June 24 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation — ‘In Vino Veritas’

7 min read

The team investigates a body found in a wine barrel, and DB works with CSI: New York’s Mac Taylor after his girlfriend goes missing in Las Vegas.

Synopsis:

Two young men shoot rifles at a barrel, unleashing a flood of liquid from a decomposing body. When they get the body out of the barrel, Hodges is able to tell there used to be wine stored inside. The barrel is rare, and the evidence leads the team to Albert Vogel, a man who has been running an exclusive wine auction. Vogel recognizes the victim’s cufflinks, identifying him as Jack Davari. Davari had a sophisticated wine palate, and Vogel reveals that he got into a fight with Marc Ratelle after the man tried to buy back his family’s rare 1936 wine. The team finds Ratelle in Vogel’s wine cellar, destroying the very same bottles of wine he was trying to purchase—wine which turns out to be counterfeit. They bring in Jonah Drake, who spent a million dollars on a case of the counterfeit wine, but he had no idea what he bought was fake. In fact, he wanted to buy more.

Davari was using his world-class palate to re-create the flavor of the real 1936 Chateau Ratelle wine using spices. A bloody fingerprint leads back to Tom Scola, who worked with Jack for three years making counterfeit wine. Blood in the warehouse leads back to Scola, but he was in a strip club when Davari was murdered. There’s an increased level of estrogen in the blood, and they discover that Scola was a bone marrow donor for his sister. Samantha was pretending to be rich so she could lure in the men to buy Davari’s counterfeit wine, but she fell in love with Jonah Drake. She wanted out, but Davari wouldn’t let her go, so she killed him.

Meanwhile, Mac Taylor, the head of the New York Crime Lab, heads to a Las Vegas hotel room where he’s going to surprise his girlfriend Christine Whitney. He finds the room trashed, and there’s no sign of Christine. A diamond in the hotel room leads the team to a jewelry store; the owner, Ronald Sadat, has been killed, and the safe emptied. Christine’s phone is nearby, with a fingerprint belonging to one of her former employees, Jimmy Boyd. Sadat’s car is found with a blonde woman’s body in the trunk, but it’s not Christine. It’s Kim Hassit, a woman from Queens. Sadat came into Christine’s restaurant several months ago, expressing interest in opening a restaurant in Vegas. Boyd owes money to a loan shark in New York, so he saw an opportunity. He stole Christine’s phone and used it to contact Sadat, setting up a meeting and using his girlfriend Kim as a stand-in for Christine when he went to rob the man. Boyd left Christine with his brother, but if he doesn’t get the diamonds to New York by the next day, the loan shark will kill them both. Mac needs to get back to the city, and DB offers to go with him.


Analysis:

“In Vino Veritas” marks the first half of a crossover between CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: New York. In this episode, Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) heads to Las Vegas, and at the end of the episode, it is revealed that DB will follow Mac back to New York to continue the story in “Seth and Apep”. This is the first time we’ve seen Mac and DB together, but the dialogue in their first scene establishes that they’ve known each other for a while, and they last saw each other at a forensics convention in Kansas City. They seem to have a nice rapport, and DB offered to help Mac surprise his girlfriend Christine with Celine Dion tickets while she’s in Vegas for a restauranteurs convention. Things take a turn for the worse, as they tend to do on CSI, but it’s nice to see them smiling at the beginning.

Mac never believes that Christine might be involved in the jewelry store robbery or the death of Sadat. He knows her too well to think she’d have anything to do with Jimmy Boyd, and even the damning evidence on her phone doesn’t convince him. He can only think of Christine as the woman who sat by his bedside in “Near Death”, praying for him to wake up. Mac loves her, and none of this makes sense. Fortunately, they discover that Mac’s instincts are correct.

The scene with Mac and Boyd is very intense, and he’s definitely pushing the boundaries of what’s allowed. He probably shouldn’t be there at all—he’s closely involved with the case, and he’s not in his jurisdiction. Boyd points this out, and before the interrogation, Nick says that sending Mac into the room is a bad idea. However, DB thinks it might be the best idea to get answers out of Boyd, and the rules can be bent for good TV drama. Once Mac knows that Christine is in danger in New York, he’s eager to head back to his city and do whatever it takes to save her. As his friend and colleague, DB offers to go with him and help get Christine back, setting the stage for more excitement and rule-bending in the Big Apple. Sinise and Ted Danson play well off each other in their scenes, although I wouldn’t expect anything less from two actors of their caliber.

It’s an exciting start to the crossover, even if Mac and DB’s friendship seems to come out of nowhere. They can’t know every single CSI in the country, but it’s a convenience I can forgive, especially since the New York and Las Vegas labs have worked together at least once before (during the three-series crossover back in season 10, which culminated with “The Lost Girls”). DB is more skeptical of Christine than Mac is, of course, because he doesn’t know her personally, but it’s nice that he doesn’t antagonize Mac about it. He accepts that this is what Mac believes, and he’s willing to wait and see what the evidence tells them.

Seeing Mac with the Las Vegas team is interesting. Each of the CSI shows has its own look and feel, and it’s always fun to watch the characters during a crossover to see how they fit into a different setting. It’s a bit strange to see Mac out of the New York Crime Lab, but it’s a nice change. I especially enjoyed his little moment with Hodges in the hallway. Hodges spots Mac looking around for DB, and he confronts him about why he’s wandering through the lab. When DB speaks up, letting Hodges know he’s talking to the head of the New York Crime Lab, Hodges is immediately apologetic—he tries to shake Mac’s hand, but considering that he’s wheeling a barrel that smells like decomp through the lab, Mac’s not eager to offer his own hand. It’s a fun scene, and I wish we could have seen more of Mac with the rest of the Las Vegas team. Fortunately, there’s one scene with Mac, DB, Nick and Finn that has a different feel than the scenes with just Mac and DB. Nick and Finn are sympathetic, but they are far more willing to question Christine’s role in Sadat’s murder, even if Mac reacts badly to the suggestion that she was involved with Boyd or Sadat in any way.

There has to be a careful balance in a crossover episode, featuring the character from the other series while making sure they don’t overpower their host show. Limiting the majority of Mac’s interaction to DB, while most of the team focuses on the main case, seems to work out well. Nick and Finn help with Christine’s disappearance, but most of their scenes are with each other, which also works out well—that’s a partnership I like seeing in regular episodes, so the crossover is no different. As a fan of both CSI and CSI: NY, I can definitely appreciate Mac’s appearance on the flagship series, but I’m glad his storyline serves as the B-case in the episode.

Hodges revealed in “Double Fault” that his fiancĂ©e Elisabetta’s family owns a winery in Tuscany, so it’s a natural way to bring her up this week. He shares several scenes with Morgan, and there doesn’t seem to be any awkwardness left over from the previous episode. Morgan even makes a quip about immigration, but she apologizes and tells Hodges that she hopes things work out with Elisabetta. The pair also imbibes in an $82,000 bottle of wine, which is evidence in the case—in the middle of the lab, with a spread of cheese and fruit to complement the alcohol. It’s unrealistic and completely against the rules, but it’s certainly fun to watch! I hope their friendship continues along these lines, and any questions about possible flirtation are put to rest now that Hodges is engaged.


See also: “In Vino Veritas” episode guide

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