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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Leave Out All The Rest'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 10, 2008 - 11:50 PM GMT

See Also: 'Leave Out All the Rest' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Grissom joins Catherine and the team at a crime scene on a rainy night: the badly scraped up dead body of a man lies on the ground. Marks on his wrists indicate he was bound, and given the damage to the body, Catherine posits he may have been tied to the bottom of a car and dragged to his death. Doc Robbins points out postmortem stab wounds on the body, as well as puncture wounds around the man's nipples. While Catherine examines tire treads at the scene, Nick is able to identify the man from the personalized shirt he wore. Along with Brass and Riley, Nick goes to the house of their victim, Ian Wallace, and finds evidence of a scuffle as well as magazines with a woman's name on the subscription label: Justine Stefani. Dr. Robbins determines Ian's cause of death was strangulation, and Grissom notices burn marks on the man's tongue which, when taken with the nipple puncture wounds, leads the CSI supervisor to conclude the man may have been into S&M. Grissom leaves the lab and goes to the house of Lady Heather, claiming to want insight into the case. She tells him the nipple markings are from needle play and the tongue burns could be from a kind of shock treatment, leading Grissom to conclude their victim was a submissive. Back at Ian Wallace's house, Riley finds a box with S&M bondage gear under Ian's bed, labeled with the name 'Lower Lynx'--a bondage club. The CSIs talk with the owner of the club, a woman named Michelle, who claims not to know Ian but after pressure from Nick and Brass, leads the CSI and the detective to the back room, where they discover a pair of metal chopsticks--possibly the instrument of the tongue shocks.

Lady Heather posits that Ian was keeping his S&M lifestyle secret from Justine, whose personal effects don't indicate she was into bondage. The case gets markedly more complicated when Justine's burned body is found inside her SUV in the desert. The CSIs determine she was hit with her own car. The CSIs trace the last phone call on Justine's cell to a man named Martin Devlin, who sells insurance. He tells Brass that he had called to sell Justine insurance but that she hung up on him before he made the sale. After matching Michelle's DNA to the chopsticks used on Ian, Nick questions the dominatrix, who admits to an affair with Ian, but claims they never went to each other's houses. When Wendy matches DNA blood splatter from Ian's house to Devlin, the CSIs haul him back in, finding the same needle marks around his nipples that Ian had. His aggressive female lawyer quickly puts a stop to the questioning. Archie retrieves records from Devlin's phone and find he erroneously sent a text meant for Justine to a wrong number. The text has a picture of Ian--and Devlin's lawyer having sex. The lawyer admits she, Ian and Devlin did a "scene" together at Lower Lynx and then she followed Ian home. After they had sex, Devlin burst in and fought with Ian over her, but the two left after that--with Ian still alive. With nothing to link either the lawyer or Devlin to the scene, the CSIs are at a dead end, left to wonder if Ian and Justine were the victims of random violence. At Lady Heather's house, Grissom admits to Heather his real reason for coming to see her: a goodbye video message Sara sent him, claiming his "not making a decision" to leave Las Vegas with her was in fact "making a decision." Heather agrees with Sara's conclusion and offers to let Grissom stay with her.

Analysis:

Episodes without conclusions are risky. It goes beyond the episodic nature of the CSI franchise--and with episodic TV there is no guarantee that the viewers who watched the first installment will be there for the second, or vice versa--and ventures into presenting an episode that, on its own, is unsatisfying. The CSI shows often hinge on coincidences--someone is able to match a tire tread to a specific car or trace a specific chip from a casino--but the idea that three people could be tied to two victims and not a single one have anything to do with their murder is hard to swallow. Even harder to swallow is that the CSIs come up with a pretty lame theory: random psychos broke into Ian and Justine's house after the melee went down with the Lower Linx crowd and killed Ian and Justine. After the intricate story that comes before, the theory that it could have just been a group of random psychos is a let down, to say the least.

Of course, this might not be the end of the case; there's a good chance it might be revisited in a later episode. One hopes it will be, if for no other reason than to give the audience a definitive conclusion to a case they've already invested an hour in. I realize the CSIs can't always solve every case and that sometimes they hit a wall, but to leave this one open-ended would be a mistake. The first episode to feature the Miniature Crime Scene Killer, "Built to Kill Part Two" ended without an arrest, but even in that early episode, it was clear from the precision of the murder and the miniature reconstruction that it was the introduction of an on-going mystery rather than a case that would simply go down in the books as one of the ones the CSIs just couldn't solve. Realistically, I hate to criticize anything that makes the show more authentic--and not being able to solve a case now and then is indeed realistic--but after an entire episode has been devoted to it, it leaves the viewer with a distinctly unsatisfied feeling. Maybe this case will be revisited, but the end of the episode doesn't really make it clear one way or another.

Of course, the case's S&M connections give Grissom the pretense he needs to pay a visit to Lady Heather, the dominatrix who has fascinated him since he first met her in season two's "Slaves of Las Vegas". Grissom doesn't feel he can talk to any of his colleagues; Catherine says early on in the episode that he won't talk to her. Heather has always been someone he can confide in, not just because she will listen and give advice without judgment, but because despite how different they are, Heather really understands Grissom on a fundamental level. Grissom is a man of few words; confidences are almost painful for him. A few episodes ago, in "Art Imitates Life", Grissom was only able to speak about his grief by describing his dog's state. Grissom couldn't just say, "I'm listless and depressed"; instead, he talked about Hank being listless and wondered if the dog was picking up on his feelings.

Heather doesn't ask Grissom how he's doing; she tells him what she's observed. She also gets right to the heart of the matter, rather than trying to be gentle with him. "What do you want?" she asks him when he shows up at her door. Direct and to the point is really the only way to deal with Grissom, whose feelings are so bottled up and contained that it takes a forceful approach to get to them. It's one of the reasons it took Sara so long to make any headway with him; Sara's feelings may have been obvious, but she never really pushed Grissom or forced him to confront the feelings he had for her. Heather is different. She not only doesn't hesitate to ask Grissom the tough questions, she knows which ones to ask. "Where's Sara?" she queries after seeing the state he's in. Heather is a shrewd woman; she knows what this is about. Later on in the episode she tells Grissom why he came to her: because it's not home and doesn't remind him of Sara.

Of course, it's Sara who sends him to Heather, indirectly. Via a video message Sara sends to Grissom, we find out where she's been in Puerto Vallarta on some sort of retreat and has been doing a lot of thinking about their relationship and what Grissom's lack of a response to her invitation for him to join her means. Sara tells Grissom that for the first time in a long time she's happy. She doesn't sound very happy when she says it, but perhaps that's because it's so unexpected: for so long Sara has pined for Grissom, and he's been such a looming figure in her life. Breaking away from him, even if she's found something that's fulfilling and rewarding, can't be easy. She tells him that if a relationship doesn't move forward, it withers, and that she recognizes that his indecision is actually a decision. Sara doesn't look pleased about this realization, but she's accepting it, and essentially freeing Grissom with the message.

Ultimately, Heather, echoing Sara's words, is the one who forces Grissom to face his actions, telling him flat out that not making a decision is making a decision. Grissom's weak protest that he didn't go with Sara because of things "beyond my control" is empty; at the end of the day, if Grissom had wanted to go with Sara, he could have gone with Sara. But is it that Grissom doesn't want to go with her, or is it that he fears the change so much that he's paralyzed? Grissom doesn't seem to be happy at work--he's walking around in a daze, and he's ignoring calls and pages. There doesn't seem to be any joy in the job for Grissom anymore. With William Petersen's exit from the show on the horizon, it's hard not to suspect that Grissom is going to wake up from the funk he's been in and decide his future is with Sara.

Knowing that's the likelihood doesn't take away from the pleasure of seeing him interact with Heather, though. Petersen and Melinda Clarke have always had fantastic chemistry, and it's great to see Heather so effectively able to break down Grissom's walls. Even more interesting is that Grissom seeks her out for just this purpose. Grissom is never more than marginally involved in the case--turning to Heather for a consult on the case is just an excuse to see her and confide in her. Grissom is Grissom, so he can't just come out and ask her for help, but he knows her well enough to be certain she'll be able to intuit something is wrong and get to the heart of it pretty quickly. Which, of course, is just what she does.

At the end of the episode, Grissom does ask Heather to stay with him, leaving the audience to wonder whether or not anything happened with them. I suppose it's possible something did, but I kind of doubt it. Grissom seemed too wounded by Sara's message for him to believably turn to another woman sexually, even if it's someone he knows as well and trusts as much as he does Heather. And Heather isn't the kind of woman who would take advantage of a man as obviously vulnerable as Grissom is here. In a way, each knows the other too well for them to go down that path. The two have a deep bond, but I think the chance for romance has passed.

The episode's title is taken from a Linkin Park song which has featured heavily in the episode promos and is also heard in the episode. While one can't imagine Grissom listening to Linkin Park, the song certainly fits his mood and that of the episode, since, with the case unresolved, the major focus is the demise of Grissom and Sara's relationship. In the same way I think there's a good chance the case might be picked back up at some future point, I believe the same is true of Grissom and Sara's relationship. Their relationship might be over now because of Grissom's indecision, but I have a feeling something later on down the road might goad the CSI team leader into making a more active choice.

On a lighter note, there's some fun banter between Nick, Greg and Riley in this episode, establishing a new dynamic on the show that promises to be fun to watch. Riley has injected a bit of fun into the show, which is something CSI has sorely needed for some time. Let's face it--CSI can be downright somber in tone much of the time. The humor, when it comes, is often dark, like Doc Robbins' quip "that's cool" upon observing that he can see the dead man's brains through his nasal cavity. There are some lighter moments in the lab--often courtesy of the delightful Hodges--but Riley's quirky comments and surprising anecdotes make for some nice teasing among the teammates. This is the first time in a long while that I've been reminded that Nick and Greg are among the more junior CSIs in age, and it's great to see them actually having fun with the new girl. I love how Riley asked, "What does it say about me that I always find the smut?" and the way she asserted that the crime could have been committed by a woman. Riley is certainly direct: after the discovery of the S&M box of toys, she asks Greg if he's ever been tied up. Nick tells them to knock it off, but it's clear the three are having fun. And given how difficult their jobs are, who could begrudge them that?

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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