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Without A Trace--'Where And Why'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 29, 2008 - 11:58 PM GMT

See Also: 'Who and What' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Picking up where "Who and What" left off, Grissom and Malone track serial killer Terry Lee Wicker and his son, Kobe, to Hillsdale, Arizona, where he stole a car and Malone calls his team in New York in on the case. He and Grissom return to the school Kobe was enrolled in and learn from one of the teachers that Kobe's mother, Gina visited the school with Terry hours before school ended. Kobe told his best friend, Angelina, that Terry was planning to take him camping in Tucson, Arizona. Malone flies to Tucson where he finds the car Terry stole abandoned and a skeleton buried nearby. Martin Fitzgerald calls Malone to tell him that Terry and Kobe flew to New York, so Jack heads back. He's surprised to return to the FBI office and learn Grissom has arrived as well with the evidence from Arizona. While Grissom sets up shop in their lab, Terry's sister Sylvia tells Samantha Spade she hasn't seen Terry in six years but that he calls periodically. The last time she saw him, he brought her some jewelry but left when she said he couldn't stay with her. Grissom runs the dental records of the missing boy, Jason Tyler, against the body from Arizona and confirms to Jack that he's got a match. Though he can't find any cause of death, Grissom intends to run a 3-D algorithm to determine what was around the boy's neck when he died.

When a giftcard that was given to Kobe by Gina is swiped in Astoria, the team rushes there only to find Terry and Gina's old apartment broken into and a man's dead body there. A tape of Terry with Kobe as a baby is in the VCR. Lipstick on a glass leads the team to suspect a woman was with them. Vivian Johnson and Martin question Terry's former psychiatrist who tells them Terry confessed to killing his brother over a medallion as a child. Malone and Rosalyn Sanchez track down the woman with Terry and Kobe in the apartment--a prostitute who tells them Terry called her to comfort Kobe and get him to stop crying. Before she fled the apartment, she noticed Toyota keys on the counter. The team gets a call about man who was just cut by a man matching Terry's description. Thomas Michna tells Danny Taylor and Martin that he wanted to move his truck into a space the Toyota was occupying and he talked briefly to Kobe who seemed to be in distress. Kobe ran when Terry came back and Terry cut Thomas before running off after the boy.

The team gets Sylvia to let them tap her phone and when Terry calls they attempt to trace his location. When Sylvia finds she can't keep talking, Malone takes the phone and tells Terry they'll charge Sylvia with being an accessory to murder if he doesn't turn himself in and give them Kobe. Terry agrees and Malone, with an FBI team, meets him at a train yard, but Terry doesn't have his son with him. He says he let Kobe go before he could hurt him. Before Malone can stop him, he shoots himself. The team launches a search for Kobe and locates the boy in a train car near where he ran from Terry. Kobe is reunited with his aunt and Malone is left with the sad task of telling Jason Tyler's parents that their son is dead.

Analysis:

If the second half of the CSI/Without a Trace crossover was a bit more exciting than the concluding installment, it's because 'who?' and 'what?' are more interesting questions than 'where?' and the 'why?', the latter of which was pretty apparent once we learned that Kobe was Terry's son at the end of first episode. "Where and Why" is mostly a chase, but the most mysterious questions--Who is the killer? What are his motives?--were already answered in the first installment. The chase is interesting and with Kobe's life at stake, it's still an exciting story, but the first half was just a bit more thrilling.

That's not to say we don't get the full picture of the 'why' in the second half of the story. We do, and we get a much better picture of who Terry Lee Wicker is. The first half of the crossover was all about identifying the killer, but here we get to see him fleshed out, which is a strength of Without a Trace. The flashbacks the show does gives a clear picture of the missing people the show deals with on a weekly basis, much in the way the evidence sheds light on victims or perpetrators of a crime in CSI. In CSI, the evidence speaks but in Without a Trace, eyewitnesses fill in the story and share their versions of what happened or what the victim--or possible perpetrator--was like.

I do have one major complaint about the Without a Trace half of the crossover and that's that Malone was far better incorporated into the CSI episode than Grissom is into the Without a Trace. While Malone showed up all over the CSI episode and was essential to the story, Grissom feels ephemeral here. The only really important thing he does is confirm the remains are indeed Jason Tyler's, and I presume that's something lab techs at the FBI could have done. That's not to say Grissom doesn't have a few interesting conversations with Malone--he does--but his participating could have and should have been equal to what Malone's was in CSI.

William Petersen and Anthony LaPaglia play off each other well. Their best scene in the episode by far is the final one, when Grissom and Malone have driven to the Tylers' house so that Malone can inform the parents that Jason is dead. Malone asks Grissom if he ever thinks about hanging it up and Grissom answers, "Everyday." Grissom hasn't had an easy time of things as we know; just last season, he took a much needed leave of absence after getting burnt out on the job. A job like this takes its toll, but Malone notes that for him at least, he has the people they get back to look to when he starts to feel disillusioned. Still, Malone is clearly dreading the news he has to break to Jason's parents, and he reaches out to Grissom, asking if he wants to come in. Grissom answers honestly that he'd rather not, but the look on his face as Malone sadly makes his way to the door reveals that he's all too familiar with the duty. There's a moment where you wonder if he will get out of the car. It's a great closing scene.

Like "Who and What," "Where and Why" is short on humor, perhaps because there's just not much time for it. There is one scene that provides laughs, though, when Sam Spade goes to visit Grissom in the lab and check up on his progress. The two clearly don't speak the same language, and Grissom just looks at her with a completely baffled expression on his face when she tells him the lab smells funny. No doubt Grissom has long since ceased to notice any funny smells in the lab. Could there be two more different characters than the serious, wry scientist and the sophisticated, elegant FBI investigator? The scene is a funny one if just for the way that Grissom and Sam eye each other, as though each views the other as someone completely alien.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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