CSI “Under My Skin” Review Season 15 Episode 17

CSI Under My Skin Season 15 Episode 17 10

On the first of a two-part- albeit unrelated- “CSI” finale, we joined the team in a hunt for two missing sisters, the daughters of one of their own, in “Under My Skin.” It all began when elder sister Lexi (Hunter King, “The Young & the Restless”) took little sis Cara (Harley Graham, “Grey’s Anatomy”) on a shopping spree, courtesy of their unwary dad, whose credit card she swiped. Afterwards, the newly made-over Cara is left behind with the sketchy Pete (Chad Addison, “Stalker”) while she goes off for a brief tryst with her even sketchier boyfriend, Axel. Neither sister ever returns, but Pete turns up dead in a bathroom shortly thereafter, throat slit and head in a toilet.

Enter John Nolan (Brett Cullen, “Lost”), a fellow CSI, and director of the San Diego branch- and the girls’ father. Turns out that he’d lost custody of Lexi in a nasty divorce with ex-wife Tori (Lisa Rinna, “Days of Our Lives”), but felt he should have fought harder, as she was a bad influence on Lexi, as a party-mom-who-never-grew-up type. Now she’s a bit of a wild child herself, and Nolan wonders if she might not have gotten herself in too deep with something she couldn’t handle.

This seems even more likely when the boyfriend, Axel, is brought in but he insists he hasn’t seen Lexi since they hooked up at the mall. Though he has a considerable rap sheet- including pandering and taking a minor across state lines- he has an alibi, as Axel went straight to work after their get-together. Further, Finn is able to track down their phones, which were tossed in the desert. One of them features video of the kidnapper, which is clearly not Axel. Nor is it anyone the parents recognize.

They also find that Lexi was being sexually harassed via text messages and dic-pics from an acquaintance of Tori’s, who she caught trying to take advantage of Lexi at a party in which she let her daughter drink and take Ecstasy. This leads to used car salesman Dennis Hayes, but he proves to be out of town at the time. Eventually, Lexi’s body crops up in a dumpster in the suburbs. Signs indicate she tried to make a break for it and was caught and beaten to death, then dumped. Also present on the body is a scorpion sting, which ties back in to the first murder, where a scorpion husk was found on the body of Pete.

The scorpion proves to be a rarity, and that narrows down the search to just one suspect: Kieran Clark, a bug expert known as “The Bug Guy,” who travels around to different schools, showing them bugs, reptiles and assorted creepy crawlies. Greg and Morgan track him to a warehouse, where they find a lot of said critters, along with a picture of an older girl that looks an awfully lot like Cara, but no Cara. The woman is found to be Jennifer DeMarcus, who worked at a pet shop, and fled the state after Clark got fixated on her and began to stalk and harass her. The team believes that he kidnapped Cara because of her resemblance to Jennifer, and might even believe it is her.

An investigation of Lexi’s body finds a certain kind of sealant in the wound that indicates she was bashed into concrete, likely from a recently-paved drive-way. They discover that there’s one nearby the murder site, after Finn determines that Clark may not have gone far. Nick Stokes is closest to the location and opts to go into the house in question, sans back-up.

As word came out recently that actor George Eads was leaving the show after this season, you can see where this was an even tenser moment that usual for longtime fans of the show, but Stokes manages to get out alive, after shooting Clark, who was holding Cara at knifepoint. This leads to a grateful Nolan offering Stokes his job as a CSI director, as he is stepping down to better look after his daughter, in light of what’s happened. Stokes asks for time to think about it, but you can see where this is all headed, which is confirmed in the following episode. (See that review here.)

All in all, a decent enough episode, I suppose, with a lot of red herrings and fake-outs before the final showdown, which was admittedly intense, for the aforementioned reasons. I am certainly glad they didn’t opt to kill Stokes off, especially as he is one of the last of the original CSI’s standing. I think longtime fans would have hit the roof if that happened, to say the least. Thankfully, they didn’t go there, opting to give him a promotion instead, which I can live with, especially since it leaves the door open for the occasional return on down the line- if the show is renewed for another season, that is.

Interestingly enough, though the show has faltered somewhat on Sundays, it actually did surprisingly well on the one-off special Tuesday episode (“The Last Ride”) the week of the Super Bowl, in which CBS aired a whopping three episodes within the space of a week. This week, they went with two, but the combined effort seems to me like they were just burning off episodes like nobody’s business in order to fill the current time slot with something else, in this case, “Battle Creek,” a new show from the people behind “Breaking Bad” and “House,” which premieres March 1st.

If that show takes off, it may well be the death knell of “CSI” as we know it, though “CSI: Cyber” premieres that same week, on March 4th. If that show takes off, then CBS may well opt to stick with it instead of “CSI” itself, and cut its losses. It’s hard to say whether that would be the right call or not. On the one hand, “CSI” is certainly long-in-the-tooth by now, what with the show in the whopping 15th season at this point. Further, the shows lately have been awfully hit-or-miss, with often sketchy writing, no doubt the result of a lot of the original writing staff no longer working there.

On the other hand, the show is certainly an institution by now, and even a subpar episode of the show is better than a lot of the shows that have ripped “CSI” off since its debut fifteen years ago. Granted, a lot of the old team is long gone by now, and while it’s been nice seeing some of the supporting actors that were once only seen briefly in the past get bigger, beefier roles, the show’s replacements have also been sometimes iffy as well.

For the record, I like Elisabeth Shue a lot, always have, and her role here was the best thing she’s done in a while, and I thought Ted Danson was a solid enough bit of casting as the head of the department on the whole. (Definitely an improvement over the oft-ripe performance of Laurence Fishburne, who is usually solid, but just never fit in on this show.) Of the “squints,” I also like Elisabeth Harnois a lot, and this is far and away the best role she’s ever landed, and the most successful.

So, there’s definitely a show worth saving here, especially if they were able to secure some solid writers and maybe even some old faces for a final season. I think if they went into a new season knowing it was their last, and brought back some of the original team for a final send-off, it could reap CBS some great benefits, especially if they promoted it as the final season, and maybe put it on during the week, instead of on the weekend.

We shall see, I suppose, but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed, because I really do think the show deserves a better send-off than getting unceremoniously cancelled and fading into syndication oblivion without warning. A classic show like “CSI” deserves better than that, I think.

What do you think? Should “CSI” give it up instead of slogging on through yet another season? Or do you like my idea of CBS going into a final season and promoting it as such, while trying to bring back some of the past crew for one last blast? What did you think of this episode? Were you worried for Stokes, too? Sound off below, and see you in the next review!