The Execution Of Catherine Willows

Episode Report Card
Sobell: A | 2 USERS: A+
The Executioner's Stall

As Catherine walks down a flight of stairs, Liam the Lab Tech catches her and chides, "I heard you're cheating on me with an out-of-state DNA analyst." Catherine replies, "Apples and oranges, Liam. Fifteen-year-old hair samples, room temperature storage." Liam is shocked: "Room temp?" Catherine tells him that's how they did it back in the day, when it looked like hair metal was going to be around forever and jokes about East German athletes were both relevant and funny. She ends, "Microscopy was king." Liam replies, "Really? I thought Elvis was king." Elvis had been dead for ten years by then, Liam. Catherine asks, "You were how old [then]?" Liam gallantly replies, "Age is irrelevant in our relationship." Catherine glibly shoots back, "Maybe so, but face it, Liam -- you just don't have the equipment." Burn! Liam tries to trash-talk his rival for Catherine's base-pair affections with, "The government results won't yield individual profile, and you can't put them through CODIS." Catherine shoots him down: "Maternal lineage is good enough on this one. No one else on Mathers' mother's side is a suspect, so if the match stays lifted, he's back in the chamber. If not, we're back in court."

And now begins the first of many riveting sequences taking place at the Department of Criminal Justice laboratories in Norfolk, Virginia. Basically, what we'll see over the course of the episode is the PCR, which is conducted with extreme care -- pre-packaged sterile equipment and reagents, aerosol-resistant barrier pipette tips, gloves, masks, and lab coats, separation of pre- and post-amplification areas in the lab, dedicated reagents for the separate processes, ultraviolet irradiation of equipment, autoclaving everything but human beings. Typically, when doing mtDNA analysis for a criminal case, the questioned sample is done before the known sample so that the accusation of fudging the results can't be made; going by the steps we see here, it looks like the same policy is being effected. No one will be seated during the lab-testing sequences! Possibly because they're not all that exciting, so we're all off getting snacks.

Back in Las Vegas, Catherine is greeting Jacqui Franco, saying, "I'm so glad you're back on nights. I got a good one for you." Jacqui agrees. Catherine requests that Jacqui give it the vacuum metal deposition treatment. Jacqui comments, "Hottest thing going for plastic. If there's anything to be found, my machine will find it." Catherine then drops the other shoe: "Super-rush. You're in a race with the Federal lab." Jacqui's pretty pumped about this. The two then chitchat about how they need to catch up, a minor continuity gaffe is introduced (we found out last week that Lindsey's nine, and this week we find out she's in the second grade; my Brownie troop of eight-year-old third graders would be having a field day with that), and the scene ends with Catherine owing Jacqui a beer.

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