A La Cart
Season 8
Number 2
Writer Sarah Goldfinger,
Richard Catalani
Director Richard J. Lewis
Original Airdate October 4, 2007
Previous Episode: Dead Doll
Next Episode: Go to Hell

A La Cart is the second episode in the Eighth Season of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The CSIs investigate the death of a go-cart driver whose football helmet-wearing head is found on a highway and the murder of a mens' magazine owner at a restaurant where patrons dine in complete darkness. Meanwhile, Grissom and Sara face repercussions for their relationship.


Victim: Vincent Bartley (deceased)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Greg Sanders, Nick Stokes, Ezekiel Holstein

A head in a helmet bounces down a dark desert road, occasionally having its path moved by oncoming vehicles. It's eventually found by a road crew the following day. Grissom and Nick see that the helmet has the initials SVHS on it, standing for Sagebrush Valley High School. The head's origin is unknown, as there are no schools or football fields in the vicinity.

The blood pool around the head indicates that it's been in that spot for awhile. Black abrasions on the back of the head are consistent with being hit by a tire, confirming that it got pinballed down the road. Greg relays the information that there have been no traffic accidents in the area called in recently. Grissom follows the blood trail up the road, eventually finding the headless body, which also happens to be missing a hand. The body isn't dressed in a football uniform, making the helmet out of place.

Nick finds the missing hand a few hours later and prints it. Mandy confirms that the victim is Vincent Bartley, who had not shown up to school that day. Meanwhile, in autopsy, Doc Robbins collects a black powder from the severed head.

Nick speaks with Vincent's wheelchair-bound brother, Matt, who reveals that the football helmet belonged to him. He explains that he was a pretty good football player before his injury, something Vincent was very proud of. Vincent also kept a dragon belt that his father got when he was in the service.

Hodges tells Nick that the black powder trace found on Vincent's clothing was tire rubber consistent with go-cart tires, as they're made from a composition that allows for extremely high traction. At the go-cart track, Greg and Nick find out that Vincent raced there frequently and had recently beaten a competitor nicknamed "Hot Rod" several times. When his name is yelled out, "Hot Rod" runs to the parking lot and tries to escape in his truck. This attempt fails when Nick catches up to him and points a gun at him. "Hot Rod's" real name is revealed to be Rodney Banks. Vincent's dragon belt is found inside his truck and it tests positive for blood.

Under interrogation, Rodney tells Nick and Det. Holstein that he didn't kill Vincent; he only wanted a rematch off the track. The two took go-carts and raced each other on the highway while dodging traffic. Rodney says that when the race was over, he turned around and saw Vincent's headless body driving the go-cart. He then took Vincent's belt, tied to two go-carts together, and towed them back to the track, as they weren't supposed to be allowed to take them off the premises.

Greg and Nick are able to identify the two go-carts that Vincent and Rodney were driving and bring them back to the lab. They find road gravel embedded in all of the tires, but no visible blood. One of the go-carts has a worn area on the front bumper containing some brown trace; the same trace is on the rear bumper of the other go-cart. Nick tells him that, if the trace is leather, Rodney's story of towing the go-carts with Vincent's belt is confirmed. Greg finds blood spatter on one of the wheel wells, indicating that Vincent was traveling at a high speed when his accident occurred.

Greg and Nick relay their findings to Grissom and wonder how Rodney could've decapitated Vincent while driving 60 miles per hour. Grissom isn't so sure that Rodney is the guilty party. The only trace found in Vincent's arm and neck wounds was rubber from truck tires, meaning that it's unlikely he was decapitated by a wire or tree branch. Furthermore, the rubber trace was found on both sides of Vincent's wounds but not on his clothing. Grissom mentions that Vincent's body was found off the road, away from tires; however, he has a revelation.

Using a Jell-O man, they recreate the accident, calculating Vincent's speed, the speed of the truck in front of him, and the speed at which he would've been hit by a blown tire. The re-creation proves that a tire traveling at 120 miles per hour (962 foot-pounds of energy) would be enough to decapitate someone. A flashback shows Vincent driving down the highway dodging pieces of rubber that the truck in front of him was kicking up. He deflected bits of rubber using his hand; however, one projectile was too much. The force of the rubber coming back towards him cut his hand off and decapitated him.

Victim: Hampton Huxley (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Warrick Brown, Jim Brass

At a restaurant named "Blind," the body of Hampton Huxley, the publisher of Hux magazine, is found dead with a head wound. The Hugh Hefner knockoff was dining with two of his "Kitties" when the murder occurred. David Phillips tells Catherine that Hampton suffered a puncture wound to the temple, which ran into the brain. Warrick figures that somebody saw something, but is informed that the restaurant is part of a new fad of dining in the dark. The waiters employed at the restaurant are blind, as well.

The owner, Pippa Sanchez, explains to Brass that dining in the dark gives the diner a heightened sense of taste and pleasure; doing so increases endorphins. She says that she doesn't know what happened to Hampton and that a signal went off in the kitchen telling her something was wrong. The house lights came on and Hampton was dead on the floor.

Catherine recreates the seating arrangements at the table and bags a napkin as evidence, while Warrick finds blood drops on Hampton's chair, the tablecloth, and the floor, leading away from the table. The blood drops end near Shasta McCloud, one of Hampton's "Kitties." Fellow "Kitty" April Kissimmee tells Brass that she thought Hampton fell asleep at the end of the meal like he always does, but was horrified when she caught a glimpse of blood on the side of his head. April's sweater has Hampton's blood on it, and Brass says that he'll need to take it as evidence.

Catherine notes that a kabob skewer could've been the murder weapon, as it's the same size and shape as Hampton's wound. Warrick finds a drop of something on the carpet that tests negative for blood. He also finds a pair of night vision goggles under a nearby table. It's revealed that they belong to a man who was suspicious of his wife wanting to dine in the dark with another couple. When the lights went out, he activated the goggles to catch his wife in an act of infidelity.

All of the kabob skewers test negative for blood. Warrick finds a nipple flower on a table that was seating four guys and wonders what it's doing there. In the lobby, Brass talks to the men from the table, who are drunk and in a jovial mood. One of the men has pink fur on one of his sleeves and admits to Brass that he stumbled over to Hampton's table in the dark and felt up April. She alerted waiter Michael Bowie, who found Hampton slumped forward. He checked for a pulse and, when he didn't find one, turned on the emergency lights. Brass sees that Michael's tie is wet, and Michael admits that he washed his hands as a force of habit.

Catherine finds evidence of a struggle in the dining room; there's something sticky on a table and on the floor. Back in the lobby, Peter Ellis tells Brass that he went to propose to his girlfriend, Nancy, but accidentally knocked over a tray of food in the dark.

During autopsy, Doc Robbins finds a tip from a pen embedded in Hampton's brain. Brass questions Shasta and April; the inside of Shasta's handbag is covered in blue ink. She denies that the pen is hers and tells Brass that she wouldn't ruin her designer handbag by putting a leaky pen in it, adding that Hampton was her meal ticket. Shasta shows Brass that she has no ink on her hands and the two "Kitties" tell him that "Little Miss Chef Lady" should be a prime suspect. That would be restaurant owner Pippa Sanchez, a former "Kitty" herself 20 years ago. Under interrogation, Pippa tells Brass that she and Hampton did have a falling out, but says her success is her revenge against him. She tells the story of why she started the restaurant, saying that she fell in love with a blind man, who would turn the lights off and feed her in the dark, heightening her sense of taste. When he died, she started the restaurant as an homage to him. She claims that she didn't know Hampton was even dining in the restaurant that night, and says that murder would be bad for her business.

Catherine and Warrick go over the evidence. Honey was found in a few spots, blood was found on a few people, and there were five people moving around the room. Waiter Michael Bowie covers all three lists. Warrick mentions that Michael's fingerprint was found in ink on a napkin and reveals that he was a chef before losing his sight. His sous chef? Pippa Sanchez.

Under interrogation, Michael tells Catherine and Brass that Pippa seduced him and stole his recipes and ideas, only to hire him as a waiter. After hearing about her stories regarding her tragic love affair and "dead" blind lover, he finally confronted her and asked for a piece of the action; however, Pippa refused. When Hampton walked in with his "Kitties," Michael figured he had the perfect opportunity to frame Pippa for murdering her former employer.

In a separate storyline, Conrad Ecklie has found out about Grissom and Sara's relationship, which is against departmental policies. Sara tells Ecklie that she's known Grissom for a long time, but that they became intimate two years ago. After successfully dodging Ecklie's calls, Grissom is finally confronted in his office, where he tells Ecklie that he and Sara have been intimate for nine years. Ecklie frustratingly tells Grissom that he and Sara need to get their stories straight.

Grissom and Sara convene in his car and get their stories straight. She laughs when Grissom says that he told Ecklie they had been involved for nine years, and they reminisce about meeting at an anthropology conference then. Sara reveals that she's going to move to the swing shift, as Grissom doing so and breaking up the team would be unfair to everyone else.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Marc Vann as Conrad Ecklie
  • Sheeri Rappaport as Mandy Webster
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Karina Lombard as Pippa Sanchez
  • Neil Jackson as Michael, the Waiter
  • John Ross Bowie as Peter Ellis
  • Melanie Paxson as Nancy Katz
  • Danneel Ackles as Shasta McCloud
  • Tyler Kain as April
  • Brando Eaton as Rodney 'Hot Rod' Banks
  • Michael Olifiers as A Menducci Brother
  • Darris Love as Ezekiel Holstein
  • Mary Gordon Murray as Mrs. Nivens
  • Ken Lerner as Mr. Nivens
  • Jake McLaughlin as Matt Bartley
  • William Wellman Jr. as Hampton Huxley
  • Nathan Halliday as Vincent Bartley
  • Al Pugliese as Benny Manducci
  • Matthew Dowling as Tommy Manducci
  • Natalie Graziano as Jan Roven (uncredited)
  • Rebekah Shriver as Officer Moreno (uncredited)

Major Events[]

  • Warrick reveals to Catherine that he and Tina got divorced. He had hinted this in a conversation with Nick in the episode Leapin' Lizards.
  • Sara decides to move to swing swift so the team won't be broken up.


  • The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss
  • Running Up That Hill by Placebo


  • Sara is still sporting cuts to her head and wearing a sling, mementos from her encounter with Natalie Davis in the previous episode, Dead Doll.


  • John Ross Bowie, who played Peter Ellis, is perhaps best known for his role as Barry Kripke in The Big Bang Theory.
  • Karina Lombard played Pippa Sanchez in the episode. She would later appear as Eva Martinez in CSI: NY's episode Holding Cell.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 8
Dead DollA La CartGo to HellThe Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp The Chick Chop Flick ShopWho and WhatWhere and WhyGoodbye and Good LuckYou Kill MeCockroachesLying Down With DogsBullGrissom's Divine ComedyA Thousand Days On EarthDrops OutThe Theory of EverythingTwo And A Half DeathsFor Gedda