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This episode sees the return of our Big Bad Friend from Season 1, Paul Millander! It’s a complicated one so HOLLLLD TIGHT.

Paul Millander

Back... FOR BAD! Mwahahahaha

You may remember Millander as the one that got away: also the one who left cryptic messages which Grissom and Catherine managed to interpret in near-psychic fashion (“a dove… he wants justice!“). This episode, he gets off to a rollicking start by murdering a kindly guy who picks him up on the freeway

Hitchhiker

At what point did this seem like a good idea?

and leaving a CRYPTIC MESSAGE (remember the dove) on the guy’s face.

Twoface

Notice that the dude has gunpowder on one side of his face

Grissom: He’s telling me he’s going to show me both sides.

1. I call bullshit!

2. What does that even mean?!

Anyway in much more interesting news, turns out that not only does Millander like to murder guys whose birthdays correspond with the date of his father’s death (really? do people really do this stuff?) but the dates are counting down in DESCENDING ORDER (17th August 1959, 58, 57) – and guess whose birthday’s August 17th 1956? (Making him a grand one week younger than my own parents?)

Sara (to Grissom): Catherine briefed us about your birthday.

Birthday Grissom

Yeah and YOU BETTA BE BAKIN', beeeyatch

So that’s pretty weird and it all gets weirder as the janitor from Scrubs appears, pretending to be a traffic cop,

Kevin Yarnell

I'm sad they didn't incorporate a JD-style fantasy sequence for Grissom at this point

and refers Grissom and Catherine to a court room where Millander is apparently working as a judge. OR IS IT JUST A DOPPELGANGER?

Millander judge

The annoying thing about doppelgangers is that MINE LOOKS JUST LIKE ME

Grissom shocked

... wot

Despite the fact that Griss gets banged up in the cells for causing a fuss in traffic court (so not cool, Gilberry), the kindly twinkly-eyed banterful judge extends a dinner invitation to his ugly house

Floral house

Grissom (lying through his teeth): "You have a lovely home."

where Grissom gets to meet the judge’s weird adopted son, Cregg. (N.B. he might in fact be called ‘Craig’… but I like to think that he’s named after CJ from the West Wing.)

CJ Cregg

A hero to us all

Mrs Mason and Cregg

ESPECIALLY TO THIS LITTLE DUDE (or his mum, I guess)

The best thing about Cregg (apart from his name) is his preternatural aptitude for capturing the Patented Petersen Pout.

Cregg Creevey

He Colin Creeveys Grissom at dinner

Patented Petersen Pout

... YOUUUUUU BEAUTAAAAY

Anyway so after that weird little interlude things ONLY GET WEIRDER, as a quick trip to Mommy Millander’s

Mummy Millander

Hi fans

turns up some unexpected background on Paul.

Catherine Willows pink bedroom

*my maternal senses are tingling* Boys... don't... have... pink... bedrooms...

Pauline Millander

ALERT, GUYS! WE GOT A GLEN OR GLENDA SITUATION HERE!

Oh yes. Turns out Millander was born intersex – to the world’s most inconsiderate parents.

Millander: The doctors told my parents to raise me as they saw fit. Unfortunately, they disagreed.
Grissom: So, you were a girl when you were inside the house, and a boy when you were out in the world?

I’m not a qualified psychologist or anything but even I can tell you that’s probably gonna result in some serious issues.

Pauline Paul Millander birth certificate

Who seriously calls their child 'Pauline Paul'?!! (Also: I think this is a major continuity glitch: I'm sure Sara or Catherine says "there's no evidence of Pauline's existence" - and specifically says about birth/death certificates - so what is this???!)

Lucky for Paul that if he had the world’s worst parents, he apparently also had the world’s best surgeon.

Pauline Millander

Going in...

Paul Millander young

... coming out

Errr now don’t get me wrong because the absolute last thing I want to do is take the piss out of transgender people, who have a difficult enough time of it, but I watched My Transsexual Summer and it was a much less efficient process than this. Anyway this seems a good point to note that on one level, this episode is just another instance of CSI’s total inability to handle LGBT issues  without making the people into outrageous stereotypes/total criminals. Bad. Bad bad bad.

And what happens in the case? Welllllll I don’t want to give too much away so let’s just say that Grissom has a birthday twin! yeah-eah.

Additional notices (sorry this is such a badly-structured entry but if I spent any more time trying to tidy it up, it would never ever get published and we’d all be that much further away from Season 2 Episode 19 which frankly is what I’ve been building up to for some time):

1. There is a new title sequence! Incorporating a sexy picture of Action Man Nick with binoculars to replace the HORRIBLE picture of him with weird buggy eyes shining a light into the troll tourist’s eyes from the pilot episode.

New credits Nick Stokes

Thank YOU ... credits designers (whose job even is that?)

2. Catherine’s empathyface is tested as never before when Mommy Millander walks in on her poking around in her daughter’s bedroom without permission – and then lets on that Pauline is ‘dead’.

Catherine Willows guilty empathetic

*feeling guilty but also reaaaaaally wanting to show that I'm feeling your pain*

3. If season 1 was the season of Greg’s Bad Shirts, I think season 2 is the season of Nick’s Ugly Jumpers.

Nick Stokes bad jumper

Exhibit A

4. This hat.

Catherine Willows hat

Oh Catherine. Oh no.

Standard stuff this episode: Sara’s a loser with no social life, Grissom is inappropriate, Catherine is badass and yet loaded with maternal empathy. And Greg is desperate for the approval of his superiors. JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE CSI OFFICE.

To take the smaller story first, Nick and Catherine investigate the death of a guy who was apparently shot in a hunting accident. Apparently they are also engaged in some kind of fancy dress competition.

Catherine Willows Mime

Qui? Moi? (Catherine has obviously come as a French mime) (all mimes are French, right?)

Nick Stokes Action Man

Can you guess who Nick has come as?

Nick Stokes rifle

Here's another shot to give you a clue (note the jumper)

Action Man toy

Obviously, this is obvious. Nick's whole face (his whole body, heh heh) is an Action Man costume

Nick Stokes Action Man lookalike

YOU GUYZ I'M SERIOUS

ANYWAY enough of my obsession with Nick’s face. Hunting guy has left behind a grieving widow

Grieving widow

Grieving

who quickly discovers a surefire way to get Catherine onside.

Grieving widow: … with the baby and all…

Catherine Willows maternal empathy

Did you say BABY? Wouldn't that make you a MOTHER? I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEEEEEL!

Anyway this is quite a sad little story (except for a brief happy moment where Nick and Catherine model some attractive waders)

Nick Stokes Catherine Willows waders

People say I look like me da (ten points for anybody who gets that reference)

and therefore ill-suited to my CUTTING AND SARCASTIC WIT. So I will maybe leave it there.

Meanwhile on the main storyline, Grissom and Sara are probing the case of two, very different, sisters, both found dead in some pipes near a field. One of them is glamorous and has tattoos. The other one (much to Grissom’s surprise) doesn’t shave her legs.

Grissom baffled

What kind of sorry excuse for a woman does she think she is?!

Obviously, with that kind of weird sociopathic behaviour, one who just likes to stay at home and buy things on the internet. (Actually this might merit a new post category: Internet Weirdos. Anybody on CSI who participates in social media is usually suspect in some way.)

Grissom glamorous ID badge

Gosh Grissom, not everyone can be as UNFEASIBLY GLAMOROUS as you appear to look on your ID badge headshot

Anyway after a brief hiatus of suspecting glamour-girl’s boyfriend, Not Mark Wright

Mark Wright

Mark Wright

Not Mark Wright

Mark Wrong

Grissom is soon set on the right (Wright?) (I’ve overused that one) track, via an enterprising prison governor who has his inmates working shifts on a kind of boutique call centre.

Prison call centre

*Johnny Cash plays as hold music*

Patented Petersen Pout

PPP sez... "This is the kind of shizzle that went down at Shawshank. And that didn't end well for ANYBODY. Except Tim Robbins. And Morgan Freeman."

Seems like dowdy hairy lady ordered herself a MAN as well as some (dowdy, hairy) clothing.

Mail order boyfriend

Mail order boyfriend

Nothing wrong with that (though it’s always risky to purchase sight unseen) but a sudden (Greg-enabled) realisation later

Grissom realisation

BUT OF COURSE!

Greg Sanders pleased

"You've got that look." << It's called a realisationface, Sanders

and (with the help of an open-minded yokel) Grissom is collecting some evidence which doesn’t look good for Mr Mail-order.

Grissom: Mr Willoughby – would you mind if I fingerprint your spigot?
Mr W: No one’s ever asked me that before.

Mr Willoughby

Is this one of those fetish things you read about on the inter-ma-net?

Lesson of the day? The internet is BAD, mmmkay?!

That’s the lesson for the viewer, anyway: Sara receives with a more personal takeaway as HEAVY PARALLELS are drawn between her and hairy internet lady. She realises the similarity herself, as they look around Donna’s house –

Sara: We already know she cooks like I do – takeout on speed dial.

Sara Sidle apartment

Alert! This is Sara's house! Note the many takeout menus on the fridge. (I thought this was our first look in a CSI's home but actually I think we see chez Catherine a few times in the first season)

– but the point’s made more harshly when Nick (somewhat out of the blue) gets on Sara’s case about her obsession with work.

Nick: Sara – you gotta get out more.

Sara Sidle stressed

That was way harsh, Thai!

I feel like this exchange is a bit weird and gratuitous but maybe I am expressing unrealistic expectations about character integrity… Nick is a nice boy!

Sara Sidle answering machine

I mean, he is objectively right. The empty answering machine is an Ancient Symbol of Doom. (What's the 2010s equivalent? An empty email inbox?)

Greg Sanders claws

But Greg agrees, it was uncharacteristically catty. Booo!

The episode title is something of a misnomer – it’s actually more like Organ Blender (I know I know and obviously, I, too will sacrifice much in the service of a pun) (hence why my nail art blog is called Lacque to the Future). I only mention it because of the amazing ‘Will it Blend’ moment Nick gets to enjoy.

Blended liver

Will it Blend: Exhumed, Partially Decomposed Nine Year Old Liver?

Yes it Blends

Yes! It blends!

I’m sure it isn’t just me wondering why this regular kitchen blender has a place in the CSI laboratory, and harbouring dark suspicions about where the gang might have got it from… (waste not, want not!)

Anyway this is getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s whizz on back to the start of the episode, where a couple making out in a casino lift encounter a rather unwelcome third wheel.

Dead in a lift

GROUND FLOOR PLEASE

Seems a little odd how he badly dressed himself before neatly arranging himself across the lift floor, huh?

Grissom: This is as phoney as a Chappaquiddick neck brace.

It’s bad that I had to Google that, right? Luckily I’m not the only one feeling baffled by Grissom’s esoteric vocabulary, as Nick and Sara are both baffled by his description of the corpse, Bob Fairmont’s, room as ‘murder central’.

Sara Sidle smug

Haha Nick you doofus gosh don't you even know what murder central means

Nick Stokes smug

Gee I guess I know now, after Grissom ostentatiously explained it TO YOU

Remember this moment! It will be of import next week (?). That is why I am harping on about it. (Oh, and murder central? It’s the room by the lift – easy access, easy escape, only one neighbour to hear you scream. Bear that in mind next time you visit your wayside inn of choice.)

Anyway turns out that Bob Fairmont’s wife is Bree from Desperate Housewives!

Killer Bree

Yes it's me the face of Albert Bartlet Rooster potatoes

As the episode unfolds a murky plot emerges involving Bree, Fairmont’s dandruff-riddled secretary Claudia,

Dowdy secretary

Needs to get some Head and Shoulders

a bottle of shampoo and a previous DOUBLE LIFE with a secret wealthy husband whose parents were apparently called The John Gideon Sr.

His parents the John

Seriously the props person on CSI needs to get some proofreading skillz

CSI suspects

The Red-(/Flaky) Headed League

Unfortunately it also proves to be one of those cases where the CSIs just can’t convict their guy (or girl) (or girls), leaving Sara extremely frustrated.

Grissom: Sometimes science isn’t enough.
Sara: What are we doing? Digging up graves, chasing prints – if it’s no good in court? If the killers win?
Grissom: It isn’t a competition. We don’t win. Courts are like dice. They have no memory. What works one week doesn’t work the next.

SOMETIMES SCIENCE ISN’T ENOUGH??! This is crazy talk.

Sara Sidle breakthrough

On the other hand, Sara spends a lot of this episode confused because she's been scanning in a fingerprint 'the wrong way up' so probably science (or at least technology) isn't enough, if it can't even cope with that (also! note the 'solved crimes' board from episode 1.1 in the background!) (someone's crime is 'floater' hahahaha)

Luckily Grissom has a cheery thought to finish off.

Grissom: The good news? There’s no statute of limitation on murder.

And it doesn’t say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty! Yeahhhh America. (I don’t know. Something about the phrasing brought Cher Horowitz to mind.)

Grissom amazeballs

Wait! I love Josh!

It’s not just Grissom on bodacious form this episode – all the lovely CSI boys are in fine fettle. Of course, I’m mostly talking about Nick, who displays his usual all-round greatness not only in owning up to what he doesn’t know (*cough cough* Miss Sidle) but in charming the pants off (or rather, kidney out of) this round, sweaty little man.

Sad Kidney Man

Sad about my failing kidney but oddly consoled by Nick's chiselled beauty

Kidney Dude: You don’t look like a doctor.
Nick: No, sir, I’m Nick Stokes.

Nick Stokes

YEAH YOU ARE

Always the tiny hope, isn’t there, when you wake up in the morning that that beauteous face could be gazing over you? Isn’t there? Isn’t there?

Nick hugs Bree

Seems like Bree agrees with me - a little poison is a small price to pay for the MANLY WARMTH OF NICK'S EMBRACE. I'd totally selenium myself for that

Aaaaanyway. Where were we? Kidney man does offer to give up his organ (ex-Bob Fairmont) for testing – but never fear, that’s not his kidney Nick was blending at the start of this post. That was The John Gideon’s descendant’s kidney, in fact. Taking the kidney of a living man would be an insufficiently noble act for Nicky to engage in.

Nick: I don’t think any investigation for the dead is worth hurting the living.

Nick Stokes noble

Noble

Grissom Nick Stokes

... you're so hot right now

Of course he is. He’s so hot right always.

Meanwhile in other CSI news, Greg is (weirdly, unexpectedly) lusting after Sara, his affection for whom causes him to regress to adolescence as he keeps trying to plan a lunch break together. Of course, it’s only when he produces some killer evidence (obtained through the mystical medium of an Internet Search Engine) that he actually gets her attention.

Sara Greg moment

"I could really, really just kiss you right now"

Greg Sanders lonely

... I said OKAAAAY...

Seems like Catherine was right.

Greg: Hey, Catherine: do you think Sara would ever go out with me?
Catherine: Sure! As long as you don’t tell her it’s a date.

Greg and Catherine will forever be my ultimate CSI ‘ship; but, as ever, Warrick and his rippling pecs are getting in the way.

Warrick Brown chest

This picture does not capture the full, inappropriate extent to which Warrick's chest is displayed by this shirt

Apart from exhibiting his body for all to enjoy, W-Brow also has an entertaining story to recount about one of his very first cases, a groinally-targeted shooting in which the very same Bob Fairmont was the victim.

CompositOr! Check your spelling!

Don't be confused by the lifelike graphics. This is not, in fact, how it happened.

Warrick: I think I fell for it because I was new, and I wasn’t too eager to talk to another guy about him almost shooting off his manhood.

The only thing better than a pun? A DOUBLE ENTENDRE! And speaking of puns I thought of an even better one for this episode title. ATTACK OF THE KILLER BREES!

Jim Brass eyebrow

You know you love it

Lesson from this week’s episode? EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.

That’s true for these guys, doofus touristicii who we see in the opening scene getting ripped off by a Vegas conman:

Stupid tourists

"We're honest people"... honest

It’s true for the conman, who ends up shot in a car park shortly after making off with $2000 of their money:

Griss (looks at body): Striking resemblance to Judas.
Brass: How’s that?
Griss: Both men lost their lives over a worthless bag of chips. (ROLL TITLE SEQUENCE)

Chippie chips

Worthless?? ARE YOU CRAZY IN THE HEAD?

Casino chips

Oh what yeah these are actually pretty worthless. OK.

It’s definitely true for Warrick, who gets lumbered with running the shift as Catherine’s in Reno and Grissom is cockroach-racing at an entomological convention in Deleuze.

Warrick Brown unlucky

UNLUCKY

Warrick: Acting supervisor? What about Nick – he’s got seniority? Or Sara – she’d jump at the chance.
Grissom: If it was about seniority, I’d ask Nick. If I wanted someone to stay up for three straight days, I’d ask Sara. Instead, I want you.

Patented Petersen Pout

PPP sez... "I want you"

Warrick Brown hot

... and I think we can ALL see why

It’s also true for Sara and Nick, when they find out. Nick (all round solid and amazing guy that he is) takes the snub well. Sara – who doesn’t have seniority and therefore has much less right to be pissed off – is, unsurprisingly, a little harder to handle.

Sara Sidle angry

So full of burning rage

It’s true for Special Agent Beckman, who accidentally ends up in the middle of one of Sara and Warrick’s many rows.

Warrick Brown Sara Sidle argument

Argument in progress

Special Agent Beckman

AWKWARD

It’s true for Sara, when Special Agent Beckman turns out to be running a complicated, Sherlock Holmes-style double-bluff to test her morals. Turns out those doofy tourists weren’t so doofy after all?

Sara Sidle betrayed

BETRAYED by the cut-glass cheekbones

Don’t worry Sara I don’t think he would be much of a lover:

Special Agent Beckman: Never feels right when it works; only feels wrong when it doesn’t.

BUT most of all, as the episode title suggests, it’s true for Captain Jim Brass, whose daughter Ellie turns out to be involved with the central crime and with some rather shady characters.

Ellie Rebecca Brass

NO WAYYYYYYZ

Ellie Brass bitchface

YES WAYYYYYYZ

Jim Brass sad

SAD DAYYYYYYZ

Ellie’s shady dealings (and flagrant ingratitude to her dear old dad) land both of them in trouble, as Brass goes all vigilante on her boyfriend

Car Chase

Not the best way to meet the parents

and finds Warrick having to confiscate his badge.

Badge confiscation

EMASCULATION

Conrad Ecklie

Ecklie - never knowingly absent when somebody's getting bitched out

The episode is notable for rekindling the mutual dislike between Warrick and Brass that was evident at the beginning of Season 1 but seems to have been let slide until now; anyway it’s back with a vengeance (as you can imagine) after this incident, and isn’t much helped by Ellie’s shameless flirting with the W-man.

Ellie to Warrick: Will you fill me up, Warrick?

Warrick resisting

I get enough of this kind of thing from Grissom, thanks

Some of her lines have a touch of the Louis Walsh about them:

Ellie to Warrick: You know, you have this whole Lenny Kravitz thing going on.

Louis Walsh

"like a little Lenny Henry"

Others are just terrifyingly prescient:

Ellie: Everyone I sleep with dies.

Ellie Brass flirting

SHE'S GONE MOFFAT! (this is assuming they did actually sleep together, of course)

Poor Brass. A daughter who doesn’t respect him and who is desperate to get into the pants of the one guy at work who he doesn’t really like.

Captain Jim Brass emotional

In a glass case of emotion

Jim Brass head injury

(He also sustains a head injury)

Thank goodness, then, for this episode’s one really reliable element: Catherine’s maternal empathy, which she phones in all the way from Reno. Can’t have a parent-child relationship without Catherine passing comment!

Catherine Willows maternal empathy

Yeah yeah yeah weeping for you Jimbo - but only a little as you're not a laydee. WHATEVS

Brass: Small-time or not, these ladies are dangerous.
Grissom: Dangerous? Yes. Ladies? No.

So, the start of this episode seems innocuous enough. On the Strip, some guys dressed as ladies (and a lady dressed as Catherine)

Catherine Willows lookalike

Srsly tho that's a pretty good lookalike

Catherine Willows scandalised

*angry but forced to acknowledge the truth*

rob a casino, with a little help from the Phantom of the Opera.

Chandelier falls

Mind out below

Grissom what gorilla

Contributing a helpful story about a gorilla

Meanwhile out in Hicksville (population: 20), Catherine and Sara – working as a team for the second ep in a row – have to tackle a robbery (which turned into a shooting) at a convenience store. This is productive of some excellent buddy-comedy moments, as the local state trooper

State Trooper

Not Sean Astin

abandons them and they’re stuck for hours waiting for David the Coroner to show up.

First Catherine grosses EVERYBODY out (and by everybody I mean Sara, and me) by smelling some suspicious matter on the floor that looks as though it might be vomit;

Smell the vom

"It's not an expectorate"

Sara Sidle yuk face

I wouldn't INspectorate it that closely though... !! (no?)

then Sara is so bored that she has to use multicoloured fingerprint powders to make her life more interesting;

Fluorescent powder

Hi ho, hi ho, it's better with fluoro

and eventually Catherine, who’s made it quite clear that she doesn’t like being isolated out in the country, has a not-very-dignified temper tantrum.

Catherine Willows angry

"I have seniority, I deserve - no, I've EARNED the right to pick my cases!" *quiver*

Even Sara’s quick thinking (she gives Catherine a chocolate bar) doesn’t save her from the Willows’s bad-tempered tongue.

Sara: Do you have a mirror?
Grumpy Catherine: Since when do you care about your appearance?!

Sara Sidle dissed

You are a MEAN GIRL

At least David loves her (when he finally arrives).

Sara: Hey, David! I – I wasn’t touching him.
David: (beams) I know you better than that.

David CSI

Yes cos she has NEVER TOUCHED YOU

Anyway both cases are ticking along when a sudden revelation brings them together via a familiar face from season 1… THE ‘WARM A DAMN BARN’ LADY FROM THE PILOT!!!!!!!

Fingerprint lady

Here she is back then, all disappointed in Grissom's lack of sexual knowhow

Warm a damn barn

And here she is again - older, wiser, still amazing

Obviously I was over the moon to see her given as what I awarded her best line of the season in my prestigious C.S.I.Love You Awards, sadly in this episode she is not given full scope to exercise her golden wit but she does demonstrate her continued amazingness in one of the few lines the writers give her:

Warmadamnbarnlady (to Catherine): Tough. I like that.

OF COURSE you like that, because you too are a badass lady. I was so excited that I went to check her out on IMDB and learned that she (the character) actually has a name: Charlotte Meridian. But don’t get too excited, because she only appears in these two episodes: the pilot, and this one. That is weird, right? Why would they suddenly bring her back just for this one episode? Did she get excited that maybe she would get a permanent role and then they cruelly let her down again? Is that why she looks significantly more harrowed in this episode? WHO CAN SAY. These are the real mysteries of CSI.

Anyway there is actually another character returning from the previous series and IDENTIFIED by Warmadamnbarnlady/Charlotte who brings the two storylines together (yes yes you may well be astonished but such is my incredible knack for surprising and suspending you) (is that what it’s called when you subject your audience to suspense? I suspect not). It’s Tammy Felton, aka the Radioactive Gnome Murderer/’clinical psychopath’ (if you believe the dodgy psychologist), who got away from the CSIs after her estranged parents posted bail last season.

Tammy Felton

OH NO YOU DI'NT

Unfortunately for Tammy, by the time they find her she’s not so nippy

Tammy Felton dead

Junk in the trunk

but at least Catherine and Grissom get to bust out their ‘finding a dead woman in a vehicle’ faces from the I-15 episode.

Catherine Grissom discovery faces

Two fine examples, we can all agree

Catherine Willows maternal empathy

Catherine even squeezes in a moment of maternal empathy for the parents

In fact, as they follow the trail back, nobody in the case seems to be doing too well: not even Darin Hansen, Tammy’s luxuriantly moustachioed loverboy.

Darin Hansen

And how appropriate for Movember

After a tense scene in which Grissom really flexes his acting muscles with an ‘approaching a dangerous toilet’ face

Grissom toiletface

I read somewhere that William Petersen was super method and into his character as well so we should really admire the effort that went into this

it turns out that Darin has copped it, too.

Bog murder

If it's good enough for Elvis... (this is obviously a flashback and not what happened when Grissom opened the door) (he's maverick but not that maverick) (also WHUT! Darin shaved his moustache! Now he looks like John Cusack!)

SO WHO COULDA DUNNIT?

Lawyeralike

T'ain't this dude (seen here with his lookalikey lawyer)

Not Sean Astin

... OH SAMWISE! Did you wear the Ring too long?

Seems like he did. What a shocker. Gives an excellent last moment though (which could almost be 8 zillion times better, if the CSI writers weren’t afraid to think outside the box a little… I’ll show you what I mean).

Catherine: 250,000 turned a career cop bad.
Grissom: Yeah, well, he had his price.
Catherine: We all do. [… PICKS UP A GUN, SHOOTS GRISSOM AND RUNS OFF WITH THE MONEY, ESCAPING INTO THE SUNSET IN HER THELMA AND LOUISE STYLEE GLASSES] [or NOT because so far nobody has paid me to write CSI]

Catherine Willows smile

You KNOW she could do it

What a disappointment. In other news, more excellent Nick/Greg banter as Nick takes the mickey out of Greg’s chosen reading material

Sand and Surf

At least there're no obvious grammatical errors on this one, unlike Sara's super-budget gorilla book

Nick: We’re 300 miles from the nearest beach.

Greg Sanders and Nick Stokes

Sand and Surf? Sand and STOKES

– and then, just as I was thinking that a) this series is definitely where all the Nick/Greg slash originated; and b) Nick and Warrick’s buddy-buddy relationship from the first series is pretty much jettisoned by now in favour of the Nick/Greg pairing, he had a little moment with Warrick as well.

Warrick Brown Nick Stokes

Warrick: *extends finger* Nick: "I'm not pulling it"

Nick Stokes eyebrows

... welllllll, maybe a little

Final quick-fire bulletins: an excellent visual pun;

Jim Brass bras

Brass/bras

an appearance from nice Southern Adam the ballistics guy;

Adam CSI

Just giving him a shout-out

and an accidentally hilarious line from Grissom. Top stuff.

Grissom (to Catherine): The bullets confirm the story told by the potato.

Mr Potato Head

Who, me?

HURRAY it’s a fetish episode! The first of many such and they are always reliably good value. This one is particularly notable as it marks the introduction of one of CSI’s more entertaining recurring characters (and love interests for Grissom), Goth dominatrix Lady Heather.

Lady Heather

Too sexy for... most of her clothing

Before I go into Lady Heather in detail: yes, I know what you’re thinking, it is Julie Cooper (Marisa’s mum) from the OC! And in fact she’s only one of three famous faces who appear in this episode, another of whom is – weirdly enough – Julie’s next-door-neighbour Kirsten Cohen. SPOOKAY!

Kirsten OC

Don't mind me I am just innocently sipping from an inappropriately large teacup

What’re the odds? Do you think somebody watched this episode and thought ‘those two ladies, though they never appear on screen together, exude a parallel bad-ass chemistry that would make them excellent candidates for the lead adult women in the exciting drama of California’s rich and privileged that I am just now conceiving?’ IT COULD BE TRUE.

Unfortunately, the CSI casting directors missed a trick in that the third guest celebrity is not Adam Brody/Seth Cohen, beautiful and all-round-adorable though he is

Seth Cohen and Captain Oats

Nice one, CSI writers - YOU MADE CAPTAIN OATS CRY

but someone from a film of equal significance to my teenage years – noted ageless wonder, Dionne from Clueless!

Dionne from Clueless in CSI

"Warrick! I have asked you repeatedly not to call me woman!"

Ironically (given the iconic freeway scene which I am sure we all remember), Dionne turns up here as CSI’s tyre track expert, helping Warrick and Sara out with their case – a hold-up in which a guy running a cheque-cashing store has been mugged of around $20,000. This is definitely the dud case of the episode (I’m a little surprised it was included at all) but it does throw up a couple of comedy moments, mostly through the use of egregious stereotyping/comedy Latinos.

Sara: Mrs Delgado, I know you’re upset –
Mrs Delgado: Upset? Upset is for white people, lady. I’m PISSED OFF.

Pissed off

This is what 'pissed off' looks like

Mr Delgado (in hospital): You have my pants? I wake up, I look around… I can’t find my damn pants! [I think he needs some advice from Pantsman]

Pantless man

This is what 'wanting pants' looks like

Additional laughs are provided by Sara’s hideous sunglasses

Awful sunglasses

They kind of make her look like an evil blind shrew

Catherine Willows sunglasses

(this, on the other hand, is how sunglasses SHOULD be worn. Catherine looks like both Thelma AND Louise.)

and there’s also an enjoyable chase scene in which Warrick issues some advice that the guilty of Las Vegas (as, indeed, Grissom) would be wise to heed.

Don't Run

Warrick: "You know it don't look good when you run, man."

So, that’s Warrick and Sara, over and out. Meanwhile, Nick, Catherine, Grissom and Brass are working on a much more interesting case, brought to their attention after an unfortunate young couple making out in a playground find a body in the sandbox.

Body in a sandpit

Nothing to kill a romantic moment like a dead body staring creepily up at you

A little bit of detective work via her expensive breast implants

Catherine: That is not a Tijuana boob job. Those puppies are top of the line.

and the CSIs have tracked the body down to Lady Heather’s Dominion: not quite a brothel, but an S&M dungeon in which kinky clients come to punish or be punished.

Dominatrix

'Dirty little stink boy'? OK then...

Side-stepping Lady Heather’s offer of a joint session,

Catherine, Brass and Grissom

Neither Brass nor Grissom is even halfway to being man enough for Catherine

Catherine and Brass leave Grissom to deal with the dominant dominatrix. He and she get on, of course, like a flaming mansion,

Heather (looking significantly at Grissom): She wants the dominant male to choose her so she can stop being dominant.

Lady Heather

Eyelids batting like a flippin' albatross

although I’d suggest that Lady Heather’s insight into Grissom’s character is someone less penetrating than *modest cough* my own. Case in point: she thinks he likes afternoon tea because it allows him to pretend for a moment that society is truly civilized. We all know the real reason he likes it so much.

Afternoon tea

Obviously, it's the cake

Grissom hungry

Mmmmm.... cake

Catherine and Lady Heather also discover a natural affinity

Heather: Sex pays a lot better than death.
Catherine: Plus the outfits are cooler.

Heather: Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you’ve got everything it takes to make a great dominatrix.

Catherine Willows

Well of COURSE that is true

although Nick (surprise surprise) (I love him but he’s such a square) (not just in the literal, facial sense) is not so sure about the fetish scene.

Nick: Catherine. Do you really think that those freaks out there, running around getting spanked with their little dog collars on, are the same as you and me?
Catherine: Just because you never did it doesn’t mean you never could.
Nick: No way. Never gonna happen.

Nick Stokes uncomfortable

You can take the boy out of the Bible belt... (does Texas count as Bible belt?!)

WHERE’S YOUR SENSE OF ADVENTURE, STOKES?

Anyway, reactions to Lady Heather’s occupation aside, the CSIs are soon on the case of an oh-so-predictable culprit.

Dylan

Not this guy! He is a baby!

Speccy White Guy

THIS guy, on the other hand...

Earning multitudes of Speccy White Guy points for his status as henpecked house husband,

Patented Petersen Pout

PPP sez: "I despise you for your essential failure as a man"

Cameron Nelson is the kind of case that the resident dodgy CSI psychologist would have a field day with (I really don’t know why he’s not in this episode). Naturally, frustrated at his powerful corporate lawyer wife’s continual belittling (and the affair she’s having with her boss), he’s sought the obvious conduit for his feelings: violently beating a hired escort.

Catherine: Psychologically, she was a surrogate. [It’s never good when someone in CSI starts a sentence ‘Psychologically…’]

Lady Heather's dominion

"Corporate bitch!"

Kirsten Cohen

I literally can't imagine why anybody would call me that

So far, so good – but one tiny asphyxiation-related accident and suddenly he’s off to jail. Still, every cloud has a silver lining.

Eileen: Where are you going?
Cameron: Away from you. Other than that, I really don’t care.

CSI threesome

Grissom (thinking): Would this be an inappropriate time to bring up the threesome idea again?

Indeed the implication, from the episode’s credits line, is that this has been in Cameron’s mind all along.

Brass: A thousand square miles of desert in Vegas – and the killer dumps the body in a sandbox?
Grissom: He didn’t put it there to hide it. He put it there to be found.

Is that a bit far-fetched? NO! That’s what happens if your wife is a CORPORATE BITCH!

Aside from all this jollity, several points of order arising from this episode’s events:

1. The sequence where Grissom inspects Mona’s body for evidence is somewhat weirdly done. Viz:

Corpse butt

Peachy

This poor girl (who appears to have worked mainly as a stunt double) (is that like when Joey was a butt double?) has to lie prone on the table for A LONG LONG TIME while William Petersen slowly shines a light up and down her naked body. AND THEN SHOWERS HER. All to the sound of Sigur Ros (at least that’s what Shazam tells me).

Shower

You have to admit it's a little bit weird

2. Even if he is a chemist, not a physicist, Greg’s evaluation of basically the most famous scientist of all time still seems a little bit skewed:

Nick: What up, Einstein?
Greg: Do you think Einstein had people hovering over his shoulder all the time? If he did, do you think we’d be walking around with e=mc2 t-shirts?

E=MC2 tshirt

Yes. This. This is Einstein's greatest legacy.

3. Unlikely as it sounds, ‘Gustav Stickley’, the designer of the furniture on which Grissom compliments Corporate Bitch Eileen, is a real guy! I have never heard such a made-up-sounding name in my life! (Except maybe Sid Goggle, I guess.)

Patented Petersen Pout

PPP sez: "Jess you ignorant gitto. Gustav Stickley is totes fames."

4. Catherine’s standard ‘oh Greg’ face:

Catherine Willows

It's somewhere between 'amused tolerance' and 'struggling to maintain a straight face'

5. Lady Heather seems to be under some false impressions about the nineteenth century:

Heather: What happens here isn’t about violence. It’s about challenging preconceived notions of Victorian normalcy – bringing people’s fantasies to life.

Heather you innocent! Victorians loved a bit of S&M!

Mysteries of London series 2

TRUE FACTS (this is an illustration from my PhD topic text, published 1846-48)

6. Finally: there is an excellent thread of Greg-the-S&M-lover running throughout this episode. Evidence as follows:

Greg: … liquid latex.
Nick: Never heard of it.
Greg: Really? It’s all the craze right now, man! Girls paint it on guys, guys paint it on girls… you can paint it on yourself, if you want. If that’s what you’re into. If you can’t get a date. Not like I would know.

Greg Sanders Nick Stokes

Looking for a date, huh, Greg? Looking with your eyes??

Greg (to Grissom): You know what a switch is?!

Greg Sanders smile

Errr... right back atcha, Sanders

And best of all…

Catherine: I just realised that we have a very healthy relationship.
Grissom: We do?
Catherine: Well, when we have a problem I don’t paint Greg Sanders in latex and stick a straw up his nose.

Greg Sanders pens in nose

Only cos YOU KNOW HE'D LOVE IT. (Sure you don't want to reconsider that 'never', Mr Stokes?!)

Boys versus girls in this episode, as Sara and Catherine take on one case – which, unusually, opens the episode but isn’t really the central focus for the storyline – and Grissom, Nick, O’Reilly and Greg tackle the other. And indeed, it’s the same story (BATTLE OF THE SEXES) within the cases themselves.

Sara Sidle Catherine Willows

Girl power!

First up, Catherine and Sara deal with the story of a girl whose car has been hit by a train.

Train

INCOMING

I’ve been thinking that I ought to record the intro lines for each of the episodes (you know, the punny ones before the credits kick in; my little sister and I spent a good half hour in the sea on holiday trying to think of a suitable variant for our own case, should our bodies and bodyboards be washed up at Grissom’s feet (we failed)) so here’s what this episode had to offer:

Grissom: The question is, why did the SUV cross the tracks?
Catherine: To get to the other side.

Grissom disdain

Don't even make that face Gil Grissom you have made much worse jokes AND WELL YOU KNOW IT

In fact it turns out that the SUV crossed the tracks because it was being PUSHED BY A CRAZY DUDE who had fought with the lady driver, notably provoking her by saying an UNMENTIONABLE WORD of which both Sara and Catherine disapprove (seriously bad news).

Catherine Willows realisationface

*realisation face* I HAVE DISCOVERED OUR ENEMY

Speccy White Guy

Fat, unpleasant, caucasian, shortsighted... speccy white guy returns

Luckily, feminist retribution is swift. YEAHHHHHHH.

In the other storyline, Grissom is in his element (and both Nick and O’Reilly far out of theirs) as a death is discovered in what appears to be the Las Vegas Rare Books Room (it has got a proper title but I didn’t write it down). Run by Budget Kevin Spacey

Not Kevin Spacey

Up to 95% cheaper than the real thing (ironic given he has problems with forgeries)

and staffed by Aaron, who is autistic,

Aaron

I probably chose an unfairly unflattering screencap (but that's just how I roll)

both books and autism appear to cause issues for Grissom’s team.

Grissom to O’Reilly: It’s a controlled environment. Notice how you’re not sweating?

O'Reilly sweating

Gosh are you suggesting that O'Reilly's comfortable bulk might translate into him being unusually sweaty at other times? Bit cheeky (especially given Grissom's secret, and possibly mythical, fatboy past)

Grissom: I think he’s autistic.
Nick: What, you mean like Rain Man?

O’Reilly: You know that weird guy?
Grissom: He’s not weird, O’Reilly, he’s autistic.
O’Reilly: Whatever.

Patented Petersen Pout

PPP sez... "This is just embarrassing, guys"

Nick’s made even more uncomfortable in a hairy moment reminiscent of his anxiety over the radioactive gnome, as he finds out that library lady was killed by ricin poisoning:

Nick: Whoah whoah whoah, biotoxin as in ANTHRAX? SMALLPOX? I was at that crime scene for eight hours, man!
Greg: Relax, man, it takes like 2 hours for ricin symptoms to show, and like 48 more to kill you.

Nick Stokes fear face

Not so reassured

This time, he takes steps to deal with the situation.

Hazmat suits

Taking proper precautions

Once the team have composed themselves, there are lots of parallels drawn between Aaron’s stereotypical autistic traits (awkwardness, attention to detail) and Grissom’s own personality – Nick makes it explicit – which makes this little moment somehow even funnier:

Grissom: *takes photos of dead woman*
Aaron: Don’t do that
Griss:

Grissom surprised

*WOT*

You know it’s bad when even a guy who is supposedly a complete social incompetent thinks you’re being inappropriate…! Still, before long Grissom and his new kindred spirit have resolved their difficulties and are merrily quoting Shakespeare at each other – Grissom’s favourite is Hamlet (don’t even get me started) but Aaron’s is Othello; both, I’d argue, fit the GENDER WARS theme that I’m faintly discerning in this episode.

Digression alert: it also means the inclusion of my favourite line from Othello: ‘put out the light, and then put out the light’. I mostly like it because it reminds me of a sheet we were given in the first year of our English degree full of rhetorical devices and examples – like this one, antanaclasis, where you repeat a phrase but it means something different each time (in this case, literal meaning/metaphorical meaning – lights out/DEATH). At the risk of sounding like Geeky Grissom,

Grissom: Botanically speaking, it’s a spurge, not a bean. [I just love the word spurge]

I LOVE A RHETORICAL TERM! There are so many and they just make you think about all the potential there is to do clever things with language. Anyway. Back to the regularly scheduled programming.

If the story outside the lab is of MAN VERSUS WOMAN, back at CSI headquarters the tech staff are feeling the love. Archie’s efficiency wins him Catherine’s (unspoken) admiration…

Sara: She definitely likes you.

Archie Kao

And with cheekbones like those, who wouldn't?!

… Greg is on excellently banterous form

Greg: I know what you’re all thinking – I’m just a bit of a pretty face… got to where I am by sleeping with Catherine… but seriously. Phi Beta Kappa – Stanford – can I help it if I’m hip?

Nick Stokes sceptical

Nick's is not the face of someone who was thinking that

(including some more Standers* banter)…

Nick: I always thought you kept your porn in there.
Greg: I, er, move it around.

Greg Sanders' porn cupboard

And when I say 'move' I mean 'follow', and when I say 'it' I mean 'you'

… and Doc Robbins conceives a weird but very powerful affection for Nick’s light-up evidence table.

Doc RObbins loves the table

"Great table - I could really use this"

Doc Robbins

"Nick... I love this table"

Oh well, whatever rubs your Buddha I suppose!

* how’s that for a portmanteau?

So if I was a man making this presentation

CSI Effect

Yes this was an actual presentation at an actual academic conference ATTENDED BY ME

rather than beginning my talk with the unpromising announcement “I don’t watch CSI” (which is what actually happened), I might instead select some episodes which relate to my avowed academic interest in the ‘CSI effect’. I’m sure everybody who reads this blog will know what that is but if you don’t, in summary the CSI effect is the idea that the success of CSI has not only made students desperate to become forensic scientists because they have a false idea of the glamour of the career, but that it has had the more serious consequence of giving jurors unrealistic expectations about scientific evidence. Apparently (the theory goes), prosecutors find it harder to get a conviction in cases where they don’t have DNA evidence (as is often the case), because jurors think life should be like CSI where you can narrow down hairs from every crime scene to a single criminal. Now what this dude was saying in his paper is that this effect seems to be a myth rather than an actuality – but what I thought as I watched it was that CSI is actually somewhat more self-referential in addressing this problem than all the people who are moaning on about its lack of realism (of course it’s unrealistic, it’s a TV show) ever acknowledge. And (finally getting to the point) this is one of the episodes where CSI does deal with the issue of evidential reliability. That is, they acknowledge that they don’t always have a watertight case or, necessarily, the right guy in the dock.

So, the case in question concerns this little dude

Hapless berkum

Nice but dim

who seems to be guilty as can possibly be after a random ranger type finds him hastily burying not one, but two murdered bodies in a handy stretch of desert.

Desert burial

Don't mind me

With a little help from their magic lawnmower

Magic lawnmower

Sadly it doesn't also blow bubbles out of it, as many excellent lawnmowers do

the CSIs are soon in possession of all the evidence – OR ARE THEY? Nick and Sara certainly think so, making a super-smooth presentation to Grissom

Nick Stokes and Sara Sidle smug

A job well done?

and pressuring him into asking the DA to file charges, even though he’s not yet 100% convinced about the suspect’s guilt.

Patented Petersen Pout

PPP sez... "I'm not convinced of the suspect's guilt"

Nick Stokes pout

Stokes Counter-Pout of Doubt

OF COURSE, Grissom is right (snore) and before long the kid’s evil brother makes an appearance

Evil brother

What, me?

… but it is TOO LATE, the WONKY WHEELS OF JUSTICE have been set in motion, the STUPID PUBLIC will surely convict the wrong guy (at least that’s what Gretchen from Dawson’s Creek seems to think)

Lawyer (Gretchen): A jury doesn’t understand epi–whatevers, OK? They understand a twisty tie, and blood all over Ben’s car seat.

Gretchen from Dawsons in CSI

Yes I am Pacey's badass elder sister, what of it

and before you can say ‘Patented Petersen Pout’, weedo brother has self-destructed

Killed himself

Bad times

leaving Grissom with BLOOD ON HIS HANDS. Yes, literal blood.

Grissom blood

Out, damn spot!

All very grim. (As well as fodder for DEEP AND IMPORTANT THOUGHTS about forensic evidence and the place of CSI within the justice system.)

HOWEVER! Don’t despair! There are laughs along the way (if not as many as usual)! Notably, this (which reminds me of the car door moment in this episode):

Griss: Sometimes, when I leave a crime scene where I’ve been particularly involved with a dead body, I sit in my car, and it hits me – how close I was. How heavy the body is. The texture of the body. How it feels.

Grissom dirty talk

Do I make you horny, baby?

After that Grissom’s weird and inappropriate sexualness kept playing on my mind, so that I couldn’t help reading too much into his relationship with the oddly intense Catholic priest who appears throughout the episode:

Priest on CSI

"I'm not here to tamper with your evidence"

Sexy Grissom

'You can tamper with my evidence any time'

Grossed out priest

...That's disgusting

… and I enjoyed this demonstration of expertise, harking back to Grissom’s secret fatboy past.

Sara (finding a substance on the victim’s forehead): Flour maybe?
Griss: But what kind? All-purpose? Self-rising? Pastry? [*salivates*]

Also, finally, a brief note from elsewhere. Warrick and Catherine work on the case of a girl found dead in a hotel spa (they hear the world’s most unconvincing story ever from her best friend, concerning a torn blouse), and Warrick gets the kind of look from the receptionist more usually directed at a certain Mr Stokes.

Lust for Warrick

Sheer... unbridled... LUST.

Grissom bitchface

(That’ll be why I’m not the one presenting academic papers.) (Not on CSI, at least.)

PS Many apologies for the delay to this post – got off schedule and then cos this ep was quite scarce on the laughs it took me a while to get down to writing up. I will sort my life out and be back on track for next week, I promise!

Unfortunately after last week’s enjoyable smellfest this week’s episode is pretty mediocre. It feels like the writers (let’s name and shame: Elizabeth Devine and Andrew Lipsitz – both regular contributors) were more interested in the setup than in the payoff; unlike the tight theming of the previous episode, this time neither story feels cohesive.

That said, there are still some things to be enjoyed. This is CSI after all!

So, the main plotline begins with this guy, Cliff, aka ‘nose man’ (Sara), aka ‘the Schnoz’ (Grissom), ‘expirating blood from his nose all over his apartment walls to get back at his manager’.

Bloody wall

Exhibit A

Jim Brass grossed out

Yes you're right Jim, that IS disgusting

Cliff

Cliff is unrepentant (also, looks like a fat Charlie from Busted)

Charlie Simpson

(sorry Charlie)

Confusingly (disappointingly?), Cliff turns out to have done nothing wrong, beyond being kind of gross; but JUST BY CHANCE a crime HAS been committed in the neighbouring apartment.

Grissom realisation face

My spidey-sense is tingling! (aka, realisationface)

Room 101

The number on the door should probably be a clue this guy is up to no good

Thank goodness Grissom is able to save face by stumbling fortuitously upon an unrelated criminal proceeding!

Dead woman

Also, this gnarly-looking corpse (to borrow a phrase from last ep's emergency dude)

Maybe you can see why I wasn’t that overwhelmed with admiration.

Nick’s storyline feels similarly halfhearted. He and Catherine are, briefly, excited to be confronted with a scuba diver unexpectedly roosting in a tree. He’s the ‘rocket man’ to Sara’s ‘nose man’.

Scuba diver in a tree

The stuff of (urban) legend

However, all too soon it becomes clear that the guy wasn’t scooped out of Lake Mead by firecopters (as Nick spends a few minutes energetically hoping):

Nick Stokes disappointed

Nicky: he can't handle the truth

rather, this is a much more straightforward story of Friendship Gone Bad.

Jolly lawyer

Also of Matt Damon and Kiefer Sutherland's evil lovechild, and his lawyer, friendly George Bush

Zzzzz! It’s like a less exciting version of the spontaneous combustion story from the previous season. With that in mind, all the excitement this ep does have to offer comes from the CSIs’ romantic relationships… and most of all, from Greg.

So: GSR alert as Sara ‘wipes some chalk’ off Grissom’s face, in a lingering moment of desire.

Grissom and Sara romance

Ohhhhhhhh myyyyyyy love... my darling... I HUN-ger for... your touch

Grissom intrigued aroused

"I'm intrigued... AND AROUSED"

Unfortunately for Sara, she has to compete with this guy:

Griss: Either Paul or John.
Sara: A Very Important Beetle?

Grissom beetle

A true look of longing

By the end of the episode, Grissom is turning down breakfast with Sara (AND NICK! crazy fool) to spend more time with his new friend.

Grissom beetle friend

Gotta take your friends where you can get them, especially when you're Gruesome Grissom I guess

Catherine meanwhile is pumping our old pal the district engineer for information (hahaha pumping BET THEY’VE DONE THEIR SHARE OF THAT [too far?])

Catherine Willows kiss

Willowz meanz bizniss

and letting Greg off lightly when (in a moment of giddy madness) he refers to her as ‘Cat’.

Catherine: I’m going to forget that you called me that.

Greg Sanders sorry

Sheepish (a little bit)

Greg Sanders coffee

On the other hand, it's apparently fine for her to call him 'coffee boy' (alongside Nose Man and Rocket Man, part of the world's weirdest superhero supergroup)

I love it when they flirt. But the best romance of the episode? One I promised myself I wouldn’t get involved in… come on people, SOMETIMES THIS STUFF JUST WRITES ITSELF.

Cath: I just talked with your partner – you’ve been working this case without me, huh?
Nick: ?
Cath: Greg SANDERS?
Nick: Let go of my Greggo! He’s a CSI wannabe.

Let go of my Greggo? I LOVE IT!!!!!!

Greg Sanders bad shirt

Almost as much as I love this ridiculous shirt...

Nick Stokes Greg Sanders romance

... but not even as much as I love this moment! (it's a gif, click it)

So. Good. (Anybody know the appropriate portmanteau for the Nick/Greg ‘ship??!)