CSI
Table Stakes

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O Portia, Where Art Thou?
Previously on CSI...there is no previously. There is only the usual series of shots showing us, the viewers at home, the glittering fusillade of neon and fluorescence making up Las Vegas. Cut to a spacious interior lobby washed in the soft, flattering lighting tones that hide plastic surgery scars. Lots of people -- all of whom are dressed in formalwear and mingling in socially correct little knots -- are milling about and chatting. The Las Vegas PD Sheriff -- whom, alert readers may recall, I refer to as Evil Ike for his unsettling, crapulent visage -- is talking to a dapper, dark-haired man in a tuxedo. Over the next few minutes, we find out that Tall, Dark and Monkeysuited is named Patrick; he's a smoothie with the matron set, and he's apparently throwing this little shindig as a fundraising for Portia Richmond's burn center. After toasting the $1.6 million dollars the fundraiser has reaped, Patrick raises his glass and toasts, "To Portia! Too bad she couldn't be here tonight." The camera pans over to a portrait, presumably of Portia. If you ask me, it looks like Margaret Lesher, the Contra Costa, CA newspaper heiress who ran off and married a cowboy, then drowned under mysterious circumstances while she and her new husband -- who, in addition to being much younger than she, was also much broker -- were camping somewhere in the middle of nowhere. So I'm already thinking: rich matron, younger guy, money scam...it's all terribly suspicious. A brunette who's been eyeing Patrick like I eye a pint of Chubby Hubby slinks through the crowd and attaches herself to Patrick's side. "Hey," he says, "we did it." "We sure did," she coos. Swept away on that wave of grandiloquence, the two begin conducting an amorous survey of each other's tonsils. Their foreplay is interrupted by the usual bloodcurdling scream that presages an unpleasant discovery. Could it be...a commoner in the midst of the fundraiser? A blown implant? No. It's a dead female body floating face-down in a swimming pool, wearing a fetching Nicole Miller sheath and an expression of bewilderment. Patrick manfully pushes his way through the mingling crowd -- it's heartwarming to see that the same people who will write checks for burn victims couldn't be bothered to try and, I don't know, fish this woman out and attempt CPR -- and stops at the pool with his female companion beside him.

Cut to a uniformed cop wading into the now bystander-free pool and fishing the dead woman out, taking care to jostle her neck and spine as much as possible. Well, if she weren't dead before, she'd be a goner now. Gil conveniently arrives on the scene where Brass and Evil Ike have been conferring. After complimenting Evil Ike on his tux, Gil gives us a little exposition: "To know this town is to know its celebrities. [The woman who owns the house] was a showgirl in her day. But that's not her." "Maybe thirty years ago when she was headlining at the Lido de Paris," Brass replies. The two men then grump about having to interrogate a few dozen society snobs to figure out who found the floater, and Gil sighs, "Come for the hors d'oeuvres, stay for the interrogation." Okay, so it's not his best line.

After the credits, we're back at stately Richmond manor, and Gil's walking toward the driveway where the CSImobile is parked. Warrick, Nicky, and Catherine get out. Gil notes that the house is huge, the witnesses are plentiful, and the most shrewd strategy is to divide and conquer. I cheer, since I am an ardent proponent of having the entire team work on different facets of one case. Nicky gets sent to do a general sketch of the crime scene -- something that, on most nights, translates into "Nicky gets locked in the subterranean basement known as 'Plotline C'" -- and Warrick and Catherine are to suss out the pool area. After Catherine calls the shallow end of the pool, Warrick mutters, "I'm in deep." Oooh, that's all metaphorical and stuff.

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