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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Sweet Jane'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at January 31, 2007 - 8:31 AM GMT

See Also: 'Sweet Jane' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The dead body of a young woman is found by a factory and Michael Keppler, a CSI from Baltimore who has been brought in to lead the day shift, joins the night shift CSIs on the case. Greg is able to ID her as Veronica Sorenson from Victorville, and Dr. Robbins determines she died of asphyxiation. He finds signs of vaginal trauma but no semen, indicating the killer used a condom. Cotton trace on her body suggests she's been washed before she was dumped. Suspecting this isn't the first time this murderer has killed, the CSIs look at unsolved cases bearing a similarity to Veronica's and find three Jane Does: one killed in 1999, one in 1989 and one in 1975. The CSIs look into the prior cases and learn that shoddy police work in '99 hurt that investigation, while lack of technology hampered the very thorough detective working the '89 case. The medical examiner in the '75 case didn't even perform an autopsy.

Dr. Robbins has the bodies exhumed and learns that all three had dental work very similar to Veronica's. Keppler constructs a computer map of the locations the victims were found and discovers they are radiating out from a dental practice: the Colebert Dental Group. Keppler and Catherine pay the practice a visit and learn that Veronica was a patient of Dr. David Lowry, a dentist who has been with the practice for thirty-two years--long enough to have treated all the victims. The jovial "Dr. Dave" recognizes Veronica but not pictures of the other women. Certain they've got their man, the CSIs zero in on a bite mark on the arm of the '89 victim. Though they're not an exact match to Lowry's teeth in the present, they do match his teeth prior to the end of '89, when he had corrective surgery. Dr. Dave is unshaken by the CSIs' big reveal: he's lived a long, full life, and will die before being executed. But he refuses to reveal the names of his other victims, leaving them Jane Does for all time.

Analysis:

Welcome to Las Vegas, Michael Keppler. Liev Schreiber makes an impression in his first appearance as the Baltimore CSI who has arrived to take over the day shift. His involvement with the night shift CSIs is explained by his need to learn the ropes at the Las Vegas lab, so he isn't exactly stepping into Grissom's shoes. But it's clear right off the bat that Keppler is no mild-mannered student, stepping back and waiting to follow Catherine's lead.

He's an integral part of the team's first case sans Grissom, and he provides a stark contrast to the taciturn bug lover. He's not a polar opposite of Grissom, which is a good thing because were he simply everything Grissom is not, he'd merely be a foil and not a well-rounded character in his own right. Keppler is soft-spoken, and there's a focus he possesses that's not unlike Grissom's in its intensity. Schreiber plays him as something of a cipher, immediately grabbing the audience's attention and engaging them in his personality and backstory.

And rest assured, he has a backstory. Right away, we're given hints about it: Keppler gets a series of phone messages from someone named Frank. The messages pile up, but Keppler does little more than regard them with a tired look. Who is Frank? Why is he so desperate to get a hold of Keppler? Is Keppler running from something--or someone--back in Baltimore? Time will tell--sooner rather than later, given that Grissom is due back after three more episodes.

Keppler's first case with the Las Vegas team is a serial, one spanning over three decades. Right off the bat, Catherine and Keppler settle into a comfortable working relationship. There's no initial strife between Keppler and any member of the team, and he falls into place with the team surprisingly naturally. Whether that will last remains to be seen, but for now Keppler's introduction to the team seems to have been a smooth one.

The case the team is faced with this time around isn't an easy one: the victims they determine were murdered by Veronica Sorenson's killer are all Jane Does, and since they're spread out over so many years, the files in the cases don't provide as much help as more recent cases would have. After all, as the detective who worked the '89 case points out to Nick, they didn't have the technology in '89 (or '75 or even '99 for that matter) that exists in the present day. Science has come a long way.

Ned Beatty is perfectly cast as the genial and unrepentant killer "Dr. Dave." Dr. Dave is just the sort you'd never, ever suspect of being a murderer. Even when the CSIs have zeroed in on his practice and then his patient records, I was waiting for some last minute reveal that proved a hygienist or another dentist in the group was actually the killer. Could the cheery, warm dentist who patronizes the same diner ever day actually be a serial killer?

The answer, shockingly, is yes. In a chilling interrogation scene, Dr. Dave seems unperturbed by both the fact that he's been caught and that his victims remain unidentified. In the case of the latter, he tells the CSIs that no one lives forever and that he'll die in jail before getting the death penalty. As for his victims being unknown--well, he wants to keep them as his private memories. It's as if to him, their lives didn't matter at all--just their deaths at his hands. Is there any greater evil than that?

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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