So, CSI is an iconic show. The original of a very successful franchise. Yesterday, an all new episode of CSI aired, this one called A Space Oddity. If you want to read spoilers, stay in this post under your responsibility.
Complete Recap and Spoilers of CSI 9×20 – “A Space Oddity” – April 16, 2009
The show opens with a cheesy take-off on “Star Trek” with the “captain” battling an alien and cozying up to a blond crewmate. We pull back and see that Hodges is watching an episode of “Astro Quest” on a little TV with a geeky guy who is rhapsodizing about-and trying to sell him- a prop on display at a sci-fi convention. He buys it. As he walks around the “Whatifitcon” with his “micro-probe” he meanders past stock sci-fi types in costume. He bumps into Wendy who’s rocking an “Astro Quest’ uniform. They realize they’re both “Quest”-ers. They’re moderately embarrassed but secretly psyched. Hodges start speaking a crazy space language.
They hear screaming and see a blond woman attending to a man lying on the replica of the “Astro-Quest” “bridge.” He has blood spilling out of his mouth and down the front of his shirt. Hodges calls Brass, who, comically, wants to know how Hodges got his cell phone number. Hodges explains that there’s a situation at the “Whatifitcon.” Brass is confused. Hodges says, in his best “Bones” McCoy impression, “He’s dead Jim.”
All the geeks are trying to take photos of the crime scene. The man’s name was Jonathan. Nick, Wendy, Hodges, and Philips examine the dude. Phillips calls time of death between midnight and 3 am. Nick realizes that means thousands of people have been by this booth in the intervening hours. Wendy and Hodges offer annoying advice so Nick tells them to beam themselves back to the lab so he can do his job.
Brass interviews the blond from before, Melinda. Turns out she was Jonathan’s business partner. They were trying to sell a pilot script, a remake of “Astro Quest.” Apparently there was interest from the CW for a series. Brass asks if Melinda had a financial stake in the project. She did. And, with Jonathan out of the picture, the rights to the remake revert to her.
On the slab Langston is taking off Jonathan’s blood-stained shirt. Hodges pokes his head in and points out that a redshirt usually died at the beginning of “Astro Quest.” Langston was apparently a fan too because he says he remembers and invites Hodges in as he takes pictures and examines the body: peri-mortem bruising, lacerations on nostrils. Hodges notices metallic trace in the cuts and pulls it out. Langston asks if Hodges and Wendy always go to “Whatifitcon” together. Hodges says it was a first.
Wendy is in her lab working when Hodges enters and observes. He goes into a fantasy where he and Wendy are re-enacting a scene from “Astro Quest” that ends with them kissing. Langston interrupts his reverie.
In another lab Greg and Archie are watching amateur video shot at the convention of Danson standing on the “bridge” introducing a sneak preview of his “Astro Quest” update to conventioneers. He expounds about his childhood watching the show. Wendy asks Archie to put the video on her screen. She calls Hodges over to watch. He secretly sniffs her as Danson talks about updating the show to not be so morally black and white but more realistic. He sweeps a hand to the screen where his, nuttily violent, pilot unspools. Danson himself is playing the new captain. The fans watching respond with disturbed whispers. And then, hilariously, Ron Moore – one of the main brains behind the superb update of “Battlestar Galactica”- playing a disgruntled fan stands up and yells “you suck” at Danson. The crowd piles on.
Back at the lab Greg turns to Archie and asks if he’s got it straight: one nerd takes a cheesy ’60s sci-fi show and updates it to be more realistic and the other nerds get angry and kill him? Archie says people don’t like it when you mess with their heroes.
Riley and Stokes examine the bridge looking for evidence. Stokes finds evidence of “geek love” on the command chair. Riley finds Danson’s laptop and DVD player. The DVD in the player is a video of disgruntled fans, dressed in “Astro Quest” costume and with their faces blurred out, saying they find Danson guilty of high treason and cartoonishly depict beheading Danson via guillotine.
Catherine is futzing with a camera when Hodges enters to pose a hypothetical: if two people in the lab were romantically involved would he have to report it to someone. Yes, she says, Eckley. Since the hypothetical couple are not supervisor/subordinate but do work the same shift, one would have to switch shifts. Catherine tells Hodges to tell the couple to go for it since life is too short. Wendy notices Hodge through the window, he smiles at her.
Greg is checking out an Internet gossip site on the “Whatifitcon” death. He clicks a link for the supplier of the site’s video and gets the site of one Dr. Penelope Russell – played by Kate Vernon aka Ellen Tigh/Cylon from “Battlestar Galactica” – a professor at WLVU.
Greg goes to see her and asks why she was at “Whatifitcon” taping the “Astro Quest Redux” presentation. She says she’s making a documentary on the “gestalt constructs of sci-fi mythicultures”? He asks her about the crowd’s angry repsonse to the pilot. She says Danson was a provocateur and she liked his boldness. She wonders if Eric thinks one of these angry chanting people they’re now watching on screen. He wonders if that’s what she thinks. She says to its fans “Astro Quest” was more than aTV show, it’s a religion. She called his redux the equivalent to Martin Luther’s protests against the Catholic church. He calls hyperbole, she points out the conflict in the Middle East.
Back on the slab Robbins is telling Langston thhe cause of death was cerebral hemmorhage.(Somebody whacked him real hard in the nose and drove the nasal frontal suture into his brain. We see this depicted inside the cranium.) Langston says they haven’t found the murder weapon. Robbins asks Phillips to sew the body up and Phillips retorts with a one liner from the show. He’s been doing it all week. Robbins wasn’t a fan. Langston asks about a contusion on the neck. Robbins theorizes a sleeper hold and tries it on Phillips, not so nicely. Robbins shows Langston that there was alcohol in the stomach contents as well as “Astro Quest’ food.
We cut to Nick questioning a bartender- made up like some Klingon-ian alien- at a “Whatifitcon” cantina. He recalls -and we see- Danson getting drunk at the bar and hitting on a girl dressed in an “AQ” uniform. (It’s Liza Weil, Paris from “The Gilmore Girls.”) Her friends came to her rescue and got in a fight with Danson. One of the fans, also in “AQ” garb explained that it was this kind of violence that was the problem with Danson’s pilot. The bartender applied the sleeper hold. Cutting back to the present with Nick he explains he’s not down with violence. Nick shows him photos of attendees and the bartender picks out the fighters.
Back at the lab Wendy is examining the weird metal thing Riley found on the bridge. She and Hodges explain to another tech that it’s a prop from the show, a collar that zaps disobedient wearers. Hodges goes to touch it and Wendy points out that he has no gloves on. Wendy leaves and he banters with the other tech about sci-fi, a category in which she includes “Mr. Ed.” He peers over at Wendy and goes into another “AQ” fantasy, one in which they’re wearing the zappy collars and Wendy is wearing a very skimpy outfit. It involves him explaining to her, as a confused alien/co-worker, what love is and how they can have it. Wendy gets zapped as he screams “no! Catherine said it would be okay!”
The other tech brings him back to the present with fingerprint hits from the DVD. They belong to two kids. Brass goes to talk to them. Unsurprisingly, they appear to hang out at the home of one of their long-suffering moms.
She takes Brass upstairs where she shows him into the guys pristine “AQ” recreation room, complete with handprint entry pad. They’re in costume.
Down at the station, Brass shows the geeks the still pictures from the DVD and he wonders if Danson caught them in the act of defiling his work and they had a fight. (We see an imagined fight between Danson and the geeks in which they accidentally kill him while defending themselves.) Not true, they say. They say they sent in their female friend, a Ms. Risa Parvis -the one Danson was hitting on- to do the dirty DVD deed. They call her unstable.
We cut to a vision of Risa returning to the faux spaceship and meeting up with the guys. She looks disheveled and says there were complications in the mission. They chew her out saying she better not have screwed up or she’ll be off the crew. She says there is no crew and that this isn’t a spaceship and she’s done playing their stupid games.
Back at the lab, Wendy tells Hodges the semen on the command chair is the victim’s and someone else’s. She invites him over for an “AQ” mini-marathon. He agrees and says he’ll spring for pizza if it’s not too much of a crowd. She says it will be just the two of them. He’s unnerved but giddy.
He starts to fantasize again. Wendy is in another skimpy costume belly dancing for Hodges and Archie in a casbah. Wendy comes in and tells him he’s on fire. He says his mind wandered. She says that’s been happening a lot. He essentially says it’s her fault. She says if he’s having crazy fantasies of her in a tinfoil bikini she’s glad, since that proves he’s not oblivious like everyone thinks, but that’s no reason to blame her for his screw-ups. They fight. They hotly agree to call off the date.
Risa is brought in by the bartender who says she was wandering around the convention looking strung out. He gives Nick and “AQ” DVD.
Nick interviews her. She seems wiped out. He says she knows about Danson harrassing her, her messing with the DVD, and the evidence of sex in the command chair. He says if Danson assaulted her and she fought back it was self-defense.
She says it wasn’t self-defense, that she liked his show and he must have sensed it. We cut to Danson catching her messing with the DVD and then manipulating her into having sex with him wearing the zappy collar on the command chair. She rhapsodizes about her pure impulses and raw instincts. He told her he was going to take her to Cabo.
Cut to Catherine and Riley looking at video from Danson’s laptop. Turns out he promised Cabo to a bunch of conventioneers he banged in that chair, including his business partner Melinda. Catherine opines that it’s good to be the commander.
Brass shows Melinda the pictures. She wonders what the point is. He says she didn’t tell him she was banging the dead guy and emptied out her 401k to fund his pilot. Brass shows her the pictures of the other women. She says she knew about it and they had an open relationship and that he was a complicated artist. That’s all that mattered to her. Brass calls it a nice speech. She gets up to leave and he notices the metal edge of her purse, which looks like it might match the triangular wound to Danson’s nose.
Riley and Langston look at the sex photos and they realize they’re all the shot from the exact same angle. They realize if they find the camera they’ll probably get a photo of their killer. They go to the set to search. They set up a laser beam to gauge the trajectory. They can’t find it.
Back in the lab Hodges glares at Wendy. He then looks at a piece of trace evidence and has a thought. He goes to her and says he thinks he’s got it. He explains to her, by miming something we saw earlier – the alien from the original “AQ” video looking into a telescope like thing- that it’s right out of the episode. She understands what he means.
They excitedly call Langston and explain that the device is in the helm and direct him where to find it. Langston uncovers it and hits the button that pops it up. They find the camera and a bloody fingerprint on the console. Wendy and Hodges hang up and smile at each other. They seem like they might kiss and then shake hands and compliment each other on a job well done. She walks away. Another tech tells Hodges to just tell her how he feels already.
Hodges goes into another fantasy where he laments to this other tech that he would never be able to give himself to her fully since he’s made a commitment to this lab. (The command chair is now in the lab.)
The bloody fingerprint belongs to Dr. Penelope. Brass says he knows she didn’t mean to kill him but she needs to tell the truth about what happened so he can help her. She explains Danson took her media semiotics course. She heard about his project and thought it would be good for his documentary, but then she saw his “AQ” redux and realized that he’d stolen all his update ideas from her snooty class. He didn’t ask for permission or even give her credit.
We see the scene play out where she gets mad at him when he claimed nobody owns ideas and mocks her pseudo-intellectual studies. This enraged her and she attacked him, scratching his face. She then pushed him hard from behind him and killed him by accident.
Back in the lab Nick, Riley, and Langston offer an “AQ” marathon to Wendy. She turns them down. So does Hodges. The trio walks away talking about the various episodes and Wendy and Hodges each look sad.
Wendy goes to a computer and surfs to an “AQ” site. She translates what Hodges said to her in the nutty space language earlier in the episode. “We were made for each oher.”
She goes into her own fantasy. This time she’s the sad alien, saying goodbye to the captain, who says the lab needs him. They go to kiss and then he’s beamed away.