Things get personal for Greg when the body of an old girlfriend is found inside a piano in the desert.
The CSIs are called out to the desert, where a couple of hikers stumbled across a piano with a body inside. The victim is Alison Bailey, a music journalist from New York who helped Greg with his book about Vegas history. She was cut 27 times with a box cutter.
The piano was being transported from Vegas to Los Angeles for repairs. The man who was driving the truck, Lenny, stopped for gas about five miles from the dump site, and he panicked when he discovered the body. He dumped the piano in the desert instead of calling the police because he’s afraid of the piano’s owner: Tommy Grazetti, a man with mob connections. If Alison was looking into Grazetti’s old dealings, she might have gotten herself killed.
They find evidence of blood in the back of Grazetti’s theater, where he puts on Rat Pack shows that relive the glory of the old days. One of the performers at the theater is Jeff Lummet, a Frank Sinatra impersonator, who tells Sara that he helped Alison with a Sinatra biography a few years ago. He blames himself because he told the woman where to find Grazetti, although he warned her that it was dangerous to mention the man’s past.
The GPS from Alison’s rental car indicates that she visited 850 Timber Lane the day she was killed. Greg looks through the materials from her hotel room and locates a photo of Grazetti heading into the very same house in 1966. It was a surveillance photo from Sam Braun, who was having a private detective trail the man. The house was owned by Linda Overton, a radical who robbed Braun’s Rampart Casino and killed two guards. None of her co-conspirators were ever found, but it looks like Alison may have discovered one. Nick confronts Grazetti, who denies being part of Overton’s plot. Instead, he suggests that he “allegedly” got into dealing drugs after Howard Hughes bought the Sands Casino and made it legit. He was at Overton’s house as a drug dealer, not a co-conspirator.
Greg knows that Grazetti was lying during his interrogation because he mentioned hanging out at the Sands in 1966. However, he was actually banned from the casino in 1965 after counting cards. Greg believes that Grazetti is actually Ledo Wright, a piano player who went missing in 1966 and was presumed dead. Instead, Greg thinks Wright killed Grazetti and assumed his identity 46 years ago. The truth is that Grazetti accidentally choked to death, and Wright took his identity to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War. He didn’t kill Alison—after all, the reason he took Grazetti’s identity in the first place was so he could avoid killing anyone.
A number from Alison’s date book leads back to a rare pressing of the Sinatra at the Sands album. It was bought by Lummet, the Sinatra impersonator. He got it for Alison, but he was angry when he realized that she bought it for someone else. He lost his temper and killed her.
Greg is at the center of “It Was a Very Good Year”, and it’s always a lot of fun to see him talk about Old Vegas. Unfortunately, this week the investigation gets very personal for Greg after Alison Bailey is killed. He claims that he didn’t know the woman very well, but Morgan can tell how affected he is by her death. She goes into the morgue while Greg is washing Alison’s body and asks what the victim was like. He says that she was a small town girl living in New York, she was smart, and she loved Sinatra. Morgan correctly guesses that they didn’t just have a professional relationship, but Greg tries to brush it off as “a week of fun.” He says they didn’t stay in touch because it was just a fling, but Morgan wonders if it might have been more for Greg. He claims that if Alison cared about him as more than a fling, she would have contacted him after the time they spent together.
Greg doesn’t want DB to know about his relationship with the victim, and Morgan agrees to keep it a secret. They focus on the case, tracing the piano’s serial number to determine that the instrument was sold to a man named Ledo Wright in 1966. Greg immediately recognizes the name, calling the man a “legend” even though DB and Sara have never heard of him. Greg tells the man’s story, explaining that Wright was an up-and-coming musician in 1966, but he butted heads with an up-and-coming mobster named Tommy Grazetti. Wright got killed, and his body was never found. The scene includes a monochromatic flashback, and Greg stands in the middle while he narrates the events. It’s as if he’s imagining the scene in his head, and we’re watching it unfold as he tells the story.
The piano was bought by Wright, but it now belongs to Grazetti. Grazetti puts on Rat Pack shows at a theater in Vegas, and Greg and DB head there and find the primary crime scene. They confront Grazetti about Alison’s death, and Greg gets overzealous in his condemnation of the man. DB has to pull him aside, and he tries to scold Greg for getting out of hand. Greg is frustrated, and he points out that it’s okay for the rulebook to go out the window when the case involves someone DB cares about, but it’s different when it’s someone Greg cares about. In his haste, he has revealed that he does have deeper feelings for Alison than he initially let on, but DB agrees that he has a point about the rulebook comment. He led with his heart when his granddaughter Katy was kidnapped, but it was only when he stepped back that they were able to find her. He doesn’t want to take Greg off the case, but he’s taking him off the front lines. If Greg believes that Alison discovered something that got her killed, DB wants him to go through the materials from her hotel room to figure out what it was.
It’s only when he takes a step back and looks at the whole picture that Greg realizes he was focused too closely on Ledo Wright’s murder. Alison was looking into something else related to Grazetti, but the connection to Linda Overton is another false lead. Greg looks a bit closer at the photograph of Grazetti at the house on Timber Lane and realizes something: the man is wearing a Claddagh ring, which wouldn’t make sense for an Italian man like Grazetti. Wright, on the other hand, was Irish, and he always wore a Claddagh ring. Greg sees a photograph of Wright holding a poster from his show at the Sands in 1966, and that same poster has been framed in Grazetti’s theater. Greg removes the poster from the frame and locates a 46 year old fingerprint which proves that the man they have been calling Tommy Grazetti is actually Ledo Wright. Wright and Grazetti had their differences, but they still got along; however, Wright couldn’t help taking advantage of the man’s tragic demise when he choked to death just days before Wright was scheduled to be drafted into the military. He only came back to Vegas now so he could bring the magic of Old Vegas to new people.
Morgan tries to give Greg some relationship advice, although she admits that she’s the last person who should be giving someone advice about his love life. She says that Greg is attractive, smart and funny—a “total catch.” She’s worried that he’s focusing too much on the past, which is preventing him from moving forward. It’s kind of an awkward conversation, to be honest. Perhaps Greg is a bit caught up in the past, but Alison just died. He should have a bit of time to grieve the lost opportunities before he’s expected to move on. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem upset by Morgan’s comments. Instead, he agrees that she’s the last person who should be giving relationship advice, but it isn’t said with malice. They both smile, and Morgan explains that she’s just saying that he has to let go of the past at some point. After her parents got divorced, she thought of her father as this one person, but she has since realized that he’s someone completely different. Her words make Greg think of the case, and it prompts him to investigate Grazetti’s true identity. He thanks her for the help and leaves, but the conversation isn’t really over.
Greg isn’t the only character in “It Was a Very Good Year” who has a passion for the past. Wright/Grazetti is clinging to the old glory days of his youth, and Jeff Lummet is just delusional. The man doesn’t just play Sinatra in the club, he actually believes that he channels the legend, that he is Frank Sinatra–or that he’s better than the original. He’s so caught up in his fantasies that he expects the rest of the world to follow suit. When Alison contacted him about the Sinatra album, he tracked it down to impress her. When she revealed that it was for Greg, however, he lost his temper and attacked her for daring to want anyone but him.
Greg is standing on the other side of the glass during the interrogation, and he is shocked when he hears that Alison came back to Vegas for him. She really did have feelings for him, but she died before they could get back together. At the end of the hour, he’s sitting in the locker room when Morgan comes in. He apologizes for what he said during their earlier conversation, but she’s quick to point out that she’s the one who should apologize. She sits next to him, and he reveals that at the end of their last night together, he told Alison that he’d meet her in New York. He knew it wasn’t going to happen, but he didn’t want to spoil the memory. Morgan reminds him that Alison cared about him, and that’s a memory he can keep. She holds out a record she just bought, a copy of Sinatra at the Sands, and she quotes Sinatra himself: “The best is yet to come.”
“It Was a Very Good Year” focuses on Vegas history, and there’s plenty of focus on music as well. Traces of vinyl fibers on the piano and in Alison’s wounds lead back to a record, and thin scraps of hide glue provide the team with an important clue. Hodges discovers that hide glue is used to clean vinyl records by smearing it over the surface of the record, then prying the sheet of glue off with a box cutter after it dries—taking dirt and debris with it. The glue has a perfect negative of the record’s grooves, so they are able to arrange the pieces of glue found on the piano to get a fragment of the original record. It’s not enough for the team to identify the song, but DB has a trick up his sleeve. Earlier in the episode, Lummet tried to use Note Seek as his alibi during the time of Alison’s murder. The phone app listens to a snippet of music and identifies the name of the song and the artist. With the aid of this program, DB is able to use the fragment of music from the record to identify it as Sinatra at the Sands. Note Seek doesn’t appear to be a real application, but similar apps do exist (such as Shazam and SoundHound).
DB illustrates the Note Seek app earlier in the episode by using one of his own Sinatra records as a sample. Finn is with him in the lab when he puts the record on to play, and she says she thought DB was more of a Grateful Dead fan. He agrees, explaining that his wife Barbara is the Sinatra fan. In fact, the couple learned to dance to Sinatra’s music at an Arthur Murray Dance Studio before their daughter Maya’s wedding. Finn asks how things are going between DB and his wife, and he says they’re doing well. Barbara is still flying up to Seattle every weekend to see Maya and Katy after their ordeal in “Karma to Burn”, though, and Finn suggests that it must be a good thing for their family. DB certainly hopes so. Scenes like this with DB and Finn leave me curious about their past in Seattle—especially Finn’s. She is an interesting character, but in a lot of ways she’s still a mystery. I hope we learn more about her soon.
See also: “It Was a Very Good Year” episode guide