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Past and present mix on ‘CSI’

Hey, isn't that...Benson? And...John-Boy Walton's dad? And that poor woman from "The Birds"? Yes, they all three made an appearance on "CSI" this week.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Not ripped from the headlines: Our victim this week is Layla, a teenage contestant on an “American Idol” style reality show called “Overnight Sensation.” Grissom, Mr. Sensitive, says, “She may have gotten what she wished for. She’s an overnight sensation now.” The CSIs discover that Layla’s been in a relationship with another contestant, Kip, and she turns out to be pregnant courtesy of show producer Drew Rich. But which one killed her?

Him again?: Hodges doesn’t watch “Overnight Sensation,” but he votes every week with a group of thousands of guys (think votefortheworst.com) online to keep horrific singer “Ajaya” on the show. References to Sanjaya are so 2007. Where has this show been?

Cold Case: We eventually learn the crime scene is a long-ago-shuttered casino called La Chateau Rouge. It was one of the first integrated casinos in Vegas, but only stayed open about six months (thank you, Greg, for knowing everything and filling in Nick and the viewers). Tippi Hedren turns up as the building’s owner, Mrs. Rosenthal. Her husband owned the club, and was murdered there in the ‘50s. Grissom quickly deduces that the convicted murderer, Melchior Wilson, didn’t actually do it. That’s too bad for Melchior, who died in prison.

TMI alert: When Greg and Catherine investigate the backroom at Le Chateau Rouge he sees an old sequined costume and tells her he has a glitter fetish. First: They’re sequins, not glitter. Second: No one wants to know.

Solving it all: Turns out Mrs. Rosenthal had an affair in the ‘50s with Harry Bastille, a saxophonist who’s been squatting at the club in the present. He confesses to the murder of Layla, but didn’t do it. Catherine figures out that she just ran really hard into a heavy chair arm, killing her (seriously; that’s what they want us to believe). Grissom has to solve something, though, so he gets Mrs. Rosenthal to admit to the affair and to killing her husband when he walked in on them. She says she confessed back then, but: “You see, a white woman could get away with murder, but she couldn’t love a black man.” How very After-School Special of you, “CSI.”

Classic TV star alert: Hedren wasn’t the only old-time star in the episode. Benson (Robert Guillaume) and John Walton (Ralph Waite) show up as old codgers at a poker game. Waite’s the former sheriff who botched the casino owner’s murder case, and Guillaume remembers a far worse time for African-Americans in Vegas.

Moving on: Grissom tells Catherine he came to Vegas to play cards because he needed money, after losing a girl to his love for science. He tells her it might be time “to up the ante.” That’s poker talk for “leave this show to live happily ever after with Sara.”

Sperma-what?: Hodges finds spermaceti (wax from the head of a sperm whale) in the victim’s lipstick, even though sperm whaling hasn’t been allowed in years. It leads to some of the best dialogue of the night, including him explaining to Grissom: “You know, spermaceti is not the weirdest thing found in lipstick. The ancient Greeks made theirs out of saliva, sheep sweat, and crocodile excrement.”

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DeAnn Welker is a writer in Portland, Ore.