July 20 2024

CSI Files

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Advance Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation — ‘The Devil and DB Russell’

4 min read

Shane Saunders reviews the Season Fourteen premiere of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, “The Devil and DB Russell.” Read Rachel Trongo’s take next week.

Annabella Sciorra and Paul Guilfoyle in the 14th season premiere of CSI. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Annabella Sciorra and Paul Guilfoyle in the 14th season premiere of CSI. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Everything you think you know about the this season’s premiere can go out the window.

The kick off to CSI’s fourteenth season, premiering this Wednesday, is a fast-paced tale which reinforces the show’s Season Four theme “assume nothing.” After a summer of online discussion as to who will make it out of the premiere alive, the question everyone will be asking after “The Devil and DB Russell” will be centered on those that survive the events and the long term ramifications going forward.

Following a brief three-day time jump, the series resumes following the events from Season Thirteen’s finale, “Skin in the Game”: Conrad Ecklie (Marc Vann) is on the hunt for Oliver Tate (Tim Matheson), DB (Ted Danson) and Finlay (Elisabeth Shue) tracking surveillance footage, and Nick (George Eads) and Greg (Eric Szmanda) hot on the trail to a possible location where Morgan (Elisabeth Harnois) is being held captive. It’s when Greg stumbles upon a gruesome discovery that we’re taken into the show’s opening credits, and left to ponder over the commercial break whether the imagery just displayed is someone from the series meeting his or her demise.

Going into this premiere, I had some initial hesitation and concern that this would be a full-fledged action-packed hour, a direction the show has taken more often as of late. For the most part it is, but the payoff at the end of the hour is rewarding. Though the online communities have been agasp as to who lives or dies, criticizing a potential predictable outcome, I can attest that it’s the journey that matters and what transpires truly is shocking. The show’s history proves that when a CSI or significant person is kidnapped or held hostage–Catherine in “The Finger,” Nick in “Grave Danger,” Lindsey Willows in “Built to Kill,” Sara in “Living Doll,” Morgan in “CSI Down,” Russell’s granddaughter in “Karma to Burn,” Mac Taylor’s girlfriend in “In Vino Veritas,” etc.–that it’s a positive outcome. This installment, however, doesn’t offer the same sense of hope heading into the future. Regardless of who survives there’s still emotional turmoil and an inevitable fallout to occur.

As different as this kidnapping story may be, my desire for the future is that this is it; you can only put someone through the ringer so many times without it feeling redundant and repetitive. While I think what happens here can illicit some new emotional arcs in future installments, I also realize that this is CSI and the science should be first and foremost. Season Thirteen was somewhat of a mixed bag for CSI–while I appreciated the energy to try new things and integrate more personal storylines, I don’t necessarily feel like they worked. One of the appeals of the Morgan Brody (Elisabeth Harnois) character during her inception was her similarity to William Petersen‘s Gil Grissom character: her enthusiasm and vivaciousness driven by the forensic science profession. When thrown into the Hodges/Elisabetta love-triangle the character lost some footing. Harnois is a terrific addition to the series and I love how her involvement has warranted more scenes featuring Morgan’s father, Conrad Ecklie. Marc Vann’s portrayal of the once prickly Ecklie is an evolution that’s a treat to watch. Humanizing the character by introducing us to his family world is a nice parallel to DB Russell’s–one is managing to come together while the other is surprisingly falling apart. I’m intrigued by what this episode does for Ecklie, and what his presence will be like in upcoming episodes.

The one to watch for in this episode, however, is Captain Brass. Paul Guilfoyle gives his best performance since “A Bullet Runs Through It” and it delivers on every level. While “The Devil and DB Russell” doesn’t offer much fodder for originals like Sara (her marriage, or lack thereof, is not mentioned and her time in San Francisco is brushed off), Nick, or Greg, it’s nice to have Brass in the spotlight once again. When faced with the obstacle of potentially losing his daughter for good Brass’ anguish and guilt is palpable, and Guilfoyle’s plays it with aplomb. In what is most certainly an engaging and shocking opener, Guilfoyle’s Brass steals the show and takes viewers on an incredible emotional journey.

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9 thoughts on “Advance Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation — ‘The Devil and DB Russell’

  1. Interesting review. You’d think Greg and/or Hodges, (being closest to Morgan on a friendship level at least, despite the ridiculous love triangle in season 13) would also have some major reaction to Morgan’s abduction, if not ANY involvement in rescuing her. But, then again, I already kinda figured that Nick, Greg and Sara were going to be in the background. However, it’s good to know that Brass is getting the spotlight, not just the new guys :), he’s been especially underused these past two seasons .

  2. I don’t want Morgan to be killed off, and there are quite a few things to like about her character, but I am still really sick of the Morgan/Hodges/D.B. show and I dislike some of the story-lines they’ve dragged on, such as the Greg/Morgan/Hodges/Elisabetta triangle. I’ll watch the premiere for Brass, but I might just let go of CSI, if it continues like this.

  3. Guilfoyle’s Brass always ‘kills’ but he has been sadly neglected lately so if he has a major role in this one, I might stay up to watch. Can’t say much positive about Morgan. Don’t care for DB’s wife. And Finn acts like a 5 year old, according to E Shue. Can’t say I am that excited about these new team members. Haven’t seen much positive excitement about CSI’s season 14 and honestly don’t know if I can stay with this season if it lives up to season 13–the steam is gone from this once great television show so its time to close up shop–hopefully gracefully. And with the “leave” of George Eads, the end of Sara’s marriage, the continued complicated personal lives of Morgan, Hodges, and DB does nothing for the show.

  4. Can’t help but agree Guest2U. I know there are fans who like the pairing, but I just don’t like Morgan and Hodges as a couple (I should probably eat my words a little, I’m sure he’ll play a big part in the episode). I’ll admit, I like her interactions with Greg in general, and was hoping he’d play somewhat of a bigger role, but again, I guess I’m not surprised (considering what happened in “Karma to Burn”, and knowing how the originals on CSI have been treated in general, during the past 4 years). Again, at least Brass will have spotlight in the premiere, and I like that there’s been some continuity with the Brass/Ellie storyline. After that though, there’s nothing else about this show that holds my interest anymore, even the family part of the team is long gone. This makes me wonder why I didn’t just quit during the Ray Langston era.

  5. I’m surprised that you thought Greg had no major reaction to Morgan’s abduction. True, he wasn’t open with his feelings but I distinctively remember him telling Nick to pick Morgan up after her mission failed. Then followed up with his reiteration of “I told you we should have picked her up!” to Nick after they realized she had been abducted. They may not be obvious at first glance but I thought those were major reactions for Greg.

    No comment on Hodges since he was barely in that episode.

  6. Sorry Guest234, I was referring to what’s going to happen in the premiere, based on Shane’s “Advanced Review”. I remember how Greg reacted in the finale, but the review for the premiere, seems to indicate that he won’t get emotional in the least let a lone have any involvement.

  7. Excited! Nice to see Paul getting some more screentime – love his character so much! But comparing Morgan to Grissom!? I fail to see that on any level. I loved Grissom (even when he was being a jerk), but I don’t think I’ve ever really warmed to Morgan. I just don’t buy that she looks / talks / acts like a scientist in any way whatsoever. Nothing against Harnois, but she looks more like she should be on Doc Robbins’ table than in the lab. Looking forward to this ep though!

  8. I see, I see… But is it fair to judge someone’s emotional response from a review? The reviewer wouldn’t be reading into certain scenes the same way as we would. 🙂

  9. God, the cynicism… Is it just an unspoken rule in the minds of some people that if something goes on past a certain point, it’s required to complain about how it’s “lost its drive”, or something?

    And particularly in CSI’s case, who came up with the idea that we’re only supposed to get about thirty seconds of development in the characters’ personal lives per episode? It’s actually annoying when the characters talk about a personal matter for two minutes, and then jump right back into the lingo.

    The new characters are fine. The cases are fine. The stories are fine. The show’s fine. Age and time have actually kind of helped to better the whole affair. Not that I don’t miss Warrick, Catherine, and Grissom (somewhat; I always hated the Sara/Grissom thing), but they just didn’t make or break this thing.

    On the episode, itself, I’m really satisfied with it. I never woulda guessed, way back in season two… that a certain someone would end up here… But, God, was this a brilliant way to handle this particular storyline.

    I would like a bit more emphasis on the characters that have seniority, though. It pissed me off when Catherine was demoted, when Finn was fast-tracked to assistent supervisor… When Ray left, too, actually. But, I’m still happy with it, overall.

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