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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Say Uncle'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 25, 2008 - 5:19 AM GMT

See Also: 'Say Uncle' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A man and a woman are gunned down at a Koreatown BBQ. The woman is found without an ID, but the man is carrying prison release forms from that very morning identifying him as Sun Bang. In addition to a bullet casing, Grissom finds a pair of kid's sunglasses with blood splatter on them by the bodies. The police round up the people at the BBQ, but no one is talking. Dr. Robbins tells Grissom Sun was shot with a revolver while the woman was shot with a semiautomatic. While the three shots in Sun were fired straight on, the trajectory of the bullets that killed the woman indicate they came from a lower angle. Dr. Robbins points out needle marks on the woman's arms as well as scars on her eyelids that indicate she had plastic surgery to widen her eyes. Based on the procedure, the team is able to find the doctor who performed the surgery. He tells Brass he was forced to do the surgery at gunpoint by members of the Kampai Dragons, a new Korean gang that forces businesses to turn over a percentage of their profits. Catherine gets a lead when she learns Dempsey's, a department store Sun visited just before his death, has a state-of-the-art surveillance and forensics lab to catch shoplifters. Video footage shows Sun with a ten-year-old boy. A Child Protection Services investigator named Bae Chin recognizes the boy on the surveillance camera as Park Bang, Sun's nephew. She identifies the dead woman as Kora Sil, Park's mother. Park's father was a gangster who died three years ago. Sun notified CPS about Kora's drug use, and Chin reveals that both Kora and Park are HIV positive.

Archie finds Kora's social networking profile and uses it to trace her IP address to the house of Jin Pan, who tells the CSIs he knew Park's father but that they went in different directions. Jin took Kora and Park in, but he doesn't know where either is now. Nick and Riley trace Park and Sun's route from Dempsey's to the BBQ and Hodges finds a discarded bag from Dempsey's in a trash can, along with a child's bloody shirt. The CSIs discover Park in a house with an older Korean woman, who draws a gun on them when they enter. Riley draws her weapon, but Nick manages to talk to the old woman down. Through a translator at the police station, the old woman tells the CSIs that she heard the shots outside and took Park home. At the hospital, Grissom gets upset with Riley after she tries to question Park without an advocate present. Grissom goes to examine the boy and notices a gastric tube in his body with dried blood around it and a skin condition that he'd told is a side effect of the HIV meds the boy is on. Brass and Chin try to show Park pictures of members of the KD gang to see if he can identify the killer of his mother and uncle, but Park turns away. Grissom gets Park to give him his hand for trace, but Park panics when his doctor, Dr. Eisling, enters the room to give him his meds. Henry comes back with a tox report that shows the boy is being overmedicated. Wendy analyzes the trace under Park's fingernails and matches it to Jin Ming--the real name of Jin Pan, who Kora and Park were staying with. The CSIs go to Jin's house to bring him in for questioning but find it completely cleared out, save for the room Kora and Park were staying in.

Greg and Detective Cavaliere go over the room; the CSI finds a card for a lawyer named James Klondike while Cavaliere picks up a picture only to set off a small explosion! The detective isn't badly injured. Greg learns that Kora had Park in a clinical trial for HIV meds and was suing the doctor for more money. Grissom questions Eisling, who claims the drugs are saving Park's life. Grissom tells Eisling if he tries to administer any more treatments, he'll charge him with reckless endangerment, a threat Chin backs up. Park finally tells Grissom that his uncle found him with his mother and, after seeing the gastric tube in his stomach, took him away. Park says his mother and Jin hunted them down, and then Jin shot both Sun and Kora. The story doesn't ring true with Grissom. Brass tells Grissom Sun Bang left prison with a 9-millimeter gun and wonders if Sun perhaps fired back. Grissom says he wouldn't have had the chance. Wondering if Kora and Sun might have shot each other, Grissom, Riley, Chin and Park recreate the scene. Jin's involvement still doesn't track. Grissom realizes Kora shot Sun and, based, on the way Park imitates the firing of the gun, that Park must have shot his own mother after Kora killed Sun. "I'm sorry we solved this," Grissom tells Brass as Park is taken to juvenile detention.

Analysis:

It's a rare instance when a CSI regrets solving a case, but in this episode, it's easy to see why Grissom is regretful. One of the two killers turned out not to be a dangerous mobster or even Sun Bang, the uncle who was looking out for his nephew, but the boy himself, no doubt devastated to witness his mother shooting the one person who actually looked out for him. Park has probably never had it easy; his mother was a junkie, his father a gangster and he had HIV, which led his mother to put him in a medically unsound--and painful--clinical trial. And now the boy is going away for years to juvenile detention. Grissom usually tries to stay impartial--the evidence is everything, after all--but in a case like this, it's hard to sit back and watch a little boy who has known nothing but a hard life go away to juvenile detention after losing the one person who looked out for him.

It's just another case wearing on Grissom's already overburdened psyche. Grissom hasn't been himself since Warrick's death, and if his nerves were fraying back in season seven before he took his sabbatical, they seem close to breaking now. The only time Grissom really seemed himself was when he was in Park's hospital room, trying to talk to the boy. "I'm not a doctor. I'm not a policeman. I'm--what am I? I don't know," Grissom says in a light, conversational tone. It's perfect bumbling Grissom, babbling on as he tries to make the boy feel at ease. For all the wonderful work William Petersen has done to peel back the layers of Grissom's personality and reveal his hurt, he really makes this scene spark, too. Petersen really knows this character; after eight and a half years of playing Gil Grissom, he completely inhabits the CSI leader. I will likely say this many times before he leaves, but CSI will not be the same without him.

Grissom butts heads with Riley in this episode after she tries to question Park without an advocate present. It's a reminder that Riley is somewhat of a new CSI, even if she has some experience. Similarly, she panics when the old Korean woman draws her gun and aims it at her and Nick; Nick's response is to try to talk the woman down, but Riley draws her own weapon, clearly panicking. I wish we knew how much experience Riley had as a CSI prior to joining the Vegas team. She seems downright green in this episode, but in previous episodes she's displayed a decent amount of savvy, and in "Art Imitates Life" she responded to Grissom's attempts to quiz her by reminding him she's a Level 2 CSI. There are probably better ways to remind viewers she's new to the team than to have her making mistakes--such as questioning a child without an adult guardian present--that even the audience knows are breaches of protocol.

Riley remains a likable character that is fitting in well with the show even if there's some friction between her and some members of the team. She's developing an interesting dynamic with Nick, one that has elements of a fight for dominance in it. When Nick, Riley and a team that includes Hodges go out looking for the items Sun purchased at Dempsey's, Nick gives directions to the entire group and Riley chimes in right alongside him. While Riley and Greg took to each other right away, there's an unease between Nick and Riley, perhaps because in some ways she's replacing Warrick. We've gotten so little reaction from Nick to Warrick's death since the season premiere that it wouldn't be surprising to learn that he carries some resentment towards Riley for taking his fallen friend's place in the lab.

Nick himself sure has grown up a lot in the last few years. One of the earliest CSI episodes, "Who Are You?", featured a memorable scene where Nick was held at gunpoint by a woman who thought she'd gotten away with murder years ago. Back then when confronted by a gun, Nick trembled and even cried, begging the woman to put down her gun. The scene was a memorable one because it brought the audience into the moment with Nick; these days, seeing someone aim a gun at a main character in a show is just par for the course. It happens often and we're usually reasonably sure the character will walk away unharmed. But Nick's fear made the moment real.

So it's gratifying to see Nick in the same situation eight seasons later, and to witness how differently he handles it. The Nick we saw in the first season was young and relatively inexperienced; the Nick who looks down the barrel of a gun now has been stalked, kidnapped and buried alive. He's seen two colleagues, Brass and Sara, nearly perish after encounters with killers. He's seen his best friend murdered by someone everyone in the department thought they could trust. George Eads plays this moment with all of that life experience Nick has gathered over the years; his voice is calm but forceful as he tries to talk the old woman into lowering her gun, and he holds off his skittish colleague while he does it, knowing that her actions, however instinctual, are only threatening to escalate the situation. The moment is a rewarding one for fans who've followed the series from its early days, and shows just how much Nick has grown over the course of the show.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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