Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation — ‘Fallen Angels’

Comment

A reverend is shot beside Warrick Brown’s grave, bringing up old memories as the team searches for their killer.

Synopsis:

The team is called to a cemetery after Reverend Rick Renken is found dead on the grave of former CSI Warrick Brown. There is powdered Oxycodone on the seat of the reverend’s pants, and blue chalk on the soles of his shoes. Nick remembers seeing a chalk drawing in front of Tina Brewster’s house, where he went to speak with Warrick’s ex-wife and son Eli. They head to the house, and they find the powdered Oxy on the arm of a chair. The drugs belong to a man Tina has been seeing, Cliff Paul; when they go to the man’s home, they find him dead on the ground outside of his second-story window, where he landed after a failed attempt to escape an attacker in his apartment.

They find the gun used to kill the reverend in Cliff’s apartment, but he was watching internet porn at the time of the man’s murder. The killer left it behind after he forced the man out the window. They also find a flashlight under a piece of furniture, with dried blood from a previous attack on Cliff. The flashlight belonged to Warrick, but Tina gave those things to a boy from the neighborhood, James, whom Warrick used to help before he died.

James wanted to take care of Tina and Eli, but the police never answered his four 911 calls when he tried to report that Cliff was being abusive. He went to confront the man three days ago and hit him with the flashlight, but he denies going back to finish the job. As for Reverend Renken, a check paid to Cliff in the amount of $1000 suggests that the reverend was engaging in illegal activities in the neighborhood. In fact, he convinced Tina to sign away her house to the church, and the reason he was at her house the night of his murder was because she was trying to get the house back.

James says that he wanted the two men dead, but he didn’t kill them. Sometimes the universe just seems to answer his prayers. He relates a story about a pair of new sneakers he got a year ago—a bully named Ben took the shoes from him, but the next morning James found them on his front porch. Ben was never seen again. The team takes the shoes, which were placed in the closet like a trophy, and they find blood spatter that matches Ben’s missing persons file. There’s also trace from an auto junkyard on the soles of the shoes, which leads them to a junkyard a mile from the restaurant where Ben was last seen. Finn brings a find-your-keys fob to the junkyard—she presses the button, hoping that the matching keychain from Ben’s keys will beep and alert them to his position. She and Nick walk through the junkyard, and they are able to hear a faint beeping underground. Ben is buried in a shallow grave, with the bullet still inside his skull. There’s also a hair on the trunk liner wrapped around his body that might be from the killer.

The hair belongs to James’ father, a local gang member named Aaron Voss. The man has been trying to look after his son by getting rid of anyone who endangered him—like Ben. He went after Cliff and Reverend Renken because James wanted the men gone, and Voss wanted to take care of the problem before James got himself into trouble.


Analysis:

Warrick Brown died four years ago, but his spirit is felt in “Fallen Angels”. Finding the reverend dead on Warrick’s grave hits home for the members of the team who knew the man before he died. At the beginning of the hour, DB notices a flowering plant left beside Warrick’s grave, and he wonders if the reverend was there to leave the offering behind. However, Nick walks up and explains that he brought them last week. This is when the audience—and DB—discovers where the body has been found. It’s a bit of a shock to see the grave marker, especially with the reverend’s blood pooling around Warrick’s name after he’s been gone for so long. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the reverend was killed in this particular spot, but the team does not yet know how this death is related to their fallen friend.

The reverend was shot from a short distance, and Nick heads in that direction to look for evidence. After sharing a brief look with DB, Brass follows the CSI. Brass doesn’t beat around the bush, immediately bringing up the topic they both need (and perhaps want) to discuss: Warrick. They share a really interesting conversation after Brass asks how Nick is doing with this particular development. It hits close to home, Nick admits; based on the fresh flowers beside Warrick’s grave, it’s obvious that Nick is no stranger to this cemetery. Brass, however, reveals that he hasn’t been to the cemetery since Warrick’s funeral. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t think of his friend, of course, he just chooses to remember the man in a different way. Brass explains that Warrick is always at the back of his mind, and Fight Nights on the Strip always make him think of the former CSI. Brass knows that Warrick wouldn’t want to miss all of the excitement, and Nick smiles as he agrees. It’s nice to see a more personal scene between Nick and Brass, and it’s good to hear them talk about Warrick. He’s been gone for several seasons now, and it’s easy to assume that nobody thinks about him since he is rarely mentioned. It’s nice to have proof that Warrick may be gone, but he hasn’t been forgotten by the ones who knew him best.

In fact, Nick and Brass ponder what Warrick’s next move would be, and they know exactly what he would do: speak to the gang member who runs the neighborhood. They bring in Aaron Voss, and the man knows exactly what this is about. The CSIs seeing someone else’s blood on their friend’s grave got them “riled up.” He tries to say that he and Warrick had a history, but Nick cuts in. Warrick hated Voss, and the gang member represents everything Warrick wanted to change about the neighborhood. On the flip side of that coin, Voss doesn’t think highly of men like Warrick or the dead reverend. They might have wanted to change things, but they didn’t do much in the end. Voss, on the other hand, considers himself to be the one who keeps the neighborhood together. The team isn’t charging Voss with anything just yet, so the man is free to go—but before he leaves, he leans down and tells Nick to say a prayer to “Saint Warrick” for him.

Nick goes to speak to Warrick’s ex-wife Tina, and it’s obvious that the relationship between Warrick’s family and his old friends is strained. Nick sees Eli playing outside, and he smiles with delight—and surprise—when he sees the boy. It has been years since he laid eyes on Warrick’s son, and Eli is surprised to hear that his father had friends. When Tina comes outside, however, she immediately tells the boy to come into the house. Tina repeats something she told Nick four years ago after Warrick died: she wants all of Warrick’s old colleagues to keep their distance, and she’ll call the police next time she sees one of them near her son. It’s a bit abrupt, learning that the team has such a tumultuous relationship with Tina, but it does make sense that we wouldn’t know much about this aspect of their lives since most of the episodes focus on the case at hand. It would be great to hear more about Warrick on a more consistent basis, but I understand that they can’t bring up old characters every week.

Later, Sara and Finn head to Tina’s house after they discover blue chalk on the soles of the reverend’s shoes, which Nick connects to the drawing Eli made on the pavement in front of the house. Tina doesn’t want to let them in, even with a warrant, and there’s a tense moment on the porch with Tina on one side of the threshold and Sara on the other. Finn never knew Warrick, of course, but Tina is all-too-familiar with Sara. Tina offers part of her own side of the story, explaining that at Warrick’s funeral, while his colleagues were busy crying over Warrick and paying attention to Eli, none of them gave her a second glance. Sara admits that it was a “tough time” for all of them, but Finn interrupts to say that they really need to get into the house now. Eli eventually pulls his mother out onto the porch and down the stairs, leaving the doorway open for Finn and Sara to head inside. Sara is appalled by the state of the house, which is messy and filled with beer bottles and cigarette butts. At one point, Finn lifts up a paper plate on the floor and reveals cockroaches crawling over a half-eaten sandwich. They find a bottle of Oxy within a child’s reach, along with some crushed pills on the couch that matches the powder they found on the seat of the reverend’s pants. A pair of men’s jeans nearby has a bag of weed in the pocket, and it’s obvious that this man is likely responsible for bringing these substances into the house. Even if the man is responsible, Sara and Finn are adamant that Eli shouldn’t be living in these conditions.

Sara has an added reason to feel sad about the house since Warrick’s grandmother raised him there, and he let Tina live there after they got divorced. Finn pulls some information out of the other CSI about Warrick, asking if he was okay with Eli living in a bad part of town. Sara honestly doesn’t know, although she explains that Warrick was trying to get custody of his son when he died. Sara gets a nostalgic smile on her face when she sees a stereo, telling Finn that Warrick spent two weeks’ salary on the electronics. He was really proud of it, but her smile fades to sadness as she sees the ashtray filled with cigarette butts resting on top of one speaker. Finn wonders where Warrick and Tina met, and Sara says she was a different person then. She was a nurse, but the rumor is that she quit when she got Warrick’s death benefits. The state of Tina’s relationship with the team is further explained when Sara mentions that she would come to the house after Warrick died, but she could never get Tina to open the door. The house was always dark, and she could hear Eli crying inside. Despite the expository nature of this scene, the conversation flows naturally between Finn and Sara, and using a character who never met Warrick to explain aspects of the story is a good choice. I’m glad we get to focus on Sara and Nick this week, since they are the two remaining characters who were closest to Warrick when he was alive.

The scene outside on the sidewalk is interesting. Tina is angry about the CSIs bursting into her life and her house, and she brings up former Undersheriff Jeffrey McKeen’s recent crimes (from “Homecoming” and “Karma to Burn”). She not only blames the CSIs for letting Warrick’s killer hurt more people, but she describes Warrick as her husband, not her ex-husband. I think it’s a telling comment about her lingering feelings for Warrick, and the fact that things were complicated between them before the man died. Tina is clearly troubled, and she’s understandably angry and distraught when a woman from Child Protective Services arrives to take Eli away.

Tina comes to Sara at the lab later on, and she asks the woman to help her get her son back. Sara, however, is not receptive. She claims that if Tina had let them into her life four years ago, the situation now would be very different. Tina tries to explain that she was afraid to let them into Eli’s life because she was in a dark place after Warrick died. Eli was the only reason she was hanging on, and she worried that if Eli didn’t need her anymore, she would have no reason to live. Sara reminds Tina that her son will always need her, and the woman will be able to get her son back eventually—she just needs to get her own life in order first. It’s a very interesting scene between the two women. Eli is the top priority for both of them, but Sara isn’t afraid to cause Tina some necessary pain to make sure the boy is living in the right situation. She’s not totally unsympathetic to Tina’s plight, but she makes it obvious that the woman needs to keep herself together for Eli. She cannot continue as she has been these past few years, forcing her son to live in horrible conditions because she doesn’t want to get help for herself.

Nick bonds with Eli some more in the precinct, after he gives the boy a tablet computer to draw on. It’s not the same as drawing on the sidewalk with chalk, but he still enjoys it. Nick asks questions about Cliff Paul, and he finds out that Eli didn’t like the man. Despite the serious nature of the conversation, it’s obvious that Nick feels fond of the boy, and he tells Eli that he looks just like his father. Eli jokes that his father must have been handsome. Terrell Ransom, Jr is a few years too old to play a character who was an infant at Warrick’s funeral four years ago, but he’s a talented kid. In fact, Ransom appeared in the CSI: New York episode “Unspoken” last month, and I think he has a big career ahead of him. Even if he’s older than Eli should be, he does a great job with the material this week.

Nick also bonds with James, a young man from the neighborhood who sees Warrick as a hero. Warrick mentored him, and James has tried to return the favor by looking out for Tina and Eli since the man’s death. He might have wanted the reverend and Cliff dead, but he never went through with it. When he relays the story of the stolen sneakers, James adds that Warrick promised that he’d always be there for him. Warrick might be gone now, but James still feels like the man is watching over him. The reality is anything but supernatural, of course. James has never known his father’s identity, but it turns out to be Aaron Voss. In contrast to Warrick, who looked out for James publicly, Voss has looked out for his son while keeping his actions hidden. Considering that there’s a target on Voss’s back for his dealings in the neighborhood, it’s not surprising that he’d want to keep everyone—including James—from knowing he’s the boy’s father.

I have to say, I feel bad for Voss. It doesn’t erase all of his other actions, of course, but the man has clearly been trying to take care of his son in his own way. Killing people is too extreme, but his good intentions are more evident when you consider the bank account Warrick opened for James ten years ago. Voss continued to add money after Warrick died, and he has been sending the checks to James’ aunt to take care of him. He was willing to let James think Warrick was his guardian angel, rather than revealing the truth. The final scene between Voss and DB is really interesting. Voss points out that helping a troubled kid isn’t really his style—after all, why would a scumbag crook do something like that? Emotion is evident in the man’s voice and expression, proving that there’s more to Voss than just the heartless kingpin running the neighborhood—he’s also a dad who wants to do right by his son in the only way he knows how. He wants James to get out of the neighborhood and make something of himself.

Whatever Voss’s intentions, James has to deal with the fact that his father is a gang member. He admits to Nick that he always wanted to believe that Warrick was his father, and he isn’t sure what it means to be Voss’s son. Nick points out that Voss was never there for him as a father, and he doesn’t need Voss’s particular brand of parenting—Voss doesn’t need to mean anything to him. James is just happy that Voss is going to jail. By killing those men to help James, he got himself into trouble and took his own influence out of the neighborhood. James tells Nick that he sometimes imagines Warrick talking to him when things get tough, although he’s sure it sounds crazy. Nick disagrees; Warrick is a source of strength for Nick, who feels his friend’s presence beside him every day.

At the end of the hour, Sara speaks to Tina again, and she explains that Tina will be able to keep her house now that they’re straightening out the reverend’s bad dealings. Tina is glad, and she tells Sara that she’s going to take her advice and get counseling and whatever else it takes to be ready to bring Eli home. Sara says that she spoke to CPS, and Eli will be staying with a foster family for a few days. After that, however, they are going to talk to Tina about what comes next. It’s going to be a process, but it’s obvious that Tina is willing to put in the effort to get her family back on track, and I’m glad that things seem to be resolved between her and Sara after their previous interactions. It looks like Warrick’s friends and family will be able to be part of each other’s lives again. To show that she cares about the mother and son being together, Sara has made it possible for Tina to see Eli before they are temporarily separated. Sara and Nick both look on, and they share a bittersweet smile across the distance. It’s nice to see the team talking about and reminiscing about their fallen friend, and it’s great for the viewers to see the state of Warrick’s legacy several years after his death.


See also: “Fallen Angels” episode guide.

Rachel Trongo

Author

Rachel Trongo

Up Next

Discussion about this post