Tonight was the premiere episode of CSI’s 10th season. At the end of last season, we saw two things: Langston volunteering at a hospital in his spare time – and him having to use, for the first time, deadly force to kill someone. Let’s see where this new season picks up and what, if any, ramifications it has had on him and what the entire team has been up to.

My interest is more than a little piqued for this premiere episode as we see the return of Sarah. The episode descriptions promise that they welcome her return as they become tighter to investigate the death of a famous young actress killed in a dubious traffic collision.

As with my previous CSI recap, review and discussion, I’m warning you now that I’m going to spoil everything. I’ll even spoil the commercials for you (Target, Pepsi). See, already did it. If you have yet to watch the episode, tread carefully as everything below will be spoilers!

A New Light

As the episode opens we’re in the morgue with everything frozen in place. Dead bodies are all over the place, water is spraying everywhere and Doc is chasing after a man with a gun. As more of the lab is revealed we see bullets being fired, glass everywhere and that people have been shot. The opening concludes outside the lab with a delivery van carrying two men firing back at two unknown figures with guns. As the camera pulls back it’s revealed to be Nick and Sara.

With a bright flash we’re back in the lab staring at a tarantula with a subtitle reading “48 Hours Earlier.” We catch Catherine making a remark about Riley leaving the lab and sticking them with 100 open cases (In real life, the actress who played Riley, Lauren Lee Smith, was let go as the producers said, it was “an issue of how we were feeling the ensemble was working.”).

We find Langston in the lab doing stabbing ballistics gel with a knife. After some poking by Eickle, he congratulates Langston on making CSI – Level 2. With that happy moment out of the way Langston is paged to a crime scene where we find the main victim for this episode, actress Olivia Hamilton has been killed in a suspicious car accident.

After another wonderful Who concert, we return to the crime scene, but now it’s early morning. Catherine theorizes that markings on Hamilton’s car showed that she was stopped at the time of the accident. As per the usual CSI episode, a second, but smaller case arises and Catherine gives it to Greg who doesn’t seem too happy about that and a throws a little tantrum.

Finally, we catch up with Brass, for the first time this season, and he’s in his office with two men, a security consultant named Tom O’Neil (Garret Dillahunt) and his client, Hamilton’s boyfriend, Denny Ocampo. After Ocampo reveals no helpful information, we then return to Greg and find him in a hotel room taking pictures of a man who appears to have been killed in the midst of a robbery.

We return to Catherine and Doc in the morgue around the young where they find out she was 8 weeks pregnant. As Catherine walks off we catch up with Langston at the hospital, standing near Richard Wilkes, who is believed to be the person who killed Olivia Hamilton in the accident. As the lab reports come back we find out that Wilkes had a mixture of alcohol and GHB in his system. As Langston and Stokes search through Wilkes’ car they find a vial of drugs and a creepy book with cut up pictures of the actress. Clearly, he’s a stalker.

Shortly after, Langston receives a letter from the review board regarding his shooting from last season. Langston was cleared of all charges. He talks with Nick about how it hasn’t been bothering him and he doesn’t like that feeling.

Everything Changes

As Langston and Stokes turn their attention to traffic tapes of that night, they find out that someone pre-empted the traffic light to force Olivia into that specific intersection. With Nick interested as why they hadn’t found a traffic emitter in Wilkes car, Langston hurries back to Wilke’s hospital room where, after taking a closer look, finds hidden bruises caused by a seatbelt. The problem with the marks is that Wilkes wasn’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Someone else was driving the car.

Sadly, the team doesn’t get much time to revel in their new found knowledge as Eickle busts in with a newspaper showing Wilkes confessing to the murder. He then starts yelling at Catherine about how she’s not doing her job properly and cites Riley’s exit interview as something she should read.

With that, Sara finally pops up in the episode, but at the worst time. She’s alone (surprise, surprise) as Grissom is “guest lecturing.” While everyone is catching up with Sara, Catherine returns to her office to read Riley’s exit interview. Inside she finds that Riley believes there is no leadership or unity within the team.

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Back on the case, Nick and Langston check out the casino where Wilkes was drinking the evening of the accident. While searching through the videos they find that Ocampo’s security consultant, Tom O’Neil had met with Wilkes three hours before the accident. Upon questioning by Brass, O’Neil admits to the meeting, but implies that it was to get Wilkes to leave Olivia Hamilton alone. With O’Neil confident in his answers, Langston enters the room with a bag recovered from O’Neil’s room. Inside, they find a helmet with airbag dust on it.

After some chit chat between Catherine and Sara about team leadership, unity and baseball we return to the moment where the episode started. This time we get to see what’s happening. Some men dressed in suits and sunglasses enter the morgue, make a mess and start to leave with a body. Shooting occurs and Langston pulls out some Karate moves. Outside the delivery van pulls up and the well dressed men throw the body bag inside. Nick and Sara catch the delivery van outside and start shooting at them.


In the aftermath, we not only find out that two people (unknowns) who were shot from the lab, but they’ll recover. We also find out that the men in the suits were Russian mobsters posing as morticians. The team believes that the mobsters were after the actress’s body, but we find out that the body taken was the robbery victim from Greg’s case.

As in the usual CSI fashion, the two cases of the episode come together as we find out that Greg’s robbery victim is Olivia Hamilton’s father. After Nick and Sara visit another crime scene in the woods where a wood chipper is situated, we find what the Russian mobsters mulched the stolen body.

As the episode starts wrapping up, we find that Ocampo’s security consultant, Tom O’Neil was paid, by an outside source, to break up the relationship because his client and Olivia Hamilton. As O’Neil was trailing Olivia, he catches her meeting with and old man (her father). O’Neil gets curious and questions the old man, not knowing it’s her father. O’Neil’s questions anger Olivia’s father and things quickly get physical. During the altercation, O’Neil accidently killed Olivia’s father. Overwhelmed by murdering someone, O’Neil felt that there was only one thing to do; Kill Olivia Hamilton as he would no longer have a connection to the murdered her father and the relationship between her and Ocampo would be over. O’Neil used Wilkes, a known stalker, as a fall guy to him murdering Olivia Hamilton.

With no proof, Langston theorizes that the reason for mulching the body was that something in, on or about the body could connect him to the murders. With Nick and Sara gloved up and digging around in the human mulch, they find one of O’Neil’s cufflinks. Olivia’s father swallowed it during their altercation and O’Neil noticed it on an X -ray in the lab.

With Tom O’Neil arrested, we’re back in the lab. Nick and Greg are playing around with the tarantula shown in the beginning of the episode. After some messing around, Nick realizes that they’re not looking at his tarantula but “little Stevie” who one of Grissiom’s tarantulas that went missing a long time ago. After that realization, Catherine beckons Nick into her office where she promotes Nick to assistant supervisor for the graveyard shift. Nick doesn’t seem too thrilled.

We close the episode with Langston and Doc in the morgue looking over the body of Joseph Biggalo. As they theorize what had killed him, Doc cuts open his chest and something shocks them. It cuts to black before anything is revealed.


As there was little build up from last season, there weren’t any continuing storylines that needed to be addressed right away. Overall, I’m not really impressed with this episode. I felt that I was 12 steps ahead the entire way. Sure, the father was a surprise, but after I saw the man in the hospital five minutes into the start of the episode, I knew he wasn’t the killer. It just doesn’t work that way.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled with great storylines like the miniature killer, but I wouldn’t consider this a great start to the season. Especially with how poorly they used Sara’s character. I’m sure there are many logical production reasons why they had to do what they did, but as a viewer, I don’t care. I see Sara and I see her used poorly. I don’t see production only having Jorja Fox for two days of shooting. One thing I will note – It was interesting how they used Riley’s “departure” to progress Catherine’s storyline and character development.

Overall, it was a decent episode. Something that will entertain you, but one you’ll skip on reruns.

What did you think? Was Sara’s return everything you hoped for? Are you excited for this season of CSI? More importantly, what was in that man’s chest at the end of the episode?