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I think I am becoming cynical and jaded about this show, and that frustrates me, because I WANT to love it.  I go in every week pleading for it to be good, because No Man's Land/Man Down proved it was possible even now, but much as I want it to be amazing, I just don't feel it. 

I am rather pleased with this review, though. 

Niggling points of complaint
  • David Caruso sounded like he had a cold again.  Get a doctor on that set!
  • Good God, how many times did we have to watch the guy get scalped?  I counted no less than 4 separate times they replayed it, and it was so gruesome that I had to look away every time I saw the knife appear.  OKAY, we get it!  You've reclaimed your title from NCIS as "grossest crime show on network TV"!  [Edit: Okay, I'm told they don't actually show the scalping part...but still.]
  • Ryan seemed particularly arrogant and over-confident in this episode, especially the scene with the poor AV tech.  Watch it buddy; it wasn't that long ago that you were a newbie.  It wasn't fun, was it?
  • Don't mind me; I'm just defending the adorable tech, Leo, who is so much better than Cooper in every way.  Mostly the way in which he looks quiet and intelligent, rather than big and dumb with a dopey grin on his face.  Can Cooper be sent on permanent seminar attendance?
  • Was it just me, or did Alexx sound particularly mean when she yelled at Ryan not to touch the scalp?  It started off kind of playful, but got harsh by the end, further punctuated by throwing up her hands.  Stupid Ryan, mucking up his CSI duties again...it's like he's worse than Eric.
  • Speaking of that, Delko showed no signs of fallout from the brain injury this episode.  Three episodes of continuity, and then they abruptly drop it?  That's weird.  If you were going to drop it altogether you didn't need to string us along past the first week, and if you were going to have someone official like IAB look into this matter in the near future, then by this point you shouldn't be letting it out of sight for even one episode.
  • I know it's wrong, but after Natalia told Anna she needed her clothes, "one article at a time," I shrieked with hysterical laughter.  Oh, irony.  "Well, that shouldn't be a problem for the stripper." 
  • Was I supposed to be shaking with laughter every time that *very white-looking* kid started rambling about "my people"?  Because I was.
  • Frank?  *peers out over horizon* FRAAAAAANK!  WHERE ARE YOUUUUU?  Oh, there, in less than 2 minutes of episode.  Have you made friends with Munch in the crimeshow subplot basement yet?
Small but positive points
  • Horatio had a new shirt!  That was the first thing I commented on.  (Mom: "why, what does he usually wear?  A black shirt?"  Me: "No!  He always wears this horrible striped blue shirt, like, every single week.  I call it his Superhero Suit because he can't fight crime without it.  But this!  This is black with little white dots!")  Or something.  I don't even care what it looks like; just the fact that it's new is enough to make me giddy.
  • Alexx once again made scenes seem realistic instead of plastic; loved how she rather casually drew out the description of what happened to the guy's head until Ryan made the connection.  ("It looks like his scalp...is retracted."  "It's retracted?" "Mm-hm." "His scalp is retracted?" "Yep."  "Someone scalped this guy?"  "Oh yeah.")
  • Calleigh was so cute when she strolled up to where Delko was processing the food from room service.  (He even said so)  "Break room is down the hall, on the right."  She was all bubbly and happy.  I've missed that side of Calleigh.  Also, they were kind of flirty throughout this ep, no?  Not overtly, just...well, the way a lot of short fanfic starts, actually.  See, told you I could be lured back on board.
  • Natalia wasn't in it much, 2 points!  Though she was wearing a cool top; the two sides of the open neck held together by thin gold chains.
  • "Harassment is not without consequences."  As I said last time, Supervisor, please-please-please yank just enough money from the budge so that Horatio has to fire Natalia.  (wait, Greg going from DNA --> field meant a paycut...ack, my plan has flaws)  Well, fine then, I just love that line, and I want to see it come into play in the near future.
  • Umm...editing tricks were kept to a bare minimum?  Yay!
The meat of the review
As I posted at Talk CSI, "I wanted tonight to feel sincere, like a classic Horatio Helps People storyline, but it fell flat. For example, much as I wanted to rally behind his staredown with O'Shay, I just don't feel the latter's been around long enough to really be worth despising. He's not up to the arch-villain status Horatio seems to have assigned him - H was using the special in-your-face glower reserved for Very Bad Criminals, but come on, we only found this guy two episodes ago. I haven't built up nearly enough dislike yet."

I did, however, like the first interrogation scene with the Supervisor.  Less of Horatio standing to the side and more direct conversation, complete with the patronizing smile.  It made for an engaging battle of wit and wills, and despite what the lieutenant would have you believe, I think they had to end it in a draw.  I will say one nice thing for O'Shay: he's an intellectual nemesis, smart *and* refined - oh, and technically one of the good guys - which is so much more interesting to see Horatio go up against than the usual blockhead (Clavo and Resden included).   It's that element that made Judge Ratner so interesting, and while O'Shay pales in comparison to that character, he's not completely without merit.  I'm also a little amused with the way he slipped in barbs about Anna the way Stetler used to exploit Horatio's attachment to Yelina.  Anna is not a romantic interest (no.  is not), but the fact that O'Shay can insinuate things like that without sounding completely off the mark is a point in his (slimy) favor.  Sure, we know Horatio has made Caring a vocation, but objectively?  His interest in this girl could be a mite suspect.  And the way the Supervisor was talking, I was fully ready to believe that Anna might turn out to be a con artist, or a (completely unrepentant) porn star, or collaborating with drug dealers, or something equally jarring - that for once, Horatio's trust would turn out to be completely and utterly misplaced.

(oh, I know.  The world would fall off its axis if that ever happened.  But I can dream.) 


I'm even less fond of Anna than before, if that's possible, because she seems to be reciting lines from a soap opera scene every time she talks - too breathless, melodramatic.  What was with her, like, hiding behind an umbrella on the beach until she heard Horatio's voice, and then practically falling at his feet, whimpering his name?  I found it very off-putting the way on one hand, she acted like Horatio was her ultimate savior, and yet he still had to practically drag any pertinent details out of her.  You know, with Suzie, there was a connection.  He moved heaven and earth to protect her during "Big Brother," and I believed that despite it only being her second appearance.  (okay, well, the inclusion of Madison probably helped)  But there was also a connection with Jennifer; it made sense whenever we saw him come to her aid.  And there was a connection with Marisol because of Eric, so when Horatio intervened on her drug charges, I could easily understand his interest in doing so.

But why, why all the fuss over Anna?  How is she any different from all the other women he's helped in weeks and months past? What makes her so special that his entire team not only knows her name, but knows that Horatio's made her his latest personal crusade, and they are therefore to help her unquestioningly?  Because you'll notice that not one of them ever treated her like an objective suspect.  Natalia processed her, but she pretty much went in expecting to clear her.  Even Frank, who scoffed and wrote her off as just another hooker when he first brought her in, had lost that attitude this week, and I kind of miss it.    

I must admit that there were some parts I found touching.  While I cringed in disgust at the cheesiness of him driving along the beach and then yelling for her, but once they actually got to talking, his side of the conversation was bearable.  Anna was in full soap-opera histrionics, but I liked how he was able to keep focused, talking her through it while simultaneously jogging her memory.  Compassionate but efficient, now that's a good CSI.  Okay, he sounded a little bit like he was coaxing a dog with the whole "what've you got?  let me see" after she emptied her pockets, but...I'm trying to be positive here!

Then there was the scene where Natalia was processing her; usually I hate montages with a fiery passion, but that was the first time I felt any real sense of vulnerability from her.  I also liked the interrogation room conversation, just after he'd found out about her son.  He was less heavy-handed and overbearing there; the conversation didn't make me want to clamp my hands over my ears and mentally rewrite it in more colloquial language.  And...that's it.

Part of me is annoyed because she reminds me of Marisol.  Even setting aside the whole savior complex, there were so many parallels tonight I started wondering if I'd found a season 4 episode by mistake.  It's not enough she's a Latina woman dressed in white, now her house gets broken into - the overturned furniture and scattered items instantly reminded me of "Driven."  (only with more - stupid - dialogue.  The whole scene, Horatio sounded like an SNL parody.  "Is something MISSING?") Looking through her planner black book = twinges of "One of Our Own."  And the heart-to-heart by the sea?  Hello "Open Water."  

Speaking of that (oh so cheesy) heart-to-heart: of COURSE Horatio steps in to take care of Ana at the end. Of course. How many single mothers and their kids is he supporting nowadays?

Edit: Apparently there is a deleted scene between Anna and Horatio up at the CBS site.  (guess you were supposed to jump like a good minion when the sleazy guy with the video camera mentioned he was affiliated with "OnTheSceneNews.com")  The more I watch it, the more I think it's actually the best scene between the two.  Not only is Anna's delivery more subtle and understated, but it sets up the wording of the final scene much better.  It also contains what I think is a quite necessary show of remorse when she apologizes for lying to him - and more importantly, we finally have a why.  "I thought if you knew I was a pro..." (that's the prefix to -ffesional, rather than -stitute, by the way)

And oh yes - the Voice of Compassion makes its one real appearance when he softly tells her not to worry about that.  It's the one spot in this episode where I could set aside my cyniscism and appreciate a new occurrence of the reason I fell in love with this show.
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