Ever since Grissom left CSI has ceased being must-see television for me. However, I would shift my devotion in a heartbeat to a CSI: Lab Techs spin-off. One episode focusing on the lab rats each season is simply not enough.
The geeks have gathered at WhatIfItCon but one exhibitor isn’t having a good time. Jonathan Danson, who was there to unveil his reboot of the classic and beloved Star Astro Trek Quest is found murdered.
Soon the red shirts herrings start piling up. His co-producer, who gets all the rights with Danson dead, has a motive. It’s doubly so when the CSIs learn that Danson was sleeping with her and recording it, along with a bevy of other geek girls at each convention where he appeared. Danson also infuriated and alienated (hee) a lot of congoers with his bleak, dystopian take on the unabashedly campy Astro Quest. Then there’s the bartender who had an altercation with Danson after Danson harrassed a female congoer.
Eventually the investigators find Danson’s hidden sex camera, which reveals his murderer. It’s Dr. Penelope Russell, a sociologist in pop culture and media studies who was filming Danson’s presentation for a documentary. In interrogation, she tells Brass that Danson took her class years ago, where she outlined a deconstruction of Astro Quest. Danson stole all of her ideas for his reboot and dismissed Russell when she confronted him on it. Enraged, she attacked and killed him.
Meanwhile, Hodges and Wendy bond over their shared love of Astro Quest. They’re surprised to see each other at the convention and are the ones to call in Danson’s murder to the lab. While assisting with the investigation, Hodges fantasizes about advancing his relationship with Wendy, in scenarios lifted right from his favorite Astro Quest episodes. He even asks Catherine about the lab procedures for a “hypothetical” relationship between two co-workers.
It looks like he’s got a shot, because Wendy asks him over to her place for an Astro Quest marathon, but he blows it in inimitable Hodges fashion. Despite Wendy’s obvious interest, he gives up on the dream for now ostensibly because his crush is affecting his work, but really because he’s afraid of being rejected.
At the end of the episode, Wendy translates something Hodges said to her in an alien language and is stunned to discover he said, “We were made for each other.” She has her own Astro Quest fantasy about Hodges, with the bittersweet ending that this is not the right time for them.
Fine, I’ll be more specific. First, the nods to both Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica were hilarious and affectionately mocking. There was also the parade of BSG cameos, from Kate Vernon as Dr. Russell, to Grace Park making an awesome WTF? face at Danson’s presentation, to Ronald D. Moore popping up to yell, “You suck!” at that same presentation. Danson’s reboot got about the same reaction as Moore’s BSG reboot did when it was first presented to a group of original BSG fans, which made the cameo funny on several levels.
SuperDave’s running “I’m a _____, not a _____, dammit!” jokes and Doc Robbins putting the Astro Quest version of a Vulcan nerve pinch had me in stitches.
Nick’s skepticism turning to grudging respect of Astro Quest and its fan culture were nicely done. I particularly loved how he organized a lab viewing party with Riley and Langston, who revealed his secret geekiness at the end.
The cold open with Hodges calling Brass to tell him about the murder was brilliant. I don’t know what made me laugh harder – Brass’ “Who?” or Hodges admitting he cloned Grissom’s phone or Hodges’ “He’s dead, Jim!”
Hodges’ Astro Quest fantasies could easily have come across as creepy. They were charming because of Wallace Langham’s lovely performance, which allowed for Hodges’ physical objectification of Wendy but also captured Hodges’ respect and emotional yearning for her. Langham has always been deft at showing Hodges’ humanity beneath all the bluster and social awkwardness. But credit also goes to Liz Vassey, who kept up with Langham in all their scenes. She manages to make Wendy both whimsical and no-nonsense, which can’t be easy to do. The Hodges/Wendy pairing works so well because of both actors’ skills and their chemistry together.
Absolutely nothing. I don’t have a single critical word to say about this episode. Except, as I mentioned at the top of the recap, that there is only one episode like this each season.