Hodges is excited when a murder investigation leads the CSIs to the Walking with Dinosaurs show.
The body of a man is found in the desert with large bite marks on his chest. Doc Robbins determines he died not from the wounds from the bite but from having his brain rattled around in his head. Hodges traces a nylon bag near the body to a new show in Las Vegas: Walking with Dinosaurs at the Las Vegas Arena. The tour manager, Kyle Adams, gives Langston and Hodges access to the dinosaurs after a show and Langston finds blood on the teeth of the Tyrannosaurus Rex that matches the victim. Henry is able to restore a logo on the dead man’s keychain, which leads him to the WLVU paleontology program, and an ID on their victim: Brian Lister. Brian’s tearful fiancée, Jane Lewis, tells Langston she and Brian both studied herbivores and went to see their beloved brachiosaurus brought to life. Langston shows her surveillance footage from the show of her kissing another guy when Brian got up, but Jane insists she was devoted to Brian. When a lab experiment proves Brian must have fallen on to the T-Rex’s teeth, Langston and Hodges return to the exhibit and determine he likely fell from an elevated platform. Langston gets Jane’s prints off the levers of the lift and interrogates her and the man she kissed, Travis Kilborn—who happens to be a fellow paleontology PhD student. The two admit that Brian wanted to see the brachiosaurus up close, so he went up on the lift and talked Jane into moving the dinosaur’s head closer and closer to him, but when it got too close, he lost his balance, fell onto the bottom teeth in the T-Rex’s open mouth before plunging to the ground, dead. Langston wonders if Jane perhaps was tiring of Brian and was looking elsewhere, prompting Jane to ask for a lawyer.
Nick and Greg join Detective Frankie Reed at the house of Phil Kohler, whose gardener discovered him dead from a gunshot wound in his study. Nick recognizes Kohler as the father of a murder victim from a case he worked five years ago: Whitney Kohler, a teenage girl who went missing from a shopping mall with her best friend, Rachael Beck. The girls’ bodies were never found, but a man named Eli Holt was convicted of the murders. Greg finds divorce papers in Kohner’s desk and notices a brunette hair on his body, while Nick notices the gold watch he’s wearing in all the pictures in the room is missing from his wrist. Kohler’s wife, Sharon, tells Catherine she was divorcing Phil because she caught him cheating on her with Carly Beck, the mother of Rachael. Reed and Nick go to Carly’s house and find no sign of her, though they discover a photograph of a decomposing dead girl, whom Nick recognizes as Whitney from the clothes she was wearing. Brass learns that Eli Holt is in a coma after trying to hang himself ten days ago. He also tells Nick that Carly sent Holt multiple letters asking where her daughter’s body was buried. Nick and Greg locate Whitney’s body based on the picture at Carly’s house and recover it, bringing it back to the morgue. Doc Robbins examines her and determines she was strangled, and also points out that several of the girl’s fingers were severed, likely by a bucksaw. Nick and Greg go to a barn belonging to Eli’s deceased uncle Bill, positing that Holt was sneaking holding his victims there, unbeknownst to his dying uncle. Sure enough, the CSIs discover blood on the bucksaw in the barn, along with a shovel that may have been used to bury the girls.
The CSIs trace Kohler’s missing watch to a pawnshop, along with some of Carly’s possessions. They learn that she sold five thousand dollars worth of stuff to the pawn shop the week before. Carly gets caught trying to deliver a backpack full of money to a locker in a park, and she begs the police not to arrest her, claiming it’s her last chance. Nick and Brass question Carly, who recognizes Nick from her daughter’s case. She insists she didn’t kill Phil Kohner; she went to him after Eli Holt finally responded to her letters. For five thousand dollars, he’d tell her the location of one of the girl’s bodies, and for ten thousand he’d reveal both. Carly scraped together five grand, but the picture she got was of Whitney’s body, not Rachael’s. She brought it to Phil, who had ended their romance, and he didn’t want to hear any more. He gave her his watch to pawn, but told her he was done. She got a call from Eli and had to tell him she didn’t have the money. She explained that she tried to get it from Whitney’s father, but he hung up on her. Brass and Nick gently inform her that Eli hung himself ten days ago and has been in a coma since, prompting Carly to wonder who she’s been talking to. Nick and Brass visit Eli’s prison cell and find a notepad with three pieces of paper torn off of it. They ask the name of the responding officer and learn it was a guard named Jason Richter. Nick, Reed and Greg go to Jason’s house and catch him trying to flee, leaving a burning map in the trashcan. Nick grabs the map, but not before the outer edges burn away. Richter found Eli hanging himself, and discovered maps to the girls’ bodies among his things. Figuring he could make some money off of them after finding Carly’s letters, he contacted the grieving mother. When he learned she’d gone to Phil Kohler for the money, he broke into the man’s house and shot him. Nick struggles to identify the location on the half-burned map, and Hodges’ soil analysis of dirt on the shovel narrows it down. While Greg helps to dig up Rachael’s body, Nick goes to tell Carly her daughter’s body has been recovered.
Dinosaurs and dead girls might seem to make for an odd mix at first, but the levity in the Walking with Dinosaurs case proves to be a good counterbalance for the tragedy of Carly Beck’s desperate quest to find her daughter’s body. CSI has always had something of a dark sense of humor, but there are some truly delightfully zany moments here, such as when Henry offers Langston his help over the phone because “Hodges is out sick” and Langston turns to look at Hodges, not ten feet away from him, gleefully posing for a picture with an animatronic dinosaur. Hodges is downright ecstatic when the evidence leads him and Langston to the Walking with Dinosaurs show, and the look of pure joy on his face when he’s looking at the live show says it all. Hodges is in heaven.
The case is handled in a quirky, off-beat way: Jane Lewis, the avowed herbivore lover turns out to have some cravings for meat, which led her not only away from brachiosaurus but from her fiancé Brian as well… and into the arms of carnivorous Travis Kilborn, who comes on to Jane while Brian is off paying a visit to the concession stand, wooing her with admiration for the raw power of the T-Rex. In the interrogation towards the end of the episode, Langston reveals that he discovered a burger wrapper with Jane’s lipstick on it. She protests that the restaurant was out of garden burgers, but it’s clear she’s been lured away from her vegetarian ways. Is it all a little absurd? Sure, but it’s pretty funny, too.
The silliness in the Walking with Dinosaurs case offsets some of the heaviness in the episode’s other case, which revolves around the murder of a man whose daughter was kidnapped and presumed dead five years earlier. I scanned the episode guide on the chance that I’d forgotten the initial case—Greg’s comment about it occurring during the early days of his time in the field would put it somewhere in season five or maybe six—but the earlier case isn’t drawn from a previous CSI episode. It would have been a neat tie in if it had—and indeed, the flashback to Nick being confronted by a frantic Carly Beck really made it feel like the murder of the two girls had been the focus of an earlier episode—but none of the emotional weight is lost simply because it doesn’t hearken back to an episode five or six seasons ago.
Despite the fact that the audience never saw the earlier case play out, it’s obvious it was a significant one for Nick. He recognizes Phil Kohler right away, and is able to recall specific details from the case, including the names of both missing girls and the man put away for their murders. He also remembers Carly Beck, and his impression of her at the time was strong enough that five years later, he’s able to say with absolute certainty that she didn’t have a hand in her daughter’s disappearance or death—and he seems fairly certain she didn’t kill Phil Kohler either. The case weighs on Nick, to the point where at the end of the episode, he’s sitting with the burnt map, desperately trying to figure out what intersection it depicts. Greg picks up on it, and, after getting a soil analysis from the shovel from Hodges, he manages to locate the intersection the map depicts. Nick and Greg lock eyes for a moment, realizing they are finally going to be able to give Carly Beck the closure she needs.
While Greg and a team dig up Rachael’s remains, Nick is tasked with the sad duty of informing Carly Beck that her child has at long last been found. Carly reacts just as we expect she would: the revelation she’s been relentlessly pursuing was simply an outlet to focus her anger and grief. She collapses into Nick’s arms, devastated by the confirmation. She may have been desperately seeking closure, but that finality also robs her of the glimmer of hope that perhaps somehow her daughter survived. Jessica Hecht gives a powerful performance as Carly; the audience sympathizes with her every step of the way.
Katee Sackhoff makes her first appearance as Detective Frankie Reed, a somewhat brash young detective who isn’t afraid to kick a door open or make an off-color joke at a crime scene. Sackhoff, whose claim to fame is playing the dynamic Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica, brings an energy to every role she tackles, but she’s more often than not pigeon-holed into playing outspoken characters, such as villainous Dana on 24 or wild child Teddy on Nip/Tuck. While Reed’s apology to Nick after she realizes he’s familiar with Kohner and might not have appreciated her wisecracks at the scene gives her some depth, I hope her character will prove to be something other than a hothead. The talented Sackhoff certainly has the range to play something else.
Source: "Cold Blooded"