CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'A La Cart'By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 31, 2007 - 11:55 PM GMT
See Also: 'A La Cart' Episode Guide
A football helmet with a boy's head in it is found on the road. The CSIs follow the blood trail and find the rest of his decapitated body farther on down the road. The boy is identified as Vincent Bartley; his older brother, Matt, tells the CSIs his younger brother wasn't on the football team. Black powder in Vincent's hair is found to be tire rubber trace, specifically the kind used in go-cart wheels. A staffer at the go cart recreation center tells Greg that Vincent was there racing another kid a few days ago, and she identifies the other boy as Rodney Banks. Rodney tries to run, but Nick catches him. Greg finds a bloody belt belonging to Vincent in the back of Rodney's truck. Rodney tells the CSIs he asked for an off course cart race at night. They took to the road and Rodney won, but when he looked back, he saw Vincent in the cart--without his head. When Vincent's car ran off the road, Rodney used the boy's belt to tow his cart back to the rec center. Nick and Warrick use a dummy to figure out if Vincent could have been decapitated by a truck as he rode, and determine that this was what must have happened to the boy.
Catherine, Warrick and Brass investigate the death of Hampton Huxley, the publisher of Hux magazine, who was dining in a unique restaurant with two of his "Kitties." The restaurant, owned by Pippa Sanchez, centers around "blind dining": patrons literally dine in the dark. Someone took advantage of the restaurant's ambiance to kill Hux. Dr. Robbins finds a pen point in Hux's brain, revealing that Hux was killed by a fatal strike to the head. Brass and the CSIs question the two Kitties April and Shasta, a newly engaged couple and a sleazy guy who felt up April, but are at a loss until they find the murder weapon in April's purse. April maintains her innocence and the CSIs suspicions turn to Pippa, whom they learn is a former Kitty--until they find the print of a blind waiter named Michael on Hux's toupee. Michael confesses that Pippa used him to help create the restaurant and then cast him aside, so he decided to ruin her by framing her for a high profile murder. Grissom and Sara run into trouble of their own when Ecklie questions them about their relationship and tells them that a relationship between a supervisor and an employee is forbidden. Sara switches to the swing shift to avoid a conflict of interest.
CSI is known for its exploration and sometimes parody of trends, and clearly that trend is one that continues in the show's eight season. Dining in the dark might sound absurd, but a quick Google search of that phrase comes up with the restaurant Opaque, located in West Hollywood and San Diego of all places where, for $99 a person and up, people can go dine in the dark. Apparently, not being able to see your food doesn't come cheap. "A la Cart" reveals the potential drawbacks of dining without illumination.
Murder is only one of them; one of the "Kitties" with Hux gets felt up by a lascivious patron, and the woman who has just been proposed to got a nasty bump on the head out along with her engagement ring. The setting does allow for sparks to fly between Catherine and Warrick, who discovers night vision goggles and turns out the lights to confirm they are what he suspects. The sexual tension between these two has been crackling like a live wire since season five's "Down the Drain", but Warrick's marriage seemed to put an end to that.
But perhaps that door is open again now that Warrick's marriage seems to be over. Barely a blip on the CSI radar, Warrick's hasty wedding and apparent marital strife was one of the most unexplored plotlines on any of the three CSI shows. Tina barely appeared on screen and while Warrick would allude to her now and then, she didn't register much as a character or even presence in Warrick's life. I thought Warrick's decision to marry her after what happened to Nick in "Grave Danger" was such an interesting one, and spoke volumes about how he internalized what happened to Nick, and to see it ultimately come to nothing feels like a waste of what was a potentially good storyline to me.
Sara and Grissom might be breathing a sigh of relief after the events of "Dead Doll", but they face a new hurdle in the form of the departmental rules, which forbid their relationship. Ecklie, rather than coming across as a tyrant, laments to Grissom that he could have helped him if only Grissom had come to him first. He tells them in frustration that they need to get their stories straight, as Sara claims they've been involved for two years, while Grissom maintains nine. The discrepancy says much about their characters: Sara is tracing their relationship back to the moment they finally got together after all her years of longing for him, while Grissom is looking back at it as the moment they first met.
Sara ultimately decides to switch to the swing shift to avoid their relationship becoming an issue for the team, but as she watches the team race in go-carts, she looks left out and lonely, perhaps suggesting she already feels somewhat isolated from the team. Though I never thought I'd see Grissom in a go-cart, I thoroughly enjoyed that final scene and seeing the team together having fun. CSI doesn't get many chances to do that with its characters, so it's a treat to see them all together kicking back for a change. It's hard not to feel bad for Sara, standing on the edge, both because of her injury and, indirectly, her relationship with Grissom. Hopefully at some point before her departure, she'll get the opportunity to rejoin them one last time.
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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.