May 28 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation — ‘Ms Willows Regrets’

7 min read

The FBI returns to Las Vegas when a lawyer’s murder ties into their ongoing case against Ceressus Logistics.

Synopsis:

Two men and a woman head into the office of Malcom Turner. They kill the lawyer along with his receptionist and paralegal, and their bodies are dumped in the woods. Sara and Morgan go through the lawyer’s office, which has been professionally cleaned. There’s no visible sign of violence, although they do find evidence of blood when they spray the walls and floor. Catherine worries that her friend Laura Gabriel may be in danger since she encouraged the woman to visit Malcom if she needed legal help after leaving her husband Mark. Mark is the CEO of Ceressus Logistics, a military contractor first introduced in “Zippered” as a dangerous, corrupt group who was in the FBI’s sights for gunrunning. The murders at Malcom Turner’s office could have been pulled off by Ceressus. Luckily, they find Laura alive, and she confesses that she heard her husband Mark talking about his rival, another military contractor named Stanley Merrill, who went missing eleven months ago. She’s sure Mark had him killed.

Archie discovers hidden data on a memory card Laura sent to Catherine, which lists dates and amounts for money transferred from a Ceressus subsidiary company to Switzerland. Several of these dates coincide with the disappearance of Stanley Merill, the death of Lenny Wesson (“Zippered”) and the deaths of Malcom Turner and his employees. Ceressus’ CFO Arthur Martens is stuck in the hot seat, although he claims that he wasn’t involved in these dealings. He agrees to work with the FBI in exchange for protection. They now have two people who are willing to come forward against Mark Gabriel and Cerresus. The FBI transfers Laura for her own safety, but they are ambushed after a member of the hit team from the law office infiltrates the transfer team. The car containing Laura and Agent McQuaid is torched, along with the people inside.


Analysis:

“Ms Willows Regrets” marks the second installment in the three-episode story arc leading to Marg Helgenberger’s exit from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. This week’s storyline brings back characters from “Zippered”, including Catherine’s childhood friend Laura. When the bodies in the wilderness are identified as Malcom Turner and his employees, Catherine is shocked. She gave Malcom’s name to Laura, and now the man is dead. She worries that Laura may have suffered the same fate, especially if Laura’s husband Mark is behind the murders.

Catherine’s mother, Lily Flynn, shows up at the lab. This marks the first appearance from Anita Gillette since “The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp” during season eight. Lily received a birthday card in the mail, but it was meant for Catherine. It’s signed “David Campbell”, and Lily and Catherine recognize the name: he was Laura’s father, who died 20 years ago. The card is a message for Catherine. Sara discovers a memory card hidden inside, and Archie scans through the photos. The memory card belonged to Mark Gabriel, and it seems to be full of happy photos of the couple on vacation. The only picture that seems out of place is one of Laura looking distressed as she stands in front of her cousin’s house, which Catherine recognizes because she used to play there as a child. Catherine is relieved to find Laura alive, although her cousin and her cousin’s husband were not so lucky. However, Catherine’s relief is short-lived, and she is soon mourning the loss of her friend after the FBI team taking Laura to safety is ambushed.

Catherine is upset, and she rails at Agent Pratt for letting this happen. Pratt tells Catherine that now is not the time for this argument, and DB insists that Catherine walk away until she can calm down. He tells her to head back to the office, leave her notes on the case, and head home. When DB gets back to his office later, he sees a message on his computer from Catherine: it’s a letter of resignation. Meanwhile, Vartann drops Catherine off at her house, but she is barely home for a minute before bullets start flying. Someone is shooting at her from the backyard, and she drops to the ground to avoid being hit. She crawls over to her endtable and reaches for her backup weapon, but it’s gone. She knocks off the lamp to create enough darkness to cover her movements so she can retrieve her service weapon, and she fires several shots toward the shattered window before running out the front door and into the street. An SUV drives toward her, but she doesn’t open fire—and it’s a good thing, too, since the man behind the wheel is DB. She jumps into the back of the SUV, and DB drives away as the assailants pepper the vehicle with bullet holes. DB asks if Catherine is okay, and she says she’ll live—but the bullet wound in her side proves that she didn’t escape unscathed.

The episode ends with a cliffhanger, and the storyline will be wrapped up in the next installment. Despite the loose ends, this episode does provide some closure in Catherine’s personal life—although that closure isn’t entirely satisfying. During “Zippered”, Agent McQuaid showed romantic interest in Catherine and wanted to spend some time with her. Things didn’t work out, however, and he tries to pick up where they left off when he arrives at the lab this week. Catherine keeps things professional, but there’s a definite attraction between them before his sudden demise.

Catherine’s romance with McQuaid ended before it began, but I’m more concerned about her ongoing relationship with Detective Lou Vartann. They were together in the past, but things have been (frustratingly) ambiguous since “Wild Life” last season. It’s obvious that they still have feelings for each other, but there’s nothing concrete to suggest that they resolved their differences and had any sort of relationship since then. There’s an awkward moment this week when Vartann sees Catherine and McQuaid talking in the lab. He can tell there’s something between them, but he doesn’t push it. Later, when Vartann drops Catherine off at her house, he asks if she’d like for him to come inside. She says it’s not a good idea before she gets out of the car, and she leans in the window to tell the man that he ‘deserves more.’ It’s a simple comment, but it implies a definite end to their relationship. I enjoyed the chemistry and the romance between Catherine and Vartann when they were together, so I’m sad to know that it’s officially over. However, it makes sense for the characters, especially if, as the resignation letter suggests, Catherine is leaving the lab. It also makes sense from the standpoint of the writers, who no doubt want to keep Alex Carter in the cast even after Helgenberger makes her exit. He has been with the show since season four, and it would be a shame to see him leave.

Nick’s role as the resident Bug Man brings him to the forefront for several scenes this week. When he’s looking at the beetle-covered corpses at the beginning of the episode, he realizes that something isn’t right. There are too many bugs, and the bodies are in an advanced stage of decomposition that doesn’t match up with individuals who have been dead less than 24 hours. The beetles found on the body are unlike anything Nick has ever seen. They have been bio-engineered to eat flesh quickly, and they are irradiated to prevent them from reproducing—they were specially designed to dispose of bodies and leave no trace behind.

This subplot offers a fun scene between Nick and Greg, who use fried chicken to test just how quickly these “super beetles” are able to strip a bone clean. Nick places a piece of chicken in the tank with the bugs, and Greg lifts another piece out of the box and starts to take a bite. Nick reminds him that they aren’t allowed to eat in the lab, and Greg says he won’t tell DB if Nick doesn’t. Nick agrees, and they both chow down while the bugs get to work. I thought DB might walk in and catch them, but it’s probably for the best that they got away with their snack.

Nick’s discovery of the genetically-modified beetles provides the set-up for an interesting moment for DB. Catherine calls in the FBI when she realizes that Ceressus may be involved, but she doesn’t give Brass a heads up about their arrival. He isn’t pleased when he comes into the lab, and Catherine starts to apologize—but DB quickly speaks up and says that it was his fault. Catherine gives DB a look, but she doesn’t say anything. Brass, for his part, seems less bothered when he thinks it’s DB who forgot to give him a call. The men still have an ambivalent relationship, and I really enjoy seeing little hints of that from time to time. DB is a great boss, and he and Brass work well together 99% of the time, but they certainly aren’t friends. There’s just enough tension in their interactions with each other to make things interesting.


See also: “Ms Willows Regrets” episode guide

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