CSI “Take the Money and Run” Review

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A violent and elaborate heist rips off the Four Kings casino for well over one skrillion dollars. Grand Theft Auto V probably made them do it. The suspect tries to escape via motorcycle, and after a thrilling chase he’s shot off his ride. Mystery solved, right? Unfortunately for whoever it is that pays for the CSI team’s OT, it turns out that the biker had already died of an allergic reaction before security had even hit him, and that his bag is full of nothing but blatantly fake cash. Who killed the decoy? How many people were involved in the heist? And, most importantly, where’s the money?

“Take the Money and Run” seems to like poking fun at the age-old CSI  tropes. In once scene, Nick goes to Hodges with some shitty, degraded surveillance footage with static all over the screen and asks him to clean it up and work some magic. Hodges responds with a dirty look and an exasperated What do you want me to do with this? Perhaps a little silly given the miracles the Las Vegas crime lab can usually work with such material, especially since their handy dandy enhance button is used again later in the episode, but it’s still a nice moment.

This episode contains some real groanworthy, facepalm moments. I don’t know if they writing staff is rusty from the summer break, or if they’ve spent their days huffing paint, but it’s weird. For example, the CSIs are examining some surveillance footage of a suspect attempting to cash in stolen Four Kings chips at another casino. Said suspect is wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses, and a huge, ridiculous fake mustache. Ted Danson gravely intones:

With that disguise, he could be anybody!

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DB is bamboozled by a cunning disguise
I’m sorry, what? WHAT? I nearly fell off my damn couch I was laughing so hard. I mean…..what? This is not even real subterfuge here. This is a cartoon disguise. Wile E Coyote would try this shit. And DB Russell throws up his hands like Well, I guess we’re fucked then, boys. This coming on the heels of  Henry and Hodges explaining to Sara at great length what pumice is, only for her to reply saying that she’s well aware of all that. I should fucking hope so. Sara should know damn well what pumice is, and there’s no reason for those two chucklefucks to assume she doesn’t except to exposit some basic fucking geology to us folks at home. There’s no need to over-explain shit like this for the audience’s benefit. Have some faith in our intelligence guys. It’s frequent use of shit like this that made me hate the Miami and NY spinoffs; don’t do it here, too.

The guest cast leaves something to be desired this week. Maybe they blew all their money on James Callis and Eric Roberts or something, but in this episode, most of the supporting players are overacting the hell out of their parts, large or small. Those that aren’t seem to be largely disinterested. Very, very few of them actually hit their marks as far as acting is concerned. It really undermines the story and transforms a good script into hammy melodrama at a few points, destroying whatever sympathy I may have had for the supporting roles.

The strongest point of the episode is the plot. It’s a very complex heist and it’s fun to see it all unravel and grow bigger and bigger the more we learn. Despite the unnecessary despair over a fake mustache and lessons on igneous rock, “Take the Money and Run” throws some impressive curveballs at the audience. Each time the CSIs think they’re getting somewhere, the situation changes and proves our assumptions wrong and adds yet another puzzle piece to figure out. It’s a very satisfyingly twisty beast. It’s slightly shaky on the dismount, since the solution does become obvious to the viewer before it does to the characters. Still, it’s not a huge annoyance, given that the script successfully obfuscates the answer until about minute 30 or so.

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Brass is still dealing with the events of the season premiere, though in a more subdued manner than I thought we’d see. Brass is a pretty crusty, stoic character, and I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense that he wouldn’t spend the rest of the season in histrionics. Morgan is still shaky herself, and much more outwardly emotional than Brass was, going so far as to really lose it when she and Greg discover that there may be a kidnapping element to this whole mess. At first glance, it seemed odd that Morgan would be more of a wreck than Brass because dead wife and psycho killer daughter trumps kidnapping. However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense, given that Morgan’s still something of a newbie, and Brass is a seasoned curmudgeon.

That’s not to say that Brass is okay, not by a long shot. He’s just better at hiding it. It still comes to the surface indirectly, such as when he snaps at another officer for making a mistake much more viciously than usual, and tells Nick to frick right off when he tries to intervene. He doesn’t really face the issue directly until his apology to Nick at the very end. Brass doesn’t know how to even start to be okay with everything, he doesn’t know if life will ever feel back to normal, and, oh yeah, he has to testify against his own kid soon. MISERY. I LOVE IT. IT GIVES ME STRENGTH.

“Take the Money and Run” had the makings of a good episode: Exciting action sequences, an intricate, clever crime to solve, and further development of the ongoing character drama. Unfortunately, all that good is somewhat hampered by poor performances and far too much audience hand-holding. It’s always a shame when a potentially great episode keeps shooting itself in the foot.

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