“CSI” Finale: Good Idea, So-So Execution

Spoiler Alert:

I recorded Sunday night’s CSI series finale and watched it last night (Monday). If you have it on your DVR but haven’t watched it yet, you might not want to read this post right now because it discusses what happens in the finale.

If you haven’t seen the CSI finale, go watch it now, then come back here. I’ll wait.

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CSI fascinated me right from the beginning. I like both mysteries and psychology, and murder is where those two often intersect. Throw in some hard science to form hypotheses around, and you’ve got a winning formula. I was heartened to hear that there would be a series finale and eagerly looked forward to it.

The network promised that the finale would bring back some of the series characters, most notably original CSI lab director Gil Grissom (played by William Petersen) and long-term investigator Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger).

Getting Grissom back to Las Vegas required a big story dislocation. Also, it’s hard to believe that he would have so drastically changed his area of expertise and interest, from bugs to marine biology.

Getting Willows back to Las Vegas was easy: She owns the casino (formerly her father’s) where the initial explosion occurs. But here’s the problem: I’m pretty sure the FBI would never allow her to be a Special Agent for them while owning a casino; the potential for misconduct is just too great.

I was also glad to see a cameo appearance by Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle), former LVPD captain turned hotel security guard. I would also have liked to see at least a bit of investigator Nick Stokes (George Eads), whose character I always liked. I’m grateful the show did not bring back Laurence Fishburne, whose character never meshed with the other characters or the show as a whole.

Ultimately, it was nostalgia that saved the show. The storyline was very thin. It got worse as the show continued, until, in the end, any semblance of a believable plot was long gone. And what was that whole thing with the color-coded bees? Part of what made CSI so riveting was its explanations of the science at work. But I never did get the relationship between the bees that the police academy cadets released—“Follow your maps carefully,” Grissom instructed them—and the bees that returned to the hives where Sara and Gil were patiently waiting.

And I almost felt sorry for Marg Helgenberger, who, during the bomb scene in the parking garage, had some of the worst dialogue I’ve heard in a long time:

  • “There’s no time for the bomb squad. This is on us now.”
  • “Listen to me. Listen to the sound of my voice.”
  • “Carefully place the points of your pliers around the RED wire. I repeat: the RED wire.”
  • “We have to cut the wires at the same time. If we’re even a millisecond off, the bombs will explode.”

This scene was truly painful to watch.

And I still don’t know how I feel about the ending. Of course it was nice to see Sara and Gil sail off into the sunset together. But Sara had just been promoted to lab director. Is she really going to give that up to live on a boat, even if she does truly love her man? I get the feeling that the writers wrote the ending that best fit the series (Sara as director) but then decided to go with the sentimental favorite ending (sailing into the sunset) instead.

What about you? What did you think of the CSI series finale?

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