The Las Vegas CSIs must find out who released a shark into a hotel pool; Wendy bids farewell to Hodges.
A shark let loose in the outdoor pool at the Golden Nugget Hotel wreaks havoc when it tears off the arm of a young woman resting on a flotation raft. Dr. Kurt Holloway, the vet in charge of the care of the hotel’s sharks retrieves the shark, but not before the young woman, Desiree McQuire, is pronounced dead. Catherine holds off the hotel owner, Earnest Boozell, who recognizes her as Sam Braun’s daughter. Holloway insists the shark didn’t come from the Golden Nugget; all of their sharks are accounted for. Nick notices there are several blind spots that the security cameras don’t cover, and he discovers a joint near one of these blind spots, at the service entrance. The DNA on the joint matches a suspect the CSIs are familiar with: Drops. Brass and Nick question Drops, who insists he had legitimate access to the service entrance; he was promoting Boozell’s day clubs. Before working for Boozell, Drops worked for Boozell’s rival, Danny Macklin, but Macklin fired him. Boozell tells Catherine he suspects Macklin is behind the attack.
In the morgue, Doc Robbins and Langston go over Desiree and are surprised to find she didn’t die from the shark attack: there’s a small injection mark in the middle of her back. Henry runs a tox screen and discovers Desiree died of a heroin overdose. Nick and Langston go over the surveillance tapes of the pool and notice Desiree was wearing jewelry when she went into the pool, but that it was missing after her death. Catherine speaks with Danny Macklin, who insists that if a shark was missing from the tank at his hotel, he’d be the first to know. Back at the lab, Wendy tells a crushed Hodges that she got a new job: she’s going to be a CSI in Portland. Hodges confronts Henry while the two are searching the pool at the Golden Nugget, and Henry admits he knew about Wendy’s plans. Henry recovers a syringe at the bottom of the pool, and Nick matches prints on it to a woman named Anya Sanchez, who has a long rap sheet with robbery priors. Anya is wearing Desiree’s jewelry; she drugged the young woman in order to rob her, but seems shocked to learn she’s dead.
Dr. Holloway and Langston autopsy the tiger shark that bit Desiree, and Langston sees that the shark has been fed well, indicating it resided in a casino tank. Langston traces the ID number on the shark to Danny Macklin. Macklin claims that he got rid of the shark because it was eating baby sharks; he tells Catherine he told Dr. Holloway to pick it up. Boozell confronts Macklin, and his rage goes when he exits the lab to find a boot on his car. The case takes another twist when Holloway turns up dead in Macklin’s shark tank, the apparent victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. Greg finds the scuba tank Holloway was using was filled with car exhaust. Catherine has Boozell’s car tested and finds the exhaust matches the exhaust that killed Holloway, but Boozell tells her that he was at Macklin’s hotel for dinner the night before. Surveillance footage from the parking lot reveals the valet syphoned off fumes from the car. The valet gives up Macklin, and the hotelier is charged with murder. Catherine tells Boozell he’s cleared, and he expresses his admiration for her.
Hotel rivalry, high-end theft, a shark loose in a luxurious hotel pool: this is a Las Vegas story through and through. The highlight here is the rivalry between the colorful Earnest Boozell and the smooth Danny Macklin, the two rival hotel moguls. Elliot Gould has the flashier role as the outspoken Boozell, who dismisses Catherine at first, but by the end of the episode is expressing admiration for her, saying she reminds him of her father, Sam Braun. Catherine laughs, offering, “Passionate, hardworking, driven by money?” Boozell responds that he sees two of the three in her, and that he can see where her brilliance comes from. It’s a far cry from their first encounter at his pool, when he was calling her Sam Braun’s “little girl.” Gould is a perfect choice for the outrageous Boozell; he’s completely believable as an old school Vegas casino owner.
The character of Danny Macklin is far less flamboyant, but debonair Sasha Roiz makes an impression as the smooth, sophisticated Macklin. He’s a stark contrast to the more emotional Boozell; he’s all cool, collected charm. His plan to drive customers away from Boozell’s hotel to his own and his later ploy to frame Boozell for the murder of Dr. Holloway are both indicative of a kind of sinister cleverness, though the scene in which Nick overhears two girls discussing how they’ll go to Macklins since they can’t swim at the Golden Nugget tips the script’s hand more than a little bit. Still, the casting of Gould and Roiz is spot on.
Longtime CSI viewers will recognize Method Man‘s hapless character, Drops, making his fourth appearance on CSI. Last seen in season eight’s “Drops’ Out”, Drops has apparently gotten out of prison and gone legitimate (save for the occasional doobie). Drops certainly doesn’t seem to be thrilled to be sitting across from Brass and Nick once again, and Brass is skeptical of Drops’ protestations of innocence, noting, “If there’s one guy who can’t stay out jail, it’s you.” But for once things seem to go in Drops’ favor, and he’s cleared of any wrongdoing when Anya Sanchez proves to be behind Desiree’s murder, and Macklin responsible for the shark’s presence in the pool. Drops’ appearance is little more than a quick cameo, but it’s fun to see him back, even if it’s just briefly.
The episode sadly marks the departure of Wendy Simms, Liz Vassey‘s endearing and sharp lab tech. In one of the more disappointing cast changes of recent times, CBS opted not to renew Vassey’s contract for season eleven of the show, just one season after she made it into the opening credits. It’s too bad, especially given how long Vassey has been with the show. It’s been fun to watch Wendy evolve over the years, and to see both her growing desire to become a CSI and her burgeoning relationship with fellow lab rat Hodges. In a tearful scene, Wendy tells Hodges that she’s decided to take a job in Portland, which will put her closer to her sister, and also allow her to make the career move she’s long desired: to become a CSI. Hodges, clearly shocked, asks her who else knows, and she tells him that Catherine and Henry both knew, and that she waited to tell him because she didn’t want him to blame Henry… and that she knew he’d try to get her to stay. Wendy offers Hodges an emotional goodbye, ending audience hopes that these two star-crossed lab rats would eventually find their way to each other.
Naturally, Hodges isn’t able to express his devastation to Wendy; rather, he does just what she feared, taking his anger out on Henry. He confronts Henry while they’re in the pool at the Golden Nugget searching for evidence, asking Henry how long he’s known for. Henry goes on the offensive, telling Hodges that he’s the one who couldn’t “close” with Wendy, prompting Hodges to come after him. Like Hodges, Henry had feelings for Wendy, but Hodges was the one she clearly preferred, and no doubt Hodges is as disappointed as the audience is that he never took a chance on a relationship with Wendy. Liz Vassey’s vivacious lab tech will definitely be missed on CSI.