Besides, downplaying any potential drama is just so very Grissom, isn't it? :-)
"Leaving Las Vegas"
There were two interweaving bits to this episode: Catherine's efforts to solve a murder case, and Grissom's last day at the lab before leaving for Williams College for a teaching sabbatical. I'll talk a bit about the case first.
With the clues leading Catherine and Nick out of Vegas to a small Nevada town, this case reminded me a bit of last season's "Gumdrops." Isolated away from the lab, away from the rest of the team, away from Grissom. And like Nick's mission in that case, this is something Catherine is determined to solve, whatever it takes.
I enjoyed the change in location. We had some good guest roles, too: the female sheriff who made a mistake in the grief following her best friend's unsolved (still unsolved, as the episode ends) abduction/murder; the father and young son who were left after the women in their house were killed (especially the boy--I though his role was well-written and -acted). And, of course, annoying/slimey defense lawyer Novak (aka Mr. Marg Helgenberger) poking his nose into Catherine's case all down the line.
Speaking of which, I love it when Nicky gets all protective of his female colleagues. Of course they can take care of themselves, but he'd be honored to take out anyone unsavory so they don't have to. A true white knight, our Nicky.
Catherine was wearing more professional outfits this time! I usually have at least one moment per episode where I yell at her to wear something that won't show her entire cleavage when she bends down to pick up trace evidence, and with 3 tops she managed to stay modest. *applauds*
Of course, this could have been a wardrobe choice to off-set the scene where she uses her knowledge of men and of stripping to wheedle truth out of a suspect in jail. *facepalm* Ever the practical one, Catherine.
You know, we really didn't see much of anyone besides Cath, Nick, and Grissom in this episode. None of the recurring characters made an appearance (though a couple were mentioned by name), except for Hodges; Doc Robbins showed up only in a phone call with Catherine; and Greg, Warrick, and Sara only showed up to interact with Grissom in one scene each. I find this an interesting choice: close focus on one case and two CSIs, and everyone else seen only in relation to Grissom, as he prepares to leave.
Apparently, Grissom kept news of his departure secret from his entire shift until the day before he left. This is very much in-character (recall how only Doc Robbins and, eventually, Catherine found out about his hearing loss), but it also makes me *facepalm* on his behalf. Because really, Gris, that's not going to endear you to any of them, even if they are used it.
I hope he told Sara before that, anyway. She knew he'd had the offer, iirc....
I thought the scenes that Grissom had with each team member were well played.
--Grissom seeks out Greg to ask him how the civil case is going, and to give him advice and reassurance about it. (Greg's deposition is going to happen while Grissom is gone.)
--Warrick comes to ask Grissom why he's leaving, leading to the most revealing and awesome dialogue exchange of the episode:
Warrick: "What's the matter, you get tired of babysitting?"
Grissom: (wryly) "On the contrary, I'm a teacher without any students."
That says a lot about how far he thinks everyone on his team has come. Awesome. Not to mention the great boost he gives Warrick by telling him that he is "the rock of this team."
--I love that Nick is worried that Grissom won't be coming back at all. He's clearly picked up on the fact that Griss is seeing someone, but just as clearly doesn't have a clue who it actually is. *sporfle* So when he sees Grissom, he just dives in, to make sure he actually gets to say goodbye. And HUGS him. With evidence containers in hand.
Grissom: "I'll be gone four weeks. Stop hugging me."
Nick: "Yes, sir."
--Throughout the episode, I was waiting for Sara to show up. It's not until the very end that she does, and it's not a very romantic scene. I did like how Grissom, after they had sort of said goodbye ("I'll see you when I get back"), hesitated as if he really didn't want to leave. From the way he looked around, I thought maybe he was pondering whether they'd be seen if he just went ahead and kissed her...but maybe it was too risky, because all he said was, "I'll miss you." Which is quite a thing to hear from Grissom, really, but still...from a boyfriend, one might expect just a bit more.
And last, but certainly not least: after Grissom has left, a box delivered to his office, just the right size to contain another miniature-killer diorama. And apparently, that's exactly what's in it. But Grissom isn't going to be back for 4 weeks.... Oh no!
Kudos to everyone (not me) who pegged that the resolution of that storyline seemed unfinished. I guess you were right. Whee! :-)
Re-run next week. Ah well. It's "Fannysmackin'," so I'll be watching.