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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Go To Hell'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 31, 2007 - 10:28 PM GMT

See Also: 'Go to Hell' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The bodies of Alvin and Girlie Macalino are found dead in a hotel room at Rancho Center Motel. The situation gets even more grim when the CSIs visit the Macalinos' home and discover their youngest daughter, Elizabeth, dead in her bed from a gunshot wound to the head and their elder daughter Amy missing. Prints at the hotel lead the CSIs to Alistair Rhodes, a registered sex offender who now works as a minister. Rhodes insists he's reformed. When the CSIs pay a visit to his apartment, they find several hidden videotapes, but rather than sex tapes they turn out to be recordings of exorcisms Rhodes has performed. Alistair confesses that the Macalinos hired him to perform an exorcism on Amy, but he says the exorcism didn't work.

Amy is discovered in a stolen car with a man named Andrew Wolflynn, and though Brass turns the screws on Wolflynn, he denies kidnapping Amy or killing her family. Catherine is shocked to discover Amy is just twelve, but when she and Warrick re-examine a bloody shirt found at the scene, the way the sleeves are rolled up suggest a small woman wore it. Grissom and Archie watch the exorcism tapes and see how Mr. Macalino stopped Alistair and freed Amy. He puts it together that Amy called Wolflynn, had sex with him and then used a gun he had to kill her parents and sister. Brass and Catherine rush to the hospital to find Amy just in time to see Alistair, convinced he's exorcising the devil, toss her from a walkway on the second floor, killing her.

Sara works her first case on the swing shift with Ronnie Lake: investigating the death of a homeless man whose body was found just outside the motel where the Macalinos were killed. They discover his ID in his pocket, giving his name as Eddie Kaye. Dr. Robbins determines that he was roughed up, and that he died of dehydration. Sara and Ronnie notice marks on his wrists, and wonder if he got into an altercation with the police. She prints his ID and matches the prints found on it to an Officer Casella. Sara tracks the officer down, and he tells her that Eddie had been fighting at the homeless shelter. He cuffed him but didn't take him in, claiming it was just a ploy the homeless use to get food and shelter for the night in jail--and that he wasn't falling for it. Sara looks disgusted, knowing that a night of food and shelter might have saved the man's life.

Analysis:

A grim but compelling entry of CSI, this episode deals with some of the motifs CSI explores with the great depth: the death of entire families, people who are truly just evil and the way inaction can be the most harmful act of all. In the beginning, the episode echoes "Gum Drops", the phenomenal season six episode where Nick and Sara investigated the death of a family as Nick gradually came to believe that the youngest child, whose body was not in the house with her family, might still be alive. Like "Gum Drops," every member of the Macalino family save for one has been murdered, but unlike the previous episode, the culprit isn't an outsider but the lone survivor.

The episode is anchored by the fantastic Harold Perrineau who imbues Alistair with a deeply felt fanaticism that makes him both a tragic figure and a sympathetic one. Few criminals actually change, and the number is probably far, far smaller among sex offenders. But Alistair did--he found religion, and in his own way he tried to minister to the masses. He also tried to exorcise evil where he found it. He did just that to himself when he gave up alcohol and drugs, and apparently wholeheartedly believes in other, stronger methods as well. But unlike so many religious leaders on television dramas who turn out to be frauds or hypocrites, Alistair really believes in what he's doing--to the bitter end.

Alas, Amy is not one that can be saved. She's a classic "bad seed" if there ever was one. Though the episode doesn't go into great detail about her transgressions prior to the exorcism, the ones after it speak for themselves. She kills both of her parents after she hooks up with the hapless Andrew Wolflynn and then goes to her house and shoots her younger sister in her bed as she sleeps. She's a sociopath through and through. Alistair takes her out before we get any reason why, but at that point it's pretty obvious that Amy is as evil as Alistair believes she is. Like the brother-sister duo in "The Unusual Suspect", kids who kill fascinate even as they horrify, and Amy is no exception.

This episode also provides Sara's introduction to the swing shift, having been forced to leave the night shift after her relationship with Grissom came to light. Sara's new partner is Ronnie Lake, named after the actress, and she's played with great aplomb by Jessica Lucas. Ronnie is everything Sara isn't: talkative, over eager, warm, effusive. She clearly grates on Sara's nerves, but for the audience, it's fun to see Sara paired with someone so unlike herself, and so different from everyone else she worked with on the night shift (with the possible exception of Greg). I'm eager to see how they'll fare together in the weeks to come.

Sara does pay a visit to Grissom in this episode, and she finds him in the act of discovering his newest obsession: a colony of bees at the Macalino house, in the wall of the attic. Though I'm not sure how Grissom studying a hive of bees will benefit the show, it is nice to see Grissom delving into the study he loves best: entomology. Of all the CSI leads, Grissom is the one who truly embodies the scientist archetype. The fact that he's sharing his discovery with Sara shows just how far he's come over the past seven years; the man who once immersed himself in scientific study now finds he can share it with the person he loves. For Grissom, that's true love.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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