After a decade-long absence from the world of yellow tape and bloody corpses, Marg Helgenberger reprised her role as Catherine Willows Thursday on CBS’ CSI: Vegas. It seems her character’s so-called “retirement” — which involved serving on the board of the Eclipse hotel and mentoring young women in forensic science — wasn’t that fulfilling, so the episode began with her asking Maxine (Paula Newsome) for her old gig back.
Fortunately, there were a couple of job openings since Gil (William Petersen) and Sara (Jorja Fox) were never replaced after leaving at the end of last season. Apparently, the Grissoms are currently on a boat in the Arctic circle but in real life, Petersen only signed for one year on CSI: Vegas while Fox chose not to return for a second season.
“The job is in my blood,” Catherine tells Maxine.
And with that, Catherine is immediately put to work at a “sex dungeon” where a dominatrix has been found murdered and very bloody. Catherine throws around phrases like “molecular map making” to show Joshua (Matt Lauria) that she’s still got it, but remains suspiciously quiet when he asks about her surprise return to the investigation unit. Catherine then gets a call and scurries off to some crowded area, where she thinks she sees a woman named Grace but can’t seem to catch her.
By the end of the episode, Maxine suspects there is another reason why Catherine wanted back inside the yellow tape. It turns out she mentored a young woman named Grace, a former dancer who was studying to be a CSI and working part-time at the Eclipse. But the gal went missing three weeks ago and no one at the hotel seemed to care. Catherine suspects a cover-up by the hotel, but for what? And by whom?
The episode ends with the sight of someone — Grace, perhaps? — lying in a sandy grave.
Earlier this month, Helgenberger told reporters that before she would commit to returning to CSI, she “wanted to make sure there was a reason Catherine would come back to the job.”
“It’s a tough gig. Why would Catherine, at this age, come back?” said Helgenberger. “That was important to me. I had several conversations with [showrunner] Jason Tracey about that. I really want to get it right and we did.”
Helgenberger signed a one-year deal to return to the procedural. “I feel the respect toward me, I’m so grateful. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun working with everybody. The set is vastly different than the original set. I’m still discovering new rooms, in fact. Of course I miss some of the old gang but I got over that pretty quickly because everybody has been so welcoming and gracious.”
CSI: Vegas is produced by CBS Studios in association with Jerry Bruckheimer Television. Executive producers are Tracey, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, KristieAnne Reed, Anthony Zuiker, Carol Mendelsohn, Ann Donahue, Craig O’Neill, William Petersen, Uta Briesewitz (initial episode only) and Cindy Chvatal.