CSI “Immortality, Parts 1 & 2” Review (Season 16 Premiere/Series Finale)

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On the series premiere of the 16th season of “CSI,” which also functioned as a two-part series finale, the band was all back together again, for the most part, for one last case before shuffling off to syndication-land for good, in “Immortality.” Yes, there were some notable absences, such as Nick Stokes (George Eads) and Julie Finlay (Elisabeth Shue), but you can’t win ‘em all. Besides, as it was, even at two hours- or ninety minutes, sans commercials- it was still a bit overstuffed, with certain characters getting a bigger send-off than others, which I suppose is to be expected.

Still, it was hard to complain about that, when the show not only brought back Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) and Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle), but the long-since-gone Grissom (William Peterson) and- be still my heart- even Lady Heather, aka Dr. Kessler (Melinda Clarke). I certainly wasn’t. Grissom was as wonderfully grizzled and nerdy as ever, (Sara) sidling back into the role as if no time whatsoever had passed. As such, it was probably inevitable that he would get the most screen time, but I suppose that’s as it should be.

Besides, if they hadn’t taken that approach, we wouldn’t have gotten what were, by far, the tenderest moments in the entire series between Grissom and Sara (Jorja Fox), culminating in an implied boat ride off into the sunset together, with Sara seemingly forgoing her new job as director to be with him and Catherine stepping up to the plate in her stead, which was a nice touch.

While part of me- the more feminist part- was a bit miffed that Sara would give up her plum gig for a guy that was clearly married to his own work, I get it. The show, and perhaps more than a few viewers, wanted these two to ride off- or sail off, as the case was- into the sunset together, and that’s what we got. Hey, at least they gave the job to another woman, so there’s that.

As for the main case, it was only so-so, as the culprit, in time-worn “CSI” fashion, was the headlining guest star, in this case, Doug Hutchinson, of “Lost” and marrying-a-girl-young-enough-to-be-his-granddaughter fame (that would be Courtney Stodden, who, to be fair, looks about twice her age). Hell, I wouldn’t have put it past them to have done this on purpose, as a nod to all the fans that picked up on this trope over the years, time and again.

Hutchinson played a man who was Lady Heather’s very first “gold key” client, and who blamed Grissom for her retiring and becoming a therapist instead. So, naturally, he formulated this completely mental, convoluted, totally unbelievable plan to frame Heather for a series of odd bombings in which only a fraction of the amount of people that could have been killed were taken out, seemingly by design.

To be fair, there was a tense moment where a school teacher stood up in front of a play being given by a host of kids with a bomb strapped to her chest, threatening to pull the kill switch. Ultimately, she only did so after the kids and everyone else was cleared out, taking out only the bomb tech with her.

There was also a double-trouble sequence in which one group of CSI’s in one place (Greg, Morgan and Willows) and another in a different place (Grissom, Sara) were both in danger of being blown to smithereens by the mad bomber played by Hutchinson, but I think we all knew that they weren’t likely gonna go there, and they didn’t. Still, it was a decent enough set-up, even if the ending was sort of a foregone conclusion.

Although, to be fair, with more and more shows taking up the whole “Lost”/“Game of Thrones” mantle of killing off major characters when you least expect it, you never know, I suppose. But in the end, everyone made it out alive, so there you go.

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I think my favorite moments of the episode were the quieter ones: Sara and Grissom speaking volumes in the silence as they waited for color-coded bees to return; the look on Grissom’s face when the “Syndaver” opened its eyes in that open-aired warehouse, itself a quintessential “CSI”-type location; the last sighting of those hyper-bright flashlights in the darkness; the other oddball clues, like the thumbprint “face” D.B. (Ted Danson) discovered or the “X-Marks the Spot” one Willows’ daughter found; and the requisite so-bad-it’s-good one-liner, fittingly given to Grissom at the beginning: “Looks like somebody jumped the shark.”

However, the best/worst line of the evening by far went to Willows, who when Grissom couldn’t place who a certain redhead that seemed to know him but he couldn’t figure out who was.

Grissom: “Where did that girl come from, anyway?”
Willows, without missing a beat: “My vagina.” LOL!

Yeah, that was pretty much the best. The look on Grissom’s face=priceless. Now THAT was the “CSI” we all know and love in a nutshell: a little bit gross, a little bit funny. Gotta love it.

Was the episode perfect? Hardly. The culprit was obvious; the machinations that brought back the old cast were nothing if not convoluted, as was the case itself (not to mention the psycho’s plan didn’t make a lot of sense when you thought about it); and certain characters didn’t get the send-off they maybe deserved (looking at you, Greg and Morgan- love you!); but all in all, it was better than nothing, which was what it was looking like we might get when it was announced that the show wasn’t going to be picked up for another full season. All things considered, it could have been worse, I suppose.

I did like that there were nods to the show’s illustrious past in the commercial breaks, i.e. the “furries,” for instance; and the show could have done worse in terms of the overall plot- I liked that they not only brought back Lady Heather, but answered a few burning questions a lot of us had about her- that she and Grissom were never intimate and she never was truly in love with him, he just helped her come to terms with certain facets of herself. Good to know, and even better for Sara to know. Definitely a nice touch.

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Still, I enjoyed it overall, and it was undeniably fun seeing old faces again. I sorely missed Grissom’s geeky animal/insect musings and approach to life, for instance, and even though she wasn’t gone as long as some, I love Willows’ brash, uncompromising attitude and inability to mince words and she was definitely missed. As will the show be.

Of course, the good news is, much like “Law & Order,” its unlikely the show will ever truly be off the air for good. Somewhere, at any given time, you can almost certainly click around your channel selections and find the show lurking somewhere, like any number of its oddball psychos. The truth is, shows like this will never truly go away- they just morph into something else. Just ask CBS. A good half of their schedule is made up of crime procedurals that “CSI” undeniably paved the way for.

So, “CSI” might be gone, but it won’t soon be forgotten- not with 15 seasons and change (aka the “sixteenth season” this was) to draw from, and a host of imitators clogging up the satellites of the world at any given time. And I, for one, have no problem with that.

Goodbye, “CSI,” you will be missed…but never forgotten.

So, what did you think of the big finale? Was it everything you hoped it would be? Or would you have preferred there be more to it somehow? If so, what would you have liked to see? Did you enjoy seeing Grissom, Willows, Brass and Lady Heather again? Were you disappointed that Stokes or Finlay didn’t make the cut? What did you think of the ending? Sound off on this and more, and be sure and join me next week for the big “CSI: Cyber” premiere!