He's bringing in some new expressions, along with some patented James expressions I've seen before. It's fascinating. I'm not yet sure who this guy is, but I like him a lot. The voice is slightly deeper than James' regular voice - I'd say about a season 4 Gaius level of manliness. He brought his own accent to this show.
James as a detective works really well. That's one of the things about 17th Precinct that actually worked; he was so good at questioning a seedy criminal, which we obviously don't see here. But it was nice to see him do some detective work. I might almost be on board with James joining a formulaic cop/law show like Jamie Bamber did. Almost. Also, James and Ted Danson complement each other well. Tall and short, white-haired and dark-haired, really angular face and.. a James face? Either way, not angular.
As for the plot, well, it's CSI. You can tell we're in season 13 and they're running out of ideas. Someone kills sex workers (yawn), and he's basing it all on Dante and the seven deadly sins (double yawn). It's very Se7en and really, that movie came out ages ago. That said, it's not a bad episode; it's just average. James has done better and worse shows, but this was an enjoyable thing to watch, and I'm looking forward to the second part, which will air as the premiere of season 14. So we have to wait a good while for more Journalist James. I feel like there's something going on underneath that we don't know yet, and I'm pretty eager to find out more.
I took my time with this post, and then I ended up writing pretty much a scene-for-scene recap with photos, so scroll through or read properly, whichever suits you.
We begin with a Black Sabbath concert, where we're shown a full new song. Ted Danson and some other CSI guy are there, and I'm not entirely sure why, but whatever. Then James/John Merchiston interviews Ozzy Osbourne. It's the same scene we had in the previews, so I've commented on it here. I love how Ozzy mumbles something incoherent and John is all "I think we got it, thank you so much", as if he said something life-altering. Ozzy was a nice touch, all in all. The music is not my scene, but it gives the episode a nice send-off. There's also some Black Sabbath playing throuhgout the episode, but we won't see Ozzy again. He's apparently not one of those singer/actors like Meat Loaf. It would have been a fun twist if he were involved somehow.
John Merchiston turns his attention to the CSI guys and asks for a chance to do an in-depth coverage of them. He even has a title he's apparently very proud of: "Police is Paradox in Sin City". (LOL headlines. Also that might be a reference to the sin theme of the episode.)
He looks at them like "Pretty good, huh? Do I wow you?" like a little boy who wants to play with the big boys. This whole scene plays out very big brother-little brother, also because Ted Danson is a head taller than James. His character - D.B. Russell - is not very excited about the idea, but when he gets a call about a new crime scene, he invites Merchiston in for some reason. Oh, and this takes place in Seattle, in case that's important.
At the crime scene, John is busy trying to convince the others that he has, in fact, been trained by the Scotland Yard for some article he did earlier, but they don't seem too impressed.
There's a mummified body, which is actually kind of cool in a morbid way. John doesn't seem too horrified, so maybe he really is a vet at crime scenes. Fun detail: James does the Gaius eye-roll/bulge as a reaction to the porn movie title! ("Lambskin Linings Playbook".) He looks totally like a guy who's crudely excited by porn, but has to pretend he totally isn't. Heee! Also, he recognizes the "new stripper smell" on the old body. The scent is called "Honeysuckle Summer", although he doesn't remember the full name (or pretends not to). Julie Finlay (played by Elisabeth Sue) asks, "Personal experience?" Merchiston: "I never reveal a source." This is pretty textbook crime show banter, so let's move along.
James' next scene is with George Eads, and it's a bit of a throwaway thing, but he gets to smell a very foul-smelling pill bug, which I guess is funny because his character acts like such a know it all ("I just came from Luxor.. the one in Egypt.. Hieroglyphics are just in my mind right now.")
So there's his nauseated face, which looks very realistic (maybe that's a real pill bug in the chair, at least it's a real nasty critter moving in there. No screencap of that coming.) Eads' character doesn't have much to say to Merchiston, so maybe he's hiding something, or maybe he just doesn't like to talk to nosy journalists.
The plot goes on, more sex workers are murdered, including a girl who would eat cakes on webcam. So she's gluttony, you know. This disgusts the detectives, but as you may know by now, I have a certain interest in the fatter side of the internet. Mostly acceptance, I must add, but I've seen some fetish imagery too, so to me this looks pretty tame. I'm not sure how accurate the portrayal is, because the girl they picked for the role is just Hollywood fat, not fat fat. And she's sitting behind a table eating, not showing off her gut or anything so it's, well, a TV version of a stuffing fetish. I'm glad they did this for James' episode, and not the horrifying diaper fetish man they had once on CSI: Miami, which I cannot unsee. Let's move on before I start seeing it in my head again .*shudders*
D..B. and Finley recap the deaths, and Merchiston cuts them off: "In flagrante Delecto. Death by chocolate." (Aha, Delecto is a brand of chocolate? I see what they did there.) Again, he looks so proud at his own wit. He just had to cut in, like he's been sitting on this one all day.
Speaking of sitting, D.B. decides to show Merchiston his place. He says, all politely, "Yeah do you mind not sitting on that, please?" (I'm not sure what "that" is, but it does give a nice creaking noise.) James does an awesome set of expressions here to show that he can sit wherever, but man, who would request such a thing? I loved this so much.
And the best Eye-Roll Accompanied by Reluctant Rising from a Seat goes to... James Callis! Merchiston, all hurt pride (Gaius-style), says, "Sorry. You got any issues with the couch?" D.B. doesn't even look at him anymore, because he is so the alpha dog and Merchiston better keep that in mind or else.
Enter Eric Roberts, who plays a sort of cult leader (I'm glad they didn't give James that role, he's done enough cult leaders for a while). "Brother" Larson has a church specifically for sex workers, as he used to be someone who worked as a pimp. He heard a voice saying, "How's that working out for you?" He goes on, "You call it God, you call it conscience", but it made him change his ways. I think he's called Dr. Phil. I had to get that joke in this post. Heh heh, I kill me. (Maybe I'm no better than John Merchiston.) Eric Roberts does a pretty awesome performance in this episode.
Next, we see James with George Eads's character.. Nick Stoke again. Merchiston tries to get Stokes to admit that a man of action shouldn't be running computer diagnostics. "Are you just going to stand there watching me like that?" says Stokes.
Hmmm, maybe he touched a nerve there? It would probably help if I knew more about the CSI universe, but there's nice tension in this scene - until Morgan Brody (played by Elisabeth Harnois) walks in. They've found Brother Larson's criminal history, which was long and colorful, and includes a weapon just like the one that killed one of the victims.
"Sounds like you've got your man," says Merchiston. Morgan reminds him that the similarity won't be enough in the court of law, although she quips "that might work on your editor". (Why are they all so snippy with him? Is it because they actually have something to hide from a journalist? He might be a bit annoying, but he's just doing his job.)
At the church, killjoy Stokes tells Merchiston to wait in the car. He's totally childish and petulant about this.
After waiting like two minutes, he gets out of the car to do some detective work. Dude, get a grip. This is not some detective movie. This is police business, they're chasing a murderer, you're unarmed and unused to this stuff, you stay in the car. But he has to have his adventure.
But then you see him holding an ice pack to his head and you just want to cuddle him and nurse him back to health.
So then - the guy is basing this off Dante's 9 circles of hell, and we have six to go, Anger being next. There's some chitchat that I find tired and typical of crime dramas, thus not worth repeating.
I enjoy what he's doing with the pen. It's one of his tools, and he clutches and clicks it while thinking. That's a nice touch.
James wipes his eyes, which might be for the character, or maybe he just itches. It's cute, but then everything he does it cute to me, so I should probably think of something else to say about this scene.
Basically, I think this scene is stupid. Everyone thinks Morgan Brody should go undercover as a sex worker, despite it being a HUGE fucking risk. She is also Conrad Ecklie's (Marc Vann) daughter, so Ecklie is against it. Great idea, put someone close to you into the murderer's hands. It's especially worrying, given that Jim Brass's black sheep daughter Ellie is already missing.
Merchiston butts in and says the murderer is a narcissist, "he can't help himself, he likes to brag, so maybe he's gonna brag to this young lady." Why does he say "young lady"? Is he her uncle? *checks* Elisabeth Harnois was born in 1979, so she's.. the same age as me. So that's only seven years younger than James. Of course, if Black Sabbath was his first story ever in 1986, Merchiston is actually older than James.
Anyway, why would his opinion sway anyone, since he's just the annoying journalist nobody really wants around? As always, James acts the hell out of it. I still say it's a really stupid idea to send a loved one undercover, and indeed she ends up missing by the end of the episode.
A nice sidewards glance there, as if one eye is empathetic and the other one not so much? Maybe he's just hoping Ecklie will go with it, because that would mean more drama, and a possibly quicker solution. He just wants his story. Or does he? It's hard to tell.
So the killer's got Morgan and Ellie. He's got them both. I really don't care about any of these characters, because this is an average crime show, and it's hard to feel very much at all about a show like this. However, I loved James' performance and can't wait for more. So there's that. It would be better if he had something to do with the case, or perhaps had some friends or relatives or something that would give his character depth. But hopefully we'll get to that in the second part.
Executive producer: JERRY BRUCKHEIMER.
Another post CSI post coming when we have more information on season 14!