April 21 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation–‘Meat Jekyll’

9 min read

The CSIs close in on serial killer Dr. Jekyll in the tenth season finale.

Synopsis:

With no leads on serial killer Dr. Jekyll, Catherine decides to bring in “Dick and Jane Killer” Nate Haskell, who called Langston claiming he knows who Jekyll is. Haskell only wants to talk to Langston, and once across from the CSI, he requests a steak dinner in exchange for the first clue. He points Langston in the direction of evidence collected from a dresser drawer in his house. The evidence is retrieved and the CSIs discover a piece of bow tie pasta, an elegant loop around it made out of pasta. The CSIs compare it to an autopsy picture of Jekyll victim Joey Bigalow’s tied intestines and find the work to be identical. Haskell is telling the truth. Haskell tells Langston and Brass he met Jekyll eleven years ago after being served the artful pasta at a restaurant. Recognizing Jekyll’s talent, Haskell asked to meet the chef and found him to be “mad as a hatter”—and a promising young killer. Haskell adds that all of Jekyll’s victims were at the restaurant. Catherine visits Joey’s old agent, Marty Felnick, to ask if Joey played any restaurant gigs eleven years ago, and Felnick recalls that he did, but only recalls the general area the restaurant was in. Greg finds a picture of Jekyll victim Jack Herson at a restaurant named Vinetti’s, which he used to frequent. Catherine, Langston, Sara and Greg go to the closed down restaurant and find pictures of all of the victims on the wall. Henry Andrews does some research and learns all three owners of the restaurant are dead. He also obtains a list of everyone who ever worked at the restaurant.

Langston works on getting Haskell to give up more information, finally having to get the serial killer a stripper in order to get him to give up a name: Carlo Perini. The name turns out to be a dead end: Perini is in jail serving a five-year sentence. Langston is surprised when Henry tells him there’s a package for him from his father—who has been dead for ten years. The CSIs go over the package carefully, finally deeming it safe to open. When they do, they gingerly remove the contents: a piece of meat with drawings and writing on it. Doc Robbins recognizes the ID number for a John Doe in the morgue on the meat, and the CSIs race to the body, finding a wound on it consistent with laproscopic surgery. Nick wonders if the intestine found in Joey was actually meant for this man, but Jekyll botched the surgery. At Vinetti’s, Sara and Greg are able to identify the dead man as a Ukrainian businessman named Yuri Greshenko, who is pictured on the wall of fame. Greg also finds blood on the cutting table in the kitchen, confirming Vinetti’s is Jekyll’s operating room. Turning to Yuri’s possessions, the CSIs discover an IVC filter and Langston deciphers a message on the meat as a surgical term. Greg pulls a propeller from the package, and Langston surmises Jekyll is going to insert the IVC and propeller into a victim to burst a vein, which would kill the victim slowly and painfully.

After Hodges identifies the meat Jekyll sent as a specific dish, prosciutto di parma, the CSIs focus their search on high end restaurants where former employees of Vinetti’s work. Langston and Nick check out DiMasa and find the owner, Giovanni “Papa” DiMasa there balancing the books. He invites them in, and calls for his son Charlie, a cook at the restaurant, to bring them wine. DiMasa appears to be in some pain, but he dismisses it when the CSIs notice it. At the lab, Catherine learns DNA on the meat is a filial match for the septic appendix found in Jekyll victim Bernard Higgins. When Nick learns DiMasa recently had his appendix removed, he tells Langston to get the man to a hospital and goes after Charlie—only to get shot when Charlie comes out wielding a shotgun. Langston and DiMasa duck for cover as Charlie tells Langston he got there too early. Eager for Langston to witness the death of his father, who robbed him of his dream to be a doctor, Charlie keeps them trapped behind a table. Langston tells Charlie about his own father to buy time for Nick, who is injured, to reach for his gun. Langston gets up, drawing Charlie out—just in time for Nick to shoot him dead. Nick is taken to the hospital and his colleagues visit, relieved to see he’s going to be okay. Langston reports that DiMasa is going to be fine as well. Langston returns to the lab to bid farewell to Haskell, but before he can leave, Haskell grabs him and stabs him with a weapon he fashioned from the arm of his glasses! Langston slides to the floor, bleeding…

Analysis:

It’s always a little disappointing when compelling, crafty, sinister serial killers turn out to be raving nutcases. Sure, by their very nature, serial killers are obviously criminally insane, but they lose a lot of their mystique when they take a shotgun and start ranting about their rage at dear old dad. So Dr. Jekyll is actually an angry would-be doctor whose dreams of medical school were stymied by an overbearing but (seemingly) well meaning father? To reduce Jekyll, who up until this episode seemed diabolically brilliant, to a whiner with daddy issues sure seems anti-climactic. Matt Ross, who is so delightfully creepy as Alby on HBO’s Big Love, doesn’t have much to do here other than rant at his father as he holes up in a corner. When Langston tries to persuade Charlie—yes, Jekyll’s name is Charlie—to put his gun down and give up, Charlie responds that he’s a “cop killer twice over.” Isn’t he much more than that, especially in his own mind? But the climax reduces him to an out-of-control madman.

The problem is that the showdown with Jekyll seems molded to fit Langston’s own issues, shoehorning a parallel that doesn’t feel like a match for the storyline. Jekyll exhibited remarkable skill as a surgeon, and his actions suggested “God Complex” over “Daddy Issues.” While it’s always nice to be surprised by a storyline or motive, there’s unexpected and then there’s left field, and this definitely feels like the latter. The more complex and interesting parallel would have been the one that felt like a natural fit—that Jekyll and Langston had science and medicine in common… not unresolved issues with their fathers. I was hoping for a Jekyll that was as cool and calculating as his surgical machinations were precise—not a frantic lunatic whose whole purpose was to exact revenge on his dad for making him become a chef rather than letting him choose to go to medical school. Hey, Jekyll, have you ever heard of teenage rebellion… or school loans?

It doesn’t help matters that Giovanni DiMasa is a friendly, open soul who urges people to call him “Papa” and welcomes the CSIs in with an offer of wine. This is the man who turned his son into a monster? In order to reach Jekyll, Langston offers up a story about his own father coming home drunk so often that finally Langston reaches his limit and chooses not to take him to the hospital… and comes downstairs the next day to find his father dead. It’s a poignant story that turns out to not be true, but it does illustrate that Langston’s daddy issues are at least legitimate. It still feels like a bait and switch though, and the resolution of the Jekyll storyline is being used as a device to reveal Langston’s demons. Had those demons been about his medical career, or his failure to catch the Angel of Death at the hospital where he was working as a pathologist, that would have made sense. This just feels very left field–an awkward attempt to shoehorn in a character parallel that doesn’t feel at all natural.

After a season of complex machinations, Jekyll will probably be best remembered as the man who shot Nick. Seeing Nick go down was definitely shocking, and though I didn’t think he was dead—the bullet-proof vest and lack of a head wound made it unlikely that he was fatally wounded—it did ratchet up the suspense quite a bit. The bond that has been building up between Nick and Langston pays off here when they two are able to communicate wordlessly to draw Jekyll out so that Nick can take him down. It’s certainly exciting, but it’s also something we’ve seen before—on many other procedural shows—and I was hoping for more of a novel resolution to what had been a truly interesting serial killer storyline. It very much reminded me of CSI: NY‘s season four taxi cab killer storyline, which similarly presented killer with a fascinating and frightening methodology—and then bungled the resolution by having the killer turn out to be a nutty religious zealot.

Thank goodness for Nate Haskell. Bill Irwin‘s creepy murderer is the perfect example of a serial killer done right. The man has diabolical down to a tee and his scenes are the real highlight here. He makes no bones about the fact that he’s here to bargain… within reason, of course. He knows he’s not getting pardoned. He plays fast and loose with the truth, prompting Langston to observe that he peppers the truth with lies, to the point that which is which is not easily discernible. I loved his disdain for the naming of serial killers, and his dismissal of his own label—the Dick and Jane Killer—as childish. Even better is the disdain he has for Jekyll’s moniker: “Do you guys even read? Jekyll was the good guy.” That line made me laugh out loud, and also underscores Haskell’s intelligence.

And naturally, Haskell has a plan: he taunts the guard who is watching over him into activating the stun belt so that he can collapse onto the ground and pretend to break his glasses because he’s sharpened one of the arms into a weapon. He uses this weapon to stab Langston repeatedly at the end of the episode, a cliffhanger that might be a bit more exciting if the news that Laurence Fishburne had signed on for season eleven hadn’t recently been in the trades. As for why Haskell stabbed Langston… I’m not sure there was a reason other than that he could. It was a game for him—and really, what does he have to lose? He’s already behind bars for life. Getting out of prison to consult on the Jekyll case is probably the most action he’s seen since Langston gave him a forum in the criminal justice class he taught at WLVU before he resigned to become a CSI. No doubt seeing if he could stick it to Langston one last time was simply an amusing challenge for him. Irwin makes the chillingly compelling Haskell a completely believable sociopath.

While the cliffhanger isn’t as suspenseful as it could be on the question of Langston’s survival, I am curious to see how he’ll be changed by the stabbing. Nick looks to be in decent shape after the shooting and his heroic save-the-day moment, but will he face any emotional or physical repercussions from the shooting? On a lighter front, romances between Catherine and Detective Vartann and between Wendy and Hodges seem to be taking off—I hope those will be built upon in the coming season. I’m curious to see if Sara will be back with the team for good, or at least part time next year as well—it’s been nice having her back. At the very least, “Meat Jekyll” does what every season finale should do: it leaves the audience eager for the next season’s premiere in the fall.

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