Season 1, Episode 2
Date of airing: October 5, 2003 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 13.96 million viewers, 9.3/14 in Households, 3.3/8 with Adults 18-49, 4.4/10 with Adults 25-54
Procedural crime television regularly puts in a twist into the story that makes it easier for the detectives to find out the next big clue leaping the story forward, and bringing the perpetrator close to arrest. Usually those twists are ridiculous in nature, because they seem too unrealistic to ever be used in real-life, whether it’s a strain of hair somewhere in the bushes, accidentally found by a flashlight, or the reflection of the victim’s eyeballs from a dark video, which show the room the victim was being kept in — and I only make up one of those things right now, and it isn’t the one you probably expect. This episode of COLD CASE had such a ridiculous twist, although it’s more believable than the reflection off an eyeball. Louie finding out that the bomb was in a box of laundry detergent was not only the break the murder case from 20 years ago needed, but it was also the convenient twist leaping the homicide investigation forward, showcasing that COLD CASE wasn’t embarrassed to use these quick twists to continue telling the story and make the past police investigators look foolish.
I mean, Rob’s story maybe should have been an angle to investigate in 1983, considering he had a wife before Dana no one knew about, but then again, who am I to judge detectives from 1983 not having the possibilities to fully uncover a potential suspect’s past and finding out that he already had a wife before his current one was killed by a bomb in a laundry detergent box. Still, the fact that Rob had a wife before Dana without anyone knowing (but the wife who was lucky enough to get out of the marriage early enough not to get killed herself) would have made him the immediate suspect, as it was shown during the 2003 investigation. You find out that Rob had three wives and was about to get his fourth? Yeah, maybe there is an issue here. And it’s the twist that definitely made the investigating swing far away from the pervert Albert Miller, and towards Dana’s husband at the time. And all this after Louie figured out that the bomb was in a box of Gleen. If 1983 investigators would have looked in the crawl space of the house, instead of being lazy, then the case would have never been cold. It does make you think fi there are real-life cases sloppily investigated like this, and how many murderers currently in prison are in fact innocent. It also makes me wonder whether groups like the Innocence Project goes through old cases like this, meticulously investigating them and looking for a spot in which past detectives might have handled the case sloppily.
The case did have a nice emotional angle to it, thanks to Gwen’s obsession of her mother’s death, as well as pervert Albert Miller being her killer. There was perfection in that scene when Gwen had to get past her previous obsession and live with the fact that she has been wrong and needs to bring in her father now. When she handed over the untraceable phone, even I was impressed by the emotional value of the story, and how it turned out to be a relief for Gwen, when her father was arrested and the case of her mother’s murder was finally solved, and I’m usually never impressed about crime procedurals. But this is still the early stages of COLD CASE – just wait for half a season before the stories and homicide investigations become generic, and when the writers have to come up with more unique stories to into only have the same setup in every episode, in which the victim, usually a woman, was killed by a man, usually her boyfriend or husband. This is the second episode of the show, and Lilly Rush was investigating the second domestic dispute having ended in a death.
Meanwhile, the characters have still not been established, and I am a little surprised that I know more about the guest characters after two episodes than the characters who are considered regulars. Chris must have some sort of life, since he left Lilly to check the bank records all by herself, and Lilly obviously does not have a life, since she was sitting in headquarters all night long to check the bank records. That’s pretty much the only piece of character information this episode delivered — the rest of the 43 minutes were filled with the story of the episode only, and that can get boring quite quickly as well. Maybe in about half a season.
Best part of the episode: Dana and Frank happened to have a nice little romantic thing going on in 1983, according to their flashback scene. It almost made me jealous, but besides that it also showed how much of a grip Rob had on his wives, when they feared they could never get out of the marriage and live a happy life. I’m also glad that part of evil Rob’s character was never really the focus of attention in this episode, or the hour really could have been dark.
Worst part of the episode: You know you’re dealing with the killer, when the man in front of you aggressively directs yo to stay away from his family. That happened with Rob in this episode, it sort of happened in the pilot, too. Men always have to be so goddamn predictable, which is no wonder they lead the chart of being killers.
Weirdest part of the episode: Consider me surprised that the site of a bombing was still standing twenty years later. The house wasn’t demolished, nor was it renovated to make it livable again. It just stood there, always to be remembered as the house that exploded .
Victim/perpetrator rate: Like the pilot episode, the victim has been a woman, and the perp has been a man, updating the rate to Women 2:0 Men when it comes to victims, and Men 2:0 Women when it comes to murderers.
Player of the episode: Louie might have steered the investigation towards Rob, but it was the emotional attachment to the case that made Gwen score for Lilly Rush’s team. Without Gwen’s tragic obsession to the case, the story wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting as it eventually turned out to be, making her the winner of this hour.