The Inner Crab


[Air Date: 05-18-06]

“Way to Go”

Woo! It’s the season finale, and the conclusion of a mini-cliffhanger! This is pretty much guaranteed to be the best episode of the entire season, with no pointless sub-plots or throwaway stories to fill up space. Right? …right??

We start with a close-up on Willie-from-last-time’s face. He’s sweaty. He raises the gun and fires twice. Two bullets zoom lazily toward Brass, ethereal CGI contrails swirling out behind them. They collide with Brass’s shoulder and he collapses to the ground in slow motion. Warrick and some SWAT guys cluster around him, making soothing slo-mo sounds and pressing a towel to his wound. I guess they don’t want to get stuck with the carpet-cleaning bill. But Willie is probably gushing like a fountain by now, so oh well. Wouldn’t it be odd if, some while later, another person was murdered in this same room and they happened to find some of Brass’s blood while swabbing the new crime scene? I know Vegas has a jillion hotel rooms, but considering how many people apparently die in them every day, I’d say the odds aren’t that far out there. The camera blinks, and then there are paramedics wearing blue gloves. Oh shit! It’s the mysterious blue-gloved guys from Firefly, the ones who were after River! Don’t let them turn you into a crazy telepathic Reaver-killing machine, Brass! The camera bobs and weaves at random and the focus is spotty, to give us the impression that Brass is fading in and out of consciousness even though it’s clearly not being filmed from his point of view. Interesting, though, that we’ve been trained by TV and movies to accept something like that (and many others, if you stop and think about it) as a reasonable means of conveying a perception even though it isn’t the actual perception being conveyed. If that makes sense. It’s a sort of TV shorthand, is what I’m saying, one of many camera tricks that we’ve become used to over time. Who actually sees wavy lines before entering a daydream? Anyway, back to Brass. He’s hauled out by the paramedics, into an ambulance, and then he’s got a tube down his throat. If I watched House, which I do, I’d know to say that he’d been intubated. The medics bring Brass into the ER and then he’s rolled into a surgery room, where the doctors rattle off his vital stats: 55-year-old male with GSW to right anterior chest and intermittent something blah blah blah. They plop him on the table, where he promptly flatlines. It’s just an excuse to get out the defibrillator, though, because even doctors can’t resist shocking a prostrate cop. After a few zaps, Brass decides he was only mostly dead, and his heart begins to beat again – inasmuch as mankind can truly measure such things, even with all of his fancy medical equipment and jargon. One of the doctors (Dr. Stewart) is played by Rick Worthy. He’s only on screen for a few seconds, but I could swear I’ve seen him before. Turns out I was right. Not only has he been in another episode of CSI as Dr. Stewart, he’s also been on Voyager, Stargate SG1, Enterprise, Seven Days, Deep Space Nine, and Dark Angel. The show I remember him most distinctly from, however, is Battlestar Galactica – he played a Cylon, the ‘doctor’ at the hospital/human farm on Caprica, where Starbuck was held captive for a few days. It’s very reassuring to me that I don’t have to know everything, because the internet’s got my back. Word.

We flash back – or forward – to a time when Brass is just fine. It’s back, just so you’re not in suspense. He’s talking about his wayward daughter Ellie, and waxing philoparentical about how he envies the bliss other parents live in because they don’t know what their rotten kids are up to like he does with his. He’s talking to Grissom, it turns out, and he tells a story about this one time, in LA, where he was watching his daughter turn tricks on a street corner. He doesn’t see her as she is now, or rather then-now, or since this is a flashback, then-then-now, but instead sees her as a six-year-old munchkin drawing with Crayons and singing to herself, and all he wants to do is save her, which the sadness in his voice and the Ellie-centric episodes of yesteryear tell us he can’t. The upshot is that he doesn’t think she’d bother to spit the dick out if she heard he died, and he wants Grissom to be his medical proxy. “There’s no one I trust more with my life, or my death, than you,” he says, and hands Grissom a sheaf of papers that says exactly the same thing, only it’s in legalese so it’s 9 pages long.

Back in the now, Grissom is medically proxying while a doctor gives him and Undersheriff McKean the bad news. Brass done got hisself shot up purty good, and he’s losing a lot of blood. One of the bullets did hit the vest after all, but the other one was the naughty bullet, and it went out for a late night of clubbing by way of some artery in Brass’s shoulder and passed out in an alley next to his heart. Grissom asks if there’s any neural damage, which I’m supposing would be from loss of blood leading to lack of oxygen in the brain, because he knows Brass’s brain isn’t in the shoulder. Although he could be talking about nerve damage to the arm…who knows. The doctor doesn’t, and won’t until they get the bleeding stopped – if they can. The doctor wants to know if Brass’s next of kin have been notified, and Grissom plays the proxy card. So I guess before that the doctor was spilling all of Brass’s personal medical beans to Grissom because he happened to be nearby and has an honest face. The doctor tells Grissom that he may have a decision to make before too long. Grissom already said ‘no’ to the kosher feeding tube, so what else is there? Oh, right, the hanging-on-by-a-plot-thread thing. The doctor leaves, and Grissom and McKean are just about to bond tearfully over the potential loss of a valued friend and co-worker when Grissom’s phone rings. It’s work calling, something about a deebee? A Debbie? Little Debbie snack cakes? Whatever it is, it’s in Henderson on the train tracks. McKean agrees to postpone their bonding so Grissom can go see Debbie, and says he’ll take the first watch. Over Brass, I guess, probably to make sure he doesn’t turn into a zombie and start rampaging slowly through the hospital converting others to his army of the unliving, because the last time that happened the mayor was all over him for weeks. There are many cops in the hospital hallway as Grissom leaves, which tends to support the zombie thing.

Out in Henderson, Grissom and Sonia are taking a moonlit walk along the train tracks. There are also some big generator-powered mercury vapor lamps, which are kind of killing the mood. The two CSIs chat about springtime and daisies, and whether Brass will be pushing them up sooner rather than later. They come upon a headless corpse (HC doesn’t sound at all like DB to me, but maybe it was garbled on Grissom’s phone), which Sonia says the train-driving guy ran over because he saw it too late to stop. He radioed his dispatcher, who called 911. Nick is suddenly there, and he tells the other two that the victim doesn’t have any ID, which…duh? How could he have a picture ID anyway, when he doesn’t have a head to photograph? Think, people. Closer inspection of the body shows that he’s in his longjohndoes, but he’s wearing a nice pair of knee-high riding boots. There’s irrelevant speculation about why scavengers would hork his clothes but not his boots, then Sonia says the train engineer has clammed up and won’t talk about the incident until his union rep gets there. I don’t know why that stuck me as funny, but it did. Sonia wanders off to get a donut or something, and Nick observes that there’s not much blood around the body. Grissom counters that they don’t know how far the body was dragged by the train, and wonders pointedly where the head might be. Nick says he’ll go look for it, mumbling under his breath that this isn’t what he meant when he said earlier that he sure would like to get some head this evening. Grissom finds a ratty toupee on the ground near the body, and shouts to Nick that the victim may be bald. “Thanks,” says Nick. “That’ll help me distinguish it from the other severed heads I find out here.” Grissom smirks at Nick’s overdue bitterness. Let it out, Nick. Let it all out. Okay, back to work. David, who’s been examining the corpse in silence the entire while, unbuttons the guy’s long johns to reveal a freakishly narrow abdomen. “Whoa!” he says. “What a waist,” Grissom quips, winning the quip-to-credits contest, and then there are credits.

CSI is sponsored by AT&T – “Your world. Delivered to the government.” I can’t claim credit for that. There’s a cultural-archives commercial about the many fine inventions of AT&T, featuring the robot from “Lost in Space,” Rosie from “The Jetsons,” the WOPR computer from WarGames, and KITT from “Knight Rider.” None of those things were invented by AT&T, just for the record. There’s no mention of the secret surveillance rooms they built into their major switching stations under the guidance of the NSA (go read Wired magazine’s latest issue for more info on that), but that’s probably only because there’s not cutesy cultural icon for that…yet. I propose Snuffy, the loveable phone-snooping monkey.

Back at the show, David is also wearing blue gloves as he jabs the odd-waisted corpse with a meat thermometer. I hope the gloves don’t mean he’s been co-opted by the unnamed villains from Firefly; hopefully they’re just a fanboy tribute thing. He’s having trouble finding the victim’s liver, and Grissom asks (rather snidely for him) if he’s getting a liver temperature or trying to perform acupuncture. David keeps puncturing, and wonders aloud if the victim’s condition is a birth defect of some kind. Six years ago I would have said that the headless part certainly couldn’t be, but after six years of watching W. function with a prosthetic, I’m not sure any more. Grissom asks Sara, who’s suddenly there, what she thinks. Sara says “I think…I feel fat.” This is hardly the time or place for a dissertation on the dangerous cultural bias toward abnormally skinny women, Sara, especially while the sponsors are watching. David finally finds the liver, and Sara hypothesizes that the victim lost his outerwear at the gaming tables and committed suicide on the tracks. “He died with his boots on,” says Grissom, making it twice in two conjoined episodes we’ve heard that particular chestnut. Let’s not have any more boots-on-dying-with references for the remainder of the show; Cowboy Dan and Ichabod Train deserve that much.

A transitional shot of Vegas takes us to Catherine, who’s walking down an apartment building hallway with the gabby apartment manager. He tells her that the victim she’s about to meet is named Manny Rupert, a new tenant who paid his first and last months’ rent in cash. The manager found the body when he knocked on the door at 7 am to get Manny to turn down his loud music. Catherine isn’t impressed by his friendly patter, and ignores him as he chatters away. When he gets into a snit over not being appreciated for calling it in, she tells him to shut up and wait by the door. She says she’ll be back to take his prints, “assuming they’re not already in the system.” Not sure if that’s an appropriate escalation of verbal tension here, but okay. Maybe she thought he was angling for a courtesy lap dance. He waits by the door, and Catherine goes in. Warrick’s already there, taking pictures of the sex and drugs scattered about the room. A man lies on the bed in his boxers next to a plate of powdered sugar. “Which of the seven deadly sins are not represented here?” she says. The answer is Envy. All the others make a strong showing. Doc Robbins examines Slothy, and notes that he’s got petechial hemorrhaging, possibly from vomiting or asphyxiation. The crew speculates that Slothy had so many drugs in him he was bound to die of something, or someone gave him a little nudge. He’s not in rigor yet, so he died 3 or 4 hours ago. Warrick finds the man’s wallet, which is empty. Catherine finds glass from a broken wall mirror on the floor. Some of the fragments have blood on them. Warrick finds a gun in a drawer, and Catherine notices bullet holes in the wall behind the mirror. Doc Robbins says there are no apparent gunshot wounds on the victim. Catherine takes off her jacket to reveal a somewhat skimpy tank top, and says “Let’s get busy, boys.” It’s difficult not to find sexual connotations in that, but I will try. There.

A train honks in Henderson, and Nick roams around the train yard with his camera. He crosses down into a creek bed under a train trestle, and finds an old oil drum with smoking ash in it. He stirs it with a stick, because why wouldn’t you, and lifts out a tattered piece of cloth. He loses interest in the cloth when he sees something down in the creek. It’s a head. And not just any head; a severed head. He hoists it up and looks at it. If the eyes had opened right now and scared him into soiling himself, and then all the other CSIs jumped out of the bushes and started laughing, that would have been awesome.

In the morgue, Sara is taking photos of Ichabod as David reattaches his head. It doesn’t look like it’s staying on properly; he should try Thompson’s Head Putty, which I’ve found works really well. In a nearby lab, Nick shovels a pile of ash into a sieve tray and shakes it around. He finds what looks like a coat button, one with a little eagle on it. I used to have a coat with buttons like that. Sara finds a bit of fiber on the victim’s torso, and Nick finds what looks like a coat sleeve and a thin rod of something.

Doc Robbins stands over Ichabod in the Corpse Describing Room as Grissom enters. Doc tells Grissom that the victim’s internal organs have been displaced, like a pregnant woman’s organs get rearranged to accommodate the tiny worker unit she’s carrying for the State. The victim has blisters on his waist, some new and some old, which tells the Doc that Ichabod had been doing whatever it was he was doing for a long time. That, or he really really liked hugs. The camera shows the victim’s guts squishing around inside his torso, slowly moving upward, and I’m eating here, so please stop that. Grissom asks whether it was a form of torture or something self-inflicted, and Doc doesn’t know. “Either way, it must have been agonizing,” says the Doc. Grissom notices an extra hole in the victim’s head, under his chin. COD was a shot to the head, says the Doc, and pulls out a little finger bowl with – no, not a finger – a big lead bullet. They speculate that it came from a .44 caliber gun.

There’s a transition shot of Vegas at twilight, to give Grissom time to teleport to the hospital. Brass’s doctor tells him they’ve stopped the bleeding, but Brass is still in critical condition. Grissom asks about the options, and they’re not good. Removing the bullet could cause damage to the vertebral artery, which could cause Brass to bleed out or have a stroke. Either way, he’d be permanently incapacitated. If they don’t remove it, the bullet could move into the artery on its own and kill him, or it could stay there for years and do nothing. I think they should cryogenically freeze him and hope that future generations come up with a cure for Bullet-In-Chest. Grissom wants to know the odds of Brass’s survival (I assume he means if they try to take out the bullet, but it’s not made clear). The doctor doesn’t want to give him the odds, because his malpractice insurance forbids it, so he wusses out and says it’s up to Grissom to decide. “Do it,” says Grissom.

Brass lies quietly in his hospital bed, surrounded by machines and doctors and blue lighting. In an adjacent room, Grissom calls Ellie on his cell phone. He gets her voicemail, and he leaves her a message describing her dad’s condition. As he talks, we see a close-up of Ellie’s answering machine. When the shot pulls out, there’s Ellie, smoking a cigarette and listening to Grissom’s message. She’s screening her calls in case one of her pimps phones. She looks pensive. Or bitchy. Possibly both: penchy. Grissom invites Ellie to come see her dad in the hospital, saying that it would cheer him up. He leaves a fake phone number, which seems kind of mean to me, and then we cut to commercials.

I read “The DaVinci Code,” and I’ll probably see the movie at some point, despite its middling reviews so far. I wish, though, that the promos would at least mention Audrey Tautou (star of Amelie, a movie worth seeing) instead of just the probably-miscast Tom Hanks. In addition to being thoroughly lovely, she’s also a fine actor, and should at least get second billing instead of no billing.

Back in Vegas, Hodges tells Nick as they walk that the white residue he scraped off Ichabod’s waist was topical cortisone. Hodges adds that the victim’s blood work showed a whole lot of cortisone in his system, even though topical cortisone doesn’t get absorbed into the bloodstream. When they arrive in Hodges’ lab, Hodges feels it necessary to tell Nick that he keeps his waist at 32 inches, and has since college. He waxes anthropological on the history of belly fat, which used to indicate prosperity but now signifies laziness and low sex appeal. Nick and I are not interested, and he presses Hodges for info on the fibers taken from the victim’s long johns. They’re a match to the fibers taken from the burned-up clothes in the oil drum. It’s a wool cloth, dyed with old-fashioned pomegranate berry extract. Nick looks at the fibers under the microscope and says there’s evidence of insect activity, maybe moths or mites. Is Grissom rubbing off on Nick, or his he being a bit presumptuous? He invites Hodges to take a peek, and when Hodges puts his eyes up to the microscope, I think Nick should have whacked him hard in the back of the head and told him not to be such a schmuck any more because it annoys people, but he doesn’t. The insect wear means the cloth was old, possibly vintage clothing. Nick also wants to know if Hodges has analyzed the bone fragments he found, but Hodges wheedles that he’s “only one highly gifted person,” and Nick sighs and meanders off in disgust. Should’ve whacked him, Nick. “I’ll let you know,” Hodges calls after him. Nick meets up with Grissom in the hallway, and Grissom tells him the doctors are prepping Brass for surgery. Nick promises to think good thoughts in favor of Brass’s surgery, which is what Nick seems to be best at. Unfortunately, recent studies suggest that prayer and the like don’t have any significant effect on surgery patients, so maybe he should just send cash.

Warrick and Lab Guy # 8 are examining Slothy’s bloodwork. He had a blood alcohol level of 0.28, which is very high. Alcohol was just the start of it, says # 8, and rattles off a list of the many other illegal substances in the victim’s bloodstream. Captain Wendy comes in with more news on Slothy: she tested the blood from the mirror, the pubic hairs from Slothy’s mouth, and the other secretions they swabbed from his body, and found that the female donor of all of the above was already in CODIS. Wendy hands Warrick the file on a local prostitute with a prior conviction for a trick roll.

Catherine and Doc Robbins examine Slothy. Doc tells her that Slothy had sex juice and pubes all over him, even in his ears. Catherine speculates that he suffocated during oral sex. That’s why you always wear a snorkel when diving. The victim had “enough alcohol and cake in his stomach to cater a wedding,” continues the Doc, to which Catherine replies that he at least went out in style. There’s a high-speed flashback of the victim performing Gluttony on a sidebar full of food and drink; then he switches to Lust as two women undress him and themselves. I hope they got some cake before he ate it all. They all zip around the room in their skivvies some more, mainly to titillate the audience, and then we’re back to the corpse on the examining table. How different would that scene have been if they’d played the Benny Hill chase music instead? “He died with a smile on his face,” says Catherine. “Among other things,” adds the Doc, and they laugh. Ha ha! I don’t get it.

David comes in with a body on a gurney. “Just came from the hospital,” he says, and the music instructs us to shift moods to melancholy. David sees the looks on their faces, and reassures them that he’s not cavalierly rolling Brass’s corpse into the room – it’s just some random dead asshole we don’t care about.

Speaking of Brass, let’s go to the hospital to check up on him. “Where’s McKean?” Grissom asks Greg. “I sent him home,” says Greg. Funny lad. He’s kidding; McKean went to get something to eat, and Brass just went into surgery. Greg probes Grissom about his relationship with Brass, noting that the two of them have worked together a long time. Grissom says they’ve worked together ever since Brass came to Vegas from Jersey, two of the few places you can leave the first word off of and still have people know what you’re talking about. Greg wants to know, just between us, whether Brass always wears a suit, even when he and Grissom are having dinner or going to the movies or “whatever it is you do when you hang out.” Greg is disquieted by the thought of Brass in a sweater (or other casual clothing, we’ll assume, unless there’s a new subplot in the works in which Greg struggles to overcome his sweaterphobia). Grissom replies that he and Brass don’t “hang out,” which he delivers in such a way to let us know that “hanging out” is beneath him, or at least way off to the side where people and their cooties can’t penetrate his Sphere of Seclusion. I hear ya, man. Greg’s well-meaning but amateurish attempts to pierce Grissom’s privacy are interrupted by Ellie having a cow over something stupid in the background. Grissom heads down the hall to investigate. A nurse is explaining to Ellie that she can’t see her dad right now, what with him being in surgery and all. I’m not saying Ellie is a disease-riddled skank, but I can totally see her barging into the operating room and casting Disease Cloud on her father, hitting him for 50 health and killing him on the spot. Grissom slips a hand in his bag and puts on his +10 vs. Disease ring, then introduces himself to her. She looks tired and put-upon, and complains that after her long bus ride out here, all she wants to do is shower and smoke some crack. She asks Grissom for the keys to Brass’s house, but he doesn’t have them. “You’re a cop, right? How about you just let me in,” she says. Even the music can tell that’s not a very good idea. Grissom makes her a counter-offer: there’s a motel just down the street, and he tells her he’ll get a room for her. Ellie, not yet having pinned the needle on her bitchometer, rolls up her sleeve defiantly so Grissom can see that she’s no longer injecting drugs into her left arm. “It looks like daddy already told you all about me. I don’t even know why I bothered to come,” she spits. Me either. She grabs her bag and stomps off down the hall. Grissom says nothing, but his eyebrows tell us he found the exchange distasteful and unpleasant. Also, his eyebrows think Ellie’s a ho.

Sara approaches Grissom in the lab and asks if he’s doing okay, and he says that he is. She notices the catalog he’s leafing through, which features men and women wearing corsets. Sara is surprised that men would wear corsets, and Grissom tells her about jolly old England, where Victorian sensibilities dictated that young men should also subject themselves to painful corset training. Those wacky Brits! “I guess I should feel comforted that sadistic ideas of beauty aren’t restricted to women,” says Sara. That doesn’t comfort me very much. Grissom finally gets a chance to share the topic of his last English term paper with someone; he ties together the concept of the wasp waist with the wasp insect family, or hymenoptera. The hymen, he reminds us, is a symbol of virginity, but in some wasps the genitalia are no longer used for reproduction, but rather as a stinger. Sara wraps it up for him: “Go in for sex, and get stung. Pretty much every man’s fear.” Next week on Literary Entomologist Round Table: Emmanuel Kant vs. the dung beetle. I have a hard enough time keeping etymology and entomology straight without him mixing them together like that. Grissom abruptly shifts back to the victim: he was shot, his clothes burned, and his body dumped. Sara adds that the bone fragments Nick found were whalebone, which was used to make corsets back in the good old days. Sara wants to know how Grissom knows so much about corsets, but he’s not saying. It’s not like you can’t learn about whatever you want on the internet these days, but I’d guess it’s something he picked up from Lady Heather.

Sara’s tracked down a corset merchant, the somewhat effete Mr. Phillipe, who’s very enthusiastic about the benefits of corset-wearing. He tells Sara that more men than she’d think wear corsets, and at least some of them have commented to him that the Elizabethan whalebone corset is superior to a steel back brace for helping relieve back pain. By moving it to the sides and front, I suppose. She wants to know about the clients who wear corsets for something other than back pain, but he’s loath to discuss his clientele’s private lives with her. She explains that she’s trying to identify a dead man with a 19-inch waist, and he asks if she’s got a photograph. She pulls out a head shot of Ichabod. Mr. Phillipe hyperventilates a bit, then identifies the man as Caleb Carson. Carson would come in once a year or so for corset repair, and Mr. Phillipe counters Sara’s suggestion that he was into cross-dressing by pointing out how he dominated the room whenever he came in. By humping its leg, maybe? Peeing on it? No, he just had a way of making Mr. Phillipe feel like a servant. It’s clear that Mr. Phillipe got off on the treatment, and there’s probably some sick twisted back-story here, full of leather and riding crops and ball-gags, but fortunately we don’t have to listen to it today. Sara asks him for Carson’s address.

And then she’s there! Carson’s house is decorated like a Civil War museum, which is only 9 kinds of creepy, and she and Sofia wander through it with their flashlights until they come upon a painting of the original Caleb “C.C.” Carson from 1864. He looks kind of like the victim, “at least from the neck up,” Sara observes. There are several photographs of men in Civil War uniforms, and Sofia comments that they didn’t smile much back then. Sara explains that the exposures took 5 minutes, and the subject had to sit perfectly still or the image would blur, so they didn’t smile because it hurt to hold a smile for that long. Plus it was war, and teeth were heavily rationed. There are some old guns and bullets in one of the display cases, and Sofia notes that they’re the same caliber that killed the victim. “They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” replies Sara, and she’s right: mass-produced Teflon-tipped Kevlar-piercing bullets just can’t compare with lovingly handcrafted lead slugs.

Commercials. I’m looking forward to the new X-Men movie. When the last one came out, I remember a lot of talk about Rebecca Romijn and her skin-tight Mystique costume, and how sexy she looked. I suppose that’s true, but while Ms. Romijn is a fine-looking woman, she’s no Halle Berry.

Carson has (or had; his corpse has) a large tabletop battlefield replica in his museum house, with many little soldiers and cannons and other models scattered around on it. There are even little cotton-fluff wisps placed at random intervals to simulate puffs of smoke, which I think is a nice touch even though it’s not really my thing. Grissom picks up one of the toy – er, model soldiers and examines it closely. Carson would probably have a heart attack right about now, if he weren’t already dead. Sofia comes in and informs us that the doctors were able to fish the bullet out of Brass’s chest, but he hasn’t regained consciousness yet. She looks over the battlefield table and asks whether it’s the Battle of Gettysburg. Grissom wants to know if she’s a military history buff, and she tells him that her father was; he used to take them around Pennsylvania in an RV during summer vacation “so [she] could learn things.” One summer of doing that is fine, I suppose, but multiple summers point to a father who could stand to have his own horizons broadened a bit, if you ask me. I was lucky/unlucky in that regard; my dad’s a professional photographer, so many of my young summers were spent driving around lots of different places in the US; the downside was that we had to stop every 3 minutes so he could take 20 minutes worth of photos. Grissom says he thinks the battle is a recreation of Pickett’s Charge, in which the Confederate soldiers “marched to their doom, but kept their honor.” He adds that Carson was apparently a Confederate fanboy. If he loved the south so much, why didn’t he marry it? Oh, right…because the south was already married to its cousin.

Grissom and Sofia head to another room, which has a military-style single bed (neatly made, of course) and a corset on a dress dummy. Sara is dusting the corset’s monogram (“C.C.”) for prints. She tells them that the corset ties up in the back, which means Carson would have needed a helper. We get a quick flashback of someone tightening the laces on a living, fully-headed Carson, and when he turns to face the camera we see just how pinched it made his waist look. I wonder if that’s a CGI effect, or if the casting director had to hunt for someone who happened to be into corset-wearing to fill this role. Grissom finds a photo of Original Carson wearing his corset. “Seems to run in the family,” he says, and shows the photo all around. You’d hope that that’s one of those things that would get bred out eventually.

At the hospital, Warrick’s outside gabbing on his cell phone to someone, but says he’ll call them back when he spots Ellie leaning skankily against a wall and smoking a cigarette. He tells her that Brass is out of surgery, and that he’ll be happy to see her when he wakes up. He adds that she looks good, which we’ll call a little white lie. The actress playing Ellie isn’t unattractive, really; maybe it’s the makeup. I think she’s sporting Maybelline’s new fall line, “Angry Bitch with a Chip on her Shoulder.” “You mean I don’t look like a crack whore any more?” she snots. Yes, but you look like a thirty-dollar crack whore at least. Warrick is more generous, and says that wasn’t what he meant, but no, he doesn’t think she looks like a crack whore. Ellie wants to know if Brass ever talks about her, but Warrick doesn’t say anything, so Ellie interprets that as a no and becomes sullen. It’s a short trip. “It’s not really about you right now,” Warrick reminds her, and I stand up and shout “NO SHIT!” at the TV, alarming my dogs. He praises her for showing up at all, and implies that it’s credit to her character. “Yeah, well, thanks for clearing that up for me,” she biles (running out of synonyms for “snots” here), not wanting her character sullied with anything redeeming, then stubs out her cigarette and walks off.

Catherine is interviewing the hooker from Slothy’s apartment. She tells the hooker that her DNA is in the system because of her trick roll trick last year, and now her blood was found at Slothy’s place. I can’t find this gal’s name anywhere in the episode, but even a cheap thieving whore deserves a name, so we’ll call her, let’s say…Janet. Catherine gives Janet a chance to confess to it being an accident, if it was, but the hooker claims she’s the victim in this scenario. “Funny, you don’t look dead,” replies Catherine. I don’t like this new hooker; let’s see the one from last week again. Janet tells Catherine her story: Slothy paid for the whole evening, including champagne, drugs, and cake. He was fun, she says, and not that bad looking either. We flash back to the two of them having fun with champagne, drugs, and cake, with hot meaningless sex for the final course. Slothy apparently had a remarkable recovery rate, and Janet tells Catherine that they did it again and again and again. When she finally tried to leave, because it was late and she was probably getting sore, Slothy grabbed her and refused to let her go, arguing that he’d paid for the whole night. He pulled a gun from a drawer and waved it around, then shot several holes in the wall. She fled, stepping on broken glass from the mirror as she went. She insists that Slothy was whacked-out but alive when she left. Catherine wants a better explanation for the $10,000 they found in her purse, to which Janet replies that she earned it. “Don’t take it personally,” says Catherine, which is a wonderfully ineffective preface for saying something mean, “but you are not a $10,000-a-night girl.” Which is true, not that I’d know, but a girl can dream. Besides, she never said all that money came from one night. Maybe, as a professional screwer of others, she’s quick to recognize her own kind and so doesn’t trust a bank with her money. Just about every other industry has its own credit union; maybe this overlooked profession needs one. They could call it Federal United Consorts Credit Union, or FUCCU.

Warrick strolls into the fingerprint lab and asks the tech on duty if she’s finished working on the prints from Slothy’s case. She hasn’t finished, because there are lots and lots of prints, but so far they’re all Slothy’s. Warrick’s looking for Janet’s prints, because he thinks she might have slipped Slothy something that nudged him into death. The tech has found her prints on a few things, but not on any of the booze or pill bottles. “Maybe she’s in AA,” says the tech. “Or maybe she’s not a killer,” Warrick counters. Or maybe she poisoned her nipples, as we’ve seen in past shows. Ever since I saw that episode, I’ve used a moist towelette on all my hookers’ nipples, just in case.

Sofia has rounded up Carson’s longtime companion, whose fingerprints came from the corset and which were in the system because of his work card. He denies being Carson’s sex toy; he was Carson’s driver and his dresser, which he ties to the tradition of 19 th-century dressers who would help gentleman soldiers with their equipment. Their non-penis equipment, we’ll assume. For now. Sofia sums it up for him: “So you dressed him in Rebel drag.” Well put. He sniffs disdainfully, however, and clarifies that he helped Carson lace up his corset every day. “Did it hurt?” she asks, and he says that it did, but Carson was such a manly man among men that he bore the pain with a smile and a boner. Or something like that. The last time he saw Carson was the previous morning, at a duel. “A duel? Where?” asks Sofia. “Gettysburg,” he replies.

Cut to Gettysburg, or the Hollywood studio lot recreation of men from Vegas recreating Gettysburg in a Nevada field somewhere. We’ll say Gettysburg for short. Men in Civil War-era uniforms shoot smoky blanks at each other across the field. An explosion tosses a man into the air, and he lands on a well-placed stunt mattress. Other men pretend they’ve been shot and fall to the ground, where they then pretend to develop gangrene. Sofia and Grissom are interviewing one of the fauxldiers, whose left arm is in a sling. That’s the second time the left arm has been called to our attention. The hidden message? Left-handed people are sinister. Lefty tells Sofia that he’d apparently offended Carson, which resulted in the challenge to duel. A flashback shows Lefty leaning on a wheeled cannon and talking to his wife on his cell phone. They’re deciding what to have for dinner. A regular historic-recreation buff would call this an anachronism; Caleb takes it a few dozen steps further. He stomps up and slaps the phone out of Lefty’s hand, then accuses him of dishonoring the dead, of which his great-great-Caleb is one, who “spilled blood on this hallowed ground.” So they transported the dirt for the field from Pennsylvania to Nevada? Now that’s dedication. Caleb challenges Lefty to a duel in the traditional way, via glove slap, and Lefty sighs but accepts the challenge. Lefty tells Grissom he’d never re-enacted a duel before, so he agreed to meet Caleb in a nearby field. Of honor. “And real bullets?” asks Grissom. “No, not in my gun,” says Lefty. “I figured we were just gonna blast some powder and then go out for pancakes.” Snerk. Now I want pancakes. Caleb, however, wanted a little more “authenticity,” says Lefty. Another flashback shows Caleb’s dresser refereeing the duel. The two men stand back to back and then walk apart as the dresser calls out the steps. When they get to ten, Caleb turns and shoots Lefty in the arm for real. He screams and falls down, as one might. Lefty refers to his sling, and says it’s not part of the recreation. Caleb’s shot almost nicked the bone, but Lefty’s second is a male nurse and was able to patch him up. Sofia wants to know why Lefty didn’t call the police. “He shot me because I was taking a cell phone call,” says Lefty. “What do you think he was going to do if I went to the cops?” Probably shoot you, then pull your still-beating heart from your chest and eat it while you watched. Tradition and all. Lefty’s no dummy; after Caleb shot him, he jumped in his car and drove off. “What about him?” Sofia asks, nodding toward Lefty’s second. “Oh…we carpool,” he says. Grissom nods and smiles. Lefty’s got some dry wit. Grissom notes that Lefty’s sidearm is a Colt .45 (the gun, not the beverage), and says they’ll need to take it with them. Lefty wants to know why. “I, too, demand satisfaction,” says Grissom, cocking his head like so. I guess you can’t see it when I do that. Let’s see some commercials instead.

When we return, Sara has challenged Grissom to a duel. A camera duel. They stand back to back and measure out ten steps, then turn and shoot. Sara wins. She looks around and finds some blood on the ground. The drops are heading away from Carson’s position, which jibes with Lefty’s account of things. Over at Carson’s end, Grissom also finds blood, and lots of it. He speculates that Carson was killed here, rather than at the train tracks.

Back in the hospital, Ellie watches her dad through a window. Her back is to the camera, but we see her face reflected in the glass. She looks cranky. Nick is behind her, and turns away from her to continue a cell phone call with Grissom. He reports that Ellie is there, and she’s been drinking lots of coffee and smoking lots of cigarettes. To be fair, there’s not much else to do at a hospital while you’re waiting for a loved one to die or not. He understates that she’s not been particularly sociable. Nick offers to keep an eye on her, which probably somebody should. He says he’s going to stick around at the hospital for a while, and he’ll let Grissom know if there’s any change. He doesn’t say “in Brass’s condition,” but I’m guessing he’s smart enough to not try bringing Ellie out of her shell with one of his patented sandalwood-oil backrubs. When they hang up, Grissom takes the scene. He heads in to the ballistics lab and asks Bobby Dawson if he’s compared the bullet from Carson’s head to Lefty’s pistol. Bobby doesn’t think the pistol is the murder weapon, and has Grissom take a peek inside the barrel. It’s coated with little white blobs, which Bobby identifies as cream of wheat. “So he’s a cereal killer,” Grissom cracks, and Bobby laughs. It turns out that dried powdered wheat is used to augment the smoke from blanks, and it tends to seal the gunpowder in the cylinder. He doesn’t think the gun’s been fired for real in a long time.

Slothy’s sister has arrived, and Warrick is giving her the bad news: her brother apparently died from diabetic shock. He tells her about Slothy’s wild night of alcohol, sugar, and drugs, but discreetly fails to mention the hooker. “Did he party like this a lot?” he asks, and the sister says no; Slothy had just been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Warrick wonders if Slothy tried to kill himself in this way, since he knew about his condition. The sister tells him that their family has a history of heart disease and diabetes, with several early-40s deaths, and that Slothy had just turned 40 last week and wasn’t handling it too well. He’d had a vasectomy at 22 and never got married, in order to not pass along his bad genes. “So he just…gave up,” Warrick says, and I don’t think he’s being mean here, just trying to understand the mindset, but it does come across (at least to the sister) as insensitive. She snaps that Warrick doesn’t know what it’s like to live with a death sentence like that hanging over his head, because of course Warrick is immortal. Warrick looks contrite, and agrees that he doesn’t know what it’s like, but he would like to twist the knife a little more, if he may. “I’ve seen what it’s like to not have a choice,” he says, “and he did. He could’ve fought it, but he just chose not to.” Wrong thing to say. She uncorks on him, and chews his ass out for inviting her down to the PD to tell her that her brother’s dead, then judging him to her face. He looks even more contrite, and tells her he’s sorry for her loss. Now, I think, would be a good time to tell her about the unrepentant hooker who lathered her sex juice and pubes all over Slothy’s head right before he died, and the gun they found which he was probably planning to use to blow his skull off before he died of sugar shock. But he doesn’t, and the scene ends before Slothy’s sister can also die early of a heart attack.

Grissom is in his office researching gunshot wounds on his computer. Sofia knocks at the open door. She’s got some gossip about Ellie: apparently she called the payroll office to find out how much was in Brass’s pension and whether she was a beneficiary. The answers, I hope, are “a billion dollars” and “no.” Sofia is upset, and says that Brass doesn’t need this kind of negative energy around him right now. She adds that Ellie’s checkered past would make it easy for the cops to run her out of town, but Grissom doesn’t think Brass would want that, and he’s Brass’s medical proxy, so there we are. Captain Wendy comes in to break up the tension with news about Carson. The large pool of blood from the dueling field was a match to Carson, but the epithelials from the toupee aren’t. Sofia remembers someone who might be a member of the Hair Club for Men: Carson’s dresser, Mr. Kimble.

Sofia and Sara have Mr. Kimble cornered in the interrogation room. He takes off his backup rug and gives it to Sara, who bags it. He asks her not to lose it, because it’s a very expensive piece. No dog hair at all in that one. He wants to know why he’s back here; it’s not a crime to lose one’s hair. “Depends on where you lose it,” says Sofia. Sara tells him about the toupee they found next to Carson’s body on the train tracks, and he starts to look a little ill. They give him a choice: he can revise his statement from before, or he can make some new friends in a jail cell while they compare the two toupees. “It was an…accident,” he says. “Which part?” asks Sofia. “I suppose mostly the part when I shot him,” he replies. He goes on to describe his version of the duel and the insanity he saw in Carson’s eyes when he shot Lefty. We get another flashback to Carson taking aim again to finish Lefty off. Mr. Kimble runs over and tries to wrestle the gun away from Carson. They struggle for a minute as Lefty and his second run away, and then there’s a gunshot and Carson does an historical recreation of somebody falling over dead. He’s very convincing. Sofia wonders why, if it was an accident, Mr. Kimble didn’t call the police. He’s scandalized at the thought of letting Carson be found like that, wearing his corset and all, and answers Sara’s next question about the train tracks with a story about Original Caleb. Seems he was also crazy, and tried to stop a Yankee train from entering Virginia by standing on the tracks and shooting at the engineer. He lost. Original Caleb’s beheading on the train tracks was a family legend, an “honorable death” which Carson had apparently nattered on and on about many times, so Mr. Kimble thought it would make a fitting tribute to dump Carson’s corpse on the tracks and let nature take its course. That’s kind of nice, aside from the 99 percent of it that’s completely insane. We don’t see what happens to Mr. Kimble after that, and I suppose the law would dictate some sort of punishment for dumping a body on the train tracks and lying about it, but the actual shooting was an accident and he did save Lefty’s life; adding all that up, I don’t think he should go to jail, but who knows. Maybe a judge with a flair for creative sentencing would make him wear a shoddy orange toupee for a year as punishment.

Elsewhere, a uniformed cop escorts Ellie down a hall in the police department. She’s less than thrilled about the idea, as ‘the idea’ here doesn’t involve tricks or smack, and demands to know if she’s being arrested. The cop, who’s got a Brooklyn accent, tells her not to get in his face. “All they told me was ‘bring you here,’” he says, and deposits her at Brass’s office and beats a hasty retreat. Smart man. Grissom is waiting inside, and invites her in. He tells her it’s her dad’s office, and she snarls that she can read. He invites her to have a seat; she asks why, and he calmly responds with “Why not?” Grissom is so mellow. She wanders over to Brass’s office chair and takes a seat, then puts her long bare legs up on the desk. I’m not sure if she’s trying to be insolent or seductive, but fortunately Grissom seems immune to both. She spots a framed photo of her as a little girl, and laughs a little in surprise. “That’s the reason we asked you to come in,” says Grissom. What, to see a Magic Healing Picture of herself as an innocent child, thus reversing twenty-odd years of self-loathing and depredations? That seems a little optimistic, especially for this show. “That’s like loving a puppy, that’s easy,” she says, the subtext being that she knows Brass loved her when she was young, but now that she’s a full-grown ho, she doubts his capacity for love can stretch that far. Grissom stays mum, letting the picture do its magical work. Ellie wonders aloud if maybe Brass is better off not regaining consciousness, what with the world being full of pain and disappointment and all. Maybe so, but then you wouldn’t get to collect on his pension.

Catherine and Brass’s doctor are watching Brass through a window. The doctor tells her that there’s no change in his condition, but right now for Brass that’s good news. Catherine’s phone rings; it’s her occasional daughter Lindsey. They argue about not being able to see a movie after all because Mommy’s friend is lying near death in a hospital, and she wraps it up with a frustrated “I will talk about this with you later. Goodbye.” The doctor understands; he’s got a teenager of his own, and he notes that the world is pretty small at that age. It’s not an uncommon sentiment from parents, and of course it’s generally true, but the alternative – teens thrust into adulthood too quickly, by our culture or the media or whatever other means – is also one of parents’ biggest complaints, so the short of it is that teenagers suck and can’t win. Suddenly there’s a “Code Blue” call over the loudspeaker, and doctors and nurses go rushing into Brass’s room. Grissom and Ellie join Catherine just in time to watch Brass have some sort of bad medical dealy, and Ellie clutches Grissom’s coat sleeve for support. Because she’s all better now, and can relate to people just fine once she remembers how. It was a minor problem, Brass’s thing, and now that it’s achieved its purpose by letting us see some non-hateful emotions in Ellie, the doctors shoo it away and Brass slowly wakes up. He’s pretty weak still, but he looks over at Ellie and raises his hand toward her slightly. She backs away slowly from Grissom’s arm and runs down the hall, the trickle of human feelings too much for her to bear all at once.

Grissom stands by Brass’s hospital bed and offers him a glass of water. Brass takes a sip from the plain straw (no crazy straw? Maybe the doctors thought it was too early for that) and settles back in his bed. “Thanks for not pulling the plug,” says Brass. Grissom tells him his fan club has come to see him, and he gestures toward the window where all the CSIs and some cops are lined up in the hallway, smiling and waving. Brass waves back, and the CSIs smile even more and hug each other.

Transition shot of Vegas at night. Grissom’s in a casual shirt, reclining on a bed and talking to someone off-screen. The camera revolves around him slowly as he tells his companion that most people would prefer to die in their sleep and not know it was coming. He, on the other hand, would like to have time to prepare. Specifically, he’d like to be diagnosed with cancer. I’m sure that can be arranged; just start bragging loudly about how you’re immune to cancer, and fate will do the rest. He’d go back to the rain forest, re-read Moby Dick, and maybe enter an international chess tournament. He’s a party animal, Grissom; if he won the lottery and was then diagnosed with cancer, he’d probably read a gold-plated copy of Moby Dick. The camera finishes revolving so we can see a pair of feminine legs in a robe coming out of the bathroom. “At least have enough time to say goodbye to the people I love,” he concludes, which is a very reasonable sentiment, unless you owe them all money, because then they’d be looking for non-awkward ways to ask you if they’re in your will, and that’s always just uncomfortable. The woman kneels down, and—it’s Sara!! Sara Sidle, from the Vegas crime lab! That’s the surprising twist that CBS promised us, I suppose, since they didn’t kill off Brass and we have no conclusive proof that Ellie earned her soul back yet. “I’m not ready to say goodbye,” she says, and they smile at each other, then we fade to black. With all the looks she and Grissom have been giving each other for the past several episodes, I suppose it’s pretty obvious in hindsight. Looks like Warrick isn’t the only one who succumbed to the frantic urge for pairing after Nicky’s brush with death last year. Too bad it didn’t do Nicky any good. Well, good for them, I guess, although Anastasia and I were both hoping the legs would turn out to belong to Lady Heather. Now we have the summer to speculate about when exactly Sara and Grissom got together, and whether the writers planned on this or came up with it as a drunken desperate last-minute attempt to give the season finale a “twist.” I could go either way.


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