Willows in the Wind
Willows 2
Season 12
Number 12
Writer Carol Mendelsohn,
Don McGill,
Christopher Barbour,
Richard Catalani
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate January 25, 2012
Previous Episode: Ms. Willows Regrets
Next Episode: Tressed to Kill

Willows in the Wind is the twelfth episode in Season Twelve of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


Catherine goes into hiding with Russell after Mark Gabriel's hitmen try to kill her, but they soon come to the realization that Gabriel himself may not be calling the shots.


On the run: Catherine Willows and D.B. Russell (both alive)

On the case: Greg Sanders, Morgan Brody, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Jim Brass

Nick gets a lead on the money trail from Mark Gabriel's company to his hit squad via the Swiss bank account. However, he's unable to find either Catherine or Russell in their offices. Sara brings Nick up to speed—one of Mark's hit squad infiltrated Laura Gabriel's protection detail and killed her, Agent McQuaid and three other agents. Catherine has been sent home, while Russell is out in the field at a motel crime scene.

Nick gets a call informing him that there's been reports of shots fired in the vicinity of Catherine's house. Bullet casings outside the house match the ones Mark's hit squad uses. Nick and Sara search the house, which has been cleaned and detailed after it was shot up. Catherine's back-up gun is missing, which Nick thinks is bad news, as it means she likely had to use it.

Russell's bullet-riddled SUV is found a few blocks from his last call-out. There's blood in the backseat along with a blood trail leading away from the vehicle. Brass theorizes that Catherine was wounded in the shootout and Russell was driving her to safety. Their cell phones are found nearby, and Sara finds Catherine's resignation email on Russell's phone. The CSIs are confused as to why Catherine wouldn't have told them first. Brass informs the team that they're going radio silent, figuring Mark Gabriel and his team are listening to every transmission.

Doc Robbins is at the motel crime scene Russell was supposed to be responding to. He soon gets a text message that there's "D.B" in another motel room and is surprised to find Russell and Catherine there along with Miss Kitty, an old friend of Catherine's. Catherine is losing blood and beginning to fade, but Russell tells the doc that they can't take her to a hospital. Doc Robbins uses Miss Kitty's curling iron to cauterize Catherine's wound and stop the bleeding.

Back at Catherine's house, Greg and Morgan analyze the blood out in the street. Morgan accurately draws the conclusion that a wounded Catherine stood in the street and flagged down a passing motorist, who just happened to be Russell. They find a separate blood pool nearby and a blood trail that leads into the woods. At the bottom of an embankment, they come across a skeleton that's being devoured by hide beetles; Mark's hit squad has struck again.

Inside the house, Nick finds a .40 caliber bullet, the same kind used to kill Laura's cousin and her husband. Sara sprays luminol on the carpet, revealing a blood pool. The pool was cleaned by the hit squad; however, they missed the rug pad underneath. Since Morgan's theory is that Catherine wasn't shot until she was outside, the CSIs figure that the blood could belong to one of the hit squad. Sara cuts a piece of the pad to bring back to the lab for processing.

Catherine's wound is cauterized, Miss Kitty is compensated, and Doc Robbins leaves to tend to other business. Before he goes, Russell tells him to relay their whereabouts to Brass. As the doc walks through the motel parking lot, Paul Obrecht, the raincoat-wearing man on the hit squad, watches him. Soon thereafter, Catherine and Russell get a call on the room phone.

Mark Gabriel comes to the police station demanding to see his wife. Before he can be questioned, he blames Agent Pratt for his wife's death, while Agent Pratt blames Mark for Agent McQuaid's death. Doc Robbins arrives with urgent information on Catherine and Russell. Brass, Ecklie and some uniformed officers head to the motel, but they're too late—the door has been kicked in, and Catherine and Russell are gone. Ecklie is perplexed as to how the hit squad found Catherine despite the police maintaining radio silence. Brass finds a broken screen and scuff marks in the bathroom, leading him to think that Catherine and Russell were able to get away. As it turns out, Catherine and Russell have escaped with Miss Kitty and a friend of hers. Miss Kitty spotted the raincoat-wearing assassin, knew he was up to no good, and alerted Catherine.

In autopsy, Nick tells Doc Robbins that Catherine and Russell are still in the wind. The doc says that the beetle-ravaged skeleton found near Catherine's house belongs to a middle-aged white male who appears to have been killed by friendly fire. Nick wonders why the hit squad would leave one of their own behind and notes that they seem to be getting sloppy.

Catherine has her and Russell driven to the strip club she used to work in. Russell gets a disposable cell phone from Miss Kitty's friend, while Catherine is also provided with a gun. Inside, Catherine greets her old boss, who agrees to help them disappear for a while.

In the lab's layout room, Greg, Nick, Sara and Agent Pratt go over the case. They're confused as to why a team of top-notch assassins keeps leaving behind evidence. While the crime scene at Malcolm Turner's law office was covert and clean, the scene at Laura's cousin's house was messy; they couldn't even find Laura hiding under the floorboards. Furthermore, they targeted Catherine but were unable to kill her, killing one of their own in the process. The CSIs wonder if the mistakes are all intentional, as the evidence left behind clearly points to Mark Gabriel. If that's the case, he's not the one calling the shots and someone is setting him up.

In the strip club, Russell has concluded that Mark Gabriel isn't their guy. He shows Catherine the resignation letter she sent; he's figured out that Catherine didn't actually send it. Catherine realizes that the hit squad has been hacking into her e-mails and has gathered enough information to manufacture a resignation letter. Russell believes that it acts like a cover story: before departing, Catherine would seek revenge for the death of her friend and target the guy she thought was responsible—Mark Gabriel. She realizes that someone stole the back-up gun from her house and is probably going to use it in an effort to frame her. However, she's screwed up everyone's plans by surviving the earlier shootout. Russell comes up with a plan to get them back to the lab safely, having them transported in body bags.

In the station locker room, Sara confirms with Catherine that the resignation email was a fake; however, Catherine admits that something's missing in her life. There's still the question of who's setting Mark up, and Sara puts forth her theory—Laura. She notes that Catherine hadn't seen Laura since they were kids and, all of a sudden, she showed up at the station. Laura allowed Catherine to see her in a controlling, abusive relationship and offered to give information on her husband to put him behind bars. All signs would point to Mark being guilty and dying at the hands of a vengeful Catherine, which Laura would benefit from. Conveniently, Laura's body was supposedly burned beyond recognition in the attack on the FBI convoy.

Russell has Henry run the DNA from the female dead body against the clothes taken from Laura at the hospital. The results show that the body in the backseat of the charred FBI sedan is actually Sandra Pence, the female assassin on the hit squad. Furthermore, the dead body next to her isn't Agent McQuaid, but, rather, Geoffrey Kreuger, another part of the assassination team. Russell and Ecklie inform Agent Pratt that his partner is dirty, and that he and Laura are the ones behind the whole thing.

Russell suggests to Agent Pratt that they use Mark's banking connections with his hit team to set Laura up. Catherine and Agent Pratt meet secretly with Mark in the station parking garage, informing him that Laura and Agent McQuaid have been the masterminds all along. Someone on Mark's payroll knows where Laura is, but Mark says that he prefers to settle his own affairs. After departing, he sends money to hitman Paul Obrecht to have Laura and Agent McQuaid killed.

Paul heads to the house where Laura is holed up and attempts to kill her. However, it's all a setup, and both he and Laura are arrested. Mark took the contract off his head and put it on Laura's by doubling Laura's offer. On his way out of the house, Paul tells Catherine that they "already have" Agent McQuaid. It's revealed that the beetle-ravaged skeleton found near Catherine's house belonged to the agent. Catherine is surprised that Agent McQuaid was trying to kill her, but Russell says that the evidence shows that he fired off a warning shot before the hit squad closed in. After Catherine leaves, Agent Pratt compliments her on a job well done and offers her a job with the FBI.

Catherine speaks with Laura and asks why she was chosen. Laura replies that she always takes what she wants, while she knew Catherine would put everyone else first because it's "the easier way." She adds that Catherine would rather accept the life she has rather than risk having the life she wants. Catherine replies that Laura doesn't know her at all—if she did, she would've known things were going to end this way.

Mark is arrested for putting a hit out on his wife, as Paul sold him out in an effort to avoid the death penalty. In the lab, Russell calls a family meeting and gathers the team. However, Catherine is the one who actually called the meeting. She informs everyone that she's leaving the lab to take a job with the FBI and has tendered her resignation...for real this time. Everyone hugs her and wishes her well. Catherine is last seen having breakfast with Morgan and giving her some advice before Morgan is called to work.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Episode Title[]

  • The episode's title is an obvious take on the children's book Wind in the Willows. Written by British novelist Kenneth Grahame, it focuses on four anthropomorphized animals: Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger.


  • Stay Frosty by Van Halen
  • Sister by The Black Keys


  • Catherine tells Russell about her history and how she decided to become a CSI while working in the strip club. She mentions talking to a cop, Jimmy Tadero, and giving him insight on his open cases. As it turns out, Jimmy would later be arrested for planting evidence in the murder of Catherine's friend to "help the case along." This occurred in the Season Two episode Felonious Monk.
  • At the end of the episode, Catherine sits with Morgan in a diner booth and gives her some career advice. She mentions that she did the same thing a long time ago, referring to the meeting she had with former CSI Holly Gribbs at the end of the Pilot episode.


  • Matt Lauria played Special Agent Matthew Pratt in the episode, also appearing in two other episodes. He would be cast as CSI Joshua Folsom in the 2021 revival of the franchise, entitled CSI: Vegas.
  • This episode is the last time Marg Helgenberger is listed as a Series Regular, and the last time she's featured in the opening credits. She goes on to make a guest appearance in the Season Fourteen episode Frame by Frame, and makes her final appearance in the episode Immortality, a TV movie and the CSI finale.
  • Marg Helgenberger's mid-season departure is only the third in the history of the series. The first was the departure of Jorja Fox, and the second is William Petersen.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 12
73 SecondsTell-Tale HeartsBittersweetMaid ManCSI DownFreaks & GeeksBrain DoeCrime After CrimeZipperedGenetic DisorderMs. Willows RegretsWillows in the WindTressed to KillSeeing RedStealing HomeCSI UnpluggedTrends with BenefitsMalice in WonderlandSplit DecisionsAltered StakesDune and GloomHomecoming