Retro Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation–‘Boom’

While Grissom, Warrick and Sara hunt down a serial bomber, Catherine tries to clear Nick after the prostitute he was romantically involved with is found murdered.

With the CSI franchise in reruns for the summer, CSI Files is taking the opportunity to go back to the beginning, offering reviews of episodes from the early seasons of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: Miami, many of which aired before the site’s 2003 founding! The retro reviews will run for the duration of the summer until new episodes of the franchise start to air in the fall.

Synopsis:

A bomb explodes in the Hansen Building, killing a security guard. Dominic Kretzker, a fellow security guard, offers assistant to Grissom, telling the CSI he’s an expert when it comes to building bombs. Grissom is immediately suspicious, and Dominick becomes the prime suspect when the CSIs discover he bought several Time Tell Snooze Well alarm clocks, which is the same kind of alarm clock used to trigger the bomb. Dominick is arrested, but he’s cleared when another bomb goes off while he’s in jail. The bomb at the Thrift Right Car Rental agency kills one person, and provides another clue when Sara matches the orange material used in the employees’ jackets to trace found on components from the first bomb. Sara discovers that Thrift Right’s offices were in the Hansen Building—and that a fired employee named Norman Sterling had been giving the company trouble. Brass and Sara go to arrest Norman, who insists he’s never been near a bomb. Warrick finally identifies a key piece of the bomb as an etcher sold in bulk to high schools—including the one Norman’s teenage son Tyler attends. Brass and Grissom question Tyler, who admits to sending the bombs after watching his dad be unjustly let go from the company where he worked for thirty years. When Grissom asks if Tyler made any more bombs, the boy admits there’s one in a locker at his high school. An order goes out to evacuate the school, which Dominic Kretzker hears over his police scanner. The security guard rushes to the school, helping to clear students out, and retrieves the bomb from the locker. The bomb explodes in his hands just as Grissom and the police arrive, killing Dominic but no students. Grissom pins an article about Dominic’s heroic sacrifice on a bulletin board commemorating the deaths of police officers.

After a night hanging out with a college friend, Nick comes across prostitute Kristi Hopkins arguing with a man named Jack. Nick extricates her from the situation and drives her home—and ends up staying the night. He leaves at 4 a.m. and returns later to take her to breakfast—only to find her house surrounded by cops. Kristi has been murdered. Nick returns to the lab and tells Grissom what happened between him and Kristi. Catherine offers to intercede with Ecklie, who has been assigned to the case. Catherine looks in on Doc Robbins’ autopsy and learns Kristi was strangled with a thick rope. When Ecklie finds Nick’s DNA and fingerprints all over Kristi’s house, he assumes Nick is involved. Nick hands Ecklie the license plate number of Jack Hillman, the man he saw arguing with Kristi, which he obtained from a video surveillance tape from the casino he was at when he ran into Kristi and Jack. Ecklie questions Jack, who claims he went to Kristi’s house and saw her fighting with Nick, who attacked her. Ecklie and Sheriff Mobley think the evidence against Nick is damning, but, knowing that an arrest would end Nick’s career, Catherine asks for twelve hours to conduct her own investigation. She goes to Kristi’s house and notices the sashes on the curtains are made out of rope. Catherine brings the sash clearly used to strangle Kristi to Greg and asks him to comb it for epithelials. Greg finds epithelial cells, which he compares to Jack’s DNA, in the database because Jack has a prior conviction for sexual assault. Jack is arrested and Nick’s name is cleared. Nick tells Doc Robbins he’ll pay for Kristi’s burial after he learns she has no family. After he confronts Jack, Nick learns the pimp killed Kristi because she was planning on going into business for herself—as a pimp.

Analysis:

Nick Stokes’ liaison with prostitute Kristi Hopkins lands him in hot water when, the very morning after he gives in to his attraction to her, Kristi winds up dead. It’s pretty obvious even before Nick breaks up a fight between Kristi and a man he assumes to be a john but is actually her pimp that the CSI is playing with fire. After all, Nick’s previous two encounters with Kristi have both been related to her brushes with the law: in the “Pilot”, Kristi was caught drugging and robbing a john, while in “Fahrenheit 932” she got into an altercation with a security guard that proved not to be her fault. Krista Allen‘s natural charm and the flirtatious seductiveness she imbues the character with makes it easy to see why Nick would be drawn to her, but the audience is pretty sure she’s bad news even before we find out John is her pimp—and that Kristi wasn’t going back to school to get into a legitimate business as she intimates to Nick, but to learn how to be a pimp and go into business for herself. Kristi plays the damsel in distress well, but she was obviously a very savvy young woman.

For a prostitute, Kristi had pretty luxurious digs; when Catherine goes to her house hoping to find evidence to exonerate Nick, a pool is visible through the curtains, and though the house is pretty torn up, it’s evident that Kristi had some nice furniture in her house. The fact that Kristi was robbing johns when Nick first met her combined with her intention to go to college to learn how to go into business for herself suggests she was ambitious and wanted to better herself. And yet, while Kristi perhaps wasn’t exactly the person she presented herself as to Nick, she’s still sympathetic, and the scene in the morgue in which Doc Robbins tells Nick that Kristi didn’t have any family and will be buried by the state is a poignant one.

Sleeping with a prostitute doesn’t diminish Nick’s appeal as a good guy; he holds out for two episodes despite the fact that Kristi is clearly attracted to him and interested. When he finally does give in, he doesn’t just take off; he’s back the very next morning hoping to take her to breakfast. Rather than hiding his involvement, Nick goes straight to Grissom and confesses all and fills the grave shift supervisor in. Grissom offers to intercede with Ecklie, but Catherine is present and wisely steps in instead, making note of Grissom’s contentious relationship with Ecklie. Catherine might be hotheaded and passionate at times, but she knows how to handle Ecklie and not let the day-shift supervisor get under her skin.

This is the second time in a row that Ecklie is proved wrong by someone from the grave shift, and while his conclusions are presented as being fairly logical (if unimaginative), the show is definitely painting Ecklie as someone who is satisfied by the most obvious conclusion and isn’t eager to dig deeper. Though the day shift supervisor isn’t quite a villain, thanks in part to Marc Vann‘s nuanced portrayal, he is definitely Grissom’s foil. Grissom is incredibly cautious, and resists jumping to the most obvious conclusion, instead making sure the evidence tells him everything. And he’s certainly not one to go readily believe a witness or suspect; unlike Ecklie and Mobley, he wouldn’t have seen Jack’s assertion that he saw Nick throwing Kristi around as credible without evidence backing it up.

While Catherine is chasing down evidence to prove Nick innocent, Grissom and the rest of the team are working a bombing case. Though Dominic seems to be an obvious suspect, and Grissom rightly tries to keep him close, Grissom never really seems to suspect the earnest security guard. Grissom stops by to see Dominic once he’s thrown in jail, and move Dominic views as similar to his own M.O.—having to make excuses to drop by to see someone. Though Dominic is much more effusive than the taciturn Grissom, he does share an earnestness and social awkwardness with the CSI leader. For both Grissom and Dominic, their hobbies are their passions.

In the end, Dominic makes a noble if somewhat foolish sacrifice, rushing to Tyler’s high school after he heard the announcement on his police scanner that the school is being evacuated because of a bomb. Rather than simply helping to evacuate the students, Dominic jumps into the fray, pulling the bomb from the locker and inadvertently triggering its arming mechanism. Grissom arrives just in time to see the well-meaning security guard blown to bits. Fittingly, Grissom honors him by placing the news story Dominic coveted in a place of honor on the board dedicated to fallen police officers.

Source: "Boom"

Kristine Huntley

Author

Kristine Huntley

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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