Episode Title: "Man Up"
Writer: Michael F.X. Daley
Director: Alec Smight
When the CSI team comes across a photo of a young woman appearing to be dead on a Las Vegas-centric social networking site, they head out to investigate. Once on the scene, they determine that the young woman, identified as prostitute, Amber Rowe (Lili Mirojnick) is indeed dead, despite Nick’s (George Eads) insistence that she was alive in the photo.
Upon examining the body, Nick and Catherine (Marg Helgenberger) discover that the ligature marks in the photo don’t match up to Amber’s. She’s also wearing a slightly different dress. However Nick is convinced the woman in the pictures is Amber. After looking at the meta data for the image, Archie (Archie Kao) determines that it was uploaded two days prior to her death.
Meanwhile, Hodges (Wallace Langham) brings his busted vintage motorcycle in for Langston (Laurence Fishburne) to look out. He breaks the news to Hodges that the bike has been outfitted with after market parts. Further examination of the bike uncovers blood in the air filter and a severed finger tip.
The team questions Amber’s boyfriend, Craig (Kevin Weisman) at her apartment but he maintains his innocence. There they find the dress she was wearing in the photo and take it in for processing. Greg (Eric Szmanda) finds hair from a zebra, eventually leading the team to a picture of a passed out Carrot Top in the back seat of a limo lined in zebra print. Upon questioning the comedian, Nick and Capt. Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) learn that he did indeed solicit Amber that night but was unconscious before she exited the limo.
Costume jewelry found in the limo leads the team to a Spartan hotel greeter (Trevor Donovan). He tells Greg about how his gear was stolen the other night while he was in a bathroom stall.
Hodges tracks his lemon bike to a bus accident and arrives at a junkyard to examine the demolished vehicles. There he finds a part from his bike wedged in the wreckage.
At the lab, Archie pieces together a kind of "bucket list" via the Vegas website used by three men from Chicago. Among the items listed "to do" are kidnapping a celebrity, grand theft auto and killing a hooker. After tracking down and arresting Scott Horan (Rich Somer), the man responsible for robbing Spartacus, the team questions the three men. While they admit to staging the photo of Amber to fool Horan, all three claim to have nothing to do with her murder. However it’s soon revealed that Horan, a wealthy software engineer, was the target of constant ridicule from the other two. When he confronted Amber about the photo, she revealed the prank and laughed in his face, inciting his rage and prompting him to kill her.
As for Hodges, after speaking with the girlfriend of the previous owner of the bike, he learns that the accident was never reported and arrests the junkyard owners, one of whose thumb tip is the one found in the bike, for obstruction of justice.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a classic Vegas crime story from a show set in, ahem, Vegas. However comedian Carrot Top and Mad Man Rick Somer weren’t enough to sustain what should have been a classic tale of "what happens in Vegas, dies in Vegas."
There were plenty of fun pop culture nods throughout the hour. Carrot Top’s Widespread Panic tee, a sleazy social networking website (no viral marketing here, "victimsofvegas.com" is just a redirect to CBS’ "CSI" site), a "300" joke and the romantic sentiment of a shared Comic-Con experience courtesy of the dead biker’s ex-girlfriend played by Amy Acker. In that sense, this was one of the more fun episodes of "CSI" this season.
But the "B" story surrounding Hodges’ vintage bike felt rushed and shoe-horned in. And the notion that a millionaire software designer who drives a Maybach and a Bentley would be deemed "a loser" by his friends was a bit hard to believe. The idea of the three friends attempting to compete a disturbing "bucket list" while on a trip to Vegas makes for a good premise but "Man Up" didn’t take it far enough. Dropping the lame "B" story and focusing more on the trio’s extreme antics would have made for a better episode.
As for Carrot Top, his appearance felt more like a sight gag than a real guest spot. Aside from sheepishly admitting to paying a call girl and appearing unconscious in a limousine, CT was criminally underutilized. I know this isn’t "Psych" we’re talking about here but I wish Daley and company had a little more fun with Carrot Top and his flaming afro.
Ending the episode with Nick returning the money he won from Greg in their dead-body bet was a nice reminder that the CSI team are indeed human beings and not just a bunch of heartless science nerd cops who get their jollys from making DNA matches like a hand of gin rummy. Which is why I’m hoping the next time following the evidence leads to the likes of Carrot Top, we get to see a bit more of the softer side of "CSI."
Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.