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The Happy Place
Happy Place.jpg
Season 9
Number 2
Writer Sarah Goldfinger
Director Nathan Hope
Original Airdate October 16, 2008
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Previous Episode: For Warrick
Next Episode: Art Imitates Life

The Happy Place is the second episode in season nine of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

Catherine and Nick investigate why a woman who was about to be married would have taken a swan dive off of her balcony. Grissom investigates the brutal murder of a woman found in an alley. The investigation gets tougher with the discovery that her two-year-old was with her when she was murdered. Meanwhile, things get personal for Sara when a hospitalized attempted murder victim from an old case she investigated is killed by her husband.

Plot

Victim: Sprig Greniger (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes

A young woman is in her high-rise apartment making dinner when she receives a phone call. A short time later, she removes all of her clothes except for her bathing suit, walks to the edge of her balcony and swan dives onto a moving bus on the streets below. Catherine and Nick are on the scene. When David Phillips moves the body, they see that the victim's bones have basically been liquified.

The building's doorman identifies the victim as Sprig Grenigier, who shares her apartment with her fiancé. Inside the fancy apartment, Catherine and Nick see no signs of forced entry or a struggle. On the balcony, Nick spots a towel on the bench and envisions the actions Sprig took before her death. In the kitchen, Catherine sees a notices that Sprig and her fiancé were getting married in two weeks. Sprig was also cooking for her fiancé and future in-laws. When the pieces are put together, it doesn't make sense why she would commit suicide. Catherine goes through Sprig's phone and finds that someone called her just before midnight; she has Archie run a reverse lookup on the number.

As they go through the apartment, Nick finds that Sprig was filing for unemployment after being a bank teller and wonders if losing her job sent her over the edge. Archie calls Catherine and tells her that the call Sprig received before her death came from a payphone right across the street from the apartment. As Nick prints the payphone, Catherine talks to Sprig's fiancé, Brett Davidson. He says that Sprig wasn't depressed and that she had been planning their wedding for weeks. However, she was worried about looking fat in her wedding photos, so she went on a crash diet. She was also worried about paying for the wedding and the honeymoon. Brett tells Catherine that Sprig was fired from the bank over a misunderstanding when her drawer came up $10,000 short one day.

Nick goes through surveillance video from the bank and spots the moment where Sprig's drawer came up short. A bearded man in a hat and glasses came up to the counter and handed Sprig two $50 bills; in return, Sprig gave him $10,000, and did so staring straight ahead. There's no gun or note, and Sprig didn't look to be in distress. The bank manager said that when he questioned Sprig about the transaction, she couldn't remember anything. Catherine discovers that the day shift handled a similar case two weeks ago, where the same man entered a different bank and the same transaction was made. The teller, Grace Powell, tells Catherine that she, too, can't remember anything. Grace mentions that she has been trying to quit smoking and has undergone hypnosis to do so. She hands Catherine the hypnotist's business card. Catherine goes through Sprig's personal effects and finds the same business card.

Catherine and Nick take in a show where the hypnotist, Viviana Conway, hypnotizes guests on stage. Backstage, Viviana tells them that her day job is private client therapy. She says that she helped Sprig lose 12 pounds before her wedding by telling her to visualize herself in a bikini running on the beaches of Hawaii, taking off her towel and jumping into the water, feeling fit and confident. The goal, she adds, is to help the client visualize their end goal and get them there. Nick asks her if she could convince someone to rob a bank; she replies that she can't make people do something they wouldn't do unless it was already in their nature.

The police department's hypnotist hypnotizes Grace and has her remember working at the bank the day of the robbery. She says that the mystery man asked her for change of $100 and she gave him all $1 bills; obviously, this wasn't the case. When Grace can't remember anything else, the hypnotist tells Catherine and Nick that whoever hypnotized her put a "block" in - a command to keep her from remembering what happened. If there's a block, he says, it wasn't the first time this man hypnotized her. Furthermore, Grace would only act if she heard the same voice that hypnotized her in the first place. When asked what the man looked like, she says that he had tiny hands and "jacked up" fingernails.

Catherine has Archie pull up surveillance footage from the bank and notices what appears to be nail glue on the man's fingernails. She says that nail glue is the residue left behind when one removes acrylic fingernails, which is what Viviana was wearing. When Archie compares Viviana's DMV photo with the bank's surveillance photo, they see that the faces are a perfect match.

Catherine and Nick pay Viviana another visit. Viviana tells them that she got Sprig and Grace fired from their jobs because she could. She explains that she has a gift where she can put anybody under a spell using the sound of her voice and since two of her clients were bank tellers, she figured she would try the scam. Nick reminds her that Sprig is dead and that they don't think it was a suicide. Sprig had written five checks to Viviana but had had six sessions. Viviana claims that the last session was free; it was the least she could do for getting someone fired. She says that she never went to Sprig's apartment, but Nick tells her that her fingerprints were on the payphone across the street. A flashback shows Sprig answering her phone and hearing Viviana say the words "It's time for your honeymoon." Sprig then went into a trance, changed into a bathing suit and dove off her balcony. Catherine reminds Viviana that she told Sprig to envision herself on a beach in Hawaii jumping into the water. Viviana admits to the bank robbery but says that she can't make people do anything they don't want to do. Catherine places her under arrest.

Victim: Paula Bonfilio (deceased)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Detective Williams

Grissom is in bed with Sara and ignores his cell phone constantly ringing. Sara tells him that he needs a break and that they should go on vacation; however, the lab is short-staffed since Warrick's death.

He eventually heads out to the scene, where a woman is lying dead in an alleyway next to a pawn shop. There's some broken glass and a piece of broken jewelry near the body. Doc Robbins pulls back the victim's shirt to reveal a five-finger pattern near her shoulder. The cause of death is blunt force trauma to the back of the head and Grissom finds the impact point on the ground nearby. There's a room key to the Tangier's in the victim's pocket, but no forms of identification. When the body is turned over, they see that the victim's eyeballs have been pushed back into their sockets. Grissom says that the murder was pure rage.

In autopsy, Grissom spots a pattern on the victim's shoulder under ultraviolet light; it's consistent with jewelry being ripped off of her. A wet mount indicates that the victim had sex shortly before she died.

Det. Williams tells Brass that the prints on the victim came back to Paula Bonfilio. Additionally, the room at the Tangiers was registered to a pit boss. The pit boss claims that he uses the room to entertain high rollers, something Paula didn't appear to be. She had been in a pretty deep hole the night she died, and the pit boss "helped her get out of it" - the semen found in her vaginal vault is a match to his DNA.

Grissom and Det. Williams visit Scott Bonfilio, Paula's son, to tell him that his mother was murdered. He tells them that he last talked to his mother at 10:00 PM and that she was with his baby sister, Lexi. An Amber Alert is broadcast for the two-year old Lexi and Scott gives Grissom a pacifier with her DNA on it. Scott says that his mother was a party girl and would usually be gone for the night. Furthermore, she had a gambling problem, stealing his paychecks and gambling them away at the casino.

Archie is able to find a perfect timeline of Paula's last hours before her death. A hold was placed on her credit card at the casino's day care. She then lost big at the tables, went away with the pit boss for an hour and returned to the tables. Shortly after, she received a call from a disposable cell phone. A man wearing glasses approached her and ushered her away from the table; she put a $500 chip in her purse. She later picked up Lexi from day care with the man in tow. Archie is able to track her to Pete's Pawn Shop, which is right near where her body was found. Her ATM card was rejected at the pawn shop just after 9:00 PM and she called home just after 10:00 PM. Grissom notes that there was broken optical glass near the body and thinks that it could belong to the unknown man.

Paula's car is located and a prostitute is seen approaching it as if it's her own. Det. Williams places her under arrest for receiving stolen property. She tells him that a man approached her and offered to give her the car if she dropped Lexi off at the Palermo's daycare center. Lexi is found at the daycare center and temporarily placed in Scott's care.

Leon Slocomb is brought in for questioning; his prints were all over Paula's car. His hands are busted up, and he feigns ignorance on how that occurred. He tells Det. Williams that Paula owed him $12,000 and that he rouged her up when she couldn't pay him. Paula fought back and broke his glasses. Leon admits that he took Paula's car and baby as leverage, but says that he was eventually going to give them back. He swears, though, that Paula was alive when he left the alley.

Archie gets a call and is notified that someone tried to cash in the $500 chip that Paula was carrying. He gets an email with a photo attachment that shows that Scott is the one trying to cash the chip and immediately calls Grissom. Scott is arrested; inside his apartment, Grissom finds a gold chain with blood on it and sexy photos that Scott took of Paula. He remembers that Paula called Scott around 10:00 PM and theorizes that she needed his help. A flashback shows Scott meeting with Paula and pushing in her eyes in a fit of rage after she lost Lexi due to her gambling debts.

Wendy informs Grissom that Scott and Paula aren't related, but that Lexi is their child. Records indicate that they had been living in Vegas for two years; before that, she was a guidance counselor at Scott's high school. This means that Lexi was conceived when Scott was only 15 years old. Furthermore, Scott's fingerprints were entered into the missing children's database.

Under interrogation, Scott tells Grissom that he wasn't kidnapped and that he was more like a hostage. He admits that he didn't call his parents because they wouldn't let him keep Lexi. Paula was his guidance counselor and he fell in love with her because she was the first person to make him feel heard. However, as time went on, he became too old and "grown up" for Paula. When Scott became less risky, she started seeking risk anywhere she could. He says that he wanted to make a life for himself and start a family and he snapped when he found out that Paula lost Lexi over a gambling debt. Finally, he says that even if Lexi can't be with him, she's far better off not being with Paula.

Victim: Pamela Adler (deceased)

On the case: Greg Sanders, Sara Sidle, Sam Vega

Greg meets Det. Vega at the hospital and is notified that the husband of Pamela Adler has pulled the plug on his wife, who had been in a coma for eight years as the result of a rape assault. The husband, Tom, has refused to leave his wife's side. Greg is informed that Sara worked Pamela's original case eight years ago and he calls her to fill her in.

Sara arrives at the hospital. Tom tells her that he failed to protect his wife and that he wasn't going to let it happen again. He claims that the person who raped and assaulted Pamela, Tony Thorpe, started calling him and harassing him. Tony had also been in the hospital room, where he left behind a newspaper clipping from eight years ago about the case. On the clipping, he wrote that "she liked it more the second time," admitting to violating her again. The clipping can't be used as evidence, though, because Tom burned it after seeing it. Tom admits that the only way he could protect Pamela from Tony was to disconnect her breathing tube so that she would no longer have to suffer.

At the station, Sara sees Tom getting led down the hallway in handcuffs. She tells Vega that Tom is a victim in all of this, but Vega says that active euthanasia is felony murder. He adds that the police are looking into Tony's phone records and whereabouts, but the fact that Tom burned the note doesn't help his case. When told that Tom is under arrest for unplugging his wife's tube and watching her die, Sara replies that this is why she can't do this job anymore.

Grissom goes over the case files and finds no evidence that Tony called Tom or that he was even in Pamela's room. He tells Sara that it's possible that Tom made up the story to justify his actions, for after eight years of being in a coma, his wife wasn't coming back to him. Grissom adds that a relationship in stasis withers and that maybe Tom needed his wife to leave him and not the other way around; Sara believes Grissom is talking about their relationship.

Greg tells Sara that he thinks he knows why Tony was harassing the Adlers. When Tony was arrested eight years ago, the law was that he could only be charged for murder if Pamela died within a year and a day of the assault; otherwise, he wouldn't be charged. However, the law has now changed, and Tony can be charged at any time if the death could be attributed to the rape assault. Greg theorizes that Tony terrorized Tom by making him think that he raped Pamela again. By playing mind games with Tom and forcing him to pull the plug, Tony wouldn't be on the hook for murder anymore. In other terms, it's murder by proxy.

Vega tells Catherine that Tony is coming down to the station but reminds her that she's not on the case anymore. When Tony arrives, they are surprised to see him in a wheelchair, a victim of gang violence. He tells them that he become handicapped last Christmas, meaning that Tom hasn't been telling the truth about what happened to his wife.

Sara speaks with Tom and asks him why he lied. He admits that he spent most of his time at his wife's side and that only person who was suffering was him. However, he didn't want to move on and leave her in the state she was in. Sara tells him that he could have asked the doctors to help him, but he replies that he would come off looking selfish. She tells him that at least he would have been honest.

Sara is later seen packing her things and leaving Grissom's apartment, as another case has gotten to her.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Liz Vassey as Wendy Simms
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Jorja Fox as Sara Sidle
  • Gabriel Casseus as Detective Williams
  • Archie Kao as Archie Johnson
  • Geoffrey Rivas as Detective Sam Vega
  • Larry Sullivan as Officer Akers
  • Sheeri Rappaport as Mandy Webster
  • Paula Francis as Paula Francis
  • Glenne Headly as Viviana Conway
  • Aldis Hodge as Tony Thorpe
  • Sam Murphy as Scott Bonfilio
  • Bruno Campos as Randy Hopper
  • Bruce Weitz as Leon Slocomb
  • Kristin Dattilo as Paula Bonfilio
  • Ivan Brogger as Jacob Wolf
  • Ryan Doorn as Brett Davidson
  • Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine as Tom Adler
  • Nicole Vicuis as Trixie
  • Linara Washington as Grace Powell
  • Michelle Anne Johnson as Pamela Adler
  • Bambadjan Bamba as Bellman
  • Gina Cancelliere as Herself
  • Ricki Noel Lander as Sprig Greniger
  • Sam Upton as Ian Wallace

Notes

  • Sara investigated Pamela Adler's rape assault in the season 1 episode Too Tough to Die.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 9
For WarrickThe Happy PlaceArt Imitates LifeLet It BleedLeave Out All The RestSay UncleWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaYoung Man with a Horn19 Down...One to GoThe Grave ShiftDisarmed and DangerousDeep Fried and Minty FreshMiscarriage of JusticeKill Me If You CanTurn, Turn, TurnNo Way OutMascaraThe Descent of ManA Space OddityIf I Had a Hammer...The Gone Dead TrainHog HeavenAll In
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