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CSI Files - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation -- 'Spellbound'

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation -- 'Spellbound'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 11, 2006 - 8:46 PM GMT

See Also: 'Spellbound' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Sedona Wylie, the owner of Sixth Sense Occult, is giving a reading to Anna Leah and Lori, two girls in their 20s who are mostly concerned with their romantic lives. The reading turns terrifying when Sedona gets visions of death--the name Ray, the letter B, the rodeo, and a one-armed cactus. Disturbed, the girls flee, nearly getting hit by a man in a red car on their way out. Neither of them ends up dead--it was her own death Sedona foresaw. Anna Leah and Lori returned to get Lori's sunglasses when they found Sedona dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Grissom and a very curious Greg examine the store, which looks like it's been robbed. David Phillips is puzzled by Sedona's liver temp, which at 98 degrees is elevated for what it should be, making it difficult to pinpoint time of death. Greg notices several blood drops away from the major blood pool, and Grissom finds a tape recorder Sedona used to record her readings. He plays it back, and Greg makes some eerie connections--there's a neon one-armed cactus sign across the street, and lettering on labels on glass fragments can be put together to spell "Rhod" "aeo."

In the morgue, Dr. Robbins tells Grissom that Sedona bled out from the gunshot wound, and also reveals that he found a white powder around her nose and in her lungs. Grissom can't match the bullet, from a Smith & Wesson .44, to a weapon in IVIS, and he pulls Warrick, who switched with Greg earlier, on to the case to help him. The CSIs match several prints on the door and cash register to one Reese Bingham, who works for a local vegetarian restaurant near Sedona's shop. Reese is brought in, but he swears he only delivered food to Sedona. She used to tell him to go into the cash register to get the money for the take out. He swears he didn't kill her, and claims to have an alibi--he was at a strip club, watching a stripper named "Star." When Warrick and Greg visit the club, "Star" aka Tammy, backs up Reese's story, and tells them he's harmless.

A fellow detective thinks has a lead for Brass: Patrick "Packey" Jameson has been pursuing a former police officer named Gordon Wallace for the murder of his wife, Claire. Just a week ago, Packey consulted Sedona and she told him Claire's body was in Summerlin, news that seemed to rattle Gordon. Brass asks Grissom to go over the Wallace file as a favor to him. Grissom discusses the case with Catherine, who recalls it--Claire's sister reported her missing in 1991, but her husband Gordon claimed she'd run off with another man. The Wallaces' fights were legendary, but Claire's body was never found. Mandy Webster has to run a manual comparison of the prints in the shop against Gordon's, while Henry Andrews tells Greg that the white power on the victim's nose wasn't cocaine but atrophine--a derivative of the plant Belladonna. When Wendy Simms tells Greg the blood drops in the shop were from a male, Greg realizes someone must have come into the shop and broken the belladonna jar, cutting himself and sending the powder into the air. Detective Vega has discovered Damon Mitchell, who was brought into the hospital, completely disoriented. Damon tested positive for atrophine.

Greg and Vega interrogate Damon, who admits to being in the store. He says Sedona was bilking his wife, but when he tried to stop her from going to Sedona, Sedona began to have "visions" on him cheating on his wife. She wanted five thousand dollars to change her tune, but Damon was out of money. He angrily confronted Sedona and broke the jar in the process. He insists he doesn't own a gun. Brass and Grissom question Packey, whose prints were found on the door and behind the counter, and the driven detective tells them he went to Sedona for a consultation on the Wallace case and became suspicious of the substances she had in jars. He thought she might be dealing, but he was treated to a lesson in alchemy instead. In the lab, Hodges has discovered golf flecks--fool's gold--in Sedona's cash register. Brass and Grissom finally pay Gordon Wallace a visit. Wallace is working security for an up and coming young singer named Joslynn Raines, and both she and Gordon say they were in Sedona's shop together--Joslynn wanted a love potion and consultation.

The CSIs decide to search Summerlin for Claire Wallace's body, and they get a hit at one of the potential sites. They dig and discover a human skeleton in a septic tank. More digging reveals the skeleton of a dog--possibly Claire's pet bulldog. Dr. Robbins examines the skeleton, which he says is consistent with what he knows about Claire. He determines she was killed by blunt force trauma--three blows to the head. Warrick examines a contraption Greg found in the grave and postulates that the dog was an amputee and used the device to get around. Brass looks at Sedona's phone records, wondering if she was trying extort money out of Gordon Wallace, and finds three calls to Wallace. He also recalls Anna Leah and Lori saying they were nearly struck by a car. He has them come back in and prints Anna Leah's palm after she tells him she touched the car. They take the print and dust Gordon's car--it's a match. It's not quite enough, but then Grissom asks to see Gordon's wallet and finds a hundred dollar bill in it with gold flecks on it. Packey is finally able to arrest Gordon Wallace--but for the murder of Sedona Wylie, not his wife Claire. The case closed, Grissom and Greg discuss the case and Grissom reveals that Sedona wrote down 'Summerland' not Summerlin in her journal about the Wallace session. Summerland is a sacred pagan place, but both Packey and Wallace heard what they wanted to, to confirm one's suspicions and the other's fears. Grissom notes the power of assumption.

Analysis:

The idea of a fortune teller foreseeing her own death is a cool twist, and the episode leaves it open for interpretation about just how much Sedona did see. The one-armed cactus--was it something was familiar with since the neon sign was visible outside one of the windows in her shop, or was it a vision of one of the last things she'd see before she before she died? Were the broken labeled bottles that spelled out "Rhod" "aeo" a coincidence, or something more? "Ray" and "B" don't seem to relate, given that her killer is named Gordon Wallace.

Grissom seems skeptical in the beginning, and his doubts seem justified with the final revelation that Sedona was saying Claire was in "Summerland," a place pagans believe souls go to rejuvenate, not Summerlin, a part of Las Vegas. Or was it just another close association, like "rodeo" and "Rhod"/"aeo"? Either way, the result is the same--Packey hears Summerlin and in turn tells Wallace Sedona said Summerlin. Wallace reacts, convincing Packey that Claire is in fact buried in Summerlin. Wallace thinks Sedona is the real deal and kills her. It fits, mostly.

The one problem is Sedona calling Wallace--did she really think telling him Claire was in Summerland was good blackmail material? She must have been pretty sure--either from what Packey said or her visions--that Wallace was guilty. I liked the twist that she was extorting money from clients--it was something I didn't see coming, and turned her death into something of a cautionary tale. Shouldn't someone with a sixth sense know not to play with fire by blackmailing potentially dangerous people, like a man suspected of murder. After all, if she was right and Wallace did kill his wife, blackmailing him was a dangerous gamble. Sedona got greedy.

At the end of the episode, we're still not sure if she's a phony or the real deal. Summerlin was an accident, and her vision of her own murder seems half-accurate at best (and part of that half could be explained by other means). If Sedona was a con artist, she was a good one. She knew her alchemy well enough to satisfy Packey, who was worried that she might be selling drugs out of her shop. And she clearly knew how to manipulate people--Damon Mitchell went to her shop to threaten her because she had so much sway over his wife (and his wife's pocketbook). Sedona was good at what she did, even if in the end, being so good at it is what got her killed.

Greg's funny! Longtime viewers of the show are saying, "Of course he is," but it's been a while since Eric Szmanda has been allowed to let loose. I was starting to worry that he'd left his sense of humor behind in the lab, but thankfully it isn't so. Greg's assertion that he might have a sixth sense and Grissom's response to it in the teaser is one of those light moments that have been missing for much of the season. CSI is by its nature a dark show--it deals with murder and human cruelty, so that makes the light moments all the more important. Wallace Langham's Hodges has been providing most of them this season, and while he's very good at it, it's nice to have an infusion of goofy humor from Greg.

CSI devotees might recognize Shonda Farr and Keri Lynn Pratt reprising their roles as Lori and Anna Leah from first season's "Evaluation Day", where they crossed paths with the CSIs after stealing a BMW with a head in the back. Incidentally both actresses were also in the WB's 2004-2005 series Jack & Bobby.

There's no sign of Sara and Nick in the episode, and the only sighting of Catherine occurs when she stops by Grissom's office on her way out to take her daughter to Disneyland and briefly confers with Grissom about the Wallace case. Despite the fact that the team is reunited, they still don't feel as cohesive as they should, perhaps because the cast is so large that it makes it difficult for them to all work together. Even the recurring cast is large, with no less than five present in this episode (Hodges, David Phillips, Wendy, Mandy and Henry). Hopefully with May sweeps on the way, we'll get to see the team all working together again.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.