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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Committed'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 7, 2005 - 11:30 PM GMT

See Also: 'Committed' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

At the Desert State Psychiatric Hospital, Nurse Nanette Faber makes a gruesome discovery: the body of Robbie Garson, bloody and battered on the floor of his room, while another inmate, Kenny Valdez, sits by him, blood on his hands. Brass, Grissom and Sara are called to the ward, which houses patients who are criminally insane and sexually violent. They learn Kenny had been in isolation earlier in the evening. Kenny suffers from Renfield's syndrome--he is excited by the sight of blood. Though Robbie was apparently violently attacked, there is no blood spatter on Kenny's clothes. Valerie Dino, the on call doctor, is skeptical when the CSIs want to question the patients, but allows Grissom and Brass to go ahead while Sara examines Robbie's room. Ronald Salter thinks a cricket is responsible for Robbie's death, Earl Simmonds complains that he never sleeps, Adam Trent informs Grissom he's a rapist not a murderer, Roman Wolenski says nothing at all, Charles Pellew spews incomprehensible babble and Jake Werner offers an outlandish conspiracy theory.

Sara finds semen on Robbie's sheets and approaches Dr. Dino about it. Dr. Dino tells Sara that Robbie was chemically castrated and therefore couldn't have been his. The CSIs decide to swab all of the inmates and the workers as well. At the morgue, Dr. Robbins tells Grissom that Robbie died of asphyxiation, not the blunt force trauma, which occurred post mortem. Robbins also points out ligature marks on Robbie's wrists and ankles. Hodges analyzes some of the hair from the victim's body and tells Sara that some of the hair is bleached. His blood also contained one anti-psychotic and ibuprophen. Sara looks at Robbie's chart and notes that he was supposed to be receiving five anti-psychotics in total meaning he wasn't getting four of them. Brass notes the hospital had reported two deaths by restraint in the last three years and couldn't afford another. Video of Robbie in the restraints shows he was very agitated.

Sara checks out the ward's pharmacy and sees that the drugs in the patients' cups are over-the-counter ones, not their prescriptions. Leon, the pharmacist has been stealing his patients' medicines and selling them. Leon complains about his paltry salary and claims the hospital over-medicates the patients. Brass wonders if Robbie caught Leon switching the medicines. Sara and Grissom reconstruct the timeline, noting that Robbie was in bed at 9:30 and dead by 12:30. Greg tells them that he's found Robbie's saliva on his pillow, as well slits on the side of the pillow. He believes it's the murder weapon. Sara talks to Nurse Joanne McKay who tells her Robbie brought a photo to group, which is against the rules and got him sent to isolation. Grissom calls to tell Sara that the semen on the bed was from Adam Trent. The CSIs go through Adam's rooms, examining his art work and uncovering some letters and a hairbrush hidden in a floor air vent.

Dr. Dino looks over the letters and tells the CSIs that they are from Adam's mother. Adam was the victim of mother/son incest. After seeing that his mother's letters triggered episodes in Adam, Dr. Dino started sending the letters back to his mother. She's surprised to learn that Adam's semen was in Robbie's bed, given that Adam raped women, not men. When confronted, Adam claims he killed Robbie because Robbie was gay. He claims Robbie had sex with him, and that he killed the man by smashing his head into the floor. The CSIs know the story doesn't hold water given that Robbie was strangled first. The CSIs find Adam's bloody clothes in the bathroom, but Sara also notices a lipstick stain on the crotch of Adam's pants. Sara goes into Nurse McKay's office looking for the woman and finds a picture of Adam. Grissom leaves to find someone who can open the locked drawers and Adam sneaks up behind Sara and asks her if she's a spiritual person. He begins to ramble, but when Sara tries to run, he grabs her and holds a sharpened ceramic shard to her neck. When Grissom returns with the attendant, he sees Adam holding Sara through the office window, but the door has been shut and locked. While the attendant gets the key, Adam raves to Sara. He is distracted for a moment and Sara uses that second to break away, running from him just as the attendant opens the door. Adam cuts his own throat before the attendant reaches him. Afterwards, Grissom consoles Sara, who tells him that her mother was brought to a place like this after she killed Sara's father. Grissom offers to have Sara replaced on the case, but she declines. Nurse McKay is angry when she learns what happened, blaming Sara and Grissom for the incident. Sara suspects it was the nurse's lipstick on Adam's pants, and that she may have been having an affair with him.

Grissom talks to the hospital's art instructor who recalls that Nurse McKay angrily pulled Adam out of ceramics class. Using an acoustic recovery technology, Sophia Curtis places Adam's pot on a turntable in the CSI lab and uses a laser to pick up some sound that was recorded in the grooves. She hears "Robbie" and "that's my angel," which Grissom recalls Adam's mother using in her letters to Adam. Using the DNA from Adam's brush, the CSIs are able to identify Joanne McKay as Adam's mother. She got a job on the ward once Dr. Dino started sending her letters back. She was enraged to discover Adam was cheating on her with Robbie, so she tricked Robbie into bringing the picture to group and then had him sent to isolation when he insisted he was allowed to bring it. She smothered him after he went to sleep and had Adam cover it up. Nurse McKay counters that the CSIs can't prove any of it, but Brass reminds her that the incest can be proved, and that it's a class B felony, carrying a sentence of at least ten years. Grissom thinks she'll die without Adam, and Sara thinks that would be better for both of them.

Analysis:

Eerily atmospheric and creepy, "Committed" has a insular, almost claustrophobic feel, enhanced by the lack of a B-story, which allows for the viewer to focus completely on the drama unfolding on the psychiatric ward. The visuals draw from the Gothic literature tradition--rainy nights and dark lighting underscore the vaguely sinister atmosphere of the ward. The incestuous, conniving mother is a Gothic villainess--obsessed, vengeful, jealous and conniving.

For all of its creepiness, you'd think the attendants would keep the ward more secure. What kind of mental hospital doesn't lock the patients' bedroom doors at night? We're not talking about people who are in detox here--these are pretty dangerous criminals. Lock up would seem wise, given that an inmate was murdered. Even after that happens, the inmates still aren't locked up, as Adam is able to get into Nurse McKay's office and sneak up on Sara. Security in this ward is seriously lax.

James Badge Dale is sufficiently creepy as Adam, teetering between twitchy and intense. A veteran of 24, where he portrayed Jack Bauer's well-meaning but reckless younger partner, Dale displays a range he wasn't able to showcase on that show. The scene where he grabs Sara and holds the shard to her throat is brief but tense, and his action after she escapes--slicing his own throat--is shocking.

The 'clay pot as a sound recorder' is awfully convenient. Adam's in ceramics class making a pot that just happens to pick up on the significant things his mother says to him? I imagine the technology is real--the CSI writers do their research--but it seems a little convenient in this episode.

Like the previous week’s episode “Hollwood Brass”, “Committed” features only a handful of the CSI cast: Grissom, Sara, Greg and Brass are the only series regulars who appear on screen. It’s an interesting side effect of the team split: when only one case is featured in an episode, only one team might be called in to work on it. It makes the team split feel more real, and also allows for characters to step into the spotlight more than they might have otherwise. In this case, it’s Grissom and Sara who are the primary players in this outing.

Though ultimately not much is made out of the incident at the psychiatric ward where Sara is briefly taken hostage, it does allow for a nice scene that underscores the subtlety of Grissom and Sara’s relationship. She admits that the case is bringing up difficult childhood memories and he gently offers to have her replaced. She doesn’t take him up on the offer, and he doesn’t question her. There’s a great deal of loyalty and trust between these two, and William Petersen and Jorja Fox play the scene perfectly.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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