CSI:NY S01E16 “Hush”, aired February 23, 2005 IMDB
Yet another dead naked woman in bondage. CSIs Aiden and Danny investigate.
It turns out that the deceased was strapped to a device on the front of a speeding pickup truck, House of Gord-style. The truck collided with a tree, killing her.
An abandoned truck found nearby has a strange device mounted on the front, which includes a label saying, “Place Shoulders Here”. This includes a device with a red button. The truck contains a bag with a latex bodysuit, a ball gag with teeth impressions, and straps.
Aiden: “Pulp Fiction. Nice.”
They visit the truck’s owner, Rob, in his suburban home. He’s the husband of the deceased, Debbie, and has two kids playing in the background.
Danny: “Your wife was in a car accident but we suspect that she was involved in a fetish stunt of some sort.”
Rob: “My wife is a very decent and conservative woman.”
Danny: “You sure there wasn’t a chance she was into something, she just didn’t tell you about it?”
Rob: “The truth is, Debbie and I live separate lives during the week. She works in an office in Manhattan and sleeps at the Waldorf. I never question what she does when she’s away.”
Examining the latex bodysuit in the lab is an opportunity for uncomfortable banter between Aiden and Danny.
Aiden: “I like being on top.”
Danny: “You getting all freaky on me because we drew a bondage case?”
Aiden: “You wish.”
They find a fingerprint and (way too quickly) link it to Jennifer Stupain. The database displays “alias Mistress Jezebelle”, with a record of “public lewdness” and “obscenity in the 3rd degree”. This name is not mentioned.
Another cliche: the investigators infiltrate a kink party. They are mistaken for “the Andersons” and don’t correct the error. (Don’t police officers have to identify themselves?) This party specializes in forniphilia, i.e. humans as furniture, and includes a few examples like a human chandelier and a side table. Jennifer hosts and introduces “Garage Joe”, who built all of this stuff.
Garage Joe spots Aiden’s badge and flees. The investigators identify themselves.
Jennifer: “Everything we do is perfectly legal. We’re licensed and bonded.”
I have no idea what kind of licensing or bonding would apply to selling this kind of device.
Without any kind of warrant, Danny and Aiden take photographs of people with their shirts off, looking for bruising that might indicate they were in a car accident. They also confiscate all the gear from the party.
In the lab, they play around with the “robo spanker” device.
Danny: “It says robo-spanker. Can you believe people actually make this kind of stuff?”
Aiden: “Apparently so. Garage Joe does.”
They turn it on and it swings a strap back and forth. Danny urges Aiden to try it.
Aiden (joking): “That’s sexual harassment, Danny.”
Hair in the bondage equipment leads them to “Garage Joe” Strahill.
Danny: “Yeah, she died. Is that a big shock to you?”
Strahil: “Yes, it is. I made the screamer hitch as an optimum mode of speed and fear for those who fetish such. Debbie was up for it, so I sold her the art.”
Danny: “And then you tied her up and you took her for a ride?”
Strahil: “No, sir. I only sell. You use at your own risk.”
Finally they figure out that the red button on the hitch device is connected to a red light on the dashboard, as a safety feature.
Broken glass in the truck is linked to a specific model of 8mm film camera. (Why such a primitive technology?) A warranted search of Jennifer Stupain’s house turns up the broken camera and the film.
The interrogation, with the whirr of the projector in the background, puts pressure on jennifer.
Jennifer: “You’re never going to get that out of me. Trust is not negotiable in my world. My function that night was simple. Make sure Debbie had a safe experience.”
Aiden: “Yeah, well, you did a lousy job because we got it all on film. The danger wasn’t outside the car, it was inside.”
In an impressionistic flashback, we see Debbie strapped to the screamer hitch on the speeding truck, with Jennifer and the driver, who is eventually revealed to be Rob.
The interrogation room scene shifts to reveal that now they are talking to Rob.
Danny is enraged, yelling at Rob, “You have two little kids at home. Two little kids now with no mother and no father. For what? For what?! For some kicks?!”
Rob says nothing.
The investigative procedural genre trades in moral resolution. This episode provides it when Jennifer and Rob are handcuffed and taken away. Danny and Aiden make light banter about putting each other on the hood of the car when they go for a meal.
There’s no mention of what they are charged with, or consideration of whether Debbie’s death was an accident or a murder. (Though leaving Debbie’s corpse by the roadside and covering up the incident will not look good in court.) In the CSI franchise, solving crimes is a purely analytical process, and moral and legal complexities are seldom considered.
This is the B-plot of the episode, and consequently had less screen time to consider the motivations. There’s no exploration of Debbie’s character or what her masochism means to her. During the flashback sequence that leads up to Debbie’s death, Rob says, “Nine years of marriage and this is what gets you off! You want speed, sweetheart? You got it!”
Jennifer, in the truck’s passenger seat, says, “Damn it, Ron, you can’t violate her trust, slow down!”
In the present, Danny says, “The power over someone in a submissive position can be quite a turn on for a guy like you, huh, Ron?”
This is a version of escalation theory, that putting somebody in a position of total dominance will eventually lead them to abuse that power.
Making Rob at least partially responsible for Debbie’s death creates more questions than it answers. What was going on in Rob and Debbie’s marriage? Was Rob actually involved in Debbie’s kink life before this? Did he resent her involvement in the kinky world of Manhattan while he was stuck with the kids in the suburbs? Did he try to get involved in her kink life, but go straight to forniphilia and high-risk fear play instead of starting slow?
“Hush” deals only in the superficials of BDSM. The investigators distance themselves via either nervous humor or moralistic judgement.