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CSI Files

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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Crate And Burial'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 21, 2008 - 1:20 AM GMT

See Also: 'Crate 'n Burial' 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.

Synopsis:

Wealthy Jack Garris is beside himself when his wife Laura is abducted. Grissom and Sara are on the case, but Garris is determined to pay the two million dollar ransom in order to get his wife back. Grissom and Sara set out in a helicopter, locating Laura Garris buried underneath the dry desert earth in a crate while Brass stakes out the drop point and catches Chip Rundle, Jack Garris's personal trainer, taking the money. Chip denies involvement and Laura insists she didn't see her abductor, but Grissom and Sara become suspicious when Sara examines Chip's car and finds the position Laura was sitting in indicates she was neither bound nor unconscious. Nick matches the voice on the tape to Chip's voice, but Grissom sends him back to the drawing board to see if he can prove Laura's involvement. When he uncovers Laura's voice on the tape urging Chip to hurry, the CSIs are able to arrest both Laura and Chip.

Catherine and Warrick investigate the hit-and-run death of a young girl on a scooter. They're able to get a partial plate number off the girl's body which leads them to Charles Moore, an elderly man who confesses right away to hitting the girl, getting confused, and driving away. Catherine is bothered by his easy confession and when the CSIs go over his car, they find the seat pulled too far up and Mos Def on the radio, indicating a person much shorter and younger than Charles was driving at the time. When he's questioned about it, Charles says his grandson James was in the car with him and switched places with him after Charles hit the girl. The CSIs are still suspicious, and when Warrick recovers a chipped piece of tooth from the steering wheel, they're able to prove James was driving. Charles is chagrined to see his grandson taken off to jail, but Warrick offers the young man his number and his support.

Analysis:

Ann Donahue's first episode of CSI settles the show into business as usual: two cases for the team to tackle. Grissom and Sara display a natural ease in their interactions in this episode and there's even a little innuendo between them, hinting at the attraction between them. Sara is clearly proud of the fact that Grissom handpicked her for his team and her banter with him is easy and natural. There's an undercurrent of flirtation as well; Sara calls to him, "Will you come tape me up?" and Grissom turns to Catherine with a genuine smile and says, "I love my job." It's refreshing to see the lighter side of Grissom, to see him enjoying the attention of a younger, attractive woman.

Sara makes waves with Nick, establishing a rivalry between the two of them right off the bat. After he pulls rank on her, she is quick to remind him she was handpicked by Grissom to join the team. It's understandable that there'd be some friendly competition between these two; they're pretty much on the same level. Both are protégés of Grissom and both are ambitious. Grissom continues to act the part of mentor with Nick; when Nick is ready to take the voice match to Chip from the audio tape and call it a day, Grissom urges him to dig deeper in the hopes that he can uncover evidence of Laura's involvement and sure enough, Nick follows Grissom's advice and comes up with the proof they need to put her away.

CSI's third episode scores with an impressive guest cast as well. Erich Anderson, who played the titular character's father on Felicity, turns in a sympathetic performance as the duped husband while Jolene Blalock in a pre-Star Trek: Enterprise appearance, turns in a slinky, layered portrayal, hinting that there's more to Laura's story without ever making it obvious, until she's found out, that she was in on the scheme all along. Everwood's John Beasley is heartbreaking as the grandfather who stands to lose his grandson to a tragic accident and the poor decision to flee the scene. It's impossible not to sympathize with Charles Moore, even if we know James is the one who has to pay for the crime.

Catherine and Warrick struggle with their case. Catherine laments that she wishes her job included helping the good guys and not just catching the bad ones. It's a grim point about the CSIs' jobs, but a valid one. They're out to catch criminals and at best they can offer solace to victims, but there's not much they can do to help the Moores. James made a terrible mistake and compounded it by leaving the scene, but his actions didn't have any malice and he certainly didn't intend to take a little girl's life. Charles wants to help his grandson, figuring his life is coming to an end and jail won't ruin his future the way it might for James.

But, as Warrick reminds Catherine, the CSIs can't be a party to that. In what will be a theme for the duration of the show and its spin-offs, the importance of the evidence--and the evidence alone--is emphasized. The CSIs don't have the luxury that presented itself every now and then on one of those older, more traditional cop shows of sometimes letting a good but guilty person go because they feel sorry for them. Evidence might be irrefutable, but that's a double-edged sword sometimes, especially when the CSIs feel bad about finding out someone they sympathize with is guilty. The evidence, like justice, is blind.

Though he's the one to champion the fact that the CSIs' job is to follow the evidence, he's not unsympathetic to the Moores' plight. He offers his phone number to James as the boy is about to go off to jail, something Charles notes Warrick didn't have to do. The situation brings up a memory of his grandmother, who Warrick says described him as a "work in progress." Charles replies that she did something right, but Warrick only allows a tentative "maybe." No doubt he's thinking of his gambling troubles and entanglement with the corrupt Judge Cohen. In just three episodes, Warrick has emerged as the show's most interesting and complex character, at least at this juncture. The bad boy trying to do good is an alluring archetype, and Gary Dourdan's performance adds depth to an already compelling character.

The sense of the team as a cohesive unit is underscored by the way they rally around Catherine for her daughter's birthday. Though Lindsey doesn't want a party, all of the CSIs (save for Sara, who is new to the team) have gotten her presents. Both Grissom and Nick got the little girl lab kits, underscoring their mentor/protégé relationship. Sara teasingly suggests Nick keep his and use it himself. The scene establishes the team as friends as well as coworkers, a kind of chosen family. Later on, when Catherine spends time with Lindsey at the park, the little girl tells her the reason she didn't want a party was so that she could spend time alone with her mother. It's the classic single parent dilemma, balancing work and family, and one that will dog Catherine throughout the show's run as Lindsey grows from a precocious little girl to a resentful teen.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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