Gil Grissom bids adieu to his CSI colleagues tonight, and it's a decent farewell. No group hug, just a lot of mostly soft-spoken moments intersperse with the team's latest case. (The ending, which is especially satisfying, has no dialogue at all.) And still it resonates. ...
Maybe the best intersection of case and farewell involves Nick (George Eads). He's especially focused on the case -- a continuation of the search for a missing woman, and the connection to the Dick & Jane Killer -- and admits that it's because this is Grissom's last. Nick just wants to win it for Grissom. There is also some fine, funny stuff with Hodges (Wallace Langham), offering not only a farewell but a look inside Hodges. And that's one of the things "CSI" has long done well -- revealing aspects of its regular characters in little bits, through conversations and how they handle cases. (There's also a scene where Grissom reminds us yet again how deeply Grissom can fall into his passions.)
And all of this goes along while the show tells us more about Ray Langston, the new character played by Laurence Fishburne. And he's considerably more interesting, and flawed, than he at first appeared. I'm looking forward to seeing how he fits in with the other "CSI" folks. Yet it may be very well; it's quite interesting to watch Petersen and Fishburne work with each other, and apart, and to see some of the same emotional fabric in each -- intelligence, a driven side and vulnerability laced with sorrow. And even then, they are very different men.
There were things that I did not like about the episode, including the more violent and terrifying scenes. Although "CSI" has more than once played like a horror movie, I enjoy it more when it's a little odd and deliberately funny. This is more horror, and quite nasty business it is.
Nevertheless, I will miss Grissom. But I will miss him in part for the same reasons that he has to go. We've long known that this season was supposed to include Grissom's farewell, and the show has steadily built to this moment by showing us just how much pain and loss Grissom has accumulated, especially since Warrick's death. It's been lovingly written and beautifully played. Not that I didn't like "CSI" before. I did. But it and Petersen stepped up their game this season, so we're seeing how very, very good it can be -- just as we're losing one of the reasons it is so good.