Paper Or Plastic

Episode Report Card
Sobell: C+ | Grade It Now!
When Double-Coupon Promotions Go Horribly Wrong

We now hurtle towards the wrap-up: Catherine is talking to Celeste, explaining for our benefit that, thanks to Celeste's old part-time gig at the Forum shops, they had her prints off a work card; they matched those prints to the camera, and figured out that she moved the camera. Brass tags in and explains that Raul Valdez passed on some names of people who could knock over the place. Catherine points out that everything was going according to plan until Celeste's ex dropped Henry off. Brass tells us all that Celeste tried to call everything off after that, but nobody was picking up on the cell. The two CSI folks do a full-court press on Celeste to confess, but she says, "I think I need a lawyer."

Cut to Brass and Catherine outside, watching as Celeste confers with her public defender. "All that evidence…" Catherine muses. "She'll make a mistake. She doesn't have the head for details," Brass predicts. "I hope you're right," Catherine replies, and then turns around, only to see wee Henry standing in the lobby, looking like he's about to cry. For a moment, it looks like Catherine's going to tear up too, but then we go to credits.

Kidding! That's what would have happened in a world where the CSIs knew what the Miranda was and worried about getting cases thrown out in court if they just plowed on over a suspect's right to an attorney. What actually happened is this: Brass mows on over Celeste with, "What you need is to come clean and cooperate. You better hope and pray the DA doesn't want to put a needle in your arm for killing five people including a cop."

We then get into motive: Celeste has been working at that store for five years, and she puts in 38 hours a week -- almost full-time, but not quite, so she's not eligible for benefits. It's a deliberate cost-saving move on management's part, and she hit a breaking point. Frankly, I'm not surprised: the grocery business has historically been a low-margin business, and it's becoming even more so as Wal-Mart enters the retail market and begins reshaping the competition by setting the price points consumers expect to pay. If grocers want to stay competitive, the money has to be cut somewhere -- and since WalMart stays lean because of their aggressive overhead-cutting measures (some of which are currently under investigation, like the subcontracting to illegal immigrants or forcing people to work off the clock), other stores have felt the pressure to cut employee overhead too. And so you get workers who scrape by on their hourly wages, but get no benefits. And, since this is TV, they snap and plan a robbery to fund their children's dental trips.

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