The Vegas team must discover who viciously decapitated a young man on Mount Charleston.
After a steamy hook up, Catherine and Detective Vartann are called to the scene of a vicious murder: a man’s body is tied to a barb wire fence on Mount Charleston, while his head has been mounted on a long metal stake. Nick recovers a longhorn beetle and a hair from the victim’s mouth, while Langston notes ligature marks on the victim’s wrists. Catherine is caught off guard when Vartann asks her to move in with him. In the morgue, Sara and Langston go over the man’s body, and Sara finds scarring on both of his hands. The two notice that the man has very little body hair, and apparently used wax to remove it. Though the victim isn’t in AFIS, the wax blend leads the CSIs to the Mediterranean hotel, where their victim, whom the hotel identifies as Michael Wilson, was a guest. The CSIs find signs of a struggle and a discarded yellow contact lens in his room. When they find wedding vows in Michael’s room, the CSIs head to the chapel, only to find several people dressed as vampires, apparently in the middle of a ritual. A woman, Julie Crenshaw, identifies herself as Michael’s fiancée and is devastated to discover he’s dead. Langston notices scars identical to the ones Michael had on Julie’s hands, as well as those of Thomas Stewart, who was presiding over the ceremony. Back at the lab, Sara and Greg determine Michael was likely killed with an axe or a hatchet, prompting Langston and Nick to pay a visit to the vampire and werewolf convention at the Mediterranean hotel. They come across an armory dealer who has a wide variety of weapons for sale… including an axe. Nick and Langston take it back to the lab, where they try whacking away at several dummies, noting the copious amounts of blood on their clothes as they do so.
Hodges identifies the hair from the victim’s mouth as belonging to a wolf, and Greg is able to identify the wolf, Timber, and his owner, Kurt Francis, who has several priors in the system. The team learns Kurt is at the convention, and Langston and Nick track him down and find him with a group of men that identify as werewolves. After a brief scuffle, Langston subdues Kurt. Langston and Nick question the man, who claims he “shifted” the night Michael was killed. Sara and Greg go over Kurt’s truck, finding blood on the outside but not inside the truck. Greg analyzes vomit trace from inside the truck and finds that someone drank the victim’s blood and threw it up. He also finds drugs used to treat porphyria mixed into the vomit. Langston and Nick expose the vampires to direct light and find Thomas Stewart has an allergic reaction to it. Stewart claims he found Michael already dead and drank his blood to keep a part of him alive, but Nick wonders about him hitching a ride back with Kurt afterwards. The yellow contact lens from Michael’s room proves a match to Kurt, and blood on his truck puts him at the scene, but the CSIs puzzle over why there isn’t more blood on his clothes. Sara and Nick return to the scene to determine where the chase began and find the murder weapon as well as a ripped up picture of Kurt and Michael—with both appearing as werewolves. Michael used to run with the werewolves meaning either group could have taken him for a traitor. Sara and Langston go over the handle of the axe used to kill Michael and find an impression on it from a Celtic knot ring identical to Julie Crenshaw’s engagement ring. Langston and Catherine confront the young woman, who was called to Mount Charleston after the werewolves captured Michael and tied him to the fence. They showed Julie that Michael used to be a werewolf, and in a rage, she took the axe they offered and killed her fiancé. Catherine tells Vartann she’s happy where they are now and that she’s not ready to move in with him.
Between Twilight, True Blood and numerous popular supernatural book series (including the aforementioned two), vampires and werewolves have never been more in. It’s no surprise that CSI would tackle the subculture in an episode, and the show does so much in the same way CSI: New York’s episode “Sanguine Love” did last year in the sense that it deals with people who take their subculture very seriously. These aren’t people who dress up as vampires and werewolves for kicks; they actually identify with the creatures, so much so that Julie Crenshaw turns on her fiance when she finds he used to be a werewolf, justifying her actions by saying, “You can’t be something you’re not.” Thomas Stewart’s identification is likely influenced by his condition, porphyria, which causes his skin to blister in bright light. Historically, the disease has been linked in lore with vampirism, and in Stewart’s case, it’s understandable he’d seek out people that would assign value to his inability to be in the sun. For his part, Kurt is equally at home in the group he identifies with: he wears his dead wolf as a coat, and he and his cronies are borderline feral when Langston and Nick come to question Kurt.
The show pokes a little fun at them, but not as much as one might expect. The humor comes into play mainly when Langston and Nick visit the convention. Langston decides to try on the red contacts the vampires wear, and a boy—played by Dawson Zuiker, the son of CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker—admires them, calling out, “Cool eyes! Mom, I need your credit card!” Andy Dick also provides laughs as the armory dealer who tries to sell Langston and Nick some fancy weaponry, and seems a little disappointed when he finds they’re only interested in a plain old axe. “It’s slay or be slayed!” the armory dealer entices customers dramatically—yet another example of how seriously the people at the convention take their subculture.
Vartann is taking his relationship with Catherine very seriously: he goes so far as to ask her to move in with him. Catherine is clearly caught off guard by the question, and luckily work interferes in the form of Hodges to give her a little time to think over Vartann’s proposal. Catherine is obviously enjoying her relationship with Vartann; the two have a steamy hook up at the beginning of the episode that highlights their fiery chemistry. And the two work well together, and are able to remain professional in spite of their relationship. But at the end of the episode, Catherine tells Vartann she isn’t ready to take the next step, to move to the stage where they see each other every morning and inevitably argue. Vartann’s disappointment is evident, but he takes Catherine’s refusal gracefully, telling her, “Yeah, I’ll take it.” The fact that he’s willing to compromise and wait suggests there’s potential for their relationship to go the distance…. so long as Catherine doesn’t expect him to wait too long before they take the next step.
Busybody that he is, Hodges naturally pipes up and offers an opinion after overhearing some of the conversation between Catherine and Vartann. Still smarting from the loss of Wendy, Hodges actually offers some heartfelt advice, telling Catherine, “I had love in my grasp and I let it slip through my fingers. That’s a terrible thing to wake up to every day.” The comment is both restrained and surprisingly introspective from Hodges, who spent years avoiding his feelings for Wendy, preferring to draw out the back-and-forth between them even after it became obvious that Wendy had feelings for him, too. When Wendy realized she wasn’t going to get a position as a CSI in Las Vegas and her relationship with Hodges wasn’t ever going to get off the ground, she opted to pursue a more promising career in Portland, leaving Hodges with nothing but regrets over his inaction. Wallace Langham expresses Hodges’ sorrow and regret in a way that invites the audience to sympathize with the lonely lab tech.
Nick has apparently stepped into Grissom’s shoes as the show’s new bugman; in the beginning of the episode, when Langston spots a beetle crawling out of the victim’s mouth, he asks where the “bugman” is. The question is a bit of a surprise, and at first I didn’t know who he was referring to—obviously not Grissom, but that was naturally who first came to mind. When Nick steps up, we realize that he really has stepped into his old mentor’s shoes in more than a few ways. Nick hasn’t just taken over Grissom’s office; he’s also become an expert on the things Grissom knew best, expertise that has come in handy more than a few times when working a case. Grissom would certainly be proud.
Which isn’t to say Nick takes his former boss too seriously—he’s able to joke with Sara when they’re walking through the woods and Sara points out that Transylvania is actually a twelve-letter word for “across the woods.” Nick asks, “Grissom, is that you? Gil?” And Sara banters right back, replying, “I don’t think he’d appreciate you calling him that.” Crestfallen, Nick asks, “Really? After all these years?” Nick might be the new bugman on the CSI team, but he’s still the protege to Grissom’s mentor. It’s a nice nod to a character who, though absent, is still missed.