Episode Title: "The Two Mrs. Grissoms"
Writers: Treena Hancock and Melissa R. Byer
Director: Steven Felder
While attending a scholarship benefit party for the hearing impaired with Gil’s mother Betty (Phyllis Frelich), Sara (Jorja Fox) is first on the scene when a car bomb goes off. The man inside is Dr. Eric Lambert (Anthony Natale), a colleague of Prof. Julia Holden (Marlee Matlin), who we later learn is Gil’s ex.
After learning that Julia, who was at the scene when the car was discovered, lied about her whereabouts at the time of the explosion, Sara puts her in the crosshairs as the prime suspect. Her personal feelings for her husband seem to add to her motivation to pin the crime on Julia. Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) wants her off the case but Catherine (Marg Helgenberger) vouches for her.
The team begins to investigate several students at the college, including a disgruntled grant candidate, Michael Bowman (Tyrone Giordano) and Julia’s T.A., Sean Wyatt (Sean McGowan). It’s soon revealed that Julia was having an affair with Sean. A little digging into his background reveals that he’s Canadian, not English as he claimed. After Michael unknowingly delivers a bomb to Julia’s office, Nick (George Eads) discovers that the package had to have been detonated by a hearing person. Sara and Katherine administer a lie detector test to Sean, which he is told he passed. However the test is actually an "auditory evoked potential test," which reveals that he can indeed hear. The team learns that Sean’s brother is actually the interpreter whose been aiding them in their communications with the deaf community. The two brothers hatched the scam to win half a million dollars in grant money.
Julia thanks Sara for snuffing out Sean, who she had fallen in love with against her better judgement. And Mrs. Grissom and Sara talk with Gil (William Petersen) over video chat, seeming to have made some progress in their tenuous relationship.
While "CSI" fans may have been excited about the return of William Petersen, it was really Marlee Matlin’s guest spot that should have been played up. Matlin’s turn as a professor at a school for the hearing impaired, caught up in an illicit affair with a scam artist posing as a student was fascinating to watch. And her shared history with Grissom added a little bit of a spice to what might have been just another day on the job for Sara.
Matlin did a great job of portraying the emotions of professor and prime suspect, Julia Holden. Sign language is a visual form of communication which Matlin uses with great effect. While a hearing actor might raise her voice or change her tone, Matlin gets the same if not better effect, through her evocative use of sign language. It’s easy to forget that you’re not hearing her voice, her physical acting is so engrossing.
The introduction of Grissom’s mother and Sara’s mother-in-law added another layer to Sara and Gil’s already complicated relationship. The end scene where the two "Mrs. Grissom’s" talk to their beloved Gil via video chat was endearing but Petersen’s appearance amounted to little more than fan service.
As for the case of the week, I’ll lodge my usual complaint that clues comes too easy for the CSI team. Bomb makers leaving receipts for gun powder sitting around? Who even asks for a receipt when making DIY bombs?
But the twists and turns of the case weren’t really the heart of the episode. It was watching Sara get to know her mother-in-law in the midst of a very touchy murder investigation and getting a closer look into a community most hearing people are not privy to, that made "The Two Mrs. Grissoms" one the best episodes of the season so far.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.