May 28 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation–‘World’s End’

8 min read

Things are not what they first seem when a neo-Nazi classmate of Lindsey Willows turns up dead.

Synopsis:

The body of a boy is discovered in a Las Vegas sewer on a rainy night near Jefferson High School. Lindsey Willows, who was rehearsing for a performance of “Cabaret” when the body was discovered, recognizes him as Sean Becker, a student from her school. The next morning, Nick and Greg search sewer access points to find out where the body was dumped while Langston and David Phillips go over the body in the morgue. Langston notes numerous abrasions on the body—as well as white supremacist tattoos on his body. David is puzzled when he discovers a photograph of two young black women in Sean’s pocket. The school’s principle, Phil Carpenter, tells Catherine that he expelled Sean’s friends Daryl Johnson and Carl Hart several days ago—and that he suspected the three of being behind the murder of Billy Tinker, a gay student at the school. Sara accompanies Brass to Sean’s home, where his grandmother takes the news of his death hard… but then promptly forgets what she’s been told. Sara is surprised to discover some weighty reading material in Sean’s room. In the morgue, Doc Robbins tells Langston that Sean didn’t drown—an external puncture wound to his lung killed him. Langston studies the pattern of the wound and posits that Sean may have been stabbed with a Phillips screwdriver.

When Greg finds a fiber matching the victim’s jacket at a sewer access point, he and Nick surmise that they’ve found the dump site. Nick recovers a screwdriver, but is fairly certain the rain will have washed away any prints or DNA. After learning Sean scuffled with another student, Ian Wentworth, three days before his death, Catherine goes to question the boy. Ian admits that he confronted Sean after finding him at a rehearsal. They scuffled, but Ian didn’t kill Sean—he was at a dress rehearsal at the time of the murder. Phil Carpenter offers up another tip: the school janitor, Laurent Sdabo was roughed up the week before. The janitor, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, wanted it kept quiet. Brass questions Laurent, who expresses a distrust of the police, and tells the detective he was saddened by Sean’s death. He goes on to tell Brass that Sean was his friend—the boy had expressed curiosity and even sympathy about Laurent’s ordeal during the genocide, which cost him his family and nearly his life. Laurent tells Brass the young women in the photo are his sisters—Sean had asked to make a copy of it. Suspecting Sean’s friends might not have looked kindly on his friendship with Laurent, Brass has them brought in. Carl won’t speak, but Daryl tries to pin the attack on Laurent on Sean and Carl. Nick tells him Laurent identified him as his attacker, and that he’s going away for assault. Sean’s girlfriend, Molly, tells Catherine she blames herself for Sean’s death: she thought he was cheating on her and followed him. When she saw him with Laurent, she told Daryl and Carl, who set up a test of Sean’s loyalty: they demanded he beat up Laurent. When Sean stepped in to defend the janitor, the boys fought each other, and Daryl threatened to kill Sean.

The boys lawyer up, forcing the CSIs to go back to the evidence. The only thing they have on Daryl and Carl is Molly’s testimony. Catherine surmises Sean’s attempt to change his life is probably what got him killed. Sara discovers Lindsey in Catherine’s office, going through Sean’s file. Lindsey tells Sara that Sean came to her shortly before her death asking about her mom’s job, specifically her access to fingerprint analysis equipment. Lindsey assumed he was hitting on her. Sara goes back to Sean’s room and finds a fingerprint on a piece of paper, which she runs and matches to a Matthew Babajide, a member of the Hutu Power Movement wanted for crimes during the Rwandan genocide. When she and Langston look at his picture, they realize Matthew and Laurent are the same person—and that Sean must have discovered this. Langston is able to connect the murder weapon to Laurent based on cuts on his hand caused by the screwdriver sustained when he stabbed Sean. Sean confronted Laurent after finding his picture in a textbook. Laurent insists he didn’t mean to kill Sean—he never intended to hurt the boy. Langston tells him that Sean wanted the picture of the girls to try to track them down for Laurent. Laurent admits he has no idea who they are—he took the photograph off a body. Sean’s attempt to do something kind for his friend led to his death.

Analysis:

“Lucky is the man who never has to confront what he’s capable of,” Laurent/Matthew tells Langston and Brass before he’s taken away. It’s a powerful cap to a moving episode, which manages to showcase what humanity is capable of in both terrible and marvelous ways. Laurent’s crimes and the nauseating racism of Daryl and Carl is one end of the spectrum, but on the other side there’s Sean, whose lot in life filled him with anger and hatred… until an unlikely friendship brought out his compassionate side. If this episode highlights the terrible, horrible evil humanity is capable of, it also shows the opposite as well: that our capacity for change is a great strength. Sean was on a path to nowhere good—he was the leader of a crowd of neo-Nazis, he was covered in symbols of racial hatred, he was full of anger. But the very fact that he’s able to strike up a friendship with Laurent, that he’s curious about the janitor’s life, suggest that his membership in the neo-Nazi clan is less a reflection of his own beliefs than it is a desire to belong to a group that has a focus for their feelings of hatred and rage. Sean is painted as a kid looking for a group that shared his emotions; the object of those emotions didn’t matter so much, at least not until Sean looked outside himself and was able to make a connection with someone he was supposed to hate.

The revelation that Laurent was not in fact a victim of the Rwandan genocide as he claimed but actually one of the perpetrators comes as a real surprise to the audience—and likely was a powerful blow to Sean. Sean stuck his neck out for Laurent in more ways than one, and actually stood up to his cohorts for the person he believed was his friend. Sean had finally found a channel for his energy and passion that wasn’t negative, that wasn’t filled with hate. To find out Laurent wasn’t not only who he claimed to be, but one of the people responsible for the genocide that had actually aroused feelings of compassion in Sean must have felt like a terrible betrayal to the boy. That Sean’s redemption is cut short is nothing short of a tragedy. Ultimately his death is not in vain as it does lead to Laurent’s apprehension, but it’s still a sad loss.

The death of Billy Tinker, the gay student Sean was suspected of killing, isn’t brought up after Phil Carpenter’s mention, leaving us to presume that Sean didn’t kill him. Based on what we know of Sean’s subsequent actions, it’s likely that Sean’s friends, and not Sean himself, were the ones behind the murder. While Carl is more or less comic relief—he writes on a piece of paper that he wants a “layer,” prompting a humorous comment from Greg—Daryl is definitely a hateful figure. First he tries to pretend that it was Sean and Carl who attacked Laurent, and paints himself as a hero, claiming that he tried to dissuade the two boys from going after the janitor. But when Nick tells him that Laurent identified him as one of the attackers, Daryl’s true colors come shining through: he arrogantly states that “those banana eaters can’t tell us apart.” It’s not hard to imagine that Daryl was the one who killed Billy Tinker.

Though Brass tells Laurent that he’s the only one who is saddened by Sean’s demise, that’s not quite true… Sean’s grandmother, for the short time she has to digest the news before Alzheimer’s causes her to forget it, is clearly devastated by his death. Sara and Brass are both surprised by their visit to Sean’s house. Sara tells the detective she likes to see “where haters come from” when she offers to accompany him to deliver the news of Sean’s death to his guardian, but she’s surprised to discover philosophy books among the neo-Nazi propaganda in Sean’s room. Paul Guilfoyle handles the scene in which Brass realizes Sean’s grandmother has Alzheimer’s masterfully. The realization is subtle and Brass takes the discovery in stride, taking the old woman up on her offer of tea rather than trying to fruitlessly drive home the news that her grandson is dead.

Because Sean went to school with Lindsey Willows, the girl is eager to offer her two cents on the case. Like most teens, she’s quick to judge, dismiss and assume. Her dislike of Sean based on his neo-Nazi beliefs is understandable and from what we see of Lindsey’s high school experience, it’s unlikely the two moved in similar social circles. It’s amusing to see that Lindsey attributes Sean’s interest in fingerprinting and her mom’s job as a crush on her; after all, most average teenage girls aren’t preoccupied with crime solving or genocide in Rwanda. Indeed, after something of a rebellious phase, Lindsey seems to have settled into being a typical teenage girl. It’s fun to see Catherine outside of work, doing something as normal as going to see her daughter in a musical.

Given what we’ve seen of Langston’s anger issues, I can’t help but wonder if Laurent’s comment at the end of the episode is tied into Langston’s arc this season. At the end of last season’s finale, “All In”, Langston (and the audience) learned he was capable of killing someone in self-defense. A few episodes ago, in “Irradiator”, we got a glimpse of Langston’s rage boiling over. It was short, sharp and shocking—a brief lashing out that was brutal, but over as soon as it registered. What is Langston himself capable of? That question has been laced throughout the season, and I suspect we’ll have a better idea of what the answer is as the pursuit of Dr. Jekyll escalates.

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