The exhaustion in the eyes of Gil Grissom the bags under the bags may be fine acting on the part of William Petersen, or it may reveal his true state as his character prepares to wrap up a nine-season run on CSI on Jan. 15. The series has been reviving some of Gil's greatest hits with new cases involving his S&M soul mate Lady Heather (Melinda Clarke) and his insidious nemesis the Miniature Serial Killer (Jessica Collins), but Gil's (not Petersen's) rhythm has been off. No longer does Grissom approach each maggot-ridden, bloated corpse with the gusto of Sweeney Todd stropping his razor. He just wants out.
It's a tricky thing to pull off a fan favorite exiting because his heart isn't in it anymore; what heart Grissom had left was stilled by the departure of his colleague/lover Sara (Jorja Fox). But playing tired despair can come across as boredom, something Petersen has mostly avoided. That is, until this week's episode, in which Gil's torpor contrasts with the brisk energy of a new crime-solver, Dr. Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne), seen grilling a serial killer and soon to join the team. I'll miss Grissom, but welcome Langston's brusque authority: lotsa possibilities for friction with the prickly CSI crew.
Many of the regulars get their own scenes with Grissom as he tells of his departure. The most realistic belongs to Paul Guilfoyle's jaded cop Jim Brass. Brass mouths clichés about how they'll have to get together more, go boating, yada yada. They stare at each other. They know they won't. B+