CSI Season 14 Review “Killer Moves”

On the latest episode of “CSI,” the gang ran afoul of a master chess player with some “Killer Moves.” This, in turn, brought out Greg’s inner- and long repressed- chess geek, resulting in some pretty deft moves himself, as it was Greg that eventually brought down the killer at hand. We started out with a bizarre crime scene: a dead Elvis impersonator on a park bench, with a blood trail leading to a dead raven…make that a rook. As in a rook and a king, get it? The street letters and numbers were also chess-related, which subsequently led them to the vic’s car, where more clues awaited.

This in turn led them to a specific eco-friendly hotel (with bath mats made of grass!) where, lo and behold, a chess tournament was being held. Among the potential culprits: Ron Glass, of “Firefly” fame, as Greg’s old chess mentor; Carlo Rota, of “24,” as a seemingly unbeatable chess pro, known for playing groups of would-be rivals all at once; David Dastmalchian, of “Prisoners,” as an ex-con who learned chess in prison and is obsessed with beating said pro; Gary Colón, as the person who came the closest to beating the pro before one wrong move cost him everything; and Sarah Lafleur, of “Ugly Betty” (and “Lake Placid 2”!), as the woman in charge of running the tourney.

Now, to be fair to the show, they did play the mystery well, but I did indeed suspect it was Lafleur, and early on at that, mostly because of her catty remark about how everyone underestimates the ladies in games like chess, noting the lack of them in the tourney. Then she flinched a bit when the “CSI” gang quickly dispensed with her after getting the info they needed and I knew it was her. They waited till the end for the big reveal, but I nailed it. Maybe I should take up chess, too.

Be all this as it may, I really enjoyed the episode. I really like Greg, and it’s always fun to me when an episode focuses on him. I especially like the ones that focus on his fascination with old-school Vegas history and mobsters and the like. This one had a flashback of a young Greg being schooled in chess by the aforementioned Glass, so that was pretty neat, and I liked that he gave it up because he realized it was an all-consuming thing.

It was also a skill he funneled into his job as a CSI, which likewise requires a razor-sharp focus and attention to obsessive detail. So, in short, it was sort of Greg’s origin story as to what led him to being a CSI, at least in part, as well as why he was so good at it. That made it a pretty canonical episode insofar as the back-stories of the main cast are concerned, and, as such, an essential one. So, I can forgive having made the mystery fairly easy to figure out in exchange for that aspect of the show. Besides, when you’ve watched this show and others like it as long as I have, you’re bound to get a few right here and there.

The performances were also really great all around. Despite her homicidal tendencies, Lafleur’s character was sympathetic and likable, and the scene where she got her flirt on with Nick was nice. Rota did some solid character work as the pompous, oft-drunken chess pro; and Dastmalchian was effectively creepy. And do I even need to say that Glass is awesome? In short, this was a nifty assemblage of strong character actors that did their jobs exceptionally well, all of which made for an enjoyable episode.

To be sure, we’ve seen the whole chess game-as-an-outline for serial murder gambit before, notably on one of my all-time fave shows, “Twin Peaks.” (Which is still on my brain after seeing Sherilyn Fenn on “CSI” recently, no doubt.) But I still liked the episode overall, warts and all. I mean, if I enjoyed it even though I figured it out, that’s still pretty good, right? And this was just that: pretty good. Not classic, not bad, just a well-done episode all around. I’ll take it.

What did you make of the latest “CSI”? Did you like the Greg-centric plotline? How about the whole chess thing? Did you figure out who did it, too? Who was your favorite among the suspects? Which of the main characters do you like to see the show focus on the most, and who should they build a show around next? Sound off below and see you for the next case!