Crate 'n Burial

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Uncovering Unpleasant Truths

Previously on C.S.I.: we established who the folks of CSI are, and how well they love a good crime scene.

For once, we see Las Vegas by the harsh light of day; more specifically, we see the view you'd get if you were crazy enough to stand on a sand ridge outside the airport and gaze at the strip in the harsh light of day. The camera then takes a leisurely sweep over a lot of arid sand -- sand so dry and so hot, I'm compelled to get up and blend a giant margarita -- and stops at the dusty blade of a shovel tamping down sand. Gradually, the focus pulls back to reveal a shirtless pile of beefcake attached to the shovel. He wipes his forehead in the manner of a man in a beer commercial expecting the blast of the Rockies and a wave of Coors to chill him, then walks off.

Just then, we follow the camera beneath the newly-tamped dirt where -- surprise -- a wellspring of beer does not dwell but a woman does, and she's none too pleased about it. After flicking a lighter to confirm that yes, it's dark, and yes, she's trapped into a crate underground, the woman begins screaming. Normally, I'd make a crack about the stupidity of wasting your oxygen supply in this sort of situation, but I'm gripped by dual fears: the fear of being buried alive, and the fear of having to watch yet another piece of entertainment featuring a serial killer or some other type of homicidal individual with a taste for baroque and elaborate death rituals. I could still be scarred from watching The Cell, where I spent the whole movie wondering why Hollywood serial killers tend to rival Martha Stewart in terms of time management and creative ingenuity when it comes to their little torture chambers and routines. Really -- digging elaborate pits and sewing bathing suits made of skin, or building giant Lucite fish tanks with closed-circuit televisions are not exactly spur-of-the-moment improvisational acts. If these people are together enough to evince a talent for multitasking, you'd think they'd realize that their time and energy are better spent toward, say, building a giant omnimedia company devoted to fetishizing housework, or aspiring to a reign of terror on the Food Network as a television chef.

But I've digressed. The woman is screaming, and in the next shot, we find out that she's some rich guy's wife, and the kidnapper is asking for two million dollars. The millionaire -- who is a bona fide Hey! It's That Guy -- is named Mr. Garris, and he's pretty edgy. You'd be edgy too if Gil and Nick were playing the ransom demand over and over. After he snipes about that, Gil admonishes him to listen to the tape. "I don't hear anything," he says in frustration. "Right," Gil says. "Where do you hear nothing in Las Vegas?" Okay, Gil? Not the time for Zen mind games. Just come out and tell it like it is. Fortunately, Gil heeds me. "The desert, and judging by the low-frequency buzz in the background, probably near power lines." Nicky flexes his jaw in agreement. "How'd you hear all that?" Garris asks anxiously. "I listen," Gil replies. Is there some sort of C.S.I. edict that every opening sequence be a paean to his supernatural skills?

Just as the brass gong is about to chime in the background in tribute to Gil's Zen master listening skills, Brass clangs through the environment yammering about the FBI. Garris is instantly spun up again and anxiously asks if his wife Laura -- who is, I am guessing, the woman currently screaming in a crate underground somewhere -- has any chance of survival. Brass replies, "It's a three-hour window. A ransom message with a short fuse means that the victim's situation will cause her to expire by or before the deadline, regardless of what we do." "In a car trunk, that sort of thing," Nicky helpfully supplies. Boy, the Las Vegas Metro Police should just lend these two out to a trauma ward; their manner with frantic and grieving people would go over real well when they deliver the news of a loved one's death. "You guys have got to move!" Garris blurts out. "Mr. Garris," Gil interjects. "It's been my experience in these situations that if you want to go fast, go slow." Come to think of it, Gil in a trauma ward wouldn't be much better.

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