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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Cool Change'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 20, 2008 - 1:09 AM GMT

See Also: 'Cool Change' Episode Guide

With the strike delaying any new CSI franchise episodes until late March/early April, CSI Files is taking the opportunity to go back to the beginning, offering reviews of episodes from the early seasons of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: Miami, many of which aired before the site's 2003 founding! The retro reviews will run until new episodes of the franchise start to air in the spring, and then pick back up in the summer while the shows are on hiatus.


Ted Sallenger wins a 40 million dollar jackpot at the Monaco casino, but his glee is short-lived; hours later, he's found dead outside the casino, the victim of a fall. Grissom and Nick take the case, questioning the victim's girlfriend, Jamie, who admits to a spat with him and to cutting him with a champagne bottle after he dumped her. After determining Ted was pushed, Grissom questions the man who played the machine for eleven hours before Ted won. Ted bought the man, Carleton, a few drinks before stumbling back to his room drunk. Carleton went to the roof to commit suicide but couldn't go through with it. Grissom finds roof dust on Carleton's clothes but none on Ted's, backing up Carleton's story. When the coroner reveals Ted was knocked out before being tossed out of the window, Grissom and Nick return to the room, finding blood and a candleholder that matches the wound on Ted's head. They turn back to Jamie, who folds under the weight of the evidence.

Catherine works the Holly Gribbs shooting and Grissom calls Sara Sidle, a friend from San Francisco, in to run the internal investigation into the shooting. Catherine recovers a pager from the scene and is chagrined to discover Holly was shot with her own gun. Sara asks Warrick about his whereabouts, positing that he took off to place a bet. She also shares sad news: Holly died on the operating table. When the owner of the pager pages it, Catherine calls him and, pretending to be a flirt, gets him to give up his location by agreeing to meet him. Catherine, Brass and Sara storm his hotel room and match his DNA to scrapings under Holly's nails. Grissom decides to give Warrick a second chance, not knowing the CSI is entangled with the corrupt Judge Cohen. Warrick paid the judge back for making a bad bet for him, but the judge isn't letting go, claiming he "owns" Warrick.


Picking up where the "Pilot" left off, "Cool Change" can easily be seen as the second half of the show's debut. It fleshes out characters like Catherine and Nick, who didn't have quite as much to do in the first installment, establishes Grissom as the team's official leader and introduces Sara Sidle, who will become an integral member of the team. She's a better outsider than Holly, if just for the reason that she isn't the clichéd newcomer, the fish out of water trying to find her way. There's nothing wrong with that kind of character, but it's refreshing to see someone who's different.

Sara establishes herself immediately by dispelling Catherine's initial hostility. Catherine is naturally protective of her co-workers and doesn't take kindly to an outsider coming in to horn in on the case. "We can argue," Sara offers, "but two sharp women are better than one." With that simple statement, Sara calls out Catherine's behavior and offers a solution all in one. Reminding Catherine that they're on the same side, as women and as criminalists who want to uncover the truth reveals a lot about Sara's character. She's practical, she tells it like it is and she's not interested in petty disputes. Catherine responds to Sara's frankness and shares her work on the case. Sara in turn recognizes that Catherine has things under control and turns her attention to Warrick. It's a promising first meeting between the two women.

Catherine has an increased role in "Cool Change." She feels both guilt over and responsibility for Holly's situation after encouraging the young CSI to stay until she solves her first case. Grissom initially wants to give the case to Nick, who didn't have any contact with Holly, but Catherine insists on taking it, and she won't accept no for an answer. Interestingly, Grissom accedes, proving at least in this instance, her will is stronger than his. The audience also gets to see Catherine's brazen side when she calls the pager's owner and pretends to be a flirty young girl looking for a little fun when he picks up the phone. Catherine might be a bit unconventional, but her strong, forceful personality is evident from the get-go.

Warrick is in pretty deep water, even more so than he was in the pilot. Not only was he off placing a bet while Holly was getting shot, he managed to bet on the wrong team and lose Judge Cohen some serious money. The judge demands Warrick repay him double the original bet and if that weren't bad enough, the judge isn't done with the CSI, claiming that their business isn't over and that he'll call Warrick when he needs him. "I own you," the judge snidely tells the CSI. Warrick initially offered to place a bet for the judge in exchange for a warrant, a well-intentioned if ill-advised move. He's paying for it now; the bet he placed for the judge may have cost Holly her life and the corrupt judge recognizes an advantage when he sees one.

Grissom, now the leader of the CSI team, has to make the tough decision of whether or not to fire Warrick. Brass was in charge of the CSI team in the pilot but he's moved back to Homicide in this episode. I wonder if this was a network decision or if Anthony Zuiker's original plan was to have Grissom set up as a new leader for the show's first season. It's much more fitting to have Grissom in charge of the "nerd squad" as opposed to Brass. Brass represents the old school, the type who barks orders and leans on suspects hard for a confession; Grissom is the new order, the type who uses science to figure things out and is a fount of obscure information and observations because, as he tells Nick, "It's our job to know stuff."

Grissom is a much kinder, gentler leader than Brass. He affectionately calls Nick "Nicky" and clearly views the younger CSI as his protégé. And he doesn't fire Warrick, saying, "If I let you go, I have to let me go." Grissom sees the graveyard shift as a genuine team, meaning they stand together. As Warrick says earlier on, he was left alone at crime scenes plenty of times as a rookie; Warrick's mistake, gambling aside, was something any CSI could have committed. If Grissom knew the whole story, however--that Warrick was placing a bet for a judge--he might not have been so forgiving.

Just as the team cohesiveness is established early on, so is how integral setting is to the show. CSI is a Las Vegas show; as is true of each of the franchise's offerings, the city plays a part in the show just as much as the characters do. The first two episodes feature a crime at a casino, a sly but pretty prostitute, a CSI with a gambling problem and a disreputable judge. Each episode opens with a shot of the Las Vegas strip: the glitz, the lights and the hotels flash before the viewer's eyes before the first body shows up. With its glamour, seedy underbelly, promise of unimaginable success and threat of dismal failure, could there be a more perfect setting for a crime show than the city of Las Vegas?

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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