Friday, October 10, 2008

CSI “For Warrick” Gripping, Yet Anticlimactic

It should have been no surprise to any follower of CSI that Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan) wasn’t going to survive a point blank bullet to the head, given to him courtesy of Undersheriff McKeen (Conor O'Farrell). So in a sense this episode, while covering such a sad topic as the death of a long time CSI, was somewhat anticlimactic. Viewers had months to prepare. And thanks to the endless teaser commercials for the episode, even Gil’s anguish over finding Warrick and not being able to save him seemed to have the drama sucked out of it.

Also expected was the return of Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), the only surprise being that she looked like she’s curled her hair and gained a few pounds. It not only seemed to age her a bit, but it also gave the character a bit of a more calming, stable appearance. If fact, despite the reasons she returned to the CSI crew, she actually looked happier and more rested than her character has ever looked.

Hopefully, the CSIs re-learned a hard lesson – that the person who “finds” the body or “stumbles” on the crime is often the likely perpetrator of that crime. Warrick’s shooting and his resulting death clearly threw them off kilter and they didn’t check McKeen for any evidence immediately at the scene. Of course, if McKeen were checked for gun shot residue (GSR) right away, the episode wouldn’t have needed the hunt for Warrick’s killer, or the drama from finding that it was McKeen who murdered him, and that McKeen was the insider for Lou Gedda, the notorious local crime figure that Warrick had been chasing down.

A little strange to me was the scene where Gil Grissom (William Petersen) is rushing to work on the crime and Sara stops him, implying what she has to show him is critical. It’s a video of Warrick taking about trying to gain custody of his son, but also talking about his admiration for Gil. While I am sure this was important to add to the whole tone of the grief that Warrick’s colleagues were feeling, it really didn’t seem critical to the resolution of the crime itself. It probably could have waited. Also surprising to me was when the usually prickly Conrad Ecklie (Marc Vann) let them all work on the case; as they were all so close to Warrick it could have presented conflicts. But, maybe Ecklie has softened a bit over the years and concluded that those that knew Warrick best would be able to sort through his life, and the evidence, to determine his killer.

One plus for the show is that they kept the forensics simple. The episode instead focused on the range of emotions for Warrick’s colleagues as they dealt with his murder. In a way, the downplaying of the usually stylized presentation of the forensics helped to create a very dark and depressing tone which one would expect from the death of one of their own.

And the grief seemed very real for Doc Robbins (Robert David Hall) and even for the show’s usual drama queen Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger). In fact, I thought Marg was completely believable in her apparent shock and horror when arriving at the crime scene. Interesting was Captain Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle), who over the years has been at odds with Warrick, but now seemed to be silently enraged at Warrick’s death. Of course, Guilfoyle has always played Brass as one who is constantly simmering underneath. But clearly Brass was worried that once Nick (George Eads) went off on his own to chase down McKeen that it could turn out badly. It was probably because Brass was hiding the same feelings about McKeen that Nick was showing right out on the surface. Luckily, Nick fired his gun at McKeen and “missed”, meaning if McKeen survived his wounds, Nick and the rest of the CSI team will take pleasure in the ensuing prosecution and McKeen’s jailing.

Of course, the obligatory scene where Gil must remove his bloody clothes was expected the minute that Gil came upon Warrick in the alley. Still, it was interesting to see that Gil still went through the motions in a rather clinical fashion, yet with a look on his face that showed an inner pain that he knew he could not let out. But the gripping scene was his eulogy at Warrick’s funeral service where it seemed that even while Gil was honoring Warrick, he was reflecting too on his own direction in life. It was probably the most emotional episode for Gil Grissom, and probably is also the set up for Petersen’s upcoming departure from the show.

All in all, while there were no surprises, the episode was solid and seemed to appropriately set the stage for the changes to come for the cast and the show. It may take a while to work through all the fallout from Warrick’s death. Hopefully, the dark pall that is hanging over the show won’t continue too long. The team – and the viewers – needs to move on.

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