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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Leaving Las Vegas'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at January 10, 2007 - 7:22 AM GMT

See Also: 'Leaving Las Vegas' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Catherine is dismayed when Jay Gregory Finch is found not guilty of murdering his mother, Addie, who was stabbed and then shot to death in the house where she lived with her son. Certain the finding is erroneous, Catherine goes back to the evidence and two samples of blood from related women found on the knife used to kill Addie Finch. Catherine looks into unsolved cases in the area around the time of Addie's murder; Jay Finch drove for five days before reporting his mother's murder and turning in the weapon he found, and Catherine believes he may have killed during that time. She finds a case in Larkston that could be a match: a mother and her daughter disappeared one night after eating ice cream at a local restaurant. With Nick in tow, Catherine heads to Larkston where she and Nick meet up with the local sheriff, Beth McGuire. Nick is able to recover a bullet from the picnic table they were eating at, but the bullet isn't a match to the one that killed Addie.

When Beth mentions another case--the murder of a mother and her grown daughter, Mary Acheson and Heather Curtis--Catherine's ears perk up, but Beth tells her that a handyman, Robert Guffey, confessed to the killing. The M.O. matches that of Addie Finch's murder: both women were stabbed then shot in the head. The CSIs take a trip to the house where the women were killed and learn that Heather's young son, Danny, was a witness: he was hidden in a cabinet under the kitchen sink when his mother and grandmother were killed. Heather's husband, Shawn, abandoned the house after the murders, so Catherine and Nick go over the house, discovering bullets outside beneath the rabbit hutch. They surmise that the killer realized there was a child in the house and thought he was hiding in the hutch.

Catherine visits Robert Guffey in jail, and he tells her he was bullied into confessing and that he recanted the next day, but that it was too late. He tells her his prints were in the house because he discovered the bodies and called for help, but left before the police arrives for fear of being implicated. Catherine gets Shawn Curtis' permission to talk to Danny, who tells Catherine what he remembers of that day--including that the killer took a cookie from cookie jar above where he was hiding. Catherine inspects the jar and finds a bloody print under the lid. A run through AFIS proves it's a match to Jay Finch. Catherine pieces it together--Jay, disoriented after a long drive, thought he had come across his house, but when Mary barred him entrance, he went beserk, killing Mary and Heather. Ready for his leave of absence, Grissom bids farewell to the team individually, and tells Sara he'll miss her, before heading off to Williams college to teach a month long entomology course.

Analysis:

It's sayonara, Gil Grissom, at least for four episodes. Much is made of Grissom's sabbatical by the team, and each member reacts differently to it. It's interesting to see how each character approaches Grissom about his leave of absence--there's a nervous energy at the lab that's understandable, given that the group is going to have to go a month without the man who has been their leader for years now.

Nick's straightforward yet clearly uneasy response reflects what members of the team (and indeed, many viewers as well) fear: that Grissom's sabbatical is a prelude to him leaving for good. Nick faces his fear head on, by simply jumping to the conclusion that it is. He takes a baffled Grissom by surprise when he affectionately hugs him and tells him he knows he's leaving for good and that he'll miss him. William Petersen plays Grissom's befuddlement to the hilt, and his tone is delightfully outraged when he tells Nick to stop hugging him, and that he really will be back in a month.

George Eads is at his most boyishly charming in these scenes, and his interactions with Grissom reflect their father/son dynamic. But Nick is also serving as a voice for the viewer: no doubt when many of the shows fans heard Petersen was taking a break to perform in a play, they feared for the worst. Is this a test run to see how the show fares without its leading man? Possibly, and I'm as interested as the next viewer in seeing what CSI will be like without Grissom. But, for now, after Petersen's play concludes, everything indicates he's staying put...at least for the time being.

Hodges as usual gets to provide the comic relief in the episode, bringing Grissom a sweatshirt from his alma mater, Williams, and recalling the good old days, albeit briefly. Warrick seems uneasy at the prospect of Grissom's departure, but Grissom tells him he's the "rock" of the team, and asks him to support Catherine, who will be in charge while he's gone. Warrick and Catherine working closely together again? Might this reignite the sparks that we saw between them back in season five, when Ecklie split Grissom's team and Warrick was working for Catherine on the swing shift? Stay tuned.

Grissom is clearly concerned for Greg, who is facing a civil suit over the death of Demitrius James, who he struck with his SUV in order to save the life of Stanley Tanner, whom James and several other teens were beating ("Fannysmackin'" and "Post Mortem"). Grissom tells Greg he needs to stick to the accounting he gave during the public inquest. There's an urgency in Grissom's tone that reflects his concern for the young CSI. If Nick is like a son to Grissom, Greg is as well--the younger son to Nick's more experienced older one.

Catherine, ever the cool cucumber, takes Grissom's news in stride, jetting off to Larkston, with a simple promise to Grissom that she'll be back before he leaves. Of all the CSIs, Catherine seems the least ruffled by Grissom's departure. Perhaps that's because this won't be Catherine's first stab at being in charge--after all, back in season five she was running the swing shift. We never did get much of an explanation as to why Catherine gave up her command to come back to Grissom's shift, but I guess we do now know why she didn't give up her job after Sam's death: she tells Nick all of his funds are tied up in property, meaning Catherine is rich on paper but not in cash. Is she looking forward to being in charge while Grissom is gone? It's definitely possible; she did for the most part seem to enjoy running the swing shift in the fifth season.

The case Catherine takes on in this episode brings her back in contact with attorney Adam Novak, whom she first encountered in season five's "Weeping Willows". Novak, who's played by Marg Helgenberger's real life husband, Alan Rosenberg, initially seems just as sleazy as ever, but by the end of the episode, he appears to be genuinely impressed (and shocked) that Catherine has managed to tie Finch to two other murders. Catherine even seems willing to give him a second chance, suggesting he represent Robert Guffey, who really is innocent of the murders he stands accused of, as opposed to the creepy Finch.

Getting back to Grissom's departure, the CSI's toughest goodbye comes at the end of the episode, when he has to bid farewell to Sara. We've seen so little of their relationship on screen, which, while not out of the ordinary for a CSI show, does make the scene feel off. We know so little of the couple's intimate life, but it's seems wrong somehow that Grissom leaves with a mere goodbye. There's no physical contact between them, and while Jorja Fox conveys that Sara isn't thrilled about Grissom's plans, Sara doesn't seem angry in a way that would make Grissom hang back and not give her a warmer goodbye. Even Nick got a hug (albeit an involuntary one on Grissom's part)! Doesn't Sara deserve the same?

Up until this point, I've enjoyed the couple's professionalism at work. I like that they aren't overt--both Grissom and Sara are private people, and if they were canoodling all over the office, it would definitely feel off. But Grissom is leaving for a month--it's not an eternity, but I expected a little more from his goodbye to Sara. I liked the moment where he told her he'd miss her, but I expected a little more from the taciturn CSI. He's been with Sara for months now, and their scene at the end of "Way to Go" suggested he's opened up quite a bit to her. It would have made more of an impact (and felt more realistic) if they'd at least hugged.

Grissom will have a lot on his plate when he returns: the end of the episode reveals that the miniature killer has struck again. It seems the case, which was wrapped up awfully neatly in "Loco Motives" wasn't quite so clean cut after all. Was Ernie Dell actually the killer at all? Was he an accomplice or merely someone the killer manipulated into throwing the CSIs off his scent...at least for a while. Obviously not forever, since the act of mailing a miniature to Grissom is basically announcing that he (or she?) is still alive, and killing. Let's hope Grissom gets plenty of rest on his sabbatical, because he's going to need it to catch this killer. Just a hunch--the key lies in the doll photo that keeps popping up in every miniature.

In the meantime, we're Grissomless for four episodes, but CBS is already stirring up interest in the man who will briefly step in for Grissom--Michael Keppler, played by Liev Schrieber. Those curious about Keppler can check out CBS's site, Who Is Keppler site, which features a few clips from the next new CSI episode, "Sweet Jane".

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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