A plotline recylced from "Under Suspicion" only without the juicy backstory and bitter rivalry, is basically what it was. This was a frustrating episode for me, because all I can think about is the last scene, and it colors my whole perception of the preceding 41 minutes, which, despite not having Stetler, I thought were pretty damn good and kind of back to how Miami was last year, if not yet back to "classic" yet. (and it never will be. I was thinking about this in the car on the way back to school, and not for the first time, I smacked my head against the wall, wondering why anybody thought it would be a good idea to make Natalia a full-time cast member. Ryan stuck out from the original team a little bit, but Natalia sticks WAY out. She doesn't fit in, she doesn't belong, and it's just not working for me.)
Grump. Well, maybe I should try to put myself back into good spirits. Eric punched Nick! Warming up for next episode, I guess. Still, punching = glee. Especially when technically, it was in self-defense after Nick already took a swing. It also amuses me that Ryan has to haul him backwards and tell him to chill out, since Ryan is usually the one with the hot temper around here.
But now I'm going back into the grumpy place, because I have to talk about the Valera-Nick-Natalia love triangle. See...aren't we supposed to start liking Natalia now? Why do they keep erasing all the progress they've made with me? You cannot set up your character as this strong, empowered woman who has overcome abuse, and then turn her back into a stereotype. There was no reason she had to still be sleeping with Nick. I mean, ew. I spent the whole episode waiting for there to be a plausible explanation for the hair. Like, he brushed against her at work, the hair clung to his clothes, boom passive transfer. The credits were practically rolling before I realized "wait, wait a minute...she really WAS sleeping with him?!"
It put her conversations with Valera in a whole new and rather disturbing light. I mean, it was weird enough the first time, where she was all "sure, it's okay if you go out with him, if you really want to." This time she was all "STAY AWAY FROM HIM! I CAN'T TELL YOU WHY!" Even having all the facts, it doesn't make sense. If she was worried about him hurting Valera, she should have told her so. For example, when Valera - clearly not getting the message - smiled "I like dangerous," it's obvious that she's thinking he has "bad boy" appeal, which Sawyer has proved several times over can be rather sexy. Natalia vaguely saying "not this kind of dangerous," or whatever she said, does not automatically translate to "he will break your arm," nor should it. Nat, you need to *elaborate* on this. Not once does she ever hint that Nick has a tendency to be physically abusive.
Now, if Nat's only motive is that she wants to keep Nick all to herself, well, frankly she STILL should have used the abusive argument. It would have worked pretty well. Or hell, since the boards are in a mild uproar that it's not appropriate to date your co-worker's ex, then she should have just called "bad form!" when Valera asked her if it was okay. I'd be more riled, but fortunately I never thought Natalia was that smart to begin with.
But now, we're back to something else I called a few episodes back, which was "if Valera gets hurt, I'm placing the blame squarely on YOU." And she did not exactly escape unscathed. Nick probably left a few bruises the way he grabbed her arm, but that's almost beside the point since he seemed rather keen on getting her into bed before she went back to work, with or without consent. Which led to Valera putting up a desperate struggle to get free, which resulted in Nick cracking his head on the floor and looking dead, and leading to Valera almost sending herself to jail. TO JAIL. (not to mention suffering feelings of unimaginable guilt) If that's not hurt, I dont' know what is. It goes without saying that I was kind of keen on seeing Jake lock Natalia up with or without evidence. Horatio would have to go and foil my plans. Sigh.
Side note, was anyone else as surprised as I was that Valera was able to throw him down like that? I mean, they were on a level surface so it's not like she had a height/gravity advantage, and besides that Nick looks a lot bigger and stronger... also, Natalia, it was totally weird and creepy to be spying on the date like that.
On another matter, guys, how inept was the night shift? Totally and completely useless, they were. Remember 10-7, where Calleigh wants "Camden from nights" to work Hagen's case because "he's solid"? Where's that guy? Was it the dork in glasses who was playing a high school student on Standoff a couple of weeks ago? Ah well. One thing I did have a problem with was Jake being on the case. Everyone keeps complaining that he has more job descriptions than...well, than Horatio, basically, and it irked me. Mostly because he has that constant smirk on his face. Almost a sneer, really. It was just gross watching him interview the poor women, and so I rather appreciated Horatio hanging over his shoulder the whole time, warning him to tread lightly.
It moderately ticked me off that H saved all the Compassion for Natalia. You don't think Valera deserved even one little minute of that? I have a moderate fondness for a Valera/Horatio ship, but even setting that aside, I have always enjoyed their interaction. She always seems kind of scared of him, and as I recall it's usually Ryan who gets results from her, while H usually talks to AV techs...but at the same time, getting Horatio to vouch for you borders on a governor's pardon. And considering that she looked sick to her stomach going up to him to say "it's my fault," when that was proved to be untrue, I thought she deserved just as much comforting as Nat. Poor Valera, though, always getting into scrapes. Just like Ryan. ;) No wonder RaVe was my first ship on this show.
Can I talk about the ending now? Excellent. It really bugged me. Well, not the whole ending, because if I close my eyes I can just listen to the sound of Horatio's Voice of Compassion, and pretend it's just your average abuse victim he's talking to. At first that whole "let's concentrate on the good" bit sounded weird, because...Nick is a bastard. And in the wake of Yelina especially, abusive men rank very low or very high (depending on your system) on H's Scum of the Earth scale. But then someone else pointed out that Nat needs to hear that she isn't a fool for ever having chosen to be with him in the first place, reassurance that she didn't waste all those years. This is why Horatio is good at comforting and I am not.
But it's NAT. And that very last second, where she lays her head on his shoulder, ticked me off all kinds of ways. Horatio is not the kind of guy whose shoulder you can literally cry on. Which saddens me, because he USED to be, but that all sort of died out at the end of season 3.
Remember before, when Horatio was all about the comforting? Remember when terrified young women would break down in his arms? Remember how Suzie would cling to him when Madison was in the hospital? Or how he and Calleigh shared a hug after Speed's death? Yeah. I'm all for you bringing back the compassionate Horatio, but you see, you haven't had him embrace anyone for a season and a half. He's barely even touched anyone at all. You've noticed the way he stands off to the side and avoids all physical contact, right? It's like he thinks they're all unclean or something. Anyway, my point is, if you want to have Natalia crying on his shoulder, could you at least order Mr. Caruso to show some semblance of emotion? She laid her head on his shoulder and he just sat there, looking like a scared rabbit. Oh no! Crying woman! Er, uh, ah, what do I do? Maybe if I just sit quietly she'll let up.
One could argue that he understood she just needed someone to lean on, and it's not as if he pulled away, but he looked more like he was just enduring it. In my opinion, anyway.
What I actually shouted at the screen: "Miss Boa! How long have you worked here? Have you not noted that Horatio has a look-but-don't-touch policy?" Just because I'm having trouble trying to come up with a specific gesture of comfort I WANTED to see, seeing as they're all coming across in my head as slightly inappropriate for a male supervisor to female subordinate even with the most innocent of intentions...
[Note to Self: How to make this scene eleventy billion times better: blur eyes, block out setting and replace Natalia with Marisol.]
Ah well. In the next few episodes, we have punching and lawsuits and land mines, and Clavo Cruz and gunshots and emergency room antics! WHEE! I fail to remember any case details, but those don't matter anyway now, do they?