June 24 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation–‘Lover’s Lanes’

9 min read

The Vegas team is on the case of a murdered bowling alley employee, whose severed head shows up in a bowling ball return during a tournament.


Kevin “X” Chatts and Chevy Cigs face off at the bowling alley in the UFB championship. Chevy reaches for his ball–and grabs a severed head, which has come up through the ball return, instead! The victim is identified as Ronald Tobin, who worked at the rental desk at the bowling alley. Behind the lanes, Greg discovers a bowling ball bag with blood in it. Outside the alley, Nick tracks down Ronald’s car and discovers a man named Vitas Long sleeping inside among what appears to be stolen bowling equipment. Nick wakes Vitas, who tells the CSI that Ronald was a friend who let him crash in his car, and even got him a job at a bowling supply store. In the morgue, Doc Robbins tells Catherine that Ronald’s head was likely severed by a saw postmortem. Catherine recovers lung tissue from Ronald’s nasal cavity, making Doc Robbins think the cause of death could have been a bullet to the lung. Ronald’s girlfriend, Shea Lammet, who works as a cocktail waitress at the bowling alley tells Sara that Ronald dreamed of going professional but didn’t have the wherewithal to make his dream come true. He did manage to beat Kevin Chatts in a pick up game, though. The blood on the bowling ball bag comes back a match to Ronald–and prints off of it match none other than Chatts. Brass brings Chatts in and asks him about Ronald beating him. Brass theorizes that Chatts killed Ronald after he humiliated Chatts by beating him–and dumped his severed head to freak Chevy out. Chatts denies it.

Greg recovers images from the cameras used to take pictures of the pins after the ball strikes them and sees a shot of the killer’s hands depositing Ronald’s head. The night before, Vitas is caught on camera behind the lanes. Catherine, Nick and Brass go to the bowling supply shop where he works and find him smoking pot. Brass takes him away while Nick and Catherine examine the shop and find a saw, blood and wood chips… which lead them to Ronald’s headless body, stashed away in a box and covered in beetles. At the precinct, Vitas admits he was behind the lanes helping Ronald cheat in his game against Chatts, but insists he didn’t kill Ronald. Catherine confirms Ronald was indeed killed by a gunshot wound to the chest. Greg and Nick determine that Vitas could indeed have made it from behind the lanes to the front in time to be in the audience when Ronald’s head rolled out, but when they view the surveillance it’s not Vitas they see hurrying from the back of the lanes to the audience section–it’s Shea. When confronted by Catherine, Shea admits she and Chevy were having an affair–and that Ronald found out. Brass questions Chevy–who happens to own the same kind of weapon Ronald was killed with–but he turns the blame on Shea. The CSIs turn to Chevy’s bowling ball and find traces of Ronald’s blood–despite the fact that Chevy supposedly didn’t touch the ball after picking up the head. Sara leans on Shea, who admits that after Ronald found out she was cheating, he made her lure Chevy to the bowling supply store after hours where Ronald could threaten the man. Ronald did, but he didn’t count on Chevy being armed–or shooting him. Chevy made Shea help him hide the body–before dumping her. Angry, Shea decided to get her revenge by severing Ronald’s head and slipping it into the ball return on Chevy’s alley.

While the rest of the team works the bowling case, Langston reopens an old case after a woman named Carla York hangs herself in prison hours after being convicted of the murder of her husband, James. Langston re-examines the trajectory of the bullet and discovers an error was made: the hollow point bullet didn’t come from the second story window as was previously determined, but from the side yard at the same level as the car James was shot in. Langston determines that James’ killer was not Carla but her sister, Hannah, who originally claimed she returned home from the movies to find James shot to death in his car. Langston brings Hannah, who is now caring for Carla and James’ daughter, in and confronts her with the evidence. She tells him that James’ was a feckless father who screwed up all of his kids from previous relationships, and that she was trying to protect her niece. She appeals to Langston, but he tells her it’s not his place to judge. The case wrapped up, Langston joins the rest of the team at the bowling alley as they engage in a friendly afterhours game.


Any mystery that kicks off with a severed head coming up in a bowling ball return promises to be a lively one, and “Lover’s Lanes” makes good on that promise. The title and the early appearance of Ronald’s girlfriend Shea give away that the case is going to revolve around romance gone wrong of some sort, but doesn’t give away the brilliance of Sara’s final interrogation of Shea, in which the depth of the woman’s delusions are cleverly revealed. After Sara tells her that she’s going to be doing jail time for severing Ronald’s head and sticking it in the ball return machine, Shea doesn’t react in the way the audience expects her to. Most suspects, when confronted with the evidence of their guilt, either raise their heads defiantly or fall apart. Not Shea. She clocks the information quickly and then asks Sara how long the CSI thinks she’ll be in jail for. Sara is taken aback by the question, answering that it could be a while. When Sara notes that Chevy could get less time because he could plead self-defense, the wheels in Shea’s head keep on turning. “So he could get out before me?” she asks, and then goes on to wonder if they could be together after they both get out of jail. It’s a pretty deluded hope, given that Chevy dumped her after he killed Ronald.

Shea is definitely something of a novelty, and seems to have no regrets over Ronald’s death. She tells Sara that she and Ronald had been together for fifteen years and that he’d promised to marry her… and yet, never followed through on that promise. Apparently this was enough to make Shea look elsewhere–to a married bowling champ that she thought could bring her happiness. Ashley Jones (The Bold and the Beautiful, True Blood) is just fantastic in the role, playing Shea with a shamelessly opportunistic note. Shea is definitely a practical girl, and her approach to asking about how long she’ll be spending in jail as opposed to wringing her hands and trying to offer Sara some sort of explanation about why she was justified in doing what she did showcases her shrewdness. That calculating stands in direct opposition to her unrealistic hope that Chevy will want to be with her after he’s done time in jail for killing Ronald. Shea is definitely a memorable character.

The other bowlers are fun, too, especially Kevin “X Man” Chatts, played by the always-wonderful Devon Gummersall. Gummersall shares a hilarious scene with Paul Guilfoyle when the wisecracking detective questions Chatts about his pick up game with Ronald. News of the game has hit the Twitterverse, something Brass apparently keeps up with! When Chatts tells the detective he doesn’t use Twitter, Brass responds, “I do. I tweet!” The idea of Brass on Twitter certainly feels unlikely–and that makes it hilarious. Greg or Hodges with a Twitter account? Sure. But Brass? One can only imagine what he might he might tweet; I bet his musings are as sharp as his witty one-liners. Chatts doesn’t find Brass’s Twitter comments nearly as amusing as the audience does; he sullenly maintains his innocence and indeed, is more concerned with finishing his match against Chevy than he is with the murder of Ronald Tobin.

Langston is on his own this time around, reopening a case after a woman commits suicide just hours after she’s found guilty of the murder of her husband. There’s not much mystery in this case–that the sister is the one guilty of the murder seems the likely conclusion as soon as the public defender tells Langston about the case. The point of the case seems to be to drop a cool bit of misconstrued evidence in–the hollow point bullet’s unique characteristics are what throw off the initial trajectory analysis. It’s kind of a nifty little piece of science know-how, and also illustrates Langston’s progress as a CSI. It’s a little hard to believe he’s gone from being a newbie Level 1 to a Level 2 that can reopen cases and discover a mistake that was made the first time around, but it’s nice to have him working separately from the team on this one, and on the B-case. Langston and Hodges get to have a bit of fun together, and over on the A-case, it feels like the old team is back together.

The episode concludes with the whole team taking an excursion to the bowling alley to blow off some steam after solving the case. It’s scenes like this that offer a real treat to faithful viewers, and also create the feeling of a genuine sense of camaraderie among the team. Hodges tosses the ball down the lane granny style, while Nick and Greg seem fairly well matched. After Nick raises a glass to his “CSI family,” he vows an ass whooping. Langston, who has developed a level of comfort with Nick, shoots back a warning: “Be careful your mouth doesn’t write a check your ass can’t cash!” Nick isn’t bluffing, though–he sends the ball down the alley with finesse and gets a strike. The family bowling nights he talked about earlier in the episode clearly paid off. Greg, who earlier in the episode showed off some impressive knowledge of bowling alley equipment, gives him an unexpected run for his money, also bowling a strike. It’s fun to see the team together like this, at ease and joking together off hours.

And yet, in what seems like a purposeful move, Langston still seems just a little bit removed from his teammates. He arrives late to the bowling alley, and he’s given the wrong size shoes, forcing him to return to the counter to exchange the pair he has for the size thirteen and a half he needs. The audience never gets to see him bowl with the team, and the last shot of the episode is Langston looking on as the others play. It’s a subtle acknowledgement that he’s still the new guy on the team, getting more comfortable with his teammates, but still not yet completely one of them. The rest of the group, from the seasoned CSIs to the clever lab rats, has known each other for years. Langston has only been a member of the team for about a year now, and though he’s moving up the ranks, he has yet to fully open up to anyone on the team about the secrets in his past. The viewers aren’t the only ones who are curious–given the way Nick was watching the tape of Langston’s conversation with Paul Milander’s son in “Ghost Town”, he’s got a few questions himself. Perhaps opening up Langston’s past a bit will help him connect to his teammates–and those viewers who are still trying to get a handle on the character.

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