'CSI': Melinda Clarke Returns

Melindaclarkre_csi_240 At last, our long national nightmare is over. The people (mostly me) have spoken, and the decision met with a cheer from millions of supporters: Lady Heather returns to CSI.

[Don't make me beat you over the head with these spoilers.]

Did you think I meant something else? I've made no secret of my love for Melinda Clarke's character. And by love, I mean I always thought Lady Heather and Gil Grissom had a more interesting relationship then the predictable office romance between Grissom and Sara Sidle. Tonight's episode reinforced that for me. But first...

We open on Gil en route to a crime scene where Catherine is trying to preserve a tire track from a driving rainstorm. Nearby? The body of a man dragged under a car, whose fingertips and toes are missing. Good Lord, ouch. The theory is that the vic was tied to the undercarriage of an SUV, lost his appendages when they touched the asphalt at speed, and then came loose and fell.

As if that weren't enough, Doc Robbins uncovers a slew of mysterious injuries: puncture wounds around his nipples, electrical burns on his tongue and nine post-mortem stab wounds. His true cause of death? Strangulation.

Did I mention Gil's distracted throughout all of this by blipverts of Sara saying vaguely breakup-ish things?

The injuries seem to indicate more than casual S&M play, so Gil consults his favorite madam-slash-dominatrix, Lady Heather. Only she's just Heather (to him; she's Lady Heather in my submissive heart) now that she has a master's degree in psychology and is a licensed therapist. "Let me guess," Gil snarks, "sex therapy?" We never find out.

Lady Heather confirms we're looking at a victim well into S&M and suggests the CSIs check for paraphernalia around his house. Nick, Riley and Greg learn our victim, one Ian Wallace, has a cute girlfriend named Justine Stefani. He also has blood spatter in his living room and hall, bloodstains on a shirt in the closet and a box of sex toys so big he could open a Batteries Not Included franchise. He also has a brochure for Lower Linx, which Lady Heather rats out as a secret S&M club.

Sure enough, Brass and Nick find the sort of equipment at Lower Linx that could have caused the more voluntary among Ian's injuries. The club's owner, Michelle Tornay, is more than a little evasive.

One suspect is eliminated when our CSIs process a burned-out SUV and find inside a charred corpse with breast implants (silicon is highly heat-resistant, Cath informs us) that match Ian's girlfriend Justine. A set of footprints lead to tire tracks. Did the killer have help?

Maybe, because now we get a More You Know moment: A dom will have several slaves into the same activities, which means our investigators need to find someone with similar marks as Ian. Thank God for cellphone technology, which shows Justine's last call as coming from insurance salesman Martin Devlin. Wanna bet whose blood is on Ian's shirt? Martin's. And hey, Martin sent a photo to a wrong number (but intended for Justine) of Ian getting down and dirty with... Martin's lawyer. Whuh?

The lawyer admits to being the dom for Ian and Martin. She fell for Ian, which made Martin jealous. Martin caught them in the act, snapped the photo, sent it to the wrong number, and punched Ian, leaving blood in the hall. And yet nobody involved has feet that peg them as the person who torched Justine and her SUV. Is there a last-minute revelation? There is not. The CSIs determine to look for more evidence. Nice! I like multi-episode storylines.

Williampetersen2_csi_cbc_240 As for Gil, we see during an impromptu session with Lady Heather that Sara has been speaking to us all episode via video file from some sort of ship that needs scientists and activists. Sara was burnt out by the work, and was hurt by Gil's comment that relationships can wither, and says they're over and that she's not too broken up about that. Whoa, another surprise. But don't stop reading just yet. Lady Heather deduces Gil wants to be someplace other than work or home, which both remind him of Sara, and offers up her guest bedroom. Our last scene shows him fully clothed on the bed, with Heather looking on concernedly. She turns to leave and...

"Heather," Gil says, "would you stay?"

With that, she steps in and closes the door on us.

Such a great episode. But where's it headed? Who do you think killed Ian and Justine? And how does Gil's dalliance with Lady Heather work into William Petersen leaving the show?