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

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at January 20, 2009 - 12:49 AM GMT

See Also: 'One To Go' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Picking up where "19 Down" left off, Brass identifies the fresh victim found under the bridge as Jeffrey Masters. His wife Maureen is missing, and Brass estimates that the team only has about 24 hours to find her alive. After the Sheriff is briefed by Brass and Ecklie--slated to step into the Undersheriff position--Ecklie tells Grissom that the sheriff has personally requested he stay on until the conclusion of the case. Continuing to work with Dr. Ray Langston, the professor whose class Nathan Haskell was speaking to from jail, the CSIs focus on what drugs Haskell might have used to subdue his male victims. Positing that Haskell had an accomplice in Langston's class, the CSIs also turn their attention to Langston's students. Brass speaks with Dan Forrester, the student who suggested getting a serial killer to talk to the class and corresponded with Haskell, but when he realizes he's a suspect, Dan tells the detective the idea came from multiple students in the class. The team visits Langston's classroom and plays the video of Haskell speaking to the class, trying to pinpoint if he made eye contact with any of the students during key comments. They zero in on a student named Thomas Donover. Though the police find him missing when they go to his house, and his wife Kelly insists that she doesn't know where he is. The CSIs search the Donovers' house and Greg finds shoes that match the treads found at the scene of Ian Wallace and Justine Stefani's murders. Tom is definitely the accomplice. While Tom torments Maureen, the CSIs race to isolate the location of the house where Haskell took his victims--and where Tom likely has Maureen now. Hodges discovers a kind of moss on Tom's shoe that narrows their search to the north side of Lake Mead, but that still leaves the CSIs with a lot of ground to cover and not much time in which to do it.

Nick finds a box of video tapes in Tom's house--but no VCR around and recalls that Gerald Tolliver had a VCR but no tapes. Kelly confirms Tolliver was a friend of her husband. Catherine finds sage extract at Tom's house that Henry confirms could have been used to subdue Haskell's male victims. A print leads them to the dealer, but he's killed accidentally when he runs from the police. Nick views the videotapes and see Haskell's first victims, Joel and his fiancée Tiffany, with Tom Donover and Gerald Tolliver--and later with Haskell. Grissom consults star charts hoping to find a way to identify the location of the house, while Langston pays Haskell a visit in jail, hoping to get the information out of him. He tries to trick Haskell into thinking they already have Tom and Maureen and just want the location of the bodies of his female victims, but Haskell sees right through his ruse and gives him nothing. Grissom uses the moon in the videos to find the house's location and discovers it's in Black Mesa. Brass and his team rush there and Tom is killed by a shot to the head just as he's about to murder Maureen. Brass frees her and the CSI team canvasses the house and Grissom discovers the bodies of Haskell's female victims under the floorboards of the house. The case closed, Grissom visits Langston at WLVU and suggests he apply for the new vacancy at CSI. Grissom finishes packing up his office, and despite an impassioned plea to stay from Hodges, exits CSI, catching only Catherine's eye as he walks past the team hard at work. Grissom heads to Costa Rica where he reunites with Sara Sidle, kissing her passionately.

Analysis:

There were quite a few powerful moments in "One to Go," but three in particular really got to me. All three occurred towards the end of the episode, as the focus shifted from the tense case to Grissom's departure. The first was from an unlikely source: David Hodges. Hodges reacted to the news of Grissom's departure with a huffy, wounded demeanor in "19 Down", hurt that he heard the news second hand. But as Grissom packs up his office and prepares to leave CSI, Hodges turns up at the door, full of honest-to-goodness sincerity. In most of his interactions with Grissom, Hodges has been something of a suck-up, hoping to impress the boss he so clearly admires. But there's none of that here: there's a real earnestness in Wallace Langham's delivery. I found everything he says to Grissom in this scene to be heartfelt and touching, but something about the line, "The bad guys will win more if we don't have you" really resonates. So often people who suck up are dismissed, and that's usually how Hodges has been treated. Most people assume their flattery is false or just has some selfish end behind it. This line shows just how sincere Hodges' admiration for Grissom truly is. Maybe his way of expressing it usually landed on the obsequious side of the line, but what he says in this scene is completely genuine.

Grissom responds in an equally forthright way. When Hodges laments, "Who was Watson without Sherlock Holmes?" Grissom responds, "Watson was a genius in his own right." It's a real compliment to Hodges, who has always longed for acknowledgement and praise from Grissom. Hodges, for all his bravado and facade of arrogance, is really just looking for praise and affirmation from the team--especially Grissom--more often than not. He doesn't want to be a CSI--his disdain of fieldwork has been made clear on several occasions--but he wants the CSIs to respect and appreciate him and the work he does. Poor Hodges has a bit of an inferiority complex that he masks with an affected air of superiority. So I have no doubt that Grissom's response means a lot to him, as does Grissom's honest answer about why he can't reconsider his decision to leave: "It's the right time for me to go." It's gratifying to see that Hodges is able to get over the hurt he felt at the news Grissom was leaving--and the fact that he didn't hear it from Grissom right off the bat--and tell Grissom in a really sweet way how much he thinks of him. Hodges is the last person I would have thought would have the final (verbal) farewell with Grissom, but it's a perfect choice.

The second moment on my list made me grin from ear-to-ear: it was yet another perfect goodbye. As Grissom walks down the hall and observes the various team members doing their jobs, the only one whose eye he catches is Catherine's. She notices, registers what's going on, and winks at him as he smiles at her. There's so much warmth in the moment; everything between them is communicated without a word being said. She's happy for him, she'll miss him, she thinks he's doing what he needs to do--few actresses could get across so much with a simple wink, but that's just what Marg Helgenberger does here. Grissom opened himself up to Catherine in "Young Man with a Horn", and after he makes the announcement in "19 Down" that he's leaving, she tells him she knew before he did. Catherine really knows Grissom, and she knows this departure, while the end of his career as a CSI, is the beginning of something else. Grissom is a scientist, but that part of him isn't going to go away when he walks out the door of CSI. It's time for something else to take the pot. Catherine knows this, and she's clearly happy for him.

The third moment is yes, that kiss. Grissom and Sara's relationship has been fodder for much debate in the CSI fandom, but really, could it have gone any other way? For better or worse, characters get linked on shows, and at some point you reach the point of no return--barring one of the characters' deaths, they're probably going to end up together because it wouldn't feel right otherwise. Think Ross and Rachel on Friends, Meredith and Derek on Grey's Anatomy or Doug Ross and Carol Hathaway on ER. At some point, two characters just become permanently linked. Anyone who reads my CSI: New York reviews knows I've never seen the appeal of Danny and Lindsay as a couple, but if one of them exited followed by the other at some point, I'd fully expect them to end up together. At the end of the day, it's about what's right for the characters, and after a romance has been cultivated and built up for multiple seasons, the only truly logical conclusion is to see the romance as the bright future for those characters.

Part of me thought the episode might end after Grissom walked out of CSI, and I knew I wouldn't be satisfied with that. Viewers have invested eight and a half years in Grissom; they needed to know not just that he was leaving but where he would be going. So I was gratified when the screen flashed to Costa Rica and we saw Grissom in his funny little hat walking through the foliage. The minute I saw Grissom in Costa Rica, I knew where he was going, or rather, whom he was going to. Much like when Carol Hathaway joined Doug Ross at the end of ER, there was a comforting inevitability to the final scene. Did anyone truly expect Grissom was heading towards some other future? He made the decision to "up the ante" as he said in "Young Man with a Horn," and I can't think of what else that could have meant but a new life, a fresh start--with Sara.

One of the things I observed over the course of Grissom and Sara's relationship was that we never once saw Grissom kiss Sara on screen. They didn't kiss when we first saw them as a couple in "Way to Go". They didn't kiss when Grissom took his leave of absence in "Leaving Las Vegas". He didn't even kiss her after the team found her in "Dead Doll". Or when he proposed to her in "The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp". So the fact that we finally, finally, finally get to see Grissom and Sara share a kiss is incredibly significant. This is a new beginning for Grissom--he's no longer torn between his career and his romantic connection with Sara. He's opening himself up. He's gone from being a man so reserved that personal conversations are painful to a man willing to literally run into the arms of the woman he loves. It's a new beginning for our beloved bug man. And it's a beautiful one.

I isolate those three particular moments because they struck me personally. I won't pretend I watched the episode dry-eyed, and for me, those three moments were the ones that really tugged at my heartstrings. Doc Robbins, Wendy, David Phillips, Brass and Catherine got to speak with Grissom about his departure in "19 Down," which left only Nick, Greg and Hodges (who made up for his angry initial response in the previous episode). Nick promises Grissom, "I'll never forget the things you taught me," and the audience knows he's not just talking about crime scene procedure and forensic techniques. "You were the best student I ever had, Nick," Grissom replies, letting Nick and the audience know that Grissom feels Nick has learned all he needs to from him. Nick will miss him, but he's no longer at the student level. Greg, on the other hand, is a much newer CSI, and thanks Grissom for putting him out in the field. "You changed my life," he says simply. Greg got off to a rocky start as a CSI, but he's grown in confidence since then. His interactions with Riley underscore his comfort with the job, and it will be interesting to see what he makes of the newest rookie, Langston, once he officially reports for duty.

Warrick isn't forgotten in the episode, either; Grissom takes a long hard look at his funeral program as he's packing. The absence of Warrick and Sara resonates in this episode. There are two goodbyes Grissom doesn't make, one because he's already made it, the other because his decision to leave CSI means he will be doing just the opposite of making that goodbye. But their presence is missing in the CSI lab itself, and as Grissom walks down the hall, catching a glimpse of Riley talking with Doc Robbins, of Nick processing a car, of Catherine sitting with Brass--their absence is truly felt. As much as Grissom is leaving a changed CSI behind him, it's not changed due to his exit alone. Two others left before him; one new CSI has already stepped in, to be followed soon by another. The lab has been in the process of slowly changing over for a year, and it's already a different place.

And CSI will be a somewhat different show. It's impossible to minimize in any way William Petersen's contribution to building this show into what it is today. That has everything to do with Petersen's subtle, nuanced portrayal of the dedicated, quirky scientist, the man who was oftentimes more at home in the presence of maggots than people. That very social awkwardness that made him shy away from other human beings endeared him to the fans, who enjoyed watching him puzzle over people's behavior and recoil from exterminators, the slayers of his beloved insects. Grissom will always be in CSI's DNA, but it's a tribute to Petersen's generosity as an actor that the show has truly always been an ensemble drama. That's one of the reasons it didn't falter in the slightest when Petersen took his leave of absence. The other, of course, is the talented writing staff, which manages to keep CSI fresh even well into its ninth season.

No doubt Laurence Fishburne's presence will contribute a great deal of freshness to the show. Grissom suggests he apply for the vacancy at CSI, something we know given the massive press Fishburne's addition to the cast has received, will inevitably happen in the next episode. Langston will have a lot to learn: his attempt to trick Haskell into giving away the location of his Lake Mead house is a failure, frustrating the professor. He has yet to learn what the Vegas team knows: the evidence is where the truth lies. My guess is that he'll find out soon enough, after a few stumbles here and there along the way. Fishburne is a gifted actor, astute and careful about his character. Langston even carries himself like a professor: he walks with authority and assurance. He truly is going to be starting over as a CSI, and, much as I'm going to miss Grissom, I can't wait to see where the journey will take Langston. New beginnings make for compelling television.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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