February 22 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation — ‘Dead of the Class’

4 min read

The team heads back to school when a woman is killed at David Phillips’ class reunion.

Synopsis:

David Phillips heads to his 15-year class reunion, but the former queen bee, Becca Sabin, winds up dead. A pipe bomb is found in the ceiling, and the team wonders if Becca caught her high school sweetheart Sean McHenry trying to blow up the school board after being fired from his job. He has a bloody handprint on the back of his shirt, and the knife used to cut Becca’s throat was tossed in the dumpster next to the liquor store he visited after he left the reunion. Sean’s lawyer is Janet Morse, the class valedictorian.

Pieces of a plaster mask lead back to Caroline Hartwell, a girl who killed herself during her sophomore year, and a fingerprint on the duct tape around the bomb leads back to Max Dinello. He was friends with Caroline, and he wanted revenge against the popular kids like Becca and Sean who made fun of her and drove her to suicide. He planted the bomb in 1998, but he never set it off. A teacher turned his life around, and he became a teacher himself to reach troubled youth. Max always worried about that bomb in the ceiling—if it ever went off, innocent kids would get hurt. He used the reunion as a way to get to the bomb and diffuse it, but Becca walked in when he was pouring liquid nitrogen on the bomb. He was startled, and some of the liquid nitrogen fell on Becca and went down her throat. She was choking, so Max tried to do an emergency tracheotomy to save her, but she thrashed around and he killed her instead.

Janet used to be a lawyer, but she left that life behind when she realized that high school never really ended. She wound up back in Vegas, working as a lunch lady at the same school where Max works. When he told her about Becca, she helped cover it up. She framed Sean and took the chance to live out her lawyer fantasy.


Analysis:

“Dead of the Class” turns the focus on coroner David Phillips, giving David Berman some great comedic and dramatic material to work with. The set-up of the case is classic CSI—of course David would be the one who comes across a dead body at his class reunion. The way he finds the body is interesting, though. He sees red bubbles floating through the air from the bubble machine, and he gets suspicious. He follows the bubbles to their source and finds the former queen bee dead in a back room, her blood dripping into the bubble solution. It’s definitely something different.

Before he heads to the reunion, David complains to his very pregnant wife about having to go at all. It’s nice to finally see Mrs Phillips and get a glimpse of David’s home life. Fortunately, Amy isn’t involved in the case in any way—in fact, she’s too pregnant to attend the reunion with him, which he isn’t happy about. David is almost painfully awkward around his former classmates, and he wasn’t popular at all in high school. Still, he is affected by finding Becca’s body, and he wants to help solve the case.

This episode has convenient timing for me since my graduating class was supposed to hold its 10 year reunion this year. Unfortunately, the event got cancelled because not enough classmates were going to attend—life gets in the way once you’ve been out of high school for a decade, and perhaps a few of them were hoping to avoid the very same awkwardness we see in “Dead of the Class”. (Although I should hope there wouldn’t be any bombs or dead bodies to be found!)

It’s fun to watch David moving between his personal and professional lives as they investigate the case. The scene where he’s performing the autopsy while Becca “talks” to him from the table is bizarre, but very entertaining. Even in death, she’s mocking him, and he’s just pulling organs out of her body all willy-nilly as he tries to argue with her. When Doc Robbins walks in, David tries to pull himself together, but he’s still acting strange until he puts down the kidney and leaves the morgue. The whole thing is gruesome and hilarious, and the way they made it look like David was actually digging in her chest was very well done.

There’s a great scene between David and Hodges in the lab. David wants to talk to someone, and he’s looking for Henry; he finds Hodges instead, but they still share a nice moment. David wishes he had more answers, and Hodges reminds him that finding the truth can be difficult during any case, and this time David is involved. Hodges also makes a quip about lab coats being cooler than letterman jackets, saying they attract a “finer breed of woman” as well. David mentions Elisabetta, and Hodges says he’s a lucky man—but David is pretty lucky too, with his lovely wife at home.

At the end of the hour, David gets called to the hospital because his wife has gone into labor, and the final scene shows the proud parents with their baby boy. If it’s fun to see David’s wife, it’s even more fun to see little Joshua. The arrival of Doc and Hodges is the icing on the cake, and Hodges admits that he’s envious of David’s family. Does this mean that we can expect a miniature Hodges running around soon? Things with Elisabetta are still up in the air, but I fully support CSI: The Next Generation.


See also: “Dead of the Class” episode guide

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