You shouldn’t wade too far into a season of CSI without encountering some Sin City shenanigans, as the pursuit of pleasure runs headlong into the machinery of pleasure. Here, we get some ol’ fashioned “tit for tat” between warring casino magnates, a severed limb, the break-up of Hodges and Wendy, and a tank full of shark references.
The opening scene’s shark attack at a hotel pool is a nice way to trendily titillate. Yes, Vegas resorts are indeed now promoting “day clubs”: basically daytime adult pool parties. This provides the opportunity to go a little CSI: Miami, with lots of skin under the sun. On CSI, such parties inevitably lead to dead bodies. The pool shark attack is schlock-horror silly, and thankfully that’s the episode’s opening register, complete with shrieks of “SHARK!” and Elliot Gould, hammily channelling some of his schtick from Ocean’s 11, as casino owner Earnest Boozell, blustering at Catherine (“Sam’s LITTLE. GIRL,” he calls her).
After that, unfortunately, the mayhem ratchets back, and we’re left with a mostly average CSI plot, involving an accidental death (the vic’s COD was a heroin OD–whoops!–delivered by a resourceful jewel thief; I still love these mid-episode interrogations) and a botched cover-up. A little bit of classic Vegas intrigue, with warring casino owners Boozell and Macklin, but all in all a pedestrian installment.
– The B-plot of Wendy’s departure was poorly assembled and perfunctorily executed by Langham, Vassey, and Wellner. It had zero resonance with the A-plot, and was all too clearly functional (to explain Liz Vassey’s absence from the series). Along the way, a depressed Hodges did get in a nice Jaws reference (about wanting to put a scuba tank in his mouth so Nick could shoot it), but this was a poor send-off to an underused character.
– There were enough references to tiger sharks’ endangered status to almost convince me that this might be the rare environmentally-themed episode, but as it turns out…
– …they were mostly there to name-drop the Mandalay Bay, which boasts both an incredible aquarium (complete with those audio-tours that Ray “hates”) and arguably Vegas’ best-known day-club.
– Method Man’s recurring character Drops showed up, but for no apparent reason. He was questioned, exchanged the requisite patter with Nick and Brass, and was gone, ten minutes in. Weird. I think his on-screen credit actually read “Contractually Obligated Appearance By.”
– It was nice that Catherine’s suspicions about Macklin were verified not only by merely thinking about her father, Sam Braun, but by descending into a full-on 1977 flashback, with teen-Catherine and fatherly younger-dark-haired-Sam. Honestly didn’t see that one coming.
– The dead shark veterinarian floating in the pool, like one of those old aquarium toys, was a nice, morbid comic moment, as excited tourists crowded around the aquarium to snap photos.
by Derek Kompare
available now from Wiley-Blackwell