CSI “Wild Flowers” Review

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WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS BELOW

Two grubby-looking young women wander into a rave in the desert, clearly being pursued by someone. When one of them is shot and killed, the CSIs must track down both the missing girl and her friend’s killer.

So, we’re three for three in Continuity Fairy visits as early in the episode Sara phones Grissom and leaves a happy anniversary message on his machine. It’s nice that the show hasn’t forgotten Grissom or his marriage to Sara, despite the two of them not sharing any screen time at all for many moons now. Can we have him back for a guest spot sometime soon, CBS? Pretty please?

CSI‘s penchant for awful puns is back in full force, unfortunately. It’s one of the worst aspects of the show, and it’s just pure cheese in a series that otherwise takes itself fairly seriously. Sex and the City was guilty of some truly horrific crimes against punning, but that show was supposed to be a comedy, and while CSI is not without its darkly comic moments, these come too damn close to winking at the camera for my liking.

I wish.

The worst of these comes from Sara, as she and Morgan pick over the debris of the rave. They deduce that a tank of nitrous oxide was hit during the shooting and that it lifted off into the air. The witnesses said it was on fire, and upon discovering a melted lighter, the CSIs conclude that a raver decided to light a smoke at the wrong moment and ignited the gas. Sara turns to Morgan and remarks:

Smoke on the desert, fire in the sky.

Fuck you.

The missing girl is fairly quickly found. A medical intern who attended the rave helped her hide out in her car, and has since housed her down in the hospital basement. I have to call bullshit on that one. Not even ER at its most over-the-top had secret patients lurking the basement. GOOD FRIGGIN LORD. It becomes clear from the wounds on both girls that they have been held against their will, most likely shackled to a bed. I appreciate that despite its procedural roots and middle-aged audience, CSI refuses to whitewash the breadth of human depravity, often taking its scripts down some dark and kinky paths.

Finn is only seen once this episode once, and unless my memory fails me she has almost no lines at all. While I certainly welcome the break from The Shue, CSI still sees fit to worship the ground she walks on and remind us how amazing she is during her absence. Nick and Det. Moreno are out in the desert tracking the trail of the two girls back to its origin, and Moreno decides to ramble on about how fascinating and attractive Finn is, and Nick goes right along with him.

Moreno & Nick on the trail of mushrooms

 Moreno, why you fall into the Shue-Trap? You were so sexy. You have that Jimmy Smits charm! Don’t waste it on Finn!

Elsewhere in shipping-land, there’s a kind of cute moment between Morgan and the victim where they start to bond. Morgan is trying to get some information out of the girl, and so tries breaking the ice by talking a little about herself. She ends up talking about Hodges a fair bit, and it’s an interesting look and where she’s at in terms of her feelings towards him. The girl reciprocates with a cryptic drawing of where she was kept.

“Wild Flowers” is very much a Morgan-centric episode, and despite my general boredom with the character, I certainly welcome it. It’s hard for the audience to become attached to her when Elisabeth Harnois is given bugger-all to do most of the time. I’d go so far as to say she’s got much meatier material in this one than she did when her father was shot.

She’s a relatively new CSI. She can be used to turn back the clock for the audience to some degree. Nearly everyone else has been doing this job for years, and Morgan can give us a fresh outlook on things. Harnois handles Morgan’s revulsion and rage over what has been done to these girls well, impressively so for someone who’s usually a non-presence.

I was certainly ready to begin rolling my eyes as far as they would go when Morgan swabbed the victim’s cheek to collect a DNA sample and dramatic music began to play. Cut to her stumbling out into the hallway and sinking to the floor aghast, on the verge of tears. I mean, yeah, it’s horrible and all but don’t you think this is just bordering on melodrama?

They took her tongue.

Oh. Never mind then.

I did find it a bit odd that through all of this, Morgan never went to confide in Hodges at all, instead remaining focused solely on solving the case and being furious.

Speaking of Hodges, Wallace Langham continues to shine as always. He hasn’t got a lot of screen time in “Wild Flowers” but he makes great use of it. He gripes about his union-mandated break and meal times, and then uses Nick’s lunch to illustrate a long winded story building up to revealing what he’d found out. One could argue that taking a few minutes to say what could have been said in a few lines is a waste of time, but Hodges is just fun to listen to. Given his personality, what’s to say he’s wasting Nick’s time on purpose as punishment for interfering with his lunch break?

CSI continues to find clever ways to keep the series visually interesting. There’s a scene with Morgan and Greg where the latter has collected camera phone videos and YouTube clips of the rave in question, using the music to sync the videos. It’s ludicrous that Greg could do all that in so short a time, but the visual of the crime lab’s A/V room screens full of colorful rave footage from just about every angle possible is a striking one. It’s taken maybe a little bit too far by doing away with the screens and actually placing the CSIs into the rave like Ebeneezer Scrooge revisiting his college days. It stretches believability, sure, but it keeps things engaging.

Greg, Morgan, and Rave-O-Vision

 Another such moment is the transition between the victim’s drawing of where she was held and actually going there on camera, where her drawing becomes animated and gradually transitions to live-action. Very cool.

“Wild Flowers” isn’t the most original story in the world. It’s largely comprised of elements CSI has dealt with before, though they’ve been pasted together into a combination we maybe haven’t seen yet. It helps make the series feel like more of an ensemble show by centering the action on Morgan rather than giving it to Danson or Shue. The reveal near the end of who actually abused these girls and where they were held is cleverly done. Even after thirteen seasons, you might be able to guess one of those things ahead of time, but I’d be astounded if you could guess both.