Revenge Is Best Served Cold

Episode Report Card
Sobell: B- | Grade It Now!
Poker? I hardly know 'er!

Give CSI some credit -- it doesn't beat around the bush. After opening with a shot of the Rio in the fullness of its neon splendor and a percussive soundtrack that all but spells out "this is ominous" in Morse code, the camera creeps into a high-stakes poker room. You can tell it's for high-rollers because of a chandelier that's opulent even by Vegas standards, and guards at the door to keep out the riff-raff. What then follows is a poker game between four individuals: an ascetic-looking man with close-cropped hair; a woman who, were this a movie set in the Old West, would be playing "the hard-bitten whorehouse madam"; a younger man whose beret suggests that he lost an earlier, high-stakes bet; and an older man. The game unfolds thusly.

Dealer: Start with you, sir?
Old Guy: One.
Ascetic Guy: [knocking knuckles on the table] Check.
Blueberry Beret: Doesn't bet, but he keeps a beat. You check. Someone's on a flush draw. Mmm, I'll take the free card. Check.
Hard-Bitten Madam: [in a voice that sounds as though she's gargled with Drano] I'll check. [She then breaks out the Visine.]
Dealer: What do you got, Candyman?
Candyman (formerly Old Guy): [pops a mouthful of M&M knockoffs] Check.

A blonde waitress enters and begins taking drink orders. Blueberry Beret drops two chips on her tray, and she thanks him. When the waitress gets to Candyman, he deposits the red plastic stirrer from his new drink into his old and picks it up without glancing at the waitress or tipping her. Blueberry Beret mutters, "Stiff...typical."

Ascetic Guy speaks up: "I can bet. Make it two thousand." Hard-Bitten Madam -- who is wearing a low-cut spandex top in roughly the same shade as Blueberry Beret's hat and a sizable bauble around her neck -- watches him lay down the cards. "The Grinder speaks," Blueberry Beret sneers, tossing some more chips toward the pot. The Candyman speaks again: "Raise. Four thousand. Call the bet." The dealer, stacking chips into neat piles, says clinically, "Two thousand, raise you two thousand." We get another shot of Hard-Bitten Madam and her strategically revealed cleavage, then Blueberry Beret speaks again. "It's all about you, Grinder." Grinder (a.k.a. Ascetic Guy) says, "I'm going to go get a $2000 slice of pizza." Hard-Bitten Madam smiles slightly, either because she's seen the card (nine of clubs) or because she's worked out in her head how this is all going to go down. Blueberry Beret pauses for a moment before saying, "Well. Might as well make it a poker game," before pushing his entire collection of chips into the pot. He then turns to Hard-Bitten Madam and asks, "What do you got, Southern Iowa?" She rasps, "A pain in my ass to the right side." She throws down two cards and two chips. The Candyman speaks: "Yeah. You might have a winning hand. You might just be trying to buy it. Johnny Chan thought I was too old too, back in the '86 series." Blueberry Beret replies, "You mean the series where the ball went through Buckner's legs?" They're talking about two different series here. The Candyman snaps, "Save the story, kid. Here's what's what. I got aces. What do you got? Maybe you got trips, maybe king, queen. Maybe you got two pair. Ace hits the board. I win. Club hits the board, I win. Eight, nine hits the board, I win." As he delivers this monologue, the Candyman continues popping little chocolate candies into his mouth. Blueberry Beret is unimpressed: "Here's the math, old man. Thirteen of every suit got in the deck, I see three clubs. That means you got ten coming, thirty-seven cards left in the deck. You like those odds?" "I like 'em a lot better than I like you," the Candyman replies. He goes to gather up his chips, but his fingers seize into claws, he begins shaking uncontrollably, and then he keels over and dies. And now, we have an answer to the question, "Who can take a card game, and ruin it with a death?" The Candyman can.

Cut to a shot of a casino floor, where row upon row of slot machines captivates the hoi polloi. We hear the usual noises, though they're quite muffled, and a low-pitched whine overrides everything. As the camera zooms closer and closer to Gil, the sounds of the machines increase slightly -- but so does the whine. I'm going to have to invent a new phrase to signify this auditory phenomenon, as I have a feeling we're going to be hearing it a lot in conjunction with Gil this season. Suggestions, anyone? The sounds snap into sharp focus; the machines burble electronically, coins drop into trays with metallic clinks, it's the usual cacophony of small-stakes greed. Gil smiles somewhat ruefully. Then Warrick approaches him from behind, gives him a searching look, then asks, "You lost?" Gil turns around, slightly startled, then recovers by saying, "I'm listening." "For what?" Warrick asks. Gil fills him in: "E-C-G. C-major chord. All the slots play the same notes. Perfect harmony. Makes people happy." Warrick brings home The Sledgehammer Of Unwitting Subtext when he quips, "Except when you're losing. Then you don't hear anything." Gil staggers slightly from that symbolic blow, then heads over to the crime scene in question.

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