The episode begins at the CSI office and we see that it is slow day. But we also hear the distress call of a pilot of a chartered plane asking for help. But that is only the background and our team is completely unaware of the flight’s plight. Next, Russell messages his team to gather for a meeting. He shows them a video which was shot 40 minutes ago; it is a chartered plane crashing to the ground which is just a mile away from the strip. He then introduces Doug Wilson to the team who is the investigating officer. Doug and Sara have worked a case earlier. Doug tells them that the flight was headed to Chicago and the pilot radioed for emergency help.
But then there was silence. Russell points out that the flight then turned at the Mediterranean casino and missed it just for a bit. Doug finds it mysterious as to why the pilot stopped contact and especially when he took a turn for the strip and when the flight was nose diving. Next, we see that Finn enhances the audio of the distress call and hears a voice in the background saying: Where the hell are you going? The voice sounds agitated and they think it could be a hijacker. The pilot is Keith and he is the co-owner of the chartered flight company. NTSB has secured the crash site. They need a correct figure on the dead bodies. Sara and Doug are asked to work together. We do see a connection there and Finn notices it. Morgan and Greg are about to leave for the site when Donna, the genealogist arrives to meet Morgan.
She wants to give Ecklie a special Christmas gift and so she wants Donna to track down her family history. Doug and Sara talk about the people they are married to; they also do mention “old times”. In the morgue, David tells Russell that there is one Jane and two unidentified John Does. So, apart from the pilot there are three passenger remains that are found. In one of the remains, Robbins finds a small piece of shrapnel in embedded in the vertebrae. It is radioactive and Robbins thinks he can identify the victim. Nick and Finn meet Dalton Burke. Dalton tells them that Keith was flying solo and is shocked to know that there were three other people flying with Keith.
He said that Keith and he were business partners and that since he was flying solo to go to meet his family, there are no passenger manifests. Dalton is not in a mood to talk; Keith was his partner and they were a couple for 15 years. They ask him to get them anything that could give them Keith’s DNA. In the personal effects, Morgan finds the flight carpet melted around a gun; a 9mm. Russell arrives and tells Greg and Morgan about the shrapnel found in the victim which proves that he was a war vet; Charles Harrigon. He made it to headlines last year when he got drunk and tossed out of the Mediterranean casino. He camped outside the casino to keep people from entering. Doug and Sara are looking at the flights data recorder. They see that the people in the flight were dead due to massive depressurization.
It appears that the pilot was returning back to the airport. The vectors entered by the pilot kept the flight on course and barely missed the Mediterranean. The cabin door window is broken. A bullet wouldn’t cause something like they reconstruct the whole thing. They then find out that the plane was sabotaged from the outside; the door seal, and so this wasn’t a hijack at all; it was murder. Hodgins finds paint transfer in between the door and Sara makes a replica of the tool marks on the door. The precision suggests that this was done by someone with intimate knowledge of planes. They go the flight company and Hal, the guy who did the maintenance work on that plane. He tells them that he left LVN a while back and Nick points out that he still hasn’t received his grand. He tells them that he did not sabotage a plane over a lousy six grand.
They see his tools and the color is similar to the paint they found on the door. They take him with them. Morgan finds a box in a suitcase that was recovered from the flight. It was addressed to ITS labs and Donna tells her that it is a lab that works on DNA research for paternity suits. They send you a DNA swab tool kit, you swab the DNA and mail it back to them. There is a serial number on the box instead of a name to maintain confidentiality. This was recovered from Jane Doe’s suitcase. Sara and Finn are examining Hals’ tools and they discuss about long distance relationships. Sara is have some trouble with Gill and now meeting Doug kind of makes things worse. Sara identifies a tool that could be the potential murder weapon and the paint chips match the tool.
But Greg arrives and tells them that Hal’s alibi checked out. So, someone who has access to the airport had used Hal’s tools. He then tells that the gun is registered to Jeffery Forsythe. But Jeffery was not on the plane. Jim talks to Jeffery ad asks him how his gun got on the flight. He tells Jim that he had lent it to his colleague Grant. Grant was a popular criminal attorney and he was flying to Chicago as he wanted some time off. He says that Grant was being threatened by someone and hence the gun. Morgan identifies Jane Doe as Jordan; thanks to the DNA kit. Nick arrives with shocking news; there was a man found who fell from the plane. Another passenger? No, it is Keith the pilot.
Sara and Doug reconstruct the scene once again and deduce that Keith must have gotten out of his seat to check something, when the door must have flew open and Keith hit his head on the side of the door and then fell. The injury on his forehead is identical to the shape of the sides. Greg tells them that the mystery man in the cockpit is a guy named Thorsten Mayfield aka Thor. He specialized in writing phony checks and was a stripper at a club. He also learns that Thor was moving in with his new boyfriend Keith. This could be a good motive for Burke! They interrogate Burke and he tells them that he did not sabotage the plane; he lost everything in that crash. Sara checks the surveillance footage and confirms that Burke did refuel the plane but did not tamper with the door.
She then sees a van pull up in front of the plane. The picture of the driver’s face is not clear but the driver was wearing a jacket with Hal’s company logo. So, the killer borrowed his tools and suit. Henry tells Russell that there was nothing from the jacket. He also points out that the swabs found in the DNA kit indicates that Jordan was trying to find her own father. Morgan confirms this from her roommate. Donna is helping Russell with Jordan’s family tree and finds out that Jordan’s father died in ’05. But she has a half sister, Helen Jordan, and she is alive. They find out that she is disabled after a car accident and has been in care at Tranquil Hours for the past forty years.
The doctor at Tranquil Hours knows Jordon as she visited Helen several times and said that she is her half sister. At the office, Henry tells the team that the DNA of Helen and Jordan don’t match. Greg thinks that Donna was wrong; but she is sure that she is right. They also find that Jordan’s father was a very rich man and hence Helen could be kept in such a facility. The trust earns millions from Helen’s account. This could be motive for the trust to eliminate Jordan, who claimed to be family and the trust could lose all its money. Russell wonders that if they both are right, then who is the woman who is pretending to be Helen? It could be possible that Helen died years ago and someone was replaced so that the facility could continue getting the money.
So when Jordan took the DNA swab, someone at the facility was scared of being exposed and so got Jordan killed. Greg and DNA go to find Helen’s DNA but she has been transferred and the doctor has called in sick and Helen has been transferred to critical care. They check the room which has been wiped clean but they still manage to find prints. They find out that the woman who is posing as Helen is Jeffery’s sister and that she was in a skiing accident.
Jeffery is the trustee of the real Helen’s funds. Also, the DNA found on Hal’s jacket and the fake Helen is a match. Jeffery is about to leave town for a trip and he is flying his own plane. They arrest Jeffery and tell him that the doctor has confessed. Russell thanks Donna for her help and Morgan’s family crest has reindeer on it. a perfect Christmas gift. The episode ends.