A new supervisor takes over the lab as the team investigates a shootout on a Las Vegas tram and a body found in the woods.
Nick returns to the lab after three weeks in Hawaii to find the team working under a new supervisor, DB Russell. They start a big case, which involves a tram in Las Vegas that connects the Palermo to the Mediterranean. A group of people got on the tram at the Palermo, but when the tram arrives at its destination 73 seconds later, two people are dead and three people are injured following a shootout. One of the victims, Tom Finnerty, was actually stabbed, and Doc Robbins discovers that he was in the late stages of mesothelioma. He only had a few months to live, and he was in Las Vegas with his brother Jimmy. Tom was stabbed before he got on the tram, and Jimmy ran to help him and pulled out the knife that was stuck in his side. A cowboy on the tram, assuming that Jimmy was attacking Tom, pulled out a gun. An off-duty security guard from the Palermo pulled his gun as well, and that’s when the bullets started to fly. The cowboy shot the security guard in the shoulder, and the security guard got off three shots—one hit the cowboy in the chest and killed him, and the other two injured a woman riding the tram with her son nearby.
Jimmy took off when the tram stopped, and the team traces him to a hotel room in Tom’s name. They find Jimmy with a plastic bag over his face, but his suicide attempt failed. He swears he didn’t kill his brother, and the team has to go back to the tram to figure out what happened. DB and Nick talk to the injured woman’s son, Emmett, who admits that he found money on the tram platform before the ride and took it. The money has blood on it, proving that Tom was already injured—but they know it didn’t happen on the platform or in the casino because there’s no surveillance footage of the attack. The restroom wouldn’t have a camera, though, and they find Tom’s blood on one of the stalls. Fingerprints lead back to Allen Krick, a man who was in the next tram car during the shootout. Krick worked with Jimmy at a chop shop, and Krick has spent the past few years in jail while Jimmy stayed free. Tom was trying to pay Krick off to protect his brother, but Krick stabbed him and took his money anyway. Tom staggered onto the tram to be with his brother when he died.
Meanwhile, Sara and Greg work a strange case in Brime County. Dale Hartley is found dead with a puncture wound in his side, but there’s very little blood on his body. The man isn’t old, but his chest looks loose and wrinkled. The skin was stretched when the nozzle from an air compressor was inserted into the stab wound. Hunters use this method to separate a deer’s skin from its carcass, and the dead man’s hunting partner, Ross Gibbs, explains that a deer they’d killed wasn’t quite dead. It cut Dale with the tip of one antler, so he tried to clean the wound with the compressed air. Unfortunately, the nozzle got stuck, and he died before Ross could yank it out. Ross disposed of the body in the woods because he has a business to run and can’t have dead bodies around, and he didn’t want to get in trouble for hunting deer out of season.
I’ve been curious to see how Ted Danson fits in with the rest of the CSI cast, so I was excited to sit down and watch “73 Seconds”. The episode strikes a different tone from the get-go: it seems more vibrant, and there’s a sense of curiosity and anticipation from minute one. Nick serves as the audience’s point of view character when he arrives at the scene after returning from a three week training session in Hawaii. The team has been working with new supervisor DB Russell for a while, but Nick and the audience meet him at the same time. DB is lying on the floor of the tram, and he seems like an interesting, quirky guy from his very first scene.
Nick isn’t quite sure what to make of DB, and it’s clear that the rest of the team is still getting used to him as well. I like the character, and I feel like he’s going to bring a great new dynamic to CSI this season. Laurence Fishburne is a tremendously talented actor, but the character of Dr Ray Langston dragged the show down a bit last season in particular. With DB, it looks like the show will be pushing forward with renewed vigor. He’s a family man with a wife and kids, which provides a nice contrast to the rest of the team, most of whom are single and/or childless. It’ll be nice to see a happy family man doing the job alongside our usual scientists, and the scene in the hospital with DB, Nick and the six-year-old boy, Emmett, is a great example of what I’m hoping to see this year. It’s clear that DB really understands kids and knows how to bring them out of their shells, and his “invisible tennis ball” trick is fun.
DB brings a new energy to the team, but he also brings a lot of tension with him as well. Nick is still trying to get used to DB’s methods when the man confronts him about an unfinished field investigation report later in the episode. Nick tries to brush it off, but DB makes it clear that while he may be an easy-going guy, the people who work for him shouldn’t forget that he’s the boss. Nick agrees to get the report to him, and he promises it won’t happen again. DB knows it probably will, but he changes the subject to mention Nick’s past playing college baseball. In an earlier scene, DB and Ecklie watch while Nick interrogates Jimmy, and he’s very friendly with the suspect. Ecklie says, “They all think they’re social workers,” but DB points out that the team is very good. He likes Nick, and he’d hate to lose him. When he mentions the interrogation later, you get the sense he’s giving Nick a subtle hint about his behavior. If Nick’s job is on the line, I’m curious to see what happens as the season continues.
Nick and Catherine have an argument at the end of the episode, when she finds out Nick called Jimmy’s parole officer to request leniency. Catherine tells him to call the parole officer back because they need to stop working with their hearts instead of their heads. Nick doesn’t seem to understand why they need to change the way they work, but Catherine reminds him that she’s not in charge anymore. DB came in to take over the lab because of the way the team behaved at the end of last season. She brings up his actions in Los Angeles, when he helped Langston go after Nate Haskell, and he doesn’t regret what he did—but she does. It’s clear that she wants him to see things from her point of view, but he’s stubborn in his refusal to see any problems with their methods. DB is walking by on the phone at that moment, just as the other people in the lab start to notice the fight and wander out into the hallway. DB tells his wife he’s going to need another hour, and he sends a text to the whole team offering to buy breakfast for the group. This scene seems like a good indication of DB’s plan to take charge and keep his subordinates in line while still maintaining a sense of harmony in the lab.
When it was announced that Fishburne would be leaving CSI without returning for even one episode of season 12, fans were left to wonder how the writers would explain his absence. The jump forward allows the team to be a bit more settled with the new leading man, and it makes it more reasonable not to see Langston in the episode. The situation is explained by several characters, namely Doc Robbins and Brass. It makes sense for it to be these two, since Doc Robbins was Langston’s closest friend on the team, and Brass played such a big role in the events of “In A Dark, Dark House” after he picked up the flex-cuffs to cover for Langston. They talk about where Langston is right now, and Doc says he’s back in Baltimore with his ex-wife Gloria, who is recovering from her ordeal at the end of last season. Brass says Langston was “railroaded by IA”, and he defends the man by saying the world is a better place without Haskell in it. Doc concentrates on moving forward, suggesting that Langston has a second chance now. It seems far too soon to imply, even indirectly, that Langston and Gloria might get back together. The events of “Cello and Goodbye” and “In A Dark, Dark House” weren’t that long ago. I understand the writers’ desire to give Langston a happy ending (and write him out neatly in Fishburne’s absence), but ultimately it’s a bit frustrating that Langston gets to move on while the rest of the team is left behind to clean up the mess and suffer the longterm professional consequences.
DB isn’t the only new character on the show this season. Morgan Brody was introduced in “Cello and Goodbye” last season, when she helped the team with the Haskell investigation by going against orders from her superiors. Ecklie’s estranged daughter is back in the premiere, and it’s clear that she, like the team, is facing repercussions for her actions in that case. The fallout had a “far reach”, she tells her father, but it’s up to him whether or not she’s allowed to stay in Vegas. Elisabeth Harnois was announced to be a new series regular, so there’s no doubt that Ecklie will approve the transfer, and I’m excited to see her work with the team. She only has a few scenes this week, although it does set up an interesting dynamic with Greg when she enters the lab and says hello to Nick. Greg seems drawn to her immediately, and he expresses some surprise that the lovely woman is Ecklie’s daughter. Nick just laughs and warns him off, and I can’t help wondering if there’s a possible romance on the horizon for Greg and Morgan. If so, I hope Greg is prepared to deal with Ecklie’s reaction!
CSI isn’t just about the characters, of course—in fact, the franchise has always revolved around forensics more than interpersonal relationships, and there’s plenty of crime scene investigating crammed into “73 Seconds” alongside the personal elements. In addition to explaining Langston’s exit, introducing DB, establishing a new dynamic in the lab and setting a few other personal storylines into motion, the team works two cases—one of which is filled with twists and turns. There’s a lot going on this week, and it can get a bit confusing, but it’s obvious that the writers didn’t hold back when they penned the season 12 premiere.
The murder in Brime County is pretty straightforward, although there’s definitely a mystery to be solved. After 11 full seasons of CSI (not to mention nine full seasons of CSI: Miami and seven of CSI: New York), it can be difficult to find new ways to kill people. Being stabbed by an air compressor is certainly a new one for me! It also gives Greg a chance to have an amusing scene that mentions his family in Norway, where his cousin uses a compressor device to skin deer.
The tram case is far more intricate, and it is filled with immaterial elements like the ant farm and the presence of shokushu goukan; however, these elements do offer the audience some great character moments. The ant farm gives Nick a chance to show off his growing knowledge of insects. It seems like he has truly taken Grissom’s place as the show’s resident Bug Man, and it’s a fun nod to longtime viewers in addition to providing some development for Nick as a character.
The shokushu goukan side story is less relevant but perhaps more amusing. The team finds evidence of an octopus on the tram, and Hodges figures out the reason when he sees a surveillance image of one of the tram riders who fled the scene. Shizu Yoshi had the octopus in her bag when she got on the tram, and she has a tattoo of an old-fashioned diver’s helmet on her shoulder. This leads Hodges to explain the concept of shokushu goukan, or “tentacle erotica”, which is found in Japanese hentai. It is both odd and (arguably) sexy, which is a perfect fit for CSI. I don’t know if people having sex with octopi actually exists outside of manga and anime, but it certainly makes for an interesting addition to the episode. Most importantly, it gives Hodges a chance to be his odd, hilarious self in the “octopsy” scene.
Overall, “73 Seconds” is a fun, fast-paced episode. CSI really hits the ground running in season 12 with a premiere that sets up promising storylines for various members of the team. Ted Danson is shaping up to be a great addition to the cast, and I’m looking forward to seeing where DB Russell and the rest of the Las Vegas CSIs go from here. One thing is for sure: CSI shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
See also: “73 Seconds” episode guide