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CSI Files

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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Friends And Lovers'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 26, 2008 - 11:06 PM GMT

See Also: 'Friends & Lovers' 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:

The naked body of a teen boy is found in the desert. Grissom is quick to note the maggots on the body, indicating that the boy has been dead for a while. There's no obvious sign of death, so Grissom has Warrick autopsy one of the maggots and he discovers Jimson weed in the maggot's belly. Bobby Taylor reports his friend Eric missing and identifies the boy's body. He tells Grissom they were at a rave the night Eric disappeared and Warrick is able to identify the DJ playing at the rave by an entrance stamp on the boy's wrist. With Bobby in tow, Grissom and Warrick go to the rave and locate the drug dealer, Ethan, who is well-versed in the language of the law. Grissom wants to bring him down for murder, but the Warrick discovers that the levels of Jimson weed in Eric's system weren't fatal. The sad truth comes out when Grissom discovers a bite on Bobby's arm, which Bobby, who doesn't remember much of the evening due to the drug, assumed was a spider bite. The boys had a bad trip: Eric got overheated and stripped and freaked out while Bobby had an auditory overload and inadvertently smothered Eric to get him to be quiet. Bobby is crushed to discover he killed his friend.

Catherine and Nick are called to a school where Dean Vernon Woods has been bludgeoned to death with a stone by the school founder, Kate Armstrong. She claims that he attacked her and she struck him in self-defense, but the CSIs find multiple holes in her story. Kate struck the man several times, not just once as she initially claimed. A gap in the blood splatter on the walls indicates another person was in the room at the time. Kate claims her friend Julia was simply there to back up her story that Woods was hitting on her, but when the CSIs find another gap in the blood splatter--this one in the shape of a hand on Woods' shirt--they are able to prove Julia held him down while Kate beat him to death. Not satisfied with simply knowing how, Catherine observes the detective questioning Kate and Julia: it turns out they were lovers being blackmailed by Woods, who threatened to expose them. After he kept demanding money from them, they killed him to keep their secret. Meanwhile, Sara works a body dump case and is surprised to find the woman, Stephanie Reyes, was actually buried days ago at a nearby graveyard. When she discovers Stephanie's casket is missing as well, she figures out that the mortuary director has been reusing the coffins from graves--dumping the bodies and reselling the coffins. She demands that he pay for Stephanie to be reburied properly at another cemetery--and then to face charges.

Analysis:

Grissom is hit hard by the case he's on in this episode, and it's the first time we really see something get under the normally unflappable CSI's skin. At one point in the episode, Grissom outlines the three things that really get to him: men who beat their wives, sexual abuse of children and drug dealers who prey on kids. This case obviously falls under the last category and it's evident in the usually cool-tempered Grissom's reaction to Ethan, the haughty, arrogant drug dealer who quotes the law to Grissom condescendingly. Ethan actually gets a rise out of Grissom, who vows to get him for murder. That Grissom fails in this is surprising, and Ethan dances in the hallway as he's let go. Jeff Parise injects both glee and arrogance into his performance as Ethan, and the audience is as disappointed as Grissom is when Ethan walks away scot free.

A pre-Gilmore Girls and Heroes Milo Ventimiglia is also memorable as Bobby, who remains an earnest, sad figure throughout the episode. He's genuinely devastated to find out he's lost his best friend, but his devastation is mixed with abject horror once he discovers that he in fact is the one responsible for Eric's death. Rather than denying the evidence or wanting to fight for his freedom, Bobby gives up once he realizes he's responsible, horrified that he's killed his best friend. His reaction makes him an even more sympathetic character.

Grissom is similarly saddened by the outcome of the case. When Bobby's lawyer tells him she plans to argue diminished capacity, he tells her frankly and honestly, "I hope you win." Much as Grissom believes in following the evidence, even he can't fail to be moved by the fact that Bobby not only had no intention of hurting his friend, but that he didn't even remember doing it in the first place. The real bad guy, Ethan, walks free and there's nothing Grissom can do about it. To get away, he heads to the strip to ride a gigantic rollercoaster. In a truly impressive sequence, the camera follows Grissom's face as his car climbs to the top and shoots down and around. The tightly-controlled Grissom doesn't let out a single scream or even a stray emotion as he zips along.

Catherine continues to stand in stark opposition to Grissom, though she would probably be interested to see his reaction to Bobby's plight. Catherine tells Nick when he quotes one of Grissom's quips to her that "Grissom isn't right about everything." This is another novel approach from CSI (and one its first spin-off, CSI: Miami doesn't follow): the hero isn't always perfect or right. Grissom is human just like the rest of the team, and while his methods as a scientist are inventive and effective, life isn't so cut and dry that science--or Grissom--can have the answer to every problem, especially when it comes to human emotion. Even Grissom, who would approaches each case as clinically and scientifically he can, has things that get under his skin, like the aforementioned list. Grissom might strive for a dispassionate examination of the evidence, but that doesn't mean he's without feeling by any means.

Catherine, because she's so driven by emotion, clearly doesn't always see that. Here, she and Nick rather easily solve the puzzle, but for Catherine motive is a big missing piece. She's suspicious of Kate's story from the get-go, and the blood splatter on the wall and on Woods' shirt points to Julia's involvement. But for Catherine, the case isn't closed until she knows why the two women killed Woods. The conflict between what the evidence says and basic human nature is a frequent theme early in the show's run; the CSIs aren't cops and their job is to deal with the evidence, not wrangle a confession out of a suspect or uncover the motive, but basic human nature means they'd naturally be curious about what causes one human being to take the life of another. Catherine typifies this curiosity, but as this episode proves, even Grissom isn't always capable of remaining detached and emotionally objective.

David Phillips makes his first appearance in this episode, awkwardly flirting with Sara by telling her he likes her "gusto." Sara, being as sharp as she is, immediately picks up on the fact that he's flirting with her, and gives David some very frank advice for improving his game. There's a bit of irony in Sara telling him to be more aggressive knowing that down the line Sara will be the one who pursues Grissom, but the quip is amusing. Even Grissom gets a little love at the rave when a drunken girl comes up to him and tells him "I love you!" His response that she's a complete stranger to him is pure Grissom and easily draws a laugh from the audience.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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