Bad Words

Episode Report Card
Sobell: C+ | Grade It Now!
A hot temper

Oh, sure, Las Vegas looks super-glamorous with its fancy blinking lights and dancing water shows, but out in the 'burbs, you're lucky if your street light works. At least, that's the message I'm getting a scant 45 seconds into the show. You'd think the residents who actually live in Las Vegas year-round and nurture the businesses that bring in the tourons would be all, "Hey. Hey! You think this no-lights thing is funny? Start laughing when nobody's changing light bulbs in the giant lotus over the Flamingo's entrance, funny guy."

Anyway, the light flicks on again, and the camera cuts to what is presumably the interior of the house. We see a framed photograph of a happy couple, then pan over to the door, where smoke is rolling up smoothly and quickly. The camera pans back over to the bed, where an elderly lady is sleeping. Then we focus on the smoke again as it steals across the floor of a little boy's room. We see the boy. Are you alarmed yet? Does the sight of old people and children in peril make you all anxious? The people who put this episode together will be so disappointed if you answer "no" to either question; you might as well politely lie to spare their feelings.

We see one more shot of the smoke swirling around another bed -- this one unoccupied --and then in the next shot, the fire practically explodes. We see the firemen leading out the old woman -- she's looking pretty dazed -- and the woman in the photograph (they plucked someone out of the "Mom" files at central casting) is freaking out and asking where Sam is. The fireman conveniently comes out with the child, who happens to be quite bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and clad in PJs and slippers. I put the show on pause to wonder when Sam found the time to put on his slippers, because that detail is what's bugging me, and not, say, the part of this scene where a billion people are congregating on the front lawn watching the bonfire, as opposed to being knocked back from the heat and force of the fire as we saw it a minute ago. There's a brief mother-and-child reunion, and the fireman asks if anyone else was in there. Mrs. Abernathy -- that's the Mom lady -- says there wasn't. The firemen turn on the hoses, and the little boy turns back to look at the house. Oh, look. All the subtlety and suspense are crumbling into cinders, leaving us only with fifty-odd minutes to burn as we head toward an inevitable conclusion.

The firemen continue dousing the fire, and Catherine shows up with Nicky and Warrick in tow. Nicky's wondering why they got a 911 page, since the fire's not even out yet. Warrick replies, "Jack's an arson investigator. We were here on this same street ten days ago." Jack adds that it was a garage fire a few houses down, set deliberately. Catherine asks Warrick -- the non-arson investigator in the bunch -- if he thinks this is the work of a serial arsonist. Warrick's all, "I don't know, but I'm keeping my eyes peeled. Maybe they came back to take a look." Nicky and Catherine turn around to see if there's anyone in the crowd sporting an inappropriate smile and trousers in need of changing.

Just then, the firemen come out of the house shouting that they've got another person. As the fireman heads over to the lawn -- miraculously free of smoldering debris or sparks, for all that there's a house belching fire ten feet away -- he notes that the girl's not breathing. Mrs. Abernathy says shakily, "Sabrina?" The fireman bellows for a paramedic. Mrs. Abernathy takes this as her cue to crowd into her daughter's airspace. The paramedic pushes Mrs. Abernathy back as she exposits that Sabrina wasn't supposed to be in the house, and begins compressions. Catherine and Nicky both look like they know how this is going to end, and they're not too happy that they do. Warrick joins them in the looking-rueful department, and then Catherine recovers enough to say tartly, "I think our arsonist just turned into a murderer."

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