CSI “The End Game” Review Season 15 Episode 18

CSI The End Game Season 15 Episode 18 08

On the season finale of “CSI,” in the second of two episodes, we finally got the long-awaited conclusion of the ongoing “Gig Harbor Killer” storyline, as well as what may well be the final episode of the show itself, if CBS opts not to renew it. In the aptly-titled “The End Game,” the injured-but-determined Paul Winthrop resurfaced, this time with a new MO and an ugly endgame of his own to execute.

We began with the murder of another set of twins, Emilia and Margot Vance (Shannon and Shauna Baker, aka “The Baker Twins,” of “April Rain”), who later turn out to be Winthrop’s ex-wife and her sister, respectively. One of them is also a tattoo artist, and gives Winthrop the same tattoos as his late brother. After a night of drinking, domination and debauchery, Winthrop proceeds to bludgeon the two to death with a statue of Castor and Pollux, the identical twin sons of Zeus. When one died, the other pledged his immortality to be reunited with his brother and they were transformed into the constellation Gemini.

So, needless to say, the murders were rife with symbolism, as were the events leading up to it, which was 50 shades of f’d up. (I’m guessing this was not unintentional, given a certain movie that opened this past weekend.) As ever, the bodies were nowhere to be found, but the crime scene was present and accounted for before the CSI team even got there. Included amongst the numbered placards and colored strings are a picture of Winthrop in his new look, completely made over as his brother now, and a tape recording of him psychoanalyzing himself.

Also, some of the strings are green and formed in the shape of the Gemini constellation above the crime scene, and there’s a unique type of rope around that was hand-woven, with traces of pollen from Artemis Bloom, a rare cactus, and another mythological reference, as Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and yet another twin.

Meanwhile, Finn gets the aforementioned statue and a finger encased in a jar with saline solution and a rare tattoo ink inside that looks like blood on first blush, which leads them to the scene of the crime, as Vance was the only one in the area that had purchased any in recent times. Still operating under the assumption that Winthrop had an additional partner, Finn goes to talk to Shaw (Mark Valley), who claims that he thought he knew who that the partner might be, and is willing to make a deal for the information and a 48-hour pass to work some connections.

Shaw gets it and Finn and he track down Brother Larsen (Eric Roberts), who claims that the partner is likely Collin Winthrop (Barry Bostwick, “Spin City”), aka Paul’s dad. Collin was thought to have fled to Mexico after a series of sexual misconduct accusations started to pile up. However, Shaw found a nature preserve in Winthrop’s name, which he initially thought was a front, but turns out to be a real place. Is it where Collin is really hiding out? As Collin is a gardener and given the whole cactus thing, the preserve certainly warrants a look- and a search warrant.

Though Collin is uncooperative, the team finds evidence Paul was there, plus the bodies of the twin Vance ladies, so Collin is promptly arrested. However, no sooner are they headed to the car with him than shots ring out and Collin is shot on the spot. Shaw spots a laser aimed for Finn, but dives in front of it, saving her life- but ending his. Further searching of the property leads to the revelation that there is video surveillance, but no audio. The team discovers that Larsen paid Collin a visit, and had lied about not knowing where Collin was. After this things got a bit dubious, as Morgan used a computer program to use the vibrations of plants in the area to determine what Larsen and Collin said in the exchange! (There is no way that’s an actual thing, right?)

It’s determined that Larsen was blackmailing Collin over something to do with his daughter, May, so Larsen is brought in. His story is actually pretty interesting, involving the fact that Collin reportedly raped his own child and she subsequently gave birth to the twins, Paul and Jared. May took off, and managed to find a home for Jared, but not Paul, who was sickly and weak, so she faked his death to throw her father off. Eventually, Collin found Paul, but not Jared or May.

However, DB calls him out on the story, saying that DNA testing proved that Larsen is the father, not Collin. He admits it, but says that the rest is true, and that May is actually Sister Alice, the nun Finn interviewed in a previous episode. The team comes up with an idea to use May/Alice as bait to lure Winthrop out of hiding, but never get the chance, as DB goes to fetch Finn and is confronted by Winthrop himself, who has begun another of his crime scene lay-outs there and is interrupted by DB.

DB correctly determines that the layout isn’t finished yet, and that Finn may not be dead, but Winthrop refuses to tell him where she is. Sara figures out that both Finn and DB are unaccounted for, and she and the cops storm Finn’s apartment complex, shooting Winthrop in the process. Still refusing to cooperate, the team searches around the area for Finn, finally finding her in the trunk of a stolen car in the parking lot of the apartment complex. She’s badly injured, but still alive. At the end of the episode, she’s healing from her injuries, but still unconscious, and that’s where we leave poor Finn for the episode.

We also discover that Stokes decided to take the San Diego job after all, after considerable hemming and hawing and back-and-forth. He eventually is found by Sara and Greg gathering his stuff, and the two grab him for drinks and one last send-off, as we’re treated to a montage of Stokes’ greatest hits, including moments with the late Warrick and Grissom. I also liked the last touch of Nick taking a magnet labeled “solved” off of the “Crime Solve Score Board” (that’s a thing!) and putting it over his name before leaving. He will be missed, to be sure.

As I discussed in the previous review (which can be found here), the show’s fate still hangs in the balance, so it’s hard to say whether it will return next season. But if so, it will be down yet another original cast member, and that’s a damn shame. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

As far as the episode goes, it was a damn sight better than the last installment of the ongoing case, but still a bit dubious at times- again, that plant thing, and I thought it was bizarre that they went with the lesser explanation of the Larsen thing instead of the other explanation he gave, which would have tied up everything we saw before nicely. Also, the takedown of Winthrop was even more abrupt than the last episode we saw him, in which his brother was killed.

So, overall, though I was with the episode up until a point, it kind of fell apart once they involved plants and dubious police procedures- i.e. the team busting into Finn’s apartment, even though for all they knew, DB and/or Finn could be in mortal danger and it could have ended very badly. I know it sometimes happens that way, but it seems like with the lives of their own at stake, they would have been a bit more cautious on entry. So, the ending kind of ruined it for me somewhat, but I did enjoy the stuff with Stokes getting a promotion at long last, and his flashbacks and final scenes, so in the end, it was a bit of a draw overall.

The sad thing is, the whole “Gig Harbor” storyline had a lot of promise, and a lot going for it. I loved all the tie-ins to mythology and the twins stuff, and I thought Mark-Paul Gosselaar was surprisingly effective as the murderous twins, and gave a great set of distinct performances. Unfortunately, it felt like a good idea that was only partially well-thought-out, leaving it a bit of a mixed effort at best, like someone publishing a half-finished manuscript from a late author or something of that nature. As they say, close but no cigar. I would really hate it if this were the last episode of the show as a whole, but hopefully it won’t come to that.

What did you think of the season finale of “CSI”? Were you more satisfied with the conclusion than I was? Or do you agree with my assessment? Do you think CBS will renew the show for another season or not? Should they? What did you think of Gosselaar’s performance(s)? How about the way the show dealt with Eads’ exit? If you didn’t like it, what do you wish they’d done? Sound off below, and see you next season- if there is one!