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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'The Good, The Bad And The Dominatrix'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 15, 2007 - 7:15 AM GMT

See Also: 'The Good, The Bad and The Dominatrix' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

After dominatrix Lady Heather is nearly strangled to death at the Old West Town saloon, she's found by the night watchman, Vernon Porter. Lady Heather claims she was checking out the Old West Town for a party with the permission of the owner, Jack Oakley, but she refuses to name her attacker. Sara photographs the ligature marks around Heather's neck, but Heather refuses to submit to a rape kit. Grissom arrives and speaks with Heather, but before he can get any information out of her, she passes out, and Grissom is puzzled to learn she didn't inform anyone at the hospital that she's diabetic. He's further perplexed when he finds out Heather was drinking and has three sets of ligature marks on her neck, meaning that she had an opportunity to get away--and didn't take it. The mystery deepens when Vernon Porter is found dead in Old West Town, a bullet in his back. At the Old West Town Saloon, Sara finds a bullet from a revolver lodged in a dummy, indicating there were two shooters present the night Vernon died.

Warrick and Nick are investigating the death of Faith Maroney, a pick pocket with multiple wallets and IDs in her purse. Robbins determines she died of blunt force trauma and hands Warrick paint chips he pulled from her wound. Nick returns to the scene to recover more paint chips only to nearly be struck by a drunk driver. He brings the paint chips to Hodges to compare to the ones from the car that struck Faith, but Hodges determines the latter are from a cab. Sofia learns that Faith had several arrests for shoplifting and was a diagnosed kleptomaniac, while Warrick has followed Faith's trail the evening of her death and located a steakhouse where she had a Blood Mary. Warrick and Nick learn the steakhouse called a cab for her, so they pay a visit to the cab company and find a cab with blood on it's front bumper. The cab driver who drove Faith, Chandru "Dru" Kambhatla, tells the CSIs he dropped her off at the MGM, but a look at the camera in his car proves otherwise, and prints from both Faith and Dru are found on his wallet, indicating that she tried to lift it.

When Hodges reports that the paint chips match a cab but not Dru's, Nick returns to the cab company and finds another cab with front end damage belonging to a man named Gus DiFusco. A look at Gus's camera reveals that he was striking Dru's cab with his own, and Nick surmises that it was Gus striking Dru that caused Dru's cab to hit Faith. Dru tells Nick he was going to turn in Gus for violating the rules, so Gus hit him, but after his cab struck Faith, he agreed to cover it up with Gus. Nick tells him his actions after hitting Faith make him an accessory to murder. Catherine goes to question Lady Heather only to find Grissom by her side, where he's been the whole night, making him her alibi for Vernon's murder.

After his talk with Lady Heather, Grissom does some digging and learns that her daughter, Zoe, gave birth to a child before she died, and that Heather's ex-husband, Jerome. Grissom pays Jerome, and his granddaughter, Allison, a visit, and he tells her Heather left him before giving birth to Zoe and didn't even tell him he had a child. Jerome won sole custody of Allison, but Heather recently sent him money for the girl's college fund. Sara questions Ben Oakley, whose prints were found on the revolver case at the Old West Town. He denies taking a shot at Porter--he admits instead he was aiming at his father, Jack, after learning Jack had emptied out the company account. It was Jack who killed Porter--and nearly Heather as well. Brass goes back to Heather, having put it all together: Jack hired Heather to try to kill her during sex. Heather, who has been depressed since Zoe's death and losing custody of Allison, decided to find a unique way to end her life and make money for Allison's college fund. Brass tells Heather to get help, and Grissom brings her hope: he brings Allison to meet her.

Analysis:

Lady Heather's return is a mixed bag of an episode, mostly because of a rather dull B-story that detracts from Heather's case. B-stories in an event episode are tricky to begin with, and tend to be hit or miss. CSI: NY managed to pull it off in "...Comes Around" by keeping the B-case light and even a little bit goofy. It didn't grate because it provided comic relief as a counterpoint from the more serious developments going on in the A-plot.

The dueling cab stories is a serviceable, though I was puzzled about why Gus was hitting Dru in the first place. Dru was going to turn Gus in for hitting him--but why was Gus hitting him in the first place? The scene where Nick regretfully tells Dru that because he made the deal with Gus he's now going to be charged as an accessory to murder is a powerful one, but overall the case feels like an irritating distraction from the more interesting A-case.

And it certainly seems like there's more that could have been mined from the A-case. Why do we only see Grissom's night with Lady Heather in flashbacks? I realize CSI shies away from the personal, but sometimes the way the show teases it without actually delving into it is downright frustrating. It would have been far more effective to actually see Grissom's conversation with Lady Heather about her daughter and granddaughter. The surprise about him staying the night could have been preserved; in fact, it could have mirrored "Lady Heather's Box", when Grissom first spent the night with Heather. Yes, the tea was there, but the heart-to-heart would have been more powerful.

Another frustrating aspect of the episode is Sara's muted reaction to learning Lady Heather and Grissom may have been intimate. Overall, I'm a fan of the understated way the writers have handled the Grissom/Sara relationship. While CSI: NY has gone into overdrive with the ill-advised Danny/Lindsay pairing, shoving their banter into every scene the characters share, CSI allows Grissom and Sara to interact as co-workers most of the time, without feeling the need to remind the audience at every turn that the pair are seeing each other.

But this was an episode where we needed more. I know that Grissom and Sara are reserved people, but at times they're so reserved that their interaction doesn't feel real. In "Leaving Las Vegas", I had a hard time believing that Sara and Grissom didn't have a conversation about his departure, and that he didn't even embrace her before leaving. Reticence is one thing, but an utter lack of natural human gestures is another. I don't buy that, without an explanation, Sara is content to let Grissom go off and spend the night with a woman he most likely slept with before. If we're supposed to believe that she trusts him, it would have been nice to have that said, or at least spelled out a little more clearly.

All of that aside, there was much to enjoy in "The Good, the Bad, and the Dominatrix." Catherine's prattling on to Sara, gossiping about Grissom and Lady Heather, was hilarious, given what the audience knows and Catherine doesn't. A little dramatic irony, anyone? Sara is tight-lipped and clearly (to the audience at least) a little uncomfortable, but Catherine is used to Sara being on the reserved side and doesn't pick up on it. She simply carried on, though it seems clear Sara wishes she hadn't.

Catherine definitely has a point when she calls Grissom a hypocrite, alluding to the time when he took her to task for her personal involvement in a case in "Weeping Willows", when a man she flirted with in a bar ended up being a murder suspect. At least Catherine didn't know the man would end up having anything to do with her case; the same can't be said of Grissom, who handily provides Heather with an alibi (as well as comfort) when he spends the night with her. His hypocrisy--and Catherine is right to call it this--is never addressed, and underscores the unfortunate and inherent sexism in CSI shows--men can have personal lives and secrets, but the minute the women do, it spells trouble, danger and disaster. It's an unfortunate pitfall of the franchise, something that stretches across all three shows.

Despite the fact that Grissom spends the night (presumably chastely) with Heather, Sara and Grissom seem to remain on solid ground. The upside of Sara not questioning Grissom's actions, and indeed even giving him her blessing to do what he needs to with regards to Heather, is that it underscores the trust between the two. Even though I think realistically Sara would naturally want to know more about Grissom's past with Heather, I think it's pretty clear that after knowing him for over six years, she knows she can trust the man. And in a healthy, adult relationship, trust is simply one of the most important things there is. The fact that Sara doesn't resent Heather in the way she did Sofia back in the fifth season shows that she's grown, and also that she's comfortable in her relationship, and with trusting Grissom.

Lady Heather and Grissom do have a magnificent chemistry, and clearly share a deep bond. Grissom isn't kidding when he notes that he's the only one she trusts; it's hard to imagine Heather confiding in the judgmental Brass or the gossipy Catherine about the loss of her daughter, the loss of her granddaughter and the loss of her control. The story makes so much sense when it all comes together, and it's hard not to feel for the devastated Heather, who isn't so much the victim of a murder attempt (since it was basically assisted suicide) as she is a victim of a judgmental society.

Luckily, she has Grissom, who does exactly what she needs: listens to her without judging, and then finds a way to give her something to live for by reuniting her with her granddaughter. Thankfully, her ex isn't painted as a cardboard villain by any means--he's a man still perhaps in shock to learn after all these years that he had a daughter--one he never got to know while she was alive--and now finds himself given a second chance with his granddaughter. Thankfully, whatever resentment he might feel for Heather over robbing him of a chance to know his daughter is overshadowed by his compassion. The final scene, in which Grissom brings Allison to Heather with Jerome standing by, is as beautiful as any I've ever seen in CSI. I don't know if this is Lady Heather's last appearance on CSI, but if it is, I can say with confidence that the episode leaves her well served.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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