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CSI Season 9 Episode 21: If I Had A Hammer

CSI Season 9 Episode 21ET‘s Henry Thomas guest stars as a convicted killer from Catherine’s first case as a baby CSI. I’ve tried to work a “phone home” joke into this recap but it just wasn’t working. I’ll at least be calling him Elliott throughout, mostly because I can’t be bothered to remember his character’s name.

Episode Summary

Elliott, in prison for 18 years for murdering an old man during a home robbery, wants a new trial on the grounds that his lawyer kind of sucked. It’s granted, so Catherine has to re-visit her first solo case. She explains the details to the team: Elliott was convicted based on a fingerprint found on the rock that smashed the old man’s window and a shoeprint that matched Elliott’s size but not any of his shoes. When she lays it all out, even Catherine has to admit that the evidence sounds lame. But that’s what worked 18 years ago.

With modern equipment and testing, Catherine is able to get a more complete fingerprint match to Elliott, largely because of his unique smiley face pattern. No, really. That confirms Elliott wielded the rock, which makes Catherine feel pretty darn smug. Meanwhile, Greg and Archie work on the 911 tape, which has an engine sound in the background. They’re trying to match it to Elliott’s car at the time.

The murder weapon was never found back then, but it takes Langston about five seconds to get Catherine to realize she should’ve looked up. She finds the hammer lodged all those years in the crook of a tree, and it’s got two bloody prints. Catherine thinks it’s a slam dunk but alas, the prints do not belong to Elliott.

Eventually, the CSIs consider an accomplice. They track down Elliott’s high school girlfriend, who acts squirrely with Brass from the get-go, so it’s obvious she’s involved. The tie gets stronger when the engine is identified as a muscle car that the girlfriend conveniently still owns, and a piece of bloody glass matching the old man’s window is found in the car.

It turns out that she got pregnant with Elliott’s baby and those two braintrusts decided robbing houses was the way to decorate their nursery. She takes two seconds to claim Elliott had already killed the old dude when she walked in the house. However, she says she grabbed the hammer and threw it into the tree, and Brass informs her that’s enough to be convicted of murder. Kelly Gordon could’ve explained to her how that works.

Catherine tells Elliott that the everything has been uncovered, and gleefully points out how he covered for his girlfriend for 18 years while she wasted no time in turning on him. He doesn’t care, because all he wanted was a fair trial. He does, however, hope that the girlfriend will be forced to testify against him so he gets a chance to see his son.

High Points

I always dread Catherine-centric episodes because most of the time she comes across as a self-righteous, irritating, self-centered jackass. She was surprisingly awesome in this episode, not making it All About Her, realizing she wasn’t as thorough as she should’ve been on her first solo case, and having doubts about Elliott’s guilt. I especially liked her scene with Brass, where she talks about how a single mistake can completely change someone’s life.

Even though the focus of this episode was on Catherine, this really ended up being a nicely balanced team effort. All of the cast got good screentime, including lab techs Hodges, Wendy, and Archie.

Ecklie! It’s been too long since we’ve seen that magnificant bastard, and I love how he always has a soft spot for Catherine.

Low Points

This episode required too much suspension of disbelief. We’re supposed to think the hammer stayed in that tree for 18 years, with nothing weather-related knocking it out or the neighbors discovering it while trimming branches? And the girlfriend kept that muscle car all this time, even though she turned into the typical suburban soccer mom? Please.

News stories about wrongful convictions being overturned by new evidence, specifically DNA, have been big the last few years. It would’ve made for a more interesting, thoughtful episode if Elliott was truly innocent. It doesn’t mean Catherine did anything wrong (well, besides not looking up), just that the science wasn’t as advanced. It’s okay to let your characters be wrong once in a while, show.

Couldn’t they have sprung for an actor to play younger Elliott in the flashbacks? Granted, Henry Thomas has a baby face but he still doesn’t look like a teenager.

Topics: CSI | 1 Comment »

One Response to “CSI Season 9 Episode 21: If I Had A Hammer”
disnet tv - April 25th, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Great article!

Good run-down of what transpired. I was let down by this episode. I hope it gets better!
Keep the good articles coming.

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