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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'The Chick Chop Flick Shop'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at January 24, 2008 - 1:04 AM GMT

See Also: 'The Chick Chop Flick Shop' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Repulsion Pictures, an adult horror film studio in Vegas, suffers a blow when their star actress, Weatherly Adams, is found dead, an axe in her back, prop blood pooling around her. The owners of Repulsion, brothers Vincent and Mason Lafoon, point the finger at a former employee, Oliver Zarco, who was fixated on Weatherly. When Brass questions Zarco, whose face is badly burned from an accident he suffered on the set of one of the movies, says he and Weatherly were an item before the accident. Weatherly dumped him after his face was burned and he lost his job, but he kept leaving her gifts to let her know he still loved her. Zarco insists he didn't killer Weatherly. DNA evidence proves the director, Zack Putrid, had sex with Weatherly, but he too denies murdering her. Dr. Robbins determines that Weatherly was killed not by an axe but by a cylindrical object, possibly a pipe. When the CSIs view surveillance footage of the warehouse, they see a man who looks like Vincent Lafoon opening the warehouse window to make it look like a prowler got in. Brass hauls Vincent in, but he, too, denies guilt.Based on the amount of blood Weatherly lost, Nick determines her body was moved. Hodges tells him that zinc was found around Weatherly's wound, indicating she was indeed killed with a pipe.

The CSIs go back to search the scene, and Nick finds the cap the killer was wearing in the surveillance video. When he notices the strap has been adjusted, he returns to the lab to look at the surveillance tape again and realizes the killer was taller than Vincent. He suspects Vincent's brother Mason may have tried to frame Vincent. Back at the warehouse, Catherine finds a large bloody pipe pointing upwards with blood in it, and Ronnie Lake discovers a broken red shoe heel from Weatherly. When the power goes out in the warehouse, the CSIs head separately back to the lab, but Ronnie discovers she's forgotten her cell phone and has to return to the dark warehouse. Catherine gets a call from Dickie Jones, a dwarf working on the film, saying he has information about Weatherly's death and insisting she meet him at the warehouse. Mason confesses to Brass that Weatherly died accidentally, but Stanley Vespucci, the production company's lawyer, wanted to make it look like a murder so that they didn't lose their liability insurance. Stanley came up with the idea to frame Vincent. Back at the warehouse, Ronnie finds Dickie's dead body hanging from a rafter. Terrified, she stumbles across another body--Zack Putrid. Thankfully, Zack is alive, but Stanley has followed, ready to finish him off--until Oliver Zarco, dressed in drag as Weatherly, shoots him point blank. Once they get him to the hospital, Zach tells the CSIs that Stanley shot Dickie after hearing him call Catherine and then went after Zach, who notes that it's "life imitating art imitating life."

Analysis:

An entertaining if far-fetched nod to the horror genre, "The Chick Chop Flick Shop" is definitely a lighter entry. As much as the show excels at heavy, dark episodes, it also does humor very well, as evinced by this episode. From Dr. Robbins and David Phillips bickering over horror movies to the big climax where Zarco, dressed as Weatherly shoots the villainous Stanley, there are more than a few chuckles in this episode. As soon as Ronnie Lake realized she'd left her cell phone back at the dark warehouse, I knew we were in for a spoof of the horror film convention of the pretty girl stuck in a remote place with the serial killer roaming around.

Poor Ronnie has to play the endangered girl, but thankfully she doesn't meet a grim fate. Zarco takes out Stanley at the last moment, saving both Ronnie and Zack. Dickie isn't as lucky; Zarco is too late to help him. The various characters at Repulsion pictures make B-movie showbiz stereotypes: Vincent Lafoon is surly, Stanley is sleazy, Zack a twisted creative type in love with the idea of his own genius, Weatherly a pretty but shallow blonde, Zarco earnest but damaged and Dickie a player who ultimately does the right thing (and of course pays for it). Zack is right in his assessment that it's 'life imitating art imitating life,' only here it's a 'hit show imitating a B-movie.'

The case is about as far-fetched as they come. Who tries to make an accidental death look like murder? A B-movie film company, apparently. The idea is absurd, especially when one throws in the double-crossing going on, with Stanley and Mason conspiring to frame Vincent, who tries to pin the blame on Oliver Zarco. The climax is equally outrageous, with Stanley now resorting to murder to hide the cover-up of Weatherly's accidental death. And then there's Zarco--why is he dressed as Weatherly when he takes out Stanley? The zaniness of the case is part of the fun of the episode.

My favorite part of the episode was far and away Wendy Simms' reveal that she'd been in a horror flick. Seeing Henry, Sara, Ronnie and Hodges watching her death scene was definitely a hoot. If there's one thing I wouldn't have guessed about Wendy, it's that she'd acted in a B-movie. Liz Vassey carries the scene with aplomb, and of course, it's always fun to see Hodges' crush on her in action. Louise Lombard's virtually silent departure has left a hole in the opening credits; perhaps Vassey could step in to fill it?

Dr. Robbins and David Phillips provide similar comedic moments when they fight over what defines a classic horror film. After bickering early in the episode, the final scene shows them sitting down to watch one of David's selections. Dr. Robbins admires the technicality of it to David's dismay; he's more focused on the "pathos" and "humanity" of the flick. Robert David Hall and David Berman play off each other so well in these scenes; they're a treat to watch.

On a more serious note, Sara's impending departure is foreshadowed in her conversation with Greg, when she laments that it's the dark-haired girl who always gets killed in horror movies. What starts out as an off-hand comment turns more serious when she confides in Greg that she's "sick of having death shoved in [her] face everyday." I suppose it could be taken as an easy line thrown in to facilitate her departure three episodes later, but I think Sara's been feeling this way for a while, even before her battle to survive in the season opener. Watching a girl die in front of her in "Empty Eyes" clearly shook her to the core, and it's not like things have gotten better--or will ever get better--since. The job the CSIs deal with day in and day out is death. And not just death, but violent, brutal death, often at the hands of another human being. How is it possible not to be affected by that in the long run?

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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