Ron Saris has a connection to a series of deaths where the bodies were dissolved in sodium hydroxide, Wolfe exposes Dr. Price's prescription drug addiction, and Julia Winston is driven over the edge.
IAB Sergeant Rick Stetler's vile informer Ron Saris pushes his host and former Jimmy Castigan in his pool during an argument after a party. However, the criminal is boiled alive by the high concentration of sodium hydroxide in the pool, having been added via the filtering system. Pool cleaner Pete Bishop's master-keys were stolen recently. Saris says he was threatened by Julia, who denies this but the note wasn't hers. Ryan shows Horatio Dr. Price is addicted and stole the missing pills from evidence. The alkali is traced to two more decomposing corpses. Saris points out Jimmy's accomplice.
- Champagne. Beautiful people. Drinks. Welcome to the Miami. Suddenly, a not-so-beautiful man enters the room: Ron Saris. Turns out Saris has been staying rent free with the young punk throwing the party. Saris begins asking questions about the punk's latest score. "For someone telling me to keep my mouth shut, you sure are asking a lot of questions," Jimmy sneers. Suddenly, the two are fighting. Saris throws the punk into a nearby swimming pool -- and something strange happens. Jimmy begins to boil!
Moments later, the team is on scene. Horatio dons his sunglasses to take a look at the boiled body floating in the pool. Just then, Ryan arrives with news: The witness who called in the incident is none other than Saris. Growls Caine: "Well, here we go."
Caine interviews Saris, who reminds Caine that he is currently working as a confidential informant. He denies boiling Jimmy -- at least intentionally. "I was the target," Saris claims. "I swim laps every day ... You know who knows that? Julia!" Caine doesn't want to hear it. Travers, Calleigh and Eric examine the pool. The result: the water was filled with concentrated sodium hydroxide -- or, "pretty nasty stuff," according to Travers. Eric quickly deduces the substance was introduced to the pool through the filtration system. Calleigh and her beau investigate the filtration shed and uncover a partial shoe print. "I guess the killer must have stepped in it," Calleigh says. I guess.
Eric and Frank head out to interview the pool cleaner, Pete. He explains someone broke into his truck the other day and stole his set of master keys. Someone would need those keys in order to get into the filtration room and fill the tanks with chemical death. Caine, in the meantime, runs into Kyle in the CSI hallways. "Mom has been calling me nonstop," the boy says. "She's always getting mad talking about Ron." Just then, Julia calls Kyle's cell -- but Caine answers. She immediately hangs up. So Caine heads to Kyle's apartment, where Julia has been hanging out. Caine asks if Julia has been threatening Saris. "Ron deserves to die!" Julia screams.
Back at the lab, Eric and Ryan examine Pete's truck. The former discovers a tiny clump of hair. "There's something strange about this hair," Eric points out. "It's from an animal." In fact, the hair belongs to either a cow or a deer. "It must have got transferred from wherever he stole the keys," Eric theorizes. Ryan helpfully points out sodium hydroxide is used to tan cow hides. Cut to a nearby tannery, where Ryan and Caine interview the owner. He takes the pair to a long-sealed storage facility. Inside, something stinks like a decomposing human. Sure enough, Ryan opens a barrel to discover a half-decomposed torso. Someone is melting bodies in barrels of the same stuff that killed Jimmy. Just then, Caine notices a cigar cap on the ground.
Caine brings Saris in for questioning. Ron denies wasting a good cigar then spins a tale concerning Jimmy bragging about a big score the night before his death. Ron then fingers Jimmy's partner: Sean Echols. Tara, meanwhile, continues to pop pills. Ryan enters, looking none too happy. "You're showing up late to crime scenes," Ryan points out. "You're taking pills at work. What is that? Is it Oxy?" Tara begs Ryan to show mercy and keep quiet. Before Ryan can retort, Kyle enters. The three of them clean the remains found in the barrels. Ryan soon finds a wedding ring with an engraved date. "I'm going to cross check this with the missing persons database," he explains. "See if I can't find a next of kin."
Turns out the ring belongs to a man named Bill Moore. Sondra Moore is soon brought in to answer a few police queries. "This is Bill's ring," she says through tears. "When I couldn't reach him on the phone, I feared the worst. It's like he vanished!" There's more bad news: the second set of remains belongs to Sondra's brother in law. Sondra asks about her sister, who was with the two men when they all disappeared. "There's a chance she's still alive, right?" Sondra asks. Replies Caine: "There is a chance."
Back at headquarters, Ryan has told Caine about Tara's pill problem. The two break into her locker and discover a bottle of Oxy. In a flashback, Tara is blaming Julia for the missing prescription. Caine doesn't look happy to hear he has been fooled. Frank and Calleigh, in the meantime, have taken the CSI Hummer into the backwoods of Miami. They find Sean Echols living in a rundown shack and dressing a wild boar. Calleigh accuses Sean of being Jimmy's partner and helping to kidnap Sondra Moore's husband, sister and brother in law. Sean denies it all.
Back at the lab, Ryan is about to confront Tara about her pill-popping problem when shots are fired! Julia is holding the gun. "Officer Wolfe, put your gun down," Julia says. She then demands her son come with her. "I'm going to get him back," Julia says. Caine enters and explains he knows she didn't steal the prescription pills. Realizing she has no way out, Julia puts the gun to her head. "I'm sorry, Kyle," she whispers. But before she can pull the trigger, Caine grabs the gun. Ryan immediately cuffs Julia while father and son watch. "You're under arrest," Caine growls. Moments later, Julia seems ... off. She mistakes the state attorney for her own lawyer. "I get confused," she says. "Did I put our son's life in danger?" Caine doesn't need to answer.
Calleigh and Eric, in the meantime, share a quiet moment in which he explains the brother in law, Walter Barnett, was frozen before being dissolved. But why? "The smell," Calleigh says. Jimmy and his pal froze the bodies so they could get to the tannery without being noticed. Calleigh then points out that big-game hunters freeze their kills in a similar matter. Frank enters with news: Sean Echols works as a trash collector -- and guess which tannery is on his route?
The team converges on Sean Echols' shack. Calleigh races to an industrial size freezer and finds the frozen body of Rebecca Barnett. Seconds later, Echols sits in the hot seat. "Why would you attempt to dissolve two of the bodies but not Rebecca's?" Calleigh asks. In response, Echols slams the glass table with his cuffed hands. A bottle of water tips over and spills onto Echols' boots . They begin steaming! "The water has activated the sodium hydroxide causing your shoes to burn," Calleigh says. "It also proves you were at the pool last night." Echols explains he and Jimmy robbed and murdered the victims, but only had two barrels. Rebecca was put on ice until the other two were done cooking. Unfortunately, Jimmy wouldn't shut up about the big score, so Echols had to silence his partner.
Ryan brings Tara to Internal Affairs. The IA officer presents Tara with a bag of prescription pills found in her locker. "You hurt Horatio," Ryan says. "You implicated Kyle. You implicated Julia." The IA officer then places Tara under arrest for a variety of charges, including theft and tampering. "Ryan?" she asks. Says the Wolfe man: "I gave you every opportunity, Tara." Cuffed, Tara is led away.
Caine, in the meantime, attempts to convince a judge to go easy on his ex-wife. "I believe that my action led Julia to a state of mental disintegration," he states. The judge seems amenable to having Julia committed. And so she is. We end the episode with Julia sitting in a wheelchair inside an institution -- and Caine visiting.