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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'For Warrick'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 14, 2008 - 1:36 AM GMT

See Also: 'For Warrick' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Picking up the minute "For Gedda" concluded, Under-sheriff Jeffrey McKeen, who has just shot Warrick twice, calls in the shooting and claims he saw a white adult male fleeing the scene. Blocks away, Grissom hears the APB and rushes to the scene. He pulls Warrick from the car and begs him to hang on, only to have Warrick die in his arms. Catherine and Nick arrive soon after, stunned by the tragic news. McKeen tells Brass that he was twenty feet west of the alley when he heard the shots. He ran back to find Warrick wounded and the shooter fleeing the scene. He tells Brass he thinks it may have been Officer Daniel Pritchard. Grissom tells Ecklie he wants his team to work the case, and the supervisor acquiesces. Catherine finds a .25 casing and a pistol by the passenger side of the car, where the shooter appeared to have been standing. Nick wonders why Warrick would have rolled down the passenger side window and not his own. Grissom turns over his shirt, which is covered in Warrick's blood, and returns to his office to find a devastated Sara Sidle waiting for him. She's heard the news and offers solace and help. Sara and Greg go to Warrick's apartment, where they make a shocking discovery: Warrick had a son, Eli, with his ex-wife Tina, and he was involved in a custody battle for the boy. Nick discovers knuckle prints on the passenger side window of Warrick's car and tells Grissom and Catherine that he thinks the killer knocked on Warrick's window. Nick knows Warrick wouldn't have opened his window for Pritchard; he thinks McKeen is corrupt as well and, when he saw Warrick wasn't going to back down, killed him.

Grissom, Catherine and Nick test McKeen's story about hearing the gunshot and determine that from the position he claimed he was standing in, he couldn't have heard the shot over music that was playing in the street the morning Warrick was shot. Grissom goes to Brass with the information and Brass tells him he's always felt McKeen was a man who could be bought. They recall Warrick's assertions that someone higher up that Pritchard was involved in the murder of Lou Gedda. McKeen, certain no one is on to him, wants to get Daniel Pritchard, who he's been hiding at a seedy hotel, out of town. When Grissom comes to him with the team's suspicions, Ecklie advises caution and suggests that they need find concrete evidence, leading the CSIs to turn to the tiny .25 bullets. Mandy Webster is able to get a partial print off one of them--enough to match it to McKeen. The CSIs trace McKeen's phone calls to the hotel where he's been hiding Pritchard and storm the room, only to find it empty. Brass places a call to McKeen and keeps him on the phone long enough to get his location and learn he's on the road to Mexico. The police give chase only to find McKeen's car overturned after having smashed through a guardrail. Pritchard is dead inside, and Nick follows a blood trail to find a wounded McKeen--shot by a mistrustful Pritchard--who quickly realizes the game is up when Nick aims his gun at him. McKeen taunts Nick who fires a shot just to the side of McKeen. Brass and his men arrest the crooked Under-sheriff. Grissom and his team lay their fallen colleague to rest.

Analysis:

Far and away the most gut-wrenching episode of CSI to date, "For Warrick" is a tear-jerker. That the team has gone this long without losing a member is perhaps surprising; they've certainly had a few near misses. Nick was saved in the--pun intended--nick of time in "Grave Danger" and it really seemed to be touch and go for a while after Brass was shot in "Bang Bang". Given the buzz surrounding Jorja Fox's planned exit for the show, there was genuine tension around her plight in "Living Doll" and "Dead Doll", especially given the title of the latter, but it would have been a depressing ending--even for CSI--if Sara had struggled through the desert and Grissom and the team had labored to find her, only to have her die in the end. Given all of those near misses, though, by the time "For Gedda" rolled around, it wasn't exactly impossible to guess that maybe the CSIs' luck had run out.

That doesn't make Warrick's death any less shocking or heartbreaking. The scene in which Grissom discovers Warrick shot and pulls him from the car is devastating. William Petersen pours his heart into the scene; the audience feels Grissom's shock and horror at finding his protégé gravely wounded. Warrick literally dies in Grissom's arms as Grissom, as he tells Sara later, tries to hold him tight enough to keep the life from seeping out of him. Anyone who saw the final scene of "For Gedda" knows it's a futile effort: McKeen shot Warrick point blank, twice, in the neck. I'll admit, I was surprised to see McKeen actually called in Warrick's shooting, and tried to pin it on Pritchard rather than just leaving Warrick to die and be found at some point by someone else. But then, it seems McKeen is just that arrogant: he clearly thinks he's covered his tracks well enough, and underestimates the CSIs' ability--and determination--to uncover Warrick's killer.

McKeen is quite the villain, isn't he? Last season I suspected the arc might have been drawn out a bit, that the Under-sheriff wouldn't get caught for some time to come, but it's more satisfying to see him go down for the murder rather than forcing the audience to wait through several episodes or even a good chunk of the season for Warrick's killer to be caught. I wish McKeen had been a little more crafty about it--you'd think if he was smart enough to not get his fingerprints on the window and to wipe down the gun (one that could be traced to Pritchard)--he'd know better than to get a print on a bullet, even a tiny bullet. McKeen's arrogance is well set up by the story Brass tells Grissom, about how when he first met McKeen the man tried to find out if he could be bought. Conor O'Farrell is excellent at portraying both McKeen's false sympathy and his underhanded sliminess. He's especially effective in his final scene with Nick, when he tries to goad the CSI into shooting him by cruelly telling him about Warrick's last moments. Sure it's a bit of a cliché to have the bad guy bragging about what he did and trying to get the emotional hero to shoot him, but the moment helps channel the audience's anger right along with Nick. When that gunshot went off, I really did wonder if Nick had perhaps finished him off.

Nick's grief takes a different form that Grissom's. We first see his reaction through Catherine's eyes as he sits shell-shocked at the scene of his best friend's death. Throughout much of the episode, I was looking for a little more from Nick; Warrick was his closest friend, and I expected him to break down at some point. But he didn't--most of the despair was left to Grissom. Nick worked the case with a fierce determination, his focus on finding his friend's killer. It is Nick who makes the connection that McKeen is dirty, and suspects that as the first person on the scene, he's also their prime suspect. The story builds to that final moment with McKeen and because Nick has remained so focused throughout the investigation, when that gunshot rang out, I really thought for a moment that he might have shot the Under-sheriff. I would have liked to see more of a reaction from Nick, but the fact that his emotions were so understated allowed that scene with McKeen to pack more of a punch than if we'd see Nick getting emotional and angry leading up to it. After Nick's near death experience, Warrick impulsively married Tina; will Nick have a similar rash response to Warrick's death?

Catherine is clearly gutted when she sees Warrick dead, his blood soaking through Grissom's shirt. We see the scene through her eyes as she approaches: Nick sitting forlorn, shaking his head, Warrick's body being covered, Grissom in shock at the loss. Greg's reaction is simply to ask what he can do; like Nick, he feels the need to throw himself into work to get through the tragedy. Brass declares that Warrick's murder is their only case, and laments the fact that he believed Warrick killed Lou Gedda, the mobster Warrick was determined to take down. Conrad Ecklie, a character who has grown leaps and bounds over the seasons, asks Grissom what he needs, and allows him to work the case. Rather than trying to discourage the team from pursuing the lead that points to McKeen, he simply encourages them to make sure they have enough evidence to make the case stick.

The news of Warrick's death travels fast; before the first act is done, Sara Sidle shows up, having caught the first flight out as soon as she heard the news. Her return is a welcome one for Grissom, who is able to open up to her and describe the agony of having Warrick die in his arms. Sara is able to help out a little even though she can't officially work the case; she goes with Greg to Warrick's apartment where the pair makes a startling discovery: Warrick had a son. I admit that the initial revelation of this gave me pause; the idea that Warrick conveniently found out just before his death that he was a father seemed a little much. But when, at the end of the episode, it was revealed that Tina was the mother and it wasn't that Warrick had discovered a ten-year-old boy he'd never known about was his child, the news made a lot more sense, and fit with the show's back story. Warrick and Tina had a rocky union, and it's believable that their messy divorce would have led to an equally messy custody battle.

The real emotional center of the story, however, is Grissom and Warrick's relationship. It was established as far back as the show's "Pilot" that Warrick was Grissom's sometimes troubled and rebellious protégé. Warrick wasn't always the model CSI: he had gambling problems, a fierce temper, and for a while, a dependence on prescription drugs. But, as he notes in the video of his psychiatric evaluation that Sara discovers and brings to Grissom, he had a strong figure to turn to for guidance and who set him straight, a man who, if it had been up to him, he would have chosen for a father. It's a heartbreaking moment, seeing Grissom watch the session, especially after Sara has gently told him that there was no place that Warrick would have rather been at the end than in Grissom's arms. "He loved you," she says, and Grissom replies that he loved Warrick, too.

If that isn't enough to make viewers reach for tissues, the episode concludes with a funeral service for Warrick. Grissom, the man who dreads speaking in public, stands up and offers a touching tribute to Warrick, saying that Warrick of all people knew how precious life was and how much he'd be missed. And he will be missed, both by his colleagues and the show's many viewers. Gary Dourdan's Warrick was one of the show's more passionate characters, and more interesting ones as well, since his rebellious nature meant that he pushed the boundaries in ways the other characters wouldn't dare. His final storyline--his pursuit of Gedda, being framed for the mobster's murder, his determination to get to the bottom of the conspiracy--really isn't one that could have happened to another character on this show. Both Dourdan and Warrick will be greatly missed.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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