Las Vegas is one of the premier convention sites in the world. Accordingly, CSI has regularly found itself in exhibit halls, ballrooms, meeting rooms and suite parties, investigating murdered conventioneers. As with much on this series, this is to be expected, even in year 11. However, this doesn’t mean that conventions should function only as an excuse to showcase marginal subcultures as “freaks.” Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens here.
In the early years when the team would go to conventions, they might blanch a bit at what they’d find, but they’d also learn to accept its legitimacy, no matter how non-normative the subculture. Grissom, of course, was the most open-minded about all this, and helped ease the others’ understanding. This was particularly the case in 4.5, “Fur and Loathing,” which managed to both exoticize and sympathize with the furry subculture, playing up its kink and humor, but still respecting it. Similar portrayals of subcultures are found in 3.4 (set at a little person’s convention) and 5.16 (at a con for plus-size people and their admirers). In his study of CSI, Steven Cohan suggests that these episodes, at best, challenge our assumptions about “normal” appearances and practices. I agree, and add that the Vegas convention space/experience offers the perfect opportunity to explore the question of “normal.”
In “Blood Moon,” unfortunately, such understanding is gone, or exhausted, and we are presented with a convention of vampires and werewolves (“Covens and Clans,” apparently) who live up to our worst stereotypes. That is, they’re basically shown as disturbed “freaks” who unconvincingly role-play (hissing and baring teeth) and take things much too far. Whereas Grissom would have come in with some understanding of and respect for the subculture, and would have known what questions to ask, Ray instead dons red contacts and teeth and goes “RRAAH!!” Moreover, Ray and Nick (who you’d think would know better) even crash the vampiric wake for the vic, dramatically yanking the curtains open to out a sunlight-sensitive suspect. More disturbingly, Ray basically assaults and taunts a suspect, rendering him unconscious. Who is this guy?
Aside from the disappointingly sub-Twilight treatment of the subculture, this was a standard outing, pushing all the usual buttons. In this respect it’s the best episode of the season so far, but that isn’t saying much. The B-plot is again sorely missed as well: surely there was something else going on to investigate?
Obligatory Grissom Reference: Nick calls Sara “Grissom” after she launches into an etymology of Transylvania; Sara notes that Grissom still wouldn’t let Nick call him “Gil.”
Obligatory “Celebrity” Cameo: Andy Dick hams it up as a fantasy weapons dealer.
Going Off Shift: Catherine and Lou Vartann are getting it on. Only took them about a decade, but good for them. Hodges still pining for Wendy.
Morbid moment: David and Doc Robbins wrestling the decapitated head off of the fencepost, with a delightful “squelch” sound.
I remember this one time…: Nick mentions the Susan Hillridge “human protein shake” case, from waaaaayyyy back in 1.21 (“Justice Is Served”).
by Derek Kompare
available now from Wiley-Blackwell