CSI
Chaos Theory

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Mayhem! Disorder! Chaos!

Our episode opens in 1983, as a semi-clad woman wanders off the set of Porky's and down the hall of a college dorm. The camera watches as she wanders, blissfully oblivious, past all manner of hoodlums carrying on with what appears to be your standard college debauchery. The towel-clad woman wanders past a group of priapic fraternity pledges, the pledges all get whiplash, and the camera swoops over to a pizza delivery guy winding in the opposite direction. The camera then focuses on a willowy blonde staring out of the window into the rainy evening, no doubt watching the multi-car pile-ups that inevitably ensue every time it rains in Vegas, what with there being no infrastructure designed to handle weather and all. Anyway, something vaguely MTVish and broody is playing. Don't the people who write this show know that the first two minutes alone are enough to frighten CBS's core audience, the over-55 demographic? The blonde's cell phone rings; she tells the caller she'll be right down. We get a shot of where "down" is and see a cab in a parking lot. We get a shot of the blonde at a window...

...and then it's a sunny day. The camera lingers briefly on a plane ticket, then zooms out to Brass and Gil walking down the hall of a considerably-more-subdued dorm. "Paige Rycoff, freshman," Brass is saying. Ah, so nice to see him donning the mantle of Captain Exposition once more. "Booked a one-way ticket to Boulder. Never got there. Four days MIA," Brass finishes. He refrains from commenting, "Gosh, this is so similar to the circumstances surrounding Chandra Levy's disappearance!" so I must refrain also. For now. "Missing persons, the first twenty-four hours are gold. After that, quicksand," Gil comments tersely. He and Brass walk into Room 410. Gil surveys the crowd of technicians and investigators, then says, "Excuse me, could everyone in this room do me a big favor and -- leave? Please?" They do. After the room clears out, Brass asks, "You want me to go too?" "If you're very still, you can stay," Gil concedes. Brass hunkers down and notes that Paige didn't take her suitcase, her purse, or the cab she called. We see another shot of the plane ticket to Boulder; it's non-refundable. Gil muses that there's no sign of struggle. Brass says, "One moment Paige Rycoff is here. The next...vanished." Gil turns back to him and says, "People don't vanish, Jim. It's a molecular impossibility."

And on that snappy note, we go to the credits.

Back at the scene of the investigation, Gil and Warrick are in a dorm doing a rundown of the security system while college kids walk by and eye the oldsters warily. There are apparently four security cameras per floor. Gil asks, "Did they have all this stuff when you went to school here?" Warrick snorts, "With all the stuff me and my boys got away with here, it's probably why they have 'em now." Well, that, or the university has discovered a lucrative second source of income by selling those college-girls-gone-wild tapes on the side. Given the dorm denizens' predilection for wandering about in towels, one imagines the surveillance-softcore business might be booming. Sara comes in and announces the imminent arrival of the scent dogs; her whole scene is meant to illustrate the turnstiles that prevent strangers from entering the dorms. You know, in my day, we just had dyspeptic room monitors who demanded to see your student ID. And doors propped open on the side of the building through which to sneak overnight visitors. Kids today -- no imagination.

Cut to Catherine and Nicky walking down the hall and estimating how long it will take to interview all 400 students in the dorms. Catherine's got a new coif -- it's a sleek bob and looks quite nice. Given the overprocessed mess on her head last week, this is a welcome change indeed. Nicky cracks, "Well, I'll take prints over people any day." Gil pops up out of nowhere and says, "How about taking video?" Okay, then. As Nicky hustles off to go through all thirty-two cameras' records, Gil says tersely to nobody at all, "In this case, more is less -- the more time goes by, the less chance we have of finding this girl." Catherine gives Gil a reality-check look, saying, "Four days, we'd be looking for a body already." "Well, hide-and-seek. Let's go," Warrick responds. Those two are just natural-born optimists. We transition into the next scene by getting a security-camera's-eye view of the CSIs splitting up.

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