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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Let It Bleed'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 31, 2008 - 8:45 AM GMT

See Also: 'Let It Bleed' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Halloween week finds Nick Stokes and Riley Adams responding to a liquor store robbery call only to catch the thief fleeing--wearing a police uniform! They give chase and Nick corners him in an abandoned hotel and the thief, with nowhere to go, jumps out the window. It's a fatal plunge, but when Riley leans over the garbage dumpster where he fell, she discovers the body of a young woman underneath his. While the rest of the CSIs investigate her death, Nick pursues the dead robber. He and Brass trace the uniform to a cop in town to testify who says his uniform went missing after he had it cleaned in the hotel he was staying in. Mandy Webster gets a print match on the dead man's thumb, identifying him as Thomas Taylor of Bakersfield, California. The CSIs are able to link him to another man in town from Bakersfield, Barry Wunderlick--who happens to be in the drunk tank at the jail. Nick questions Wunderlick, who was arrested for drunk and disorderly behavior during his bachelor party. He was relying on his best man--Thomas Taylor--to raise the bail money. Nick tells him Thomas made a genuine attempt: he committed four armed robberies in one night before Nick ended his spree.

A stamp on the thigh of the dead girl leads Catherine and Riley to the Dark Water Bar, a trendy club where Catherine is surprised to find her underage daughter. After sending Lindsey home, Catherine and Riley question club owner Craig Hess, who claims not to recognize the dead girl. The CSIs take a look at the club's security cameras, which contradict Hess's story: he's seen throwing her out of the club on camera. Grissom and Catherine examine the girl's body and find fresh needle marks in her arm and a white powder in her nose. Detective Vartann manages to ID the girl in the Homeland Security Database; she's Angela Marie Carlos, the daughter of a Colombian drug lord named Juan Ramone Carlos. The girl's aunt, Emelina, tells the CSIs that she'd sent her niece to school in Utah because Angela liked to party. She tells them that her brother will never forgive her. Greg questions Angela's friend Sylvie, who partied with Angela on the night of her death. Sylvie tells him that Angela told her that the owner of Dark Water Bar was a friend of her family and that she could easily get them in. She did, but the owner caught them and threw Angela out. Sylvie stayed behind and hooked up with a guy she met that evening. Catherine and Riley go back to Craig, suspecting he's in business with Angela's father. He claims ignorance--and also won't tell the women how he got Angela to leave the club. Back at the lab, Dr. Robbins shows Grissom that Angela's blood has hematized, a condition usually seen in advanced stages of decomposition--or some form of blood disease.

Lindsey Willows comes to her mother's office with a clean breathalizer test in hand: she can prove she wasn't drinking the night before. She claims her mother overreacted, but Catherine doesn't back down on the grounding. Hodges shows Grissom the substance in Angela's nose was a tranquilizer called atropine, not cocaine. Riley and Greg track Angela's cell phone to a garbage truck, but they can't tie its route in with Craig Hess. Wendy goes to Dr. Robbins claiming the blood he gave her is contaminated, but a retest proves the results are accurate. Wendy and Dr. Robbins tell Grissom that in addition to Angela's own B negative blood, there are two male donor samples mixed in: O negative and A positive. The latter is what killed her; it was completely incompatible with her own blood type. Fish scales on Angela's purse lead the CSIs back to Hess, who has a big fish tank in his club. Hess points her in the direction of the busboy, Goya, who feeds the fish. The CSIs go to Goya's warehouse and discover him and his cohort, Joe, with a box of cocaine. They also find tubes that could have been used to transfuse blood. Catherine questions the men, who tell her Angela came to them for cocaine and ended up snorting atropine instead. When she passed out, they thought they could revive her by transfusing her blood, but they inadvertently killed her and dumped her body, hoping to frame Craig. Later in the evening, Grissom's phone rings: Goya, Joe, Sylvie, Hess and Emelina have all been shot execution-style.

Analysis:

Three different types of blood in one body? I admit, the promise of that twist had me hooked. I love it when CSI delves into genuinely freaky science. To this day, "Bloodlines" remains one of on my favorite episodes simply because I was so completely intrigued by the concept of a Chimera. "Let It Bleed" doesn't feature a genetic mutation, but it does answer one of those questions I've always wondered about and that's, "What would happen if someone got the wrong blood type?" I figured it wouldn't be a good thing, but according to Yahoo Health, "[t]ransfusion with the wrong blood type can result in a severe, sometimes life-threatening reaction." I imagine that Angela, in her already weakened state, probably didn't stand a chance.

I liked that the episode kept coming back to the slick Craig Hess, and I also liked that in the end, he wasn't the one responsible for Angela's death (except in the most indirect way, by sending her to Goya). It's nice to see Sex and the City's smoldering Jason Lewis isn't wasted in the role. Sometimes CSI shows score big name guest stars and then more or less squander them by only featuring them in a scene or two. By its very nature CSI doesn't lend itself to prominent guest spots; sometimes even the main characters fall to the wayside in the wake of the mystery and the science that dominate the show. So it's especially nice to see Lewis get some real screen time; he balances logic and shrewdness well in his character.

Grissom is starting to unravel, much in the way he did in season seven leading up to his sabbatical. Even though the job was clearly getting to him back then, he had things to come back to: his original team, his romance with Sara. He looked more worn out than completely checked out, as he seems here. His mind wanders as he and Catherine search Angela's body for evidence; he's tuning her out, but it's clearly not a conscious act. At the end of the episode, Grissom is at home and his phone rings. You can feel the dread coming off Grissom as he contemplates answering it. When he does, it's every bit as dismal as he likely feared: Juan Carlos has gone on a bloody rampage, killing no fewer than five people in his rage over his daughter's death. Seeing the carnage is downright chilling, and Grissom is called to one of the worst crime scenes, that of the aunt who couldn't get a handle on her fun-loving niece. She all but predicted her death earlier in the episode when she noted that Juan Carlos would never forgive her. She was absolutely right about that.

For a truly dark entry, the episode features one of the funniest exchanges ever to take place on CSI: Hodges asks Grissom out on a "date." The nerdy, brown-nosing lab tech has scored two tickets to a lecture, and he not-so-casually mentions this to Grissom and asks if the supervisor would like to go with him. "Are you asking me out?" Grissom asks, floored. Hodges, rather than demurring, simply barrels on, asking, "Is that a yes?" Grissom deflects him momentarily by getting down to business, but Hodges is not to be dissuaded, calling after Grissom even as the CSI walks away, asking if they're on for the lecture. Wallace Langham is the picture of determined persistence while for his part, William Petersen maintains a baffled shock during Hodges' awkward overture.

Catherine is more than a little unsettled to discover her teenage daughter Lindsey at the club. Lindsey has certainly given Catherine a fair share of trouble in the past, so it's refreshing to see her play against type and go out of her way to reassure her mother that the worst thing she was doing in the club was dancing. After Hess's dig at Catherine's parenting, it must have been a big relief to the single mom to learn that her daughter wasn't drinking at the club. Lindsey's still grounded, but Marg Helgenberger makes Catherine's relief obvious. In a franchise rife with bratty kids (including, at times, Lindsey herself), it's nice to see this episode buck the trend.

There's an intriguing bit of tension between Wendy and Dr. Robbins when she pays him a visit in the morgue and questions the purity of the sample he gave her. He huffily tells her that the contamination must have occurred on her watch, but she maintains it didn't. They're both proven right in the end, but it's nice to see Liz Vassey and Robert David Hall get to butt heads. Both characters are distinctive and fun to watch, but don't often get much to do. It's nice to see them given something to chew on here.

The only part of the episode I wasn't particularly taken with was the B-story. I'm still not sure why Thomas Taylor thought plunging to his death was a better option than dropping the gun and letting Nick arrest him. Sure, he'd committed four robberies, but he hadn't killed anyone. Was the wrath of Wunderlick that terrifying? Wunderlick did provide a laugh when he bragged to Nick about looking like the new James Bond; Alex Solowitz pulled off the scene with gusto. Would the CSI team really have bothered with the case, beyond identifying the victim?

It does make for a good opening, though, and given Grissom's stern caution to Nick, telling him he's lucky he's not in the dumpster, I wonder if Nick's reckless behavior might be an indicator that he's unraveling a bit over Warrick's death. So far, we've seen little reaction from Warrick's best friend, but I have no doubt that Nick is hiding some major inner turmoil. He's hiding it better than Grissom; true, Nick shouldn't have gone after the suspect on his own without back up, but it's not like he's the first CSI to do so. Might Grissom be a little overprotective following Warrick's death? Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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