Belgian tourist Pierre Delongue nearly died in his umpteenth sky dive, his equipment wasn't up to scratch, yet his team and its instructor are reputed for scrutiny. Nick's team works out what everybody is hiding and what happened. Langston's team is puzzled by the fate of a cult leader's corpse, found abandoned in the desert.
Nick and Riley investigate the case of a badly injured skydiver, while Dr. Langston investigates the death of a religious leader out in the desert.
- "CSI" - "The Descent of Man" - April 9, 2009
We see helmet cam footage of two skydivers from another diver's point of view. He's French. As his friends open their chutes his gets tangled and he struggles with it. We see his point of view of descent until he slams into a building cracking his camera, which is now upside down. A man runs in and checks to see if he's alive, he is. His friends run in. A few minutes later - there is a timer in the left corner of the camera- paramedics come in and take off the helmet and take him away. The footage flickers as the helmet is placed on the floor.
Nearly an hour later the camera is still shooting as Riley and Nick show up. A man explains this is in fact a crime scene because he was in the French Foreign Legion with Pierre, the diver, and he was too experienced and careful to let something like this happen. Riley examines the helmet as Nick talks to the dude. They discover the camera.
Nick and Riley are questioning the other divers, both female. One explains how everything went right with the dive as usual, they'd done it hundreds of times, until the deployment of the chutes. The other is very emotional, rhapsodizing about the joys of diving. A dude in a battered car rolls up. It's another Frenchman, Max, who is Pierre's partner in the jump school. Turns out they're actually Belgian and close friends. Max and the girls go to the hospital to be with Pierre.
Langston is watching vultures circle. He then goes to a spot where a male corpse is lying on its back and being eaten by the birds and insects. He's dressed somewhat monklike. Langston notes details, such as footprints to and from the body, into his dictaphone.
Back on the slab Hodges and Langston discover a few things about the monk-type guy: he had water so he didn't die of dehydration; he had snacked on pistachios; after cutting off his cossack they discover a huge tattoo of a man on both his torso and back. Over the front it reads "Holy Steven" over the back of the figure's head. On his back it says "Spread the word. I am come" over the front of the figure's body.
Nick photographs and examines the defective chute. Riley comes in with the grim news that essentially every bone in Pierre's body is broken and he's still in surgery. He tells her he's been examining Pierre's chute and identical one and discovered insane coincidences of equipment failure which are fishy indeed. Riley thought these guys were fanatical about checking their equipment. They're thinking someone messed with his chute and he swabbed the handles to pick up any touch DNA.
Back on the slab Robbins is taking out the monk's brain. It shows a hematoma which could be a cause of death. The skull shows blunt force trauma. Langston points out a person in the lotus position couldn't have fallen backwards and hit themselves directly on the head. Brass calls with an ID. Turns out he was a street corner preacher named Mark. They go to a strip mall to check out an address. The sign on the window says The Church of the Holy George. But the word "George" is written on a piece of duct tape clearly obscuring the word "Steve."
They enter and Fish from "Ally McBeal" is lighting candles and singing to himself, dressed in priestly robes. He's George. They ask what happened to the church of Steve and he says Steve was only a "mouthpiece" for the Lord not the actualy second coming. They let him know the mouthpiece is dead. George isn't surprised since he had a vision to this effect.
He explains that he and "the Steven" wandered in the desert for several days until the Steven told him to return to preach the word, bestowing upon Geroge his staff and then the Steven continued on alone. (We see this vision play out). He's excited that he held his rod and staff. He knew that Steven would "transmogrify" i.e. die. Brass lays out the "gospel according to Jim." Brass thinks George took the big ornate staff and whacked the Steven on the head with it so he could take over the church. (We see this vision play out also). George admits he "smote" him.
We open on more video of Pierre, this time upright, helmet-free, and happy. It's the beginning of the helmet cam footage. He tested it out first and also shot the ladies. The more emotional one is all flirty and the other one seems annoyed by this. As Riley and Nick watch the footage from the actual jump Nick freezes one frame noting at the point they were all linking arms in freefall, either woman could have tampered with his chute.
Nick goes to interview them, separately. The teary one says they were one big happy family. Both women offer mouth swabs. The more levelheaded one -played by Charisma Carpenter- also says they all loved each other so much and refers to Pierre as her fiancee. The other one gets ticked off when she hears this. They start calling each other bitch and trash-talking each other. Nick advances the "you killed Pierre out of jealousy" theory and they laugh it off. He brings in, and swabs, Max who says the women could've conspired to kill him together calling them conniving, diseased whores.
Wendy enters Langstons' office in the morgue. The fingerprints on the staff were all George or Steven's but there is nothing - blood or prints- on any spot where he might've whacked him. They wonder why George confessed since there's no proof he did it. Langston runs a video of the Holy Steve's teaching about being supple of thought and pliant of deed via a story about unwanted whipped cream in his Starbucks coffee. Langston says the central tenets of Steve's faith were based on "acquiescence." Wendy thinks Ray thinks that George didn't do it. Ray doesn't, he think he fell under the power of the Steven.
Brass goes back to interrogate him about his confession of "smoting." George admits he didn't do it but that he was following a tenet of the Steven's: "It's better to be agreeable than right." Brass points out that's not religion, it's marriage. George nuttily yes's and no's him until Brass asks for psych evaluation to which George says yes.
Later Catherine and Langston walk and talk that either George is crazy, crazy like a fox, or there was evidence at the scene that Langston missed. Catherine wonders if he just bumped his head. Langston is going to grab the psych eval. Sanders trots up and corrals Catherine into a "double 420."
Along with Brass they roll up on a swanky mansion. There are two dead bodies, discovered by the wife Gretchen after a return from L.A. Gretchen is hysterical about her husband's missing bodyguard. Two men are dead in chairs back by the pool. They own a tile company.
Sanders takes photos. A cop tells them robbery doesn't seem to be the motive since there's no sign of forced entry or robbery. David says they've been dead since the previous evening. Sanders notes whatever killed 'em looks painful. Catherine says both of their necks are flushed which is a sign of a heart attack. They're thinking poison and Sanders plans to take the cigars and drinks on the table to Tox.
Wendy informs Nick there was no other DNA besides Pierre's on his chute.
Catherine calls Langston and asks when he's getting back. He says he's on his way until the young cop from Catherine's crime scene collapses near him. He goes to help him. He had a coronary not unlike Catherine's vics. She and Langston visit the cop- Andy- in the hospital and have him walk them through his response to the call. He says he arrived first, met the wife, went to the backyard, checked the vics for pulses, taped the scene off, and waited for the CSIs to show up. (We see this play out and he wasn't wearing gloves when he checked for pulses.)
They discuss what all three men could've touched as they walk out and as they do Gretchen is wheeled in. Catherine calls Brass and tells him to quarantine the house since there may be a contact toxin involved.
We watch a tech swab and test the cigar. He finds Digitoxin. In small doses it's good for folks with heart conditions but in extreme doses, like the victims got, it causes death.
Sanders and Catherine go back to the house with a team of techs in hazmat suits looking to find evidence of the stuff by spraying a solution on the area and then shining UV light on it.
Catherine and Hodges examine a satellite photo displaying the concentration of the toxins, which makes them think the house was targeted and the toxins were dumped from above. Sanders enters with a website showing an ultra-light type plane that could've gotten in and out low, quiet, and fast enough to have done the job. Catherine has an idea involving latitude and longitude. With help from McCarren airport they track down the flight path of the plane with some fancy satellite/air traffic control technology. They see where the plane put down and it's at the same private airfield as Max and Pierre's sky diving business. Catherine calls Nick.
Cops swarm out to the airstrip along with a hazmat team. They find the ultra-light plane. Riley and Nick spray it for evidence of Digitoxin. It's there.
Max goes to visit Pierre in the hospital. Brass comes in. Max tells Brass he was told that Pierre will never walk or speak again. We pull back and see Pierre's in bad shape hooked up to all kinds of contraptions. Brass leans in and asks if he can hear him. He talks back via a computer that reads his winks or some contact lens in his eye. Brass says that Max needs to talk to him about a toxin dump out of his hangar. Max is all I don't know what you're talking about. Brass says he thinks Pierre wants to talk. Pierre signals that he does and starts typing out words with his eyes saying it was night and Max called him on his cell phone and asked him to fly...
Then Max interrupts and explains that a bad man wanted him to fly him over the area, claiming he wanted to do aerial photography. Max tried to say no but then the man got mean and threatened Max's family so he agreed to meet him but he was so nervous he got in a car accident. We see his explanation play out in a vision from the car accident. He called Pierre and asked him to do it, no questions asked, for the 5,000 dollars. Pierre busts out of a trailer in a cowboy hat, boots, and brief underwear to answer as the girls dance around in their skivvies inside. Pierre agrees to do what Max wants.
We then see Pierre pilot the plane over the men at gunpoint and the man holding the gun unleashes the digitoxin from a canister. The unsuspecting men wonder if it's raining and then convulse and die. We cut back to the hospital and Max explaining that Pierre knew that he had done something wrong but Max told him to be quiet and just continue on with business as usual. Brass says this makes them accomplices. Max understands but says he had no idea what was going to happen. Brass asks Pierre if the bad man tampered with his chute. Pierre says he himself did it. Max theorizes it was because he couldn't live with what he'd done. Pierre says that yes this was the reason. Of course he didn't die. Max cries. Max gives up the names of the bad men, one of whom was obsessed with "North by Northwest." They were hired by rival tile guys who were fighting over the dwindling share of the housing market. (We learn this via a news broadcast the CSIs are watching). They banter about Persia and Langston starts lecturing about Aeschylus. They rib him that they'll put it on their reading list. He's bummed none of them have read him. As they walk away he rhapsodizes about Aeschylus' great power as a writer and starts talking about his death and has an epiphany.
We cut to Langston walking back to the scene of the Steven's demise in the desert. He steps around the area as we hear him talking in voice over about Aeschylus leaving Athens for Sicily for solitary contemplation. He walks around the scene and finds a turtle shell. He has a vision of a vulture scooping up a turtle and then returning later to dump the shell- from a great height- on the Steven's noggin killing him. The voice over has been Langston explaining to Catherine. She wonders if he's going to put this in his report. He points out that birds of prey drop shelled objects on rocks to crack them open and get the meat and that the Steven's bald dome probably looked like a rock. He tells her to Google it and that the DNA on the turtle shell matches.