This episode is still like that, but director Quentin Tarantino takes it a little bit further. In fact, I'm not sure many fans will feel the need to write fic after this--there is much less room to fill with character thoughts and reactions than in a normal episode.
However, to quote Dana Stevens' (of Slate Magazine) review:
That's not to say that "Grave Danger" is a shark-jumping melodrama that betrays the show's essence by selling out to cheap sentiment. What's impressive about this episode is how it remains true to the CSI ethic of stoic workaholism, beneath an added layer of emotional richness.
This is what you get when you let a filmmaker who is also an obsessed fan come play in your sandbox.
I'm telling you, it's such a fic. :-)
There was phenomenal acting all around, including from recurring actors, but my biggest "wow" goes out to George Eads (Nick), William Petersen (Grissom), and Greg Dourdan (Warrick). They all had very intense scenes to play, and they all nailed them. In particular, watching Nick fall apart inside that coffin...gaaaahhhh. That's quite enough to justify the collective mood of shock that settles over the lab.
There were a couple of serious story surprises, too--I totally did not see it coming when the baddie blew himself to kingdom come, essentially destroying the one thing that could have told them where Nick was. The despair on Grissom's face....
No member of the team got through this without a chance to shine (though Jorja Fox as Sara had the least to do), including supporting characters David the coroner (as he apologizes for not getting to the scene sooner), Archie the video tech (whose voice nearly breaks when Warrick comes into the computer lab to check on Nick via the webcam feed--has Archie been trying not to cry?), and Hodges from Trace (I love how he wrestles the package away from the delivery guy, trying to preserve any evidence).
And Supervisor Ecklie. He's always been a pain in the neck, never really doing his job with the devotion shown by Grissom and his team, and this year he's been unmerciful and unbearable. It was nice to hear him say, "I want you to know that as far as I'm concerned, there's no other case in Vegas tonight", but to watch him put his reputation where his mouth is, trying to raise the ransom for Nick.... Yes, that sound you heard was my jaw hitting the floor.
Possibly best moment: At the end, when Grissom turns to Ecklie and says, "I want my guys back."
I love this show; and Tarantino treated it the way a fan should, with respect, adding to it, not detracting anything. Yay. :-)