CSI
Felonious Monk

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Sobell: C- | Grade It Now!
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Who Is The Loneliest Monk?

The bells, the bells, sanctuary, sanctuary!

Or, in plain English, we see the Strip, and then we pan over to Steve Wynn's Nirvana. I kid! We're looking at a Buddhist temple which has mysteriously appeared about three blocks away from the Luxor, if the PhotoShopped backdrop is any indication. The bells, the bells. It's all very tinkly and serene. We hear chanting, and the camera takes us inside to view several monks, all kneeling and chanting. We zoom around so that we are seeing one monk from the front, his hands clasped together as he meditates. We see a gloved hand pulling a trigger, and the monk opening his eyes and looking up with a serene acceptance. In the next instant, the camera switches to a candle being splattered by blood. We hear three more shots as the camera pulls back outside again.

Seemingly an instant later, Gil and Sara are disembarking from a CSIMobile and walking up the path to the temple. As they walk, Gil is telling Sara, "Wherever you live is your temple, if you treat it like one." "State your source," she shoots back. "Buddha," he replies. As if it's going to be anything else when you're walking into a Buddhist temple. Nicky meets his two co-workers near the foot of the stairs leading to the temple, telling them that the paramedics just pronounced four dead with no witnesses. We see a living monk in saffron robes standing about twenty feet back, on the staircase; his importance is confirmed when Nicky says, "Guy in the robe flagged down an officer." That's our Nicky -- if he's not regarding unfamiliar situations with fear, he's viewing them through the cloudy filter of ignorance.

And now is as good a time as any for me to write an elaborate and digressive disclaimer: despite Buddhism being one of the world's major religions (an estimated 700 million adherents and counting), I'm ridiculously ignorant about most facets of it. I know the extreme basics: Buddhism had a single founder, Siddhartha Gautama, who renounced worldliness in favor of enlightenment, the middle way, and eventually Nirvana -- which translates to a liberation from all desires, cravings and becomings. I know there are apparently several different denominations (to use a Christian word) of Buddhism: the Hinayana, Mahayana, Lamaism, and Zen Buddhism; these differ in their approach to how literally one interprets what the historical Buddha said and exactly how divine he was. I know about the eightfold path, the four noble truths, and the Great Wheel. But beyond that, I'm a big ol' Nicky; I haven't read any of the scripture, and I really don't know enough about the ways people practice Buddhism to be able to assess how well the show does or doesn't treat it. I apologize in advance.

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