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Sobell: C | Grade It Now!
The Young Turks in winter

Meanwhile, in another part of the lab, Nicky rolls ink over the newspapers while spooky music plays. Eventually, he realizes that what he's got are prints of the outside of someone's hand -- prints made when one holds a decapitated noggin between one's palms and sets it down. We then see him telling Catherine the odds of finding out who it is based on their palm prints are roughly the same as their victim getting an open casket at the viewing. We then establish that Ecklie's especially interested in this case -- although, unfortunately, not interested enough to come on by and ooze impotent spite in everyone's general direction -- and although Nicky's primary priority on this case will be to, you know, solve it, his secondary one is to cover Catherine's ass. "My pleasure," he tells her. He's a big talker when Warrick's not around.

We then go to the lab where a herpetologist is examining the snake. I'm pleased to report it's the same delightfully deadpan expert as the last time. She looks up from the magnifying glass with which she has been inspecting the wee dead reptile and says, "Large elevated vertebral scales. Definitely not your typical U.S. Crotalus." Or, if you're insisting on species names too, C. atrox, the Western diamondback rattlesnake. Nicky's not insisting. In fact, he's all, "You herpetologists, always throwing the Latin around." Let's not diminish the contribution ancient Greek has made to taxonomy, my fine Texan friend. He wonders why they can't just call a snake a snake. The herpetologist says, "My specialty, my jargon." She's so cool. She's probably an ectotherm herself. Anyway, she explains, "Stripes at the base of the neck...[that] makes it Crotalus simus. Indigenous to southern and coastal Mexico." Nicky's puzzled: "Apparent Mexican vic on a Mexican newspaper with a Mexican snake." Give someone points for cultural consistency, I guess. Nicky continues to blithely trample the distinguished field of herpetology by referring to snakes as "buzz-worms" when he asks whether the Central American rattlesnake might have decided to winter in the high desert. Nope. The herpetologist explains, "These snakes like to burrow in damp soil. They like it hot and humid." They'd be right at home in the Calistoga mud baths, then. That's a little something to think about if you're ever up there. No, no -- don't thank me now. So Nicky asks whether it's remotely possible that the C. simus, parched from the discovery that Las Vegas is not at all humid, crawled into a warm, wet head on its own. The herpetologist replies, "In a newspaper dispenser in the middle of a desert city?" She does not add, "You idiot." We end the scene with the scientist suggesting that the snake was dead when it was shoved down the victim's throat. Let's hope that the victim was dead too.

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