I'm torn about this episode. There was a lot I felt that they could have done better--the shifting back and forth between Sara in the "present" and flashbacks of Sara struggling with Natalie on the way to the desert and what various CSIs think Sara might be doing as they look at pieces of evidence and try to find her.... I found that rather confused. Not confusing, but not well-structured. For instance, after the moment when Nick gets frustrated that he can't find anything and sits and remembers the conversation he and Sara had during "Gumdrops," I was convinced that we were going to see more of the team recalling moments with Sara. Didn't happen.
Of course, that moment of Nick's also pretty much convinced me that Sara was going to die. And there's a part of me that's bummed out that they didn't follow through on this (although, they did already get to kill off a CSI last year, with Mike Keppler's arc, so...).
Now, I do have to give props to the director of this episode, and the stunt people, and the music director, and those who did the camera work. There were some stunning images and sequences in this episode. A small list:
--Greg in the helicopter, searching.
--Nick recalling that "Gumdrops" conversation; that was brilliant, referencing his own kidnapping in "Grave Danger" as well as his optimistic outlook vs. Sara's realism. Choked me up but good.
--Sara figuring out how to get out of the trunk. Plausible, scary, full of tension...it felt real, not like some fake action-y thing. Kudos.
--Sara walking in the desert, clearly exhausted, muttering the multiplication table to herself to keep her mind working.
--Nick and Grissom finding Sara's vest in the dirt on top of the car.
--Grissom and Catherine digging out the body that turned out to be that hiker, not Sara. Because the stiff, sand-crusted body and hair could have been her, so easily, and it was disgusting and I really, really didn't want it to be her.
--Those last few moments in the Med-Evac chopper, when we're still wondering if Sara's going to make it, and then she opens her eyes, and the first thing she sees is Grissom's name on his vest. Understated, but the connection even just in that moment is palpable, and if I hadn't bought the relationship already, I would have then.
Bottom line: not as good a procedural episode as "Grave Danger," or "Stalker." Not enough focus on most of the team, which I felt weakened the story considerably. But a good resolution, with good moments, and it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Evocative, and made me remember anew why I like Sara Sidle. *points to icon*
And then I went to TVguide.com and read Ausellio's Report, which he's been telling all the CSI fans to come do as soon as the episode aired.
Apparently, Sara survived (yep), but Jorja is leaving the show come November. Her last episode will air 11/9, or something like that. And she's not allowed to talk about how she's going to leave. When I first read this, I was peeved. Why not just kill her off in the premiere, give this episode the work and weight it deserves, and take advantage of the situation?
But as I think more about it, I find that I am grateful that she'll have some more time on the show, and that we'll get some resolution to her relationships with her team and with Grissom, however they decide to write her out.