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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'The Case Of The Cross-Dressing Carp'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 31, 2007 - 8:58 PM GMT

See Also: 'The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The mutilated body of eighteen-year-old Brian Towne is found hanging from a rope tied to a tree by the river. The CSIs are surprised to discover that he has breasts. Not far from where the body is found, Nick discovers the boy's phone with recent texts from a PCyden and a broken beer bottle. Dr. Robbins finds levels of estrogen in the boy's blood that are five times the norm, but no other chemicals in his blood that indicate he's a pre-op transsexual. Warrick goes over the boy's room and discovers bullets under his bed along with cash. The boy's mother, Lynn, tells Brass her son spent most of his time at the water treatment plant he worked at. She recognizes the name of the person texting Brian--Paul Cyden, a neighbor. When Brass and Catherine question Paul, thinking he might have been having an affair with Brian, Paul insists it's not what they think, but refuses to give up his DNA. Wendy traces epithelials on the rope used to hang Brian to Larry Ludwig, who works at the same water treatment plant Brian did. Larry is reluctant to talk, but the plant's manager, Jonah Quinn, offers the police full cooperation. Larry, who is married, admits he, a friend and two women had driven down to the lake to mess around and had found Brian there. They used the rope to swing over the lake and jump in, but when Brian tried it, they saw he had breasts and laughed. Brian ran off and Larry insists that was the last they saw of him.

The mystery deepens when Paul Cyden's dead body is found at his house, three gun shot wounds to the torso. Catherine finds a torn up offer to buy the house from the water treatment plant, as well as a notebook chart of hormone levels. Nick finds dead carp in the freezer, which correspond to the research in the notebook. Larry's alibi checks out, and Warrick postulates that Brian cut and killed himself, distraught over being found out by a co-worker. Grissom tests the carp and compares the hormones in them to those in Brian and concludes that his hormone imbalance came from the drinking water supposedly being treated at the water plant. The CSIs realize Paul and Brian were working together to expose the water problems. Nick and Warrick question Jonah, but while he admits to trying to buy Paul off, he denies killing him. Catherine, recalling ammunition in Brian's room, questions Brian's mother, who after the revelation about Brian's breasts, suspected something was going on between him and Paul. Catherine clarifies it for her, but the DA decides not to prosecute the dying woman. As a mother, Catherine feels the warning about the water needs to get out, whatever the consequences.

On the swing shift, Sara investigates a case Catherine recused herself from: the discovery of bones at the site where the Rampart hotel, Sam Braun's casino, fell and is about to be rebuilt as the Eclipse. Sara wonders if the site is a Native American burial ground and halts construction. However, a gunshot wound through the skull reveals that the case is actually tied to Vegas history. Greg volunteers his help on the case, and speaks with Catherine's mother Lily, who recalls that a Native American reporter named Lee George was digging around at the time of the Rampart's grand opening. A roll of film found near the body indicates Lee discovered damning financial information, and Lily says Sam's bodyguard, Benny Dunbar, would have been the person who shot Lee and dumped his body down the construction shaft. On a happier note, Sara joins Grissom as he studies his bee colony, and he proposes to her. Sara happily accepts.

Analysis:

Though I love the light-hearted title of the episode, it doesn't quite fit with the somber tone of the case it references. Perhaps that levity was needed, though, because the case is about as grim as it gets: a boy commits suicide after the secret he's keeping is revealed to his co-worker. The boy's mother, led by the initial evidence to believe her son was a transsexual, kills the family friend she thinks was having an affair with him, only to learn afterwards that he was in fact helping her son and working to expose the water plant that had caused him to grow breasts. Even by CSI standards, the case is a downer, though it's an engaging one.

The secondary case is a bit more light-hearted, delving into Vegas history, much to the delight of Greg, who gets to indulge his love of mob lore when he volunteers to help Sara with the case. Eric Szmanda's face lights up whenever Greg gets to talk about the golden days of Las Vegas when many of the big casinos were being constructed, and his enthusiasm carries over to the audience. The scene in which he talks to Catherine's mother is particularly well done; it's clear that Greg is picturing Vegas glitz and glamour at its peak as she tells him about the night of the Rampart's opening.

It's also nice to see that Sara isn't completely isolated from the team, despite her switch to the swing shift. Right after the body is discovered, Catherine calls on Sara to investigate the case, and Greg quickly signs up to help her, even though it's his day off. Despite the fact that Sara is now on a different shift, she's not cut off from the team, and both Catherine and Greg's overtures feel natural. For her part, Sara seems to be settling in to the swing shift, though the gratitude she feels towards Greg for offering to help her is evident.

Ronnie Lake continues to be a welcome addition; her enthusiasm may grate on the more sedate Sara at times, but she's a spark of life in a show that can sometimes be a tad too taciturn and reserved. Like Greg, she's got an eager sort of energy that underscores her youth and her genuine interest in forensics. And like Greg, she's willing to dig in and do her part, helping him sift through the many, many bone fragments to discover the few crucial pieces of evidence. Greg and Ronnie mirror the audience's curiosity and provide a refreshing contrast to their more worldly elders.

Grissom is practically downright giddy with his bee colony. I have to admit, the idea of Grissom investigating a beehive didn't exactly thrill me with its storyline potential--not after last year's intricate miniature serial killer storyline. But in this episode, it provides a romantic moment for Sara and Grissom, and in pure Grissom fashion, he proposes in the most casual, conversational way. "Maybe we should get married" isn't exactly the down-on-bended-knee, hand-over-heart proposal that every girl dreams about, but it's so fitting for the low-key couple, and for Grissom, the master of understatement, himself.

After a moment of what seems to be genuine surprise, Sara happily accepts. The two go to kiss but are stopped by their oversized helmets. The moment is a total tease for the audience, who have yet to see the couple kiss. With Sara's departure confirmed by both Jorja Fox and Carol Mendelsohn, one has to wonder if we ever will get to see the two lock lips. It's a shame that any happiness one feels at the adorable proposal or Sara's excited answer is overshadowed by the knowledge that Sara's character is not long for the show. Though it's impossible to blame Fox for wanting to move on after over seven years on the show, her character is really going to be missed--by Grissom and the audience.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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