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Sci-fi meets ‘CSI’ on delightfully geeky episode

The geeks come out to play on "CSI," with  Hodges and Wendy attending a science-fiction convention. Naturally, murder follows.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

A match made in geek heaven: Hodges and Wendy help set up the episode by being costumed (Wendy) or prop-carrying (Hodges) attendees at "WhatIfItCon," a convention for fans of "AstroQuest" — this show's version of "Star Trek." (The fans even call themselves "Questers.") When exhibitor Jonathan Danson is found dead, Hodges even gets the Captain Kirk treatment: the camera zooms in closely on his face as he turns his head and pauses dramatically. When Nick shows up on the scene, he's less-than-impressed with Wendy and Hodges' crime scene skills and asks them to beam themselves back to the lab, please. Turns out Ray was also a bit of a Quester. He and Hodges bond over the show — and over Jonathan’s dead body, of course.

Suspects galore: Melinda Carver was Jonathan's partner in creating a new version of "AstroQuest," so she had a financial stake in it. "AstroQuest" fans are disgruntled because Jonathan's "AstroQuest Redux" is dark and gritty, unlike its cheesier classic version (think "Battlestar Galactica," including the fan outcry when the remake first appeared). They're so disgruntled, they make a "Death to Jonathan!" viral video. We also find out Jonathan had a thing for sleeping with the hotter "AstroQuest" girl geeks. One of them (Liza Weil) becomes a suspect. Her friends, also "AstroQuest" fans, sabotaged Jonathan's set.

Wishful thinking: Throughout the episode, Hodges keeps visualizing himself and Wendy in "Astro Quest" — Hodges as the manly commander, and Wendy as the lady in waiting who can't resist his manly charm. He spends the moments between fantasies staring at Wendy or asking advice from Catherine (her role in the episode isn't much bigger than that, sadly) on whether people at work can date each other. He ends up turning down Wendy's offer of a date because he has given his life to the lab. In her own hopeful fantasy at the end, Wendy looks skyward and melodramatically says, "Someday." What. Ever.

Guest stars for geeks: Joshua Cox ("Babylon 5"), Kate Vernon (Ellen Tighe on "Battlestar Galactica") — not to mention "Galactica" creator/"Star Trek" vet Ronald D. Moore’s cameo, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it crowd shot cameo from Grace Park (Boomer on "Galactica"). And, while she wasn't on as geeky a show, Liza Weil played the geekiest of all characters (Rory's rival Paris Geller) on "Gilmore Girls," so even she ups the awesome geek quotient.

Solved: It takes everyone's efforts (Hodges and Wendy discover the metallic murder weapon is in the set's console; when Ray and Riley find it, they see blood and the camera Jonathan was using to take sexy pictures of every geek girl he slept with on set) to discover that a college professor (Vernon) who was making a documentary about Jonathan's remake was the murderer. Luckily, the professor was politically active, so had been fingerprinted years before, making her easy to find once the CSIs put all the pieces together. Her reason: Jonathan was one of her students, and when she saw "Redux," she noted he'd stolen his ideas from her class lecture. She wanted credit, but Jonathan wouldn't give it to her. Then he calls her 20 years devoted to media theory "a wasted life." The professor's even all intellectual about the murder, citing Derrida, until Brass dumbs it down, "I just call it second-degree murder."

DeAnn Welker is a writer in Portland, Ore.