CSI Season 14 Review “The Devil and D.B. Russell”

On the last “CSI” standing- the original blend, accept no substitutes- we picked up right where we left off (seems to be a trend lately), with one of the gang having been abducted, Ecklie’s daughter Morgan (Elisabeth Harnois), after an undercover stunt went bad on the last season’s finale. In the premiere, “The Devil and D.B. Russell,” Morgan found herself imprisoned alongside Ellie (Teal Redmann), aka the pseudo-daughter of Brass. I say pseudo because, as some of you may recall, she was the result of an affair Brass’ ex-wife (Annabella Sciorra) had with another man, though he’s cared enough about her to get her out of some pretty nasty stuff on previous episodes, i.e. prostitution charges.

Here, Brass really had to make a “Sophie’s Choice” of a decision, after the kidnapper told the team they had to decide amongst themselves who lived or who died or he would do it for them, in a spin on the old Judgment of Solomon biblical tale. Would it be Ellie or Morgan? You know relations are bad with a kid when the mother of Ellie is like, obviously you should go with Morgan- Ellie had her chance. Ouch! Well, I guess we saw where that line of thinking got her, as she turned out to be the one in the coffin fake-out at the beginning of the show, which proved to be a bit of a cheat.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I gasped when Ellie shot Morgan, to be sure- I certainly did not see that coming- but naturally, they set the viewer up to think it was one of the main team who died. Still, I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker; so, mission accomplished there. Whatever the case, Brass’ choice not to choose certainly came back to haunt him, as the kidnapper was as good as his word, and someone did get chosen, like it or not. Only in this case, it was the victim who did the choosing, not the kidnapper, as Ellie not only put a bullet into Morgan, but the kidnapper, aka her BF, anyway. What did he do? (I mean against her, obvi.) Man, that is one messed up girl.

The rest of the episode was pretty fascinating serial killer stuff, with cryptic scroll- thingees (okay, dowels or Balliol’s Bones or whatever), an anagram left on a body, clues written in blood in an apartment that could only be seen under a UV light and freaky murder tableaus emulating the work of Dante. In this episode, we got a super-creepy one inside a storage facility with a woman impaled on a spear on a boat manned by Phlegyas, the ferryman of Styx. (No, not the band, so save your “Mr. Roboto” jokes, domo arigato.)

I love that “Se7en” and “Silence of the Lambs”-type stuff (FYI: I also review “Hannibal,” so if you’re interested in checking that out, too, go here), so I really enjoyed this episode thoroughly. It’s also nice to see that the original “CSI” can still get it done when it’s got its head in the game. There’s a reason this one keeps on keeping on, you know?

Sure, the cast has changed considerably over the years, and I still miss Grissom, but the new cast is solid, especially Elizabeth Shue, who I’ve always liked, and Ted Danson, who I have mixed feelings about, but I like just fine here. I was also relieved that Harnois made it out alive, as I’ve liked her for some time. You know how some actresses just seem to fall through the cracks, despite doing some good work along the way? I thought she might be one of them, but she’s faring well here thus far. (What made me a fan, for the record, was the underrated and short-lived TV show “Point Pleasant,” plus the movies “Pretty Persuasion” and “Strangers with Candy.”)

Anyway, I like the new cast, and I like the way the older cast have had their roles and overall presence bumped up a few notches in light of the ones who left/were killed off. My only real complaint would be that, at this point, it’s fairly common place to see certain plotlines and elements crop up on various procedural shows like this, which makes some shows seem to be ripping off each other from time to time, although, given the way TV works, it could just be a coincidence on occasion. Not always, though.

That makes it a bit tough to be original, to be sure, but “CSI” fares better than most in that department, I’d say. I’m sure it will be even more so the case, now that it’s the last of the “CSI” franchise still going. Still, if you watch a lot of these types of shows, that sort of thing can be an issue.

Fortunately, this was a strong kick-off to the season, overall. The main storyline was fascinating, the clues were neat, and the resolution was solid and better yet, unpredictable. I definitely didn’t see most of those twists coming, and that to me is the sign of a good crime procedural. If I can’t figure it out, it’s a win, as far as I’m concerned, and this was a definite win, because I thought for sure it was either the characters played by Eric Roberts or Tim Matheson who did it, and it wasn’t either one.

What’s more, it turned out to be a team, which was fairly clever as well, albeit very “Scream”-like. The Dante angle helped assuage that aspect of the plot just fine, although that was also reminiscent of the aforementioned “Se7en,” so there’s that. All in all, though, a really enjoyable episode, with an exciting, action-packed climax, so really, I have no complaints.

What did you think of the season premiere of “CSI”? Did you like it, too, or was it just more of the same? Is that always a bad thing, even if it was? How about the twists? Did you see the fake-outs coming? Did you guess who was in the coffin before it was revealed? Sound off on this and anything else on your mind down below in the comments section, and I’ll see you next week!

  • http://www.watchingthewasteland.com/ Jamie Paton

    I still enjoy the ‘original recipe’ CSI but I was a bit skeptical going into this premier. Fourteen seasons means a lot of stories have been told, and while I was pretty sure Morgan wasn’t going to die, I did not expect the ending. I was on to Ellie once the other dude got free (I figured she never locked the harness), but I’ve got to give the writers credit for telling a twisty tale with actual surprises given the procedural nature of the show. The premier reminded me why I’ve kept up with this show all this time and I do like the current team of CSIs. Also, glad to know I’m not the only person who remembers Point Pleasant.

    • zig

      Maybe you will like them more when they pay a visit as an episode to “Cheers”.

      • Mark Trammell

        LOL. Now THAT would be quite the episode! I can see all those barflies laid out on the Cheers counter if I close my eyes…that would be excellent!

    • Mark Trammell

      Yep, we’re amongst the few! I even have “PP” on DVD!

  • Zig

    I don’t know where you have been for the last year but the previous writer was much more on the nose. The cast stinks except for Nick and Greg, the plots are mundane, the writers are terrible, and that was not the original cast CSI has been the Titanic for the last few years in the ratings. Only one time has it cracked the top 20. And some of the other writers feel the same way. Check out the Wendy and the Lab Rats and you will see. Go to some other sites as well. And get off the comparisons to movies and other shows. By the way this is about the 4th or fifth kidnapping in the last couple of years. You need to go back and do some research of ratings other reviews, and watch the show.

    • Mark Trammell

      I did “CSI: NY” last year, but I’m new to reviewing “CSI.” I genuinely like the newer cast, for the most part, but to each their own. I prefer the original line-up, of course, but that’s clearly not going to happen, so you make do with what you have.

      I get that they’ve done the kidnapping thing before, but for God’s sake, the show has been on 14 seasons! You’re bound to repeat some things in all that time, but I thought this had a unique spin on it.

      I bring up movie and other shows, because what else am I going to compare it to? I certainly don’t think going back and re-watching the entire series would make a difference. I’m judging it on what it is NOW, not what it used to be, and if it’s going to ape ideas from other sources, then I’m going to name-check those sources because it SHOULD be judged against them if they’re going to use them in the first place.

      I don’t care about what other reviewers think- in fact, I make it a point not to read anyone else’s reviews before I write mine. (Not that I have much of a choice, as my reviews are due within 12 hours of the show airing.) But rest assured, if I think a episode sucks, I will say so. I certainly am not known for giving glowing reviews for everything I watch- if anything, quite the opposite, in some cases! So, don’t worry, if an episode really bites the big one, I will not hesitate to call them on it.

      Hope that clears everything up, and thanks for reading, regardless!

      • Ashok

        I think you did a fantastic job on this review.. Kudos!

        • Mark Trammell

          Thanks! I guess you can’t please everyone, but I do try and stand up for myself when I can, as per above.