February 29 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation–‘Wild Life’

9 min read

The murder of a couple proves to be anything but open-and-shut, while a man’s plunge from a hotel room leads the CSIs to a room party gone wrong.

Synopsis:

A man named Brad Malone, clad in nothing but his boxers, plunges to his death from a room at the Eclipse motel. Catherine learns the man had lost over a hundred thousand dollars to the casino, but when Nick and Langston go to his room, they find no evidence that he jumped, and the location of his body indicates he fell from a neighboring room. Nick and Langston go to the room next door and find two women in the bed, lying under bloody sheets. The CSIs are surprised to discover the women, Stacy Cano and Dana Carlston, are alive. After claiming they have no memory of the night before, Stacy and Dana are taken to the hospital, where Catherine processes and questions them. Stacy and Dana came to town to celebrate Stacy’s divorce, which had gotten rather unpleasant. Stacy recalls going from club to club, and admits that their drinks could have been out of their sight at some point. Catherine tells Dana that their exams indicated both she and Stacy had sex the night before. Dana, who is married with children, is devastated to learn she cheated on her husband. In the women’s hotel room, Langston discovers an iron with blood on it beneath the bed and wonders if Brad perhaps slept with both women and in the process did something that reminded her of her ex-husband, prompting her to strike him. In the morgue, Doc Robbins points out that Brad’s blood was flowing when he hit the pavement, meaning he was alive when he fell. Paint chips on his thighs are consistent with him going over the railing on the balcony. Doc Robbins also finds vaginal fluid on his penis, surprising Langston, who notes that a used condom was found in the room. When Nick finds the blood on the sheet from the hotel room is a match to an unknown male, the CSIs realize their threesome was actually a foursome.

When Catherine tells Vartann the DNA on the condom belongs to Stacy and the unidentified male, meaning Dana had unprotected sex with Brad, Vartann questions Dana’s claim that she remembers nothing. Catherine references going through something similar, and Vartann is surprised she hasn’t told him this before. Nick interrupts: he’s found GHB in the women’s systems, but while Stacy’s BAC was .32, Dana’s was only .07—and there were only trace amounts of GHB in her system. Realizing Dana remembers more than she’s admitted to, Catherine and Vartann question her. Dana tells them that while Stacy had sex with Kyle, a guy Stacy picked up at a bar they went to, Brad forced himself on her. Afterwards, Dana went into Stacy’s room where she was grabbed by Kyle, who was ready to take his turn. Brad came in and fought with him, and Kyle pushed him over the railing. Hodges traces an errant pillow feather to a Las Vegas hotspot called The Pillow Club. When Langston and Nick go to the club, they catch sight of the bartender, Kyle, with a nasty cut on his head. They bring him in and Kyle claims Dana hit him in the head after he offered to have sex with her. He tells them that the guy from next door came to see what was happening and chased him away. Kyle went from the hotel to the hospital, giving him an alibi for the time of the murder. Wondering if Dana lied about the rape as well, Nick, Langston and Catherine perform a reenactment to figure out how Brad fell to his death. What they determine is that he had to have been sitting on the rail at the time of his death—and that what probably happened was that he was having consensual sex with Dana when he did so. Catherine confronts Dana with what they know: she had sex with Brad, and that he fell backwards during the act. Dana tried to save him by grabbing onto his arms, but he slipped out of her grasp. Dana feels guilty for having sex with Brad, but admits that it was mind-blowingly good. Catherine tells Vartann she doesn’t think they need to know everything about each other’s lives, and tells him to call her when he figures out if he can live with that.

Sara and Greg investigate the murders of Lance and Denise Irwin, who are found brutally murdered in their apartment after a 911 call from Denise. Brass points out a broken screen, indicating the killer may have entered through it. Denise has been stabbed, while her husband was apparently attacked in the shower. Though the couple’s pet parrot is in his cage, there’s no sign of their cat. In the morgue, Doc Robbins tells Sara that Lance Irwin drowned after receiving a blow to the head. Brass questions the Irwins’ neighbor, Dwayne Simpson, who left an angry message on the Irwins’ answering machine, threatening to kill them. Dwayne admits he complained about their bird making noise, but denies killing them. He says their fighting was even more disruptive than their animals. Greg and Sara learn that the police were called to break up fights between the Irwins at least once a month, and that only their prints were found in the apartment. The landlord reports that the torn screen was broken before their deaths. Sara wonders if Lance killed Denise and then slipped and fell in the shower. Sara and Greg return to the apartment and Greg extracts the shower drain for examination. Sara discovers bloody paw prints and finds the Irwins’ cat under the bed. She and Greg take both animals back to the lab. Doc Robbins tells Sara that Denise Irwin died from a single stab wound, though he does point out lacerations on her scalp, likely made by the parrot. Sara and Hodges process the animals,¬†who apparently loathe each other. After their work is done, Sara and Greg share their conclusions with Brass: Lance Irwin was bathing the parrot when the cat attacked, causing Lance to fall and hit his head. Hearing the commotion, Denise went to check out what was happening, knife in hand, and was attacked by the bird. She fell on her own knife and crashed through a glass table. Their owners dead, the cat fled and the parrot locked himself back in his age The CSIs still can’t puzzle out how Denise called 911 without getting blood on the phone… until Greg cuts himself accidentally with a knife and the parrot hops over to the desk phone, knocks the receiver off, dials 911 and cries out, “Help me, help me!”

Analysis:

A wild and sometimes downright wacky ride, “Wild Life” is a thoroughly enjoyable lighter entry that actually makes a convincing case for murderous pets. “So Sylvester and Tweety whacked their owners?” an incredulous Brass asks when Sara and Greg lay the case out for him. It does sound awfully unlikely, and Greg describing it as a “series of unfortunate events” is pretty spot on. The cat, in his desire to take out the parrot, pounces on the shower curtain and ends up taking out not the parrot but Mr. Irwin, who falls and hits his head and drowns in a shallow pool of water. The frightened bird flies out and attacks Mrs. Irwin, causing her to fall on the knife she’s carrying. It was the parrot, not Mrs. Irwin, who made the frantic 911 call, before locking himself back in his cage, presumably to stay safe from the predatory feline. I have to admit, I thought the couple had likely done each other in somehow; that their pets actually killed them was something of a surprising twist!

While Greg is immediately drawn to the parrot, Hodges wants nothing to do with the bird, claiming he has a fear of birds after a run in as a child with some Canadian geese while visiting his uncle. Apparently Hodges thought the geese would be friendly because they were Canadian… and found out the hard way that wasn’t the case. As a result, Hodges refuses to go anywhere near the parrot, leaving Sara to process the bird. As ever, Hodges provides great comic relief for the show, and his line about projecting “an aura of confidence” coupled with the story of his youthful mishap provides the audience with a hearty laugh.

The A-case features just as many twists as the secondary one, with the death of Brad Malone first looking like a suicide, then a murder before finally being revealed to be a tragic accident. The episode once again proves the importance of the evidence over witness testimony: Dana first claims that, like Stacy, she can’t recall the events of the previous night. Stacy is telling the truth: her blood alcohol level is sky high, and on top of that she ingested plenty of GHB, which she apparently requested from bartender Kyle. Dana is another case entirely; she’s below the legal limit, and there are only trace amounts of GHB in her system. Even when the CSIs corner her with this evidence, Dana continues to lie, this time claiming that Brad raped her. The truth turns out to be the opposite: not only did Dana have consensual sex with Brad, but the sex was so good that it sent him flying off the balcony, leaving Dana to go back to having sex with her husband twice a month with just the memory of “mind blowing” sex with Brad to comfort her. Despite all of Dana’s lies, Leisha Hailey manages to make her sympathetic and relatable.

In the process of trying to untangle all of the lies and determine what exactly happened in the hotel room, Catherine, Langston and Nick end up participating in a bizarre experiment to try to find out exactly what position Brad was in when he fell from the balcony to the sidewalk below. Referencing a position in the Kama Sutra, Langston sits on the balcony and has Catherine sit in his lap, approximating the position Brad and Dana might have been in before he fell. When his colleagues seem a little too intrigued by his knowledge of the Kama Sutra, Langston asks innocently, “What? I’m a doctor.” Nick definitely enjoys his participating, gleefully noting, “This is my first three-way! …I’m very excited.” It’s a nice bit of a goofy humor between the three, and a fun scene overall.

The “three-way” isn’t the only action Nick sees in the episode; the girls who are walking down the strip when Brad Malone’s body falls out of the air seem to take a shine to him. Nick extracts a piece of evidence from the cleavage of one of the girls, while the other girl jokes that she always said she was looking for a guy with a brain… or one in uniform. She admits she flirts when she’s nervous, and Nick seems to take it all in stride, though it’s clear he enjoys the attention. The girls make for memorable witnesses, even if they’re not able to tell Nick much.

Catherine and Vartann don’t fare as well in the episode. Their relationship, already tested when Catherine refused to move in with Vartann, is frayed, possibly to the breaking point, when Vartann learns a few things about Catherine he didn’t know. First he’s surprised to discover she owns a piece of the Eclipse Hotel, left to her by her casino mogul father, Sam Braun. Vartann is disturbed that she didn’t tell him about it earlier, but she brushes off his concern. What seems to bother him even more is the revelation that Catherine once woke up in a hotel room after having been drugged, thinking she’d been raped. She tells him how frightening the experience was, but Vartann is more upset that she didn’t tell him about it in the first place. At the end of the episode, Catherine maintains that she thinks it’s okay for couples not to share everything, and tells Vartann this is about all she can offer. There certainly seems to be a disconnect in terms of what each one expects out of the relationship: Vartann appears to be all in, or wants to be, while Catherine isn’t at a point in her life where she wants to be serious with someone. Is this the end of the road for the two? The last scene between them certainly suggests it could be.

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