May 20 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation–‘Doctor Who’

8 min read

Langston is shocked to find a murdered reporter was trailing him.

Synopsis:

The body of a woman named Heidi Custer is found strangled and dumped. The CSIs are surprised to find pictures of the victims of serial killer Dr. Jekyll in her purse. Langston recognizes the woman, telling Catherine she was a reporter who covered the Angel of Death murders when he worked as a pathologist at Delaware General. Nick and Langston search Heidi’s hotel room and find her computer and camera missing. Langston discovers a members only card for the Blue Aces Casino, where Jack Herson, one of Jekyll’s victims, used to gamble. Nick is surprised to find Langston remembers such a small detail, and cautions the CSI not to get too involved with the case. Doc Robbins and David Phillips go over Heidi’s body carefully but find no evidence that she was operated on by Jekyll. Archie goes over the surveillance tapes from the Blue Aces Casino and shows Catherine a surprising discovery: Langston entering the casino a few seconds before Heidi does, and leaving just before she exits. Brass speaks with Heidi’s grieving husband, Aaron, who is surprised when Brass says Langston spoke very highly of his wife. Aaron says Langston is a murderer—that his wife suspected Langston of being an accomplice in the Angel of Death murders because he missed a tell tale sign of the poison the killer was using in all of the autopsies. Catherine is skeptical when she hears Aaron’s claims, pointing out that Langston has been instrumental in the Jekyll case. In the lab, Hodges and Langston discover trace from a wound on Heidi’s head is lead paint. Catherine pulls Langston out of the lab to question him with Ecklie about the surveillance tape from the Blue Aces. Langston is shocked to find Heidi was there at the same time, insisting he never saw her. Catherine defends Langston, but Ecklie pulls him off the case.

Nick catches Langston checking Heidi’s credit card records and confronts him. Langston tells Nick that Heidi followed him to WLVU after Blue Aces and worries that he got her killed. In the lab, Wendy confides in Hodges about Langston’s earlier reluctance to give her his DNA in a previous case. Hoping to give Langston an alibi for Heidi’s murder, the CSIs determine he was working a solo burglary case at the time of her death, but Catherine is troubled to see that he only collected three prints in two hours. Greg and Sara locate Heidi’s car abandoned in a parking lot, but her camera and computer aren’t inside. They discover a bloody print on the car’s steering wheel. Langston stops by a general store he visited earlier and asks the clerk if she recognizes Heidi. She doesn’t, and he leaves, only to be accosted by the grief-stricken Aaron Custer, who accuses Langston of killing his wife. Langston shoves him away but manages to control his anger. The police arrest Aaron, but Catherine, angry that Langston defied her and has once again been working on the Jekyll case, sends Langston home. Nick stops by Langston’s house and is surprised to find a room filled with Jekyll stories and leads. Nick reminds Langston they’re a team, and Greg and Sara arrive to discuss the case. They found bat feces residue in the tires of Heidi’s car, and Langston recalls following a lead to Lobo Flats based on the assertion of Vince Grady, a coffee server at WLVU who claims he saw a guy in bloody scrubs coming out of a run down shed in the area. Langston accompanied Vince out to the location but ultimately dismissed it as a viable lead.

Nick takes a team out to the shed and finds surgical tools inside, as well as blood drops and a bloody handprint on a refrigerator. He discovers a yellow tool box with paint similar to the kind found in Heidi’s head wound. The tool box has a partial palm print on it, and the bloody fingerprints on the fridge are a match to Heidi. Catherine questions Vince Grady, who admits he took $100 from Heidi to take her to the place he took Langston. He claims the tool box fell on her head and that Heidi got upset by that… and by the fact that the lead didn’t impress her. He insists that he didn’t kill her, and that he left her alive. The print on the tool box is a match to Vince, but not the bloody print on the steering wheel. Nick wonders if Langston’s fear that he led Heidi to Jekyll is founded. He and Catherine look at the surveillance videos from the Blue Ace and notice a man who seems to be following Langston and Heidi around the casino. They compare him to the footage of Jekyll from St. Sebastian’s hospital and find the men seem to be a match. Brass tells Catherine Lou Brennan, the bus boy from the coffee shop Vince works at, was picked up trying to pawn Heidi’s camera and computer. His prints match the one on the steering wheel: after seeing Heidi give Vince money, he tried to extort some from her as well, and when she fought him, he strangled her. The team discusses the case over breakfast, realizing now that Jekyll has been following Langston. Langston steps away to take a phone call and finds Nate Haskell, the Dick and Jane Killer on the line. Haskell tells Langston he knows who Jekyll is.

Analysis:

For an episode that’s more or less one big red herring leading up to the finale, “Doctor Who” is a pretty gripping hour. The notion that Langston could actually be Jekyll was one that I never gave much credence to—it would take a far more daring show than CSI to turn its lead into a villain (to be fair, most network shows wouldn’t take that gamble)—but it’s been fun to see the possibility lightly teased throughout the season. That Langston has some secrets isn’t exactly news: he’s obviously got daddy issues, and his concern over his own violent tendencies has reared its head a few times. And of course, there was the instance in “Sin City Blue” when Langston refused to give Wendy a sample of his DNA as an elimination because he didn’t want his DNA in the system. The vehemence with which he reacted to Wendy’s request stood out as much as his refusal.

That moment is referenced here when, after seeing the surveillance footage Archie is viewing reveals Langston was at the Blue Aces Casino at the same time as the victim, Wendy confides in Hodges about Langston’s refusal to give her his DNA. Hodges doesn’t seem to find Langston’s reticence all that baffling: “After seeing Gattaca, I can hardly blame him.” Leave it to Hodges to cite a science fiction movie as a reason not to surrender one’s DNA! Wendy presses on, adding that she also saw him perusing research that indicated MAOI deficiencies being linked to violence tendencies. Hodges doesn’t seem sure what to make of all of it, though he does point out that Langston seems to be “a magnet for serial killers.”

That Langston has been conducting his own investigation into the Jekyll case isn’t exactly a surprise—after all, this is the man who stood on the Strip holding a picture of missing Madeline Briggs in “The Lost Girls”. Langston’s dedication to the job, as well as his emotional involvement, has certainly been established by this point. In that way, Langston is much more like Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami and Mac Taylor on CSI: NY than his predecessor Gil Grissom. The appeal of Grisson was his clinical detachment and scientist’s perspective, and that is something that has been missing from the franchise as a whole since William Petersen‘s departure. If the leading man takes each case personally and is constantly getting emotionally involved, it starts to feel somewhat routine. Part of the reason “Grave Danger” was so effective was that what happened to Nick got under Grissom’s skin… and it took a lot to get under Grissom’s skin.

Langston’s interest in the Jekyll case has definitely crossed the line into obsession, and there’s a moment when Nick first steps into the room in Langston’s house that’s literally wallpapered with stories about Jekyll where even Nick seems unsettled by what he’s seeing. For Nick, who is easygoing, laid back and by far Langston’s closest friend on the team, to be rattled illustrates that Langston has definitely crossed into shaky territory. It is Nick who offers Langston a crucial bit of sage advice early in the episode, cautioning him: “Ray, this job will eat you alive if you take it home with you.” And Langston hasn’t just been taking it home with him—he’s been living and breathing it, using his off hours to pursue leads, clipping stories and studying the victims and searching, searching, searching for the elusive killer.

And yet, for all his concern about Langston’s over-involvement, Nick keeps Langston in the loop and covers for him. When he finds Langston looking over Heidi Custer’s credit card purchases, he tells Langston to let him take credit for the find so that Catherine doesn’t realize Langston has disobeyed Ecklie’s order to stay off the case. Even after discovering Langston’s “Jekyll room,” Nick doesn’t shut him out, calling him from the shed at Lobo Flats to share with him what he’s seeing as he goes through the rooms. The move speaks to Nick’s compassion—and the connection he obviously feels with Langston. George Eads and Laurence Fishburne are great in their scenes together, and the bond that’s formed between their characters is evident.

Catherine is stuck between a rock and a hard place in this episode. She obviously believes in Langston and doesn’t think he’s crossed any lines, but she is also thrown by the video footage showing Langston and Heidi at the Blue Aces Casino at the same time—just after Langston told her that he hadn’t seen Heidi in years. She tries to defend Langston to Ecklie when Ecklie questions Langston’s assertion that he never saw Heidi at Blue Aces, but when she confronts Langston outside the General Store near the strip, she’s firm: he’s going home for the day. The episode illustrates the tricky line Catherine has to walk as a supervisor—though her instinct might always be to advocate for her CSIs, she also has to know when to be tough on them.

Entertaining though this entry is, in some ways it’s just build up for the big final showdown with Jekyll. In the end, Heidi wasn’t killed by Jekyll—a tweaking bus boy hoping to get money out of her was the one who did her in. And Langston isn’t a serious suspect in the Jekyll case in either the world of the show or the minds of the fans. The episode ends on a doozy of a moment though: sinister Nate Haskell calls to tell Langston that he knows who Jekyll is. Can Langston trust him? And can any good come of it if he does?

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