CSI - Grissom's farewell episodes
Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle
GRISSOM’s well publicized departure from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation comes at the end of a riveting two-part story that not only has all the hallmarks of a great CSI but chilling echoes of The Silence of the Lambs.
It’s in 19 Down (1) that Grissom (William Petersen) finally tells the team that he’s leaving but first there’s work to be done. A man’s badly decomposed body has been found and evidence leads the CSIs to an infamous serial killer, Nathan Haskell (Bill Irwin). But with Haskell already behind bars, they’re faced with the question: are they dealing with a copycat killer or an accomplice.
It’s also in 19 Down (1) that we’re introduced to Dr Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne), a professor at West Las Vegas University who, in his criminolgy class, is conducting a series of video discussions with Haskell. This in turn provides the ever-brusque Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) with one of his witty one-liners when Langston, who understandably isn’t best pleased when he discovers that one of his students is actually a CSI (Grissom), demands to know why he wasn’t informed. “It was on a need to know basis,” quips Brass, “and you didn’t need to know.”
Things get decidedly nastier in One to Go (2) (if you discount the body decomposing graphics and maggotts of 19 Down (1). Another body is found and it soon becomes clear that another murder is about to be committed, leading to a race against time to locate and save the would-be victim.
As always, it’s well played out by all concerned and new cast member Fishburne is masterly as the professor who, finding himself outwitted by Haskell, a killer as hard and cold as his startling blue eyes, vents his anger and frustration on the wall! But be honest, weren’t you glad it was Grissom and not Langston who finally cracked the case?
According to the Radio Times and I quote “there are some unpleasant, titillating scenes involving a scantily clad young woman screaming for mercy.” True, the scenes are unpleasant but titillating – no. I found them disturbing and nauseating and their inclusion only serves to demonstate the killer’s sick state of mind.
During the course of the investigation, regular team members get the chance to speak to Grissom about his decision to leave. Always brief, these interludes don’t in any way impinge upon the ongoing story but nevertheless speak volumes about Grissom’s standing with his team. Somewhat surprisingly, the most moving tribute comes from Hodges (Wallace Langham) who initially greeted Grissom’s announcement with nonchalance: “The bad guys will win more if we don’t have you.”
The case solved, Grissom walks unobtrusively through the department, observing his team at work. It’s only Catherine (Marg Helgenberger) who notices. They smile, she acknowledges her blessing and her understanding with a wink. The screen goes blank…but only for a second. When next we see Grissom, he’s in the heart of the Costa Rican rainforest and has spotted a bug. A clever decoy for it’s ultimately Sara (Jorja Fox) that he finds and in whose arms we leave him. And whatever you think of Sara as his choice of mate (and it is debatable), you have to acknowledge that with her he will, at last, find the happiness that his unerring devotion to work has previously denied him.
As exits go, Grissom’s is relatively low key and although moving, it’s never mawkish. It’s impact, however, is no less dramatic. Grissom, portrayed so sensitively by Petersen, will be sorely missed. For here is a man who inspires loyalty, is steadfast and strong yet remains quietly unassuming, maybe even a little quirky; a man you can trust. He is also utterly charming – undeniably, a hard act to follow.