the miniature was left behind later than in the other case. Mandy comments, "The OCD killer had to match it up with the mini, which is why it showed up late." But Wendy interrupts their discussion, the team dispersing instantly to preserve secrecy. Wendy is sure something's going on, but she can't quite figure out what it is.

Down in the morgue, Robbins and Grissom work on a floater from Lake Mead as David rolls in with a body that's missing a head. But as Robbins makes the initial incision, their eyes are drawn to some movement inside the corpse's stomach. "Gas," Grissom assumes, until the movement seems too strange to be air shifting. Suddenly, something leaps out of the body and lands on the counter. "Rat," Robbins shouts. He and Grissom both half-heartedly try and capture it but their efforts are fruitless. The rat escapes through a half-open door. Warrick hands off piles of prints to Mandy on his latest case while Hodges ends up with bits of bikini to analyze from Nick at the same time. As Nick offers Hodges a chance to speak at a conference, the unusually distracted tech receives a frantic text message from Henry: "Wendy's here!"

Too curious to resist, Wendy has apparently inserted herself into their covert op, this time going over the death of Raymundo Suarez at the chicken plant. Ernie Dell comes up as a topic of discussion because of his obsession with model trains and eventual suicide. After finally escaping Nick, Hodges barges in and confronts Wendy, saying he deliberately left her out of their mission because she tends to control every situation. But Wendy knows the real reason: He hates that she stands up to him. She refuses to back down, and their confrontation ends up in a standoff.

The search continues down in the morgue for the escaped rat, with David and Robbins decked out in Hazmat suits (just in case). Grissom lays out pieces of the victim's intestines in rat traps, but before he can finish, he and Robbins both realize they can hear the rodent scurrying through the walls. A moment later, the lights go out and emergency lighting kicks in. "I think he's onto us," Grissom says Back in Grissom's office, the fourth miniature is up for debate next, focusing on the premature arrival of the replica at Grissom's office. The suspects come up, including Lionel Dell, Ernie's son. He knew the intended victim, Barbara Tallman, but the story of his many foster siblings only presented more questions. The throwaway cell phone number called by all the victims remains the only link between the four cases. Wendy asks if the CSIs ever called the number but she doesn't wait for Hodges to find the answer. Instead, she picks up his cell and impetuously dials the number. An automated voice asks for the caller to leave a message, and Hodges is freaked. "Great. Now they have my cell phone number."

Henry offers up an attempt at a metaphorical connection between the vics, but nothing pans out. Hodges wants to focus on the message the killer is trying to deliver in each miniature, hoping whatever it is will lead them in the right direction. Wendy's surprised and impressed-she likes the idea. They start with the doll as the signature and that the killer is a foster child. So the doll represents the killer? They continue discussing possibilities, but the room goes quiet when Hodges' phone rings. He hesitantly answers-relief evident on his face when he hears Catherine's voice. She's looking for Wendy, who's been away from her desk in the DNA lab. Wendy has the answers Catherine's looking for, luckily, and they're able to continue on with the dissection of the cases. Music, mail, newspapers and flowers come up as possible links, all of which are rejected as options. The chicken plant is the one location where none of those elements are present, so they decide to start there.

Downstairs, Grissom and Robbins finally locate their rat, dead and smoking inside the fuse box. Something's in his mouth: a balloon of black tar heroin. "Looks like the rat ate the mule," Grissom quips. Hodges gets out the BORESCOPE to focus on the chicken plant, accidentally knocking loose one of the tiny pieces inside the replica. As Hodges and Wendy examine it, they realize that it's bleach. The same thing was present in the Izzy Delancy case, as well as Barbara Tallman's. But what about Penny's? At that point, Wendy's frustrations become evident. "What makes you think if the CSIs couldn't solve this, we can?" She's done with their little mission.

When Sara returns to the lab with evidence to process, Wendy asks her if Grissom has really been kept up nights over the miniature killer cases. "How would I know?" Sara asks defensively. Wendy eases her fears. But when Sara asks why Grissom would ever confide in Hodges in the first place, the pieces fall into place for her. Wendy heads right for Hodges, accusing him of lying to them all. "You put all our jobs in jeopardy. What on God's green earth possessed you!?"

Hodges puts it simply. "It was my lucky day." The stars aligned for him this morning-he found a dollar, got a wink from a gorgeous girl and three bags for one out of the vending machine. To top it off, he got a 1 in 600 billion match out of the GCMS and he won his online auction for a Three's Company board game. Basically, it was the best day ever. So he came up with his plan. Wendy doesn't care. "If Gil Grissom were here, he'd slap your face," she says angrily. Hodges isn't ready to back down. He's certain Penny's miniature holds the key. As he imagines himself inside it, he inspects all the many coupons on the floor of her home, making a discovery. Crumpled up among the myriad pieces of paper is a coupon for bleach. Eureka! His elation is short-lived when Grissom enters his office, not happy to see Hodges behind his desk with the replica in front of him. Immediately Hodges explains his theory-that bleach is the common element, and a maid or housekeeper would know where it was kept in each of the locations. He believes the bleach is a trigger, and Grissom's eyes change.

He has a thought, recalling the case of James Tilly Matthews in 18th century London, who had a similar trigger that caused him to go into rages. "It's a form of delusional psychosis," Grissom explains. "Rare, but it does exist." Because people with these delusions often act out against companies that propagate their trigger, Gil wants Hodges to contact bleach companies to see if they've received strange hate mail, cross referencing it with Vegas neighborhoods. "Good job, Hodges," Grissom says, before asking him to exit his office chair.

But even that gentle rebuke can't ruin Hodges' lucky day, and he strides out of the lab with a fist pump and a smile on his face
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