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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Happenstance'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at January 5, 2007 - 6:41 AM GMT

See Also: 'Happenstance' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The CSIs are stunned when the bodies of two identical women are found dead on the same night. Amanda Sinclair, the wife of a successful doctor, is shot twice at close range in the parking lot outside Chen's Laundromat, while Jill Case, the editor-in-chief of the Las Vegas Globe, is found hanging off a railing in her apartment, an apparent suicide. The CSIs are shocked when they learn the two women were adopted separately and didn't even know about each other's existence. Catherine is certain their deaths are related, but Grissom isn't convinced.

Amanda had contacted their mother, Dora Pomerance, an emotionally fragile woman who gave the twins up for adoption after having them at eighteen, but her daughter, Tiffany intercepted the letter and, worried Amanda wanted money from her mother, wrote back asking her not to contact Dora again. The CSIs turn to Amanda's husband, Gary, when they find lipstick on his collar from a nurse named Natal Peled. Natal claims they were having an affair, but Gary insists they weren't. The CSIs suspect Natal when they find cigarette butts with lipstick on them outside the Sinclairs' house, but the DNA on them matches Tiffany. The teen admits she was curious about her sister and would watch Amanda with her young son sometimes, but was afraid to approach her.

At a dead end with Amanda's case, the CSIs scrutinize Jill's life. They learn she was having an affair with her therapist, but he tells them Jill was the dominant one in their relationship. Archie uncovers evidence that photographs from Iraq taken by Jake Lenore Jill printed in the Las Vegas Globe were photoshopped, and the CSIs question Jake, who defends his actions and denies killing Jill. The CSIs obtain a warrant to search his house and uncover a blue stocking similar to one found in a dumpster near Chen's Laundromat and a bloody t-shirt. They realize Jake killed both Amanda and Jill. Amanda and Jill used the same laundromat, and Jake hid out there, knowing when Jill picked up her dry cleaning. He shot Amanda thinking she was Jill and then headed to Jill's house to steal her computer and hide the evidence that his photos were doctored. When Jill came home from her date, the shocked photographer strangled her and make it look like a suicide.

Analysis:

I think now is as good a time as any to make note of the fact that CSI Is having an extremely strong season. It's hard to believe that in its seventh season (to say nothing of over six seasons worth of shows from the two CSI spin-offs), CSI is still coming up with stories that feel fresh and original. Twins who have never met, and don't even know of each other's existence, being murdered on the same night? That's nothing if not original.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this episode was not knowing what direction it would take. Like Catherine, I was fairly sure the deaths were connected, and I think it would have been far too coincidental if they hadn't been. The question was how were they connected, and Sarah Goldfinger's script cleverly leads us down one path--could it be Amanda's husband? his would-be mistress? the younger sister she didn't know she had--before reminding us there's another perspective that we've lost sight of while getting wrapped up in Amanda's life.

The clues that the murders tied into Jill's life were there from the get go, namely the missing computer and her position as the editor-in-chief at a newspaper. Warrick notices the missing computer right away, but the audience forgets about in large part because we're so curious to find out how the two murders are connected, and then so intrigued by the fact that the two women never even knew each other in life. The sad irony is that the two women were destined to meet in just two short weeks as Amanda was signed up for a class Jill was teaching.

With all the lurid secrets the CSIs tend to uncover about people, it's refreshing that Amanda's life is as normal as it first appears to be. Amanda isn't having an affair, her husband isn't being unfaithful and the femme fatale after Gary didn't do her in. Amanda's life is as happy as it first appears in the teaser, making the fact that her death was due to a mix up all the more tragic. Jill's life isn't much more scandalous; her darkest secret was that she was dating her therapist and liked to rough him up in bed.

The twins' sad fate brings a quirky revelation from Dr. Robbins: he himself was a twin, or was going to be, but his twin died in utero. He's not the only one sharing a surprising story about himself: Hodges admits that he once longed to key a professor's car in college, but chickened out at the last minute and instead urinated on it. Insights like these into characters that have become familiar over the last six and a half years are part of what keeps this show feeling fresh.

Alas, its fearless leader isn't feeling so fresh these days. Grissom looks exhausted, and in this episode he's tempted by a letter from a college inviting him to come lecture for a few weeks. At the end of the episode, Sara finds him reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau, who famously retreated to Walden Pond to live a quieter life. There's no doubt the overworked, harried Grissom would find such a prospect tempting.

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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