Tonight’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation ended with a bang–literally–as the show prepares to see the exit of Catherine Willows in next week’s episode. Executive Story Editor Christopher Barbour talks with CSI Files’ Shane Saunders about tonight’s episode “Ms Willows Regrets,” part one of Marg Helgenberger‘s two episode departure. Spoilers after the jump!
CSI Files: We talked back in November about how “Freaks & Geeks” was your first major episode for Catherine (Marg Helgenberger), but now you’ve done three Catherine-focused episodes in the first half of the season. What was the process like getting into the rotation for her final episodes?
Christopher Barbour: Her exit episodes really were a team effort. For me I was fortunate to take point on the final two episodes, that was really not necessarily the plan because a lot went into creating the final two episodes. We had input from Marg, the writing staff, and there was a lot of discussion on how to take her out of the show in a way that would seem fitting. What I was interested in personally though was to touch some base with elements from the past because before I worked here I was a longtime fan of the show, so there were elements that I was keen to see. The show is really a team effort–the only way I can explain it is I took point with Don [McGill, Executive Producer], and Rich [Catalani, Co-Executive Producer] but it was a team effort.
CSI Files: How did you guys ‘break’ the story?
Barbour: Don and I focused on the first episode and then it was really a group effort on the second. We all sort of contributed scenes together.
CSI Files: You guys knew at the beginning of the season what her two final episodes would be, correct?
Barbour: We had an inkling of what it would be. There were some factors that we were sort of not sure would be a part of it, but the overall arc of the three episodes we had a pretty good sense of. We weren’t exactly sure how she would say goodbye in terms of her having a scene where she would say goodbye to everyone.
CSI Files: Anita Gillette was back as Catherine’s mother Lily Flynn, but there was no sign of Lindsey (Kay Panabaker). Any reason why she was not involved in the final episodes?
Barbour: It was partly to do with story and also in terms of Catherine not necessarily needing to say goodbye to her daughter. It was more about focusing on the CSI family.
CSI Files: Vartann (Alex Carter) isn’t in Episode Twelve, but he was there tonight in Episode Eleven. Are there plans for him to come back?
Barbour: He’s actually in Episode Fourteen, “Seeing Red.” He will return. He’s a terrific guy and I’m hoping there was some sense of him possibly being in jeopardy.
CSI Files: That brings up another good point. It seems whenever Catherine connects with a guy, bad things always seem to happen. Does Catherine not know how to choose the right person?
Barbour: [Laughs.] There’s some deep explanation for what she needs to do. She has been unlucky in love. I think the relationship with Vartann was a strong relationship but it was not the relationship. I can’t really explain that… it’s difficult for her because the job was very important for her. It was difficult to balance those things at times.
CSI Files: Hodges’ (Wallace Langham) mom has a new boyfriend that was mentioned in the episode, and I recall there being something at the beginning of the season about the possibility of introducing her on the show. Are there plans for her to show up for an episode?
Barbour: There are plans to possibly meet Hodges’ mom. We’re trying to figure out a way to meet her.
CSI Files: Maybe she hangs out with Mrs. Robbins and the two of them find another dead body in a bed?
Barbour: [Laughs.] Right now we’re just mulling it over, but we might meet his mom.
CSI Files: You’ve worked on a lot of episode this season. Do you have any others coming up?
Barbour: As you know I worked on Episode Fourteen and I’m hoping to do one more before the end of the season. It may be one of the last episodes.
Shane Saunders is a freelance writer and reviewer. His work can be seen on EDGE Network and ShaneSSaunders.com. Twitter: @ShaneSSaunders.