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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Bang Bang'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 13, 2006 - 7:47 PM GMT

See Also: 'Bang Bang' Episode Guide


A security guard breaks up a fight at the Lucky Dragon casino only to have one of the men take his gun, shoot him and run to the elevator where he takes a girl hostage and flees to a room on the third floor. Brass and the SWAT team arrive, ready for action. The action flashes back to fifteen hours ago, when the CSIs stand over the body of Janice Cutler, who was fatally shot in the mouth. Her husband, Willie, is nowhere to be found, instantly casting suspicion on him. Sara notices a smudged print on the 1 key on the phone and finds grass in the bedroom closet, while Warrick discovers an escort service brochure. The CSIs question the lawn boy, Timothy Johnson, who was sleeping with Janice. Willie caught them and threw him out, enraged, but Janice was alive when Timothy left. The CSIs trick Sally, the prostitute Willie called, into coming in to the lab, and she says he was sweet and offered her a brochure for a trip to Hawaii from a travel agency.

Catherine and Vartann head to the agency, Cowboy Dan's, and are shocked to discover the bodies of Cowboy Dan and an employee, Roger Banks, both fatally shot. They also find Willie Cutler alive, cowering under his desk, bleeding from a bullet wound to the side. They get Willie medical attention and the doctor says he is lucky because the bullet came close to severing an artery. He says he came into the office in the middle of the shooting and hid as soon as he got shot--he didn't see the shooter. He wants to call his wife, and when Sara tells him she's dead, he starts crying. Back at the travel agency office, Greg goes over the evidence and notes that the murder weapon has been wiped clean, but also notices a similar bloody smudge on the 1 key on the phone in Willie's office. Catherine notes that Roger Banks had just been promoted. Brass interrogates Willie about the three murders he's connected to, and brings up the promotion Roger got--the one Willie was passed over for. Does it have to with his felony record? Willie has one conviction from when he was nineteen years old, for an auto theft. Brass also asks the man about fifty thousand dollars he withdrew from his account. Willie claims it was for gambling and that he lost it all.

Greg realizes that only the 1 key is dialed because someone dialed Sunstar Taxis at 111-1111. Greg and Vartann question the driver, who recalls picking up a guy around 2:45 am who gave his name as Sammy. Greg looks at the video from the car--the man is wearing sunglasses but he bears a resemblance to Willie. It turns out Willie has an older brother Sammy, who did time for auto theft and was just released from prison six months ago. The CSIs wonder if Sammy was trying to destroy his brother's life, or if the two were actually working together. In the lab, Dr. Robbins notices pictures of Willie's gunshot wound and tells Sara there's no way the wound was caused by a bullet--more likely a sharp object. He also notices a blue streak in the injury which proves to be blue ink from a bloody pen found in Willie's office. Grissom realizes Willie faked being shot, and turns to blood spatter from his shirt, which he's able to match to Janice using serology. Willie either shot her or was there when she was shot.

Warrick has already been dispatched to the Lucky Dragon, where he is upset to discover his wife Tina on one of the surveillance cameras next to a man he doesn't recognize. When he calls her, Tina lies to him about her whereabouts, prompting Warrick to tell her they're through. Tina tells him the man with her is a VIP host helping to plan Warrick's birthday party, and hangs up on him. Warrick doesn't have time to ponder his crumbling marriage for long--he spots Willie on the cameras fighting with another man, sees Willie grab the security man's gun, shoot him and grab a young African American woman, Jackie, and head upstairs in the elevator. When he arrives with the SWAT team, Brass persuades Willie to let him into the room. Willie demands to talk to his brother, Sammy, whom Brass claims to have downstairs in holding. Brass stalls for time and gets Willie to let Jackie go and point the gun at him instead. Willie is bitter about the promotion he was supposed to get and claims he called Sammy after he lost all his money at the casino. He tells Brass that Sammy killed his wife and colleagues. Brass placates him until a call comes in from Grissom--Sara has discovered that Sammy Cutler died two months ago in Mexico. Brass confronts Willie with the news and a tense standoff ensues, which Brass breaks by calling out for the SWAT team with the safe word he established, "Jim." Willie shoots him twice. The SWAT team enters and guns Willie down, but it may be too late for Brass, who lies on the ground bleeding profusely.


Another cliffhanger on a CSI show! That makes two in one week with CSI: Miami's "Shock". CSI: New York has been no slouch in the action department either with recent episodes. CSI is often the most low key of the three shows, which is perhaps why the moment when Brass is shot is so shocking--it's sudden, fast and devastating. And yet it absolutely is in line with the show's tone--no surprise, given it was penned by CSI creator Anthony Zuiker and longtime CSI writer (and co-executive producer) Naren Shankar.

The forty minutes building up to Brass's shooting effectively build tension that makes the final moments of the episode just pop. Currie Graham is perfectly cast as the sociopathic Willie, who is cunning enough to craft a story so bizarre that it fools the CSIs--at least until the evidence proves otherwise. But Graham, who has recently done memorable stints on House and Desperate Housewives, has us going until the moment Sara finds the report on the internet about Sammy Cutler's death. Graham proved he could play earnest on House and eccentric and zany on Desperate Housewives, and here he proves that he can shift seamlessly from sympathetic to evil.

It's the performances of Graham and the always excellent Paul Guilfoyle that make that final scene in the hotel room so nail-biting. Guilfoyle's voice maintains a soothing cadence while Brass talks Willie into releasing his hostage, and Graham is convincing in all the right places, his insistence on talking to his brother Sammy coming off as genuine and urgent. After Brass convinces Willie to let Jackie go and aim the gun at him instead and Willie begins to talk about his lost promotion, the audience is lulled into believing things are going to be alright. It's an effective trick, one that makes the moment when Grissom calls Brass with the news that Sammy Cutler has been dead for months all the more chilling.

Was Brass right to confront Willie right away with the knowledge? I suspect he didn't really have another choice; at that moment it was clear Willie was simply playing a game with him, perhaps stalling for time. Fans who examined this picture on CBS's website may have had some clue that things weren't going to go well for Brass--since he's the only one not visible in the cast picture, it's pretty safe to assume the person slumped over the counter with a bullet wound in his side is Brass. The attention to detail is admirable--the wound on the body in the picture exactly corresponds to where Brass was shot in the episode. Presumably, the exit wound left by the bullet would be right where it is in the picture.

As much as I wanted to see Willie get what was coming to him, I was kind of disappointed at the same time to see him get gunned down at the end of the episode. I would have loved to see Willie and Grissom in the interrogation room, gloves off. There's nothing more chilling than seeing the CSIs confront a genuine psychopath. Still, I'm glad Willie didn't manage to escape with an entire SWAT team parked outside his room, after he shot Brass. Willie was an admirable and memorable foil for the CSIs.

On a different note, it was also great to see Nip/Tuck's Kelly Carlson turning in a fun albeit brief performance as Sally, the hooker Willie hired after withdrawing his savings from the bank. Carlson is gamely charming as Sally flirts with Nick during the questioning, taking it entirely in stride that he tricked her into coming into the lab when he called her for a "date." Carlson, who portrays the troubled and insecure Kimber on Nip/Tuck, does a nice job of getting in touch with her lighter side in the scene.

We probably won't be seeing Warrick's lighter side anytime soon. His marriage to Tina is clearly in trouble. When he spots her in the Lucky Dragon, he immediately assumes the worst, calling her on her cell and casually asking where she is, rather than telling her right away where he is and that he's spotted her on the video monitor. And then, when she lies to him, he immediately assumes the worst, calls her on it, and tells her he's going to be putting her stuff in storage. It's certainly not the sign of a healthy marriage when one is so ready to end a marriage without any sort of real conversation.

Is Tina telling the truth? If not, she's awfully good on her feet, coming up with a story that's believable as soon as Warrick hurdles accusations at her. Does it matter, though, if she is being truthful? Warrick clearly wants out of the marriage. If he didn't, his mind wouldn't have immediately jumped to separation; he would have told Tina they needed to have a serious talk at home that night. She doesn't seem any happier with him than he is with her--as soon as she tells him what she was doing in the casino, she's quick to add that now he'll be spending his birthday alone. The honeymoon is clearly over.

I have to admit, I'm sorry to see Warrick and Tina on the rocks already. It does seem like it's been coming for a while--more often than not, we hear Warrick complaining about Tina, that she's put him on a healthier diet or she's nagging him about not coming home. But we've only seen Tina once, in "Shooting Stars", and though I know CSI is about the science and not the characters' personal lives, it seems a shame to waste the fantastic chemistry Gary Dourdan and Meta Golding have. The two really sparked together in "Shooting Stars" and I would have liked to see a little more of that before the marriage went south, but I guess I'm not overly surprised that a quickie marriage that came about after the stress of Nick's kidnapping in "Grave Danger" is coming to an equally swift end.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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