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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: March ::
Re: CSI (and Shakespeare)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0860  Thursday, 28 March 2002

From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Mar 2002 00:34:30 +0000 (GMT)
Subject:        Re: CSI (and Shakespeare)

Peter Wilkins refers to a CSI episode which cites the famous speech by
Othello at the end. This is one of the two story-lines, which is a usual
feature of CSI episodes.

The episode aired in the UK on Saturday 15 March (and the following
Monday), followed by Law and Order (which I didn't watch).

Gil Grissom (senior officer of the CSI field services office) attends
the Las Vegas Historical Society where a rare-book repairer Veronica
died after convulsing while being in a locked, controlled viewing room.
When found dead, she was cyanotic with blood drooling from her mouth. In
the CSI lab, Gil learns that the mucous membrane of Veronica's tongue is
irritated, and the autopsy shows blood in the lungs, vomit in the
throat, blood in the stool, and hemolysis.

Gil, in the absence of security camera footage in the society's
basement, examines the crime scene with help from the autistic librarian
Aaron, a "rain man" character in this CSI episode; he has a photographic
memory/mind and is capable of remembering what he has seen as if he were
a video camera and incapable of telling lies.

Aaron tells Gil that he and Veronica were dating, although he admitted
that she was having an affair with the curator Stanley Hunter. Gil
figures out that Veronica was forging pages in some rare books and
stealing the originals. Aaron discovered these pages in the rare books
"did not feel right". He didn't suspect her, but after he told her and
Hunter about his findings, she decided to kill Hunter. She learned that
she could make white powdery poison called ricin from a toxic protein
derived from the castor bean plant, which works in a similar way to such
bio toxins as Anthrax and smallpox. While putting the poison in a salt
shaker in her kitchen (they were going to have lunch together in the
basement of the society), she accidentally spilled a small amount of the
poison on her pen. She had the habit of chewing/biting her pens, and
later chewed the pen on which she had dropped the poison without knowing
the accident. When Aaron came to say good-bye to her in the basement of
the society before he was going home, the poison started to work and
killed Veronica.

In the middle of the episode, Gil cites a passage from Othello: "But I
will wear my heart upon my sleeve / For daws to peck at. I am not what I
am." Aaron replies, "Othello, act 1, scene 1, lines 61 and 2, Iago to
Roderigo", and tells him that Othello is his favourite play. (I don't
know which edition -- Oxford, Penguin, Signet, etc. -- was used for this
episode.  Not the Arden (ed. by Honigmann), I figured out at least.)

At the end of the episode Aaron learns that Veronica was merely using
him to hide her forgeries and to plant evidence in his flat so that if
the crime ever came to light, it would look as if Aaron had done it.
Then comes Othello's famous description of himself:

Aaron: I was stupid. I thought she [Veronica] loved me. "Then must you
speak / Of one that loved not wisely..."
Gil: "...But too well."
Aaron: Othello, act 5, scene 2, lines 343 and 4.
Gil: But Othello killed Desdemona.
Aaron: I didn't kill Veronica.
Gil: No, you didn't.

Other Renaissance and literary references in this episode include:
Hamlet (Gil's favourite play); King Lear (Gil comments that Hunter's
favourite play must be King Lear); the Gutenberg Bible (according to
Hunter it was sold for $5.(something) million at Christie's); Mary
Shelley's Frankenstein (Aaron tells Gil that Veronica, before she died,
put on her a face of "Shelley's Frankenstein", indicating that she
grimaced); and my favourite Shakespeare in Love (Aaron and Veronica
watched this film together).

Best wishes,
Takashi Kozuka
(a big fan of Friends, Sex and the City, and Buffy)

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