Previously on CSI: there are no "previously" trailers before the show, which seems imprudent given that this is the first episode airing on a new night and CBS is hoping that the Survivor II audience will stay glued to the tube. How are you going to keep an audience riveted if all you're doing is showing a desolate stretch of I-15?
Ah, well. Who am I to question the wisdom of Les Moonves and his minions? On with the show! It starts, as I noted one paragraph back, with an aerial shot of I-15. The camera swoops off the stretch of godforsaken highway and onto a stretch of godforsaken two-lane blacktop, then over to a prison spread in the shadow of a heat-blasted mountain. We zoom in to see lots of inmates sporting snazzy orange jumpsuits and engaging in vigorous physical activity outside. Again -- outside, in a sunny courtyard, in the middle of the desert. I know this isn't Oz (unfortunately), but inhumane conditions much? The inmates are oblivious to whatever weather conditions may be in effect.
Cut to a pair of well-manicured hands writing out a package to Gil. For the curious, the address is: "Gil Grissom, c/o CSI, 2974 Westfall, Las Vegas NV, 89109." The hands -- attached to an orange-jumpsuited body -- cradle the package and walk it over to the mail room. Cut to shots of men moving in precision, oh the numbing, anonymous inhumanity of prison life, blah blah blah: the point is that the package -- which contains a videotape -- manages to make it out of the prison in one piece and into the postal system at large.
Cut to another pair of anonymous hands cradling the package and carrying it down the hall at CSI Central. They hand off the package to Gil -- who takes it with a mixture of curiosity and caution -- and he leans forward to inspect the parcel before opening it. Brass notes that it's an anonymous package from County lockup; as Gil whips out his Leatherman to open the package, Brass makes protesting noises: "Give innocent bystanders a chance to clear out." "What are you worried about?" inquires Gil, who is either privy to some information about the rigorous standards to which CSI Central subjects all their mail, or blithely indifferent to the possibility of mail bombs. Brass replies, "One minute, I'm eating tomato salad. The next, I'm gazpacho." Well, it's not abusing food in the name of explaining some bit of forensic arcana to the uneducated, but if the first minute of dialogue is any indication, I think I'm going to have to take what I can get in this episode. Gil rolls his eyes at Brass's belabored metaphor and opens the cardboard box. Brass cracks, "With any luck, it'll be the next episode of G-String Divas." Oh, Brass. What a tawdry little inner life you must lead. Gil ignores him and plays the tape.
We see a prisoner blowing into a microphone, then speaking directly into the camera lens: "My name is Frank Damon, and I'm awaiting trial for the murder of my wife and son." Frank conveniently pauses so Brass can fill us in at home: it was an arson case, and the DA is asking for the death penalty. Frank continues, "I didn't kill my family, but my lawyer says the evidence is against me." Cut to Gil looking intrigued -- whenever the evidence gets called into question, he's all over it. "I was a good father," Frank says. "I loved him. I would have given my life for Toby and Jeannie. They were my world. Mr. Grissom, you are my last hope. Please help me." Gil is riveted; Brass cracks wise with the probable innocence of anyone in prison. Dude, he should just move to Texas; I understand they share his attitudes regarding law enforcement. Gil smacks Brass down, and we go to credits.