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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation--'Way To Go'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 20, 2006 - 2:04 PM GMT

See Also: 'Way To Go' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Picking up where "Bang Bang" left off, Brass is rushed to the hospital where a surgical team rushes to save his life. Grissom has the power of attorney, given to him several months prior when Brass confided in him about the troubles with his daughter, Ellie. Grissom is called away from the hospital to a crime scene: a man's decapitated body has been found on the train tracks, his head nowhere in sight. Grissom finds a toupee, which could belong to their victim. David Phillips is surprised to pull aside the man's old-fashioned underwear to reveal an unnaturally thin 19 inch waist. Catherine and Warrick are across town at the apartment of Manny Rupert who was clearly living it up before his death: he's surrounded by all sorts of alcohol and drugs. Warrick finds a gun, and Catherine finds the bloody remnants of the mirror, and bullet holes in the wood back of the mirror.

Nick locates the decapitated head by the river, which Dr. Robbins puts with the body in the morgue. He shows Grissom how the man's organs were displaced by whatever he used to shape his waist, and points out that he was killed by a bullet to the chest--not decapitation. Manny Rupert's last night on earth seems to have been a wild one--his blood alcohol was incredibly high, and he had all sorts of drugs in his system. There's evidence of sexual activity in every orifice of his body, and the CSIs take DNA samples in the hopes of discovering the identity of the woman he was with. At the hospital, Grissom authorizes surgery to remove the bullet lodged by Brass's heart and calls Ellie. When Ellie arrives, she's surly and defensive, brushing off Grissom's offer to get her a hotel room. Grissom returns to his lab and studies a book on corsets that reveals men wore them as well. He and Sara go to an old-fashioned clothing store where the salesman, Mr. Phillipe, recognizes their victim as Caleb Carson, who didn't just look the part but acted it. The CSIs go to Caleb's house where they find Civil War era memorabilia. Carson fancied himself a Confederate--a son of the south.

Prints from a soda can in Manny's apartment lead the CSIs to Sindee Houston, a prostitute who admits to being with him the evening of his death. Things were going great until after six rounds of sex she wanted to leave and he got irate. He pulled a gun and fired at her but missed and she got out of the apartment. Sofia questions Gregory Kimble, Caleb's dresser--his prints were on Caleb's corsets. He says he last saw Caleb at a Civil War reenactment of the battle of Gettysburg. A trip to the reenactment field reveals that Caleb challenged another man to a duel after he caught the man talking on his cell phone. The man didn't have real bullets, but Caleb did. Grissom is puzzled when he finds a large pool of blood where Caleb was standing, but Bobby Dawson confirms that the other man wasn't using real bullets. The toupee from the train tracks holds the key--the epithelials on it match Kimble. Kimble says it was an accident--he and Caleb fought over the gun after the man Caleb shot at fled. The gun went off killing Caleb, but Kimble couldn't leave him like that, so he took him to the train tracks and reenacted the death of one of his ancestors, who faced down an on-coming train.

Warrick tells Manny's sister that her brother died from diabetic shock brought on by the drugs, the alcohol and the sugar he consumed that night. She is saddened but knows why he did it--Manny had just turned 40, around the age when many of their relatives, including their parents, died of heart disease. Manny felt like he was living under a death sentence. Warrick can't understand why he would just give up, but Manny's sister reprimands him, telling him he doesn't understand what it's like. Sofia is disgusted when she learns that Ellie has called about her father's pension, but Grissom has the girl brought in and shows her the picture of her as a child on Brass's desk. Grissom and Ellie join Catherine at the hospital--Brass is out of surgery, but soon after they arrive, he codes. The doctors are able to revive him and he looks out the room's window, only to see an emotional Ellie flee. But the team is there for him, and everyone is happy to see him on the road to recovery. Hours later, Grissom relaxes on a bed in a bathrobe, talking about death and how he wants warning before he goes. Sara, also in a robe, walks out of the bathroom, pondering the subject with a small smile, and tells Grissom she's not ready to say goodbye.

Analysis:

The second wounded detective of the week (after Detective Flack in CSI: New York's "Charge of This Post") isn't out of the woods until the end of the episode, but I'm happy to see Brass did indeed survive, even if writer Jerry Stahl resorted to not one but two flat-lining emergencies. The second one, which occurred just a few minutes before the episode ended, really had me going. I believed for a moment that Brass was a goner. I'm glad I was wrong.

Though Brass was unconscious for most of the episode, his daughter Ellie provided plenty of drama. Last seen n season five's "Hollywood Brass", Ellie clearly still has very conflicted feelings about her father, though she's not longer a junkie. Ellie is a complicated and not always sympathetic character, but Teal Redmann hits all the right notes in her performance, portraying Ellie as a troubled but by no means completely reprehensible girl.

I like the fact that Ellie and Brass's relationship isn't neatly patched up simply because he's been shot. It would have been easy to push the characters towards a neat reconciliation in this episode, but that wouldn't really be true to the relationship that we've seen thus far. Brass says in the beginning that the Ellie he loves is the child she was, and Ellie notes later on in the episode that it's not hard to love a cute 6-year-old; the troubled twenty-something is not so easily embraceable. Though "Way to Go" proves that Ellie does love her father, it wisely force a too-neat reconciliation on Brass and his daughter.

After a few episodes in a row of single case stories, "Way to Go" interestingly falls back on the two case format CSI shows are known for. Both cases are quirky, albeit neither is a stand out among CSI's six seasons of murder and mayhem. Previous season finales set the bar pretty high--third season's "Inside the Box" brought a startling revelation for Catherine, season four's finale "Bloodlines" is one of the finest, most chilling CSI episodes and season five's two hour closer "Grave Danger" is arguably CSI's biggest episode, with Quentin Tarantino directing the episode that saw Nick buried alive. Is it possible for "Way to Go" to compete? Probably not, which is why it was smart for the personal drama in "Way to Go" to come from Brass's plight and not necessarily the cases being investigated. Brass's situation is given just the right amount of screen time, and each member of the team is either at the hospital at some point or inquiring about his condition. Stahl balances the personal with the procedural perfectly in the story.

The final scene with Grissom and Sara is beautiful. Grissom is talking about death, but there's a lightness to his voice, a sign that he's talking to someone he is intimate with. The camera pans around him, creating suspense--just who is he with? Lady Heather? Sofia? I love both characters, but I think it would have been a letdown if it had been anyone but Sara in the room with Grissom. This one has been a long time coming, and any relationship that has been building since the first season of the show deserves an eventual payoff.

Recent episodes have hinted at the two growing closer. In "Time of Your Death", the pair shared a significant look at the end while contemplating the dangers of a fantasy come true. And in "Rashomama", they each pondered marriage--well, Sara pondered marriage while Grissom focuses on--what else?--ladybugs. Some things will never change, and that's a relief to loyal CSI fans who enjoy Grissom's penchant for insects and tendency towards social awkwardness.

But this scene is romance done right. The conversation is an interesting one--the CSIs deal with death everyday, and they often contemplate it in a very scientific way. To hear Grissom talking about how he'd like to go out when the time comes makes for a surprisingly revealing scene. The CSIs don't spend a lot of time contemplating their own deaths, at least not verbally--to do their jobs well, they have to maintain some kind of distance. To hear Grissom talking about his own end is another indicator of just how intimate and private this scene is.

And yet, it's not dour in the least. If anything, both Grissom and Sara have lightened up this year. After all of the emotional trauma she went through in season five, Sara was on much more solid ground this season. The same is true of Grissom, who has been pretty content since he got his team back together at the beginning of the season. Even the loss of a car full of evidence in "Rashomama" and the subsequent IAB investigation didn't phase him. Have Grissom and Sara found inner peace with each other? It's certainly possible. Sara's final line, when she lightly tells Grissom she's not ready to say goodbye yet, suggests good things to come for this couple.

CSI is headed into its seventh season, and when a show gets to this point in its run, people start to wonder if there's anywhere to go but down. CSI will be facing its toughest competition yet in the fall when the hot show Grey's Anatomy moves opposite it on Thursday nights. Can CSI retain the number one spot against one of the most talked about shows on television? The battle will be one everyone will be watching.

CSI has more than a fighting chance. Its sixth season was an interesting combination of blending the unusual stories that draw people to CSI in the first place and taking risks with the storytelling format in episodes such as "Killer", which showed a crime from both the CSIs' point of view and the murderer's, and "Rashomama", which pieced together an investigation in hindsight and was filled with sly humor and insightful character moments. Episodes like "Werewolves", "Dog Eat Dog" and "Pirates of the Third Reich" offered glimpses into the unusual that CSI is known for. It will be interesting to see how CSI breaks and expands on the mold it has created in its seventh season.

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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