“I have always loved Harry’s ribs!”

December 29th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

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Caution: Spoilers ahead.

The second-to-last episode of CSI in 2009 featured a particularly animal-friendly plot line. I say “particularly” rather than “surprisingly” because CSI has a longstanding track record of treating animals and animal advocacy issues with a modicum of respect – a practice which stands in sharp contrast to similar crime shows like Law & Order. (See, for example, Veg*nism & Pop Culture: But does Costa Rica have an extradition treaty? and Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Sara Sidle: From CSI to Terra-ist.)

Season 10, Episode 9 (Appendicitement) saw the CSI team investigating not one, but two separate murders, both of which occurred on the premises of a BBQ joint. Since IMDB has a decent writeup of the episode, I’ll let them take it away:

There are two twisty tales in Vegas tonight. Strike that, one in Vegas and one outside.

The first tale concerns lab tech Henry. Greg, Nick, and Hodges literally kidnap Henry on his birthday to take him to this great barbecue place up the road apiece called Harry’s Hog Hideout.* On the way there a crazy lady runs them off the road and the car rolls. Fortunately, none of them is seriously injured but Nick’s car is out of commission. With no cell service, they decide to walk the last little bit to Harry’s but, unfortunately, when they arrive they discover it’s been closed for seven months due to a Hepatitis outbreak. They decide to poke around and see if there’s a working phone inside.

Instead they find a dead body, a man with a raccoon attached to his face.

While Henry, disgruntled about his crummy birthday, hangs with the dead guy Hodges and Greg poke around outside. They figure out that the guy lured the raccoon to a nearby barrel and tried to kill him by filling the barrel with ethylene gas and blowing him up. The explosion threw the raccoon and the guy through the window of Harry’s. So it was an accident.

Meanwhile, Nick looks for a phone and it’s not working. He returns to the scene just as another guy shows up and pulls a gun on Henry. They make it clear that they’re cops and the guy, Slick explains that the dead guy was Gomez the cook at Harry’s, who was generally a good guy.

(Emphasis and asterisks mine, of course.)

Initially – and in breaking with the show’s usual treatment of such cases – the CSI investigators exhibit disappointingly little concern for the dead raccoon. Personally, I am lacking in sympathy for people who inadvertently blow themselves up while trying to lure a sentient being into a trap, only to torch him alive. Killing “nuisance” animals – especially when there are humane, catch-and-release options available – is bad enough; plotting to light them on fire while still alive and fully conscious is downright sadistic. Unfortunately, the CSI team doesn’t voice any of these thoughts – that is, until much later in the show.

Once the plot unfolds and the bodies are transported back to the lab, coroner David Phillips expresses grief at the raccoon’s demise. I can’t recall what exactly was said (nor did I think to save the episode on my DVR so that I might type up a transcript – doh!), but I believe that David muttered something about the human getting what he deserved and referred to the raccoon as an innocent bystander.

In other words, all is well in the Las Vegas crime lab!

Alas, we still have one body to account for…

Just then the crazy broad woman that who ran them off the road comes barreling up and crashes into the debris outside, rendering her car unusable as well.

She comes in, soused, and she and Slick make eyes at each other while eating martini olives. She was Harry’s wife and they explain that Harry ran off, cleaned out their accounts, and they haven’t heard from him since. Nick asks after a phone and Slick says there’s a ham radio out back. They try it but it blows a tube. Super nerd Greg thinks he can make one though.

Meanwhile, Shirley shows Henry a postcard from Harry saying he found a younger woman, took all their money, and ran off to an island to be happy without her. He agrees it’s mean. She then tries to, ew, put the moves on him.

Hodges discovers that Slick and Shirley were making moonshine in the basement. Greg figures out how to make a phone work by wiring up the receiver directly to the phone pole outside and calls for help. As they wait, Henry accidentally spills sulfuric acid on his hand and Nick quickly runs to the BBQ pit in the middle of the restaurant and grabs some charcoal to neutralize it. While rooting around in there he discovers a human skull. He pulls his gun and goes over to Slick and Shirley and asks them if they know who it is, they claim they don’t.

Later at the station they determine the skull and other bones found in the pit are in fact Harry. Nick realizes the ribs are gone. Harry also had hepatitis. They deduce that whoever killed him then served up his ribs at the restaurant. Slick and Shirley each blame the other in their interviews with Brass. But Henry is stuck on the postcard. When they discover that Gomez had a rap sheet for forgery, they figure out that he forged Harry’s handwriting, sent the postcard to his mom in Florida to send back to Shirley. They figure that Harry found out about Gomez’ past and used it against him to keep him at the restaurant and Gomez got sick of it. Henry, who sprained his ankle and burned his hand, decides it wasn’t the worst birthday ever after all.

Sweet serendipity! A man who made his name by trading in the charred remains of enslaved, tortured, murdered and dismembered animals has himself been murdered and dismembered – not to mention, marinated, barbecued, and served up on a platter to his own hungry customers.

Deliciously ironic is one patron’s exclamation of glee: “I have always loved Harry’s ribs!” Clearly, she means to say that she’s always loved the ribs of pigs, which Harry has (with a little help from the omnipresent animal agriculture industry) stolen, repurposed and resold as “his own.” Here, nothing is Harry’s but the marinade recipe. The irony, of course, lies in the fact that, this time, the ribs actually are Harry’s. She is literally eating Harry’s ribs. And – being “meat” and all – Harry’s ribs are just as yummy as a pig’s.

BBQ CHEF by chillmost on Flickr

By the by, it’s worth noting that a number of online reviewers recoiled at the thought of – ick! – eating Harry as opposed to the intended pigs. Humans, pigs, cows, dogs: we are all made of the same basic stuff – meat, tissue, bones, etc. If you find the though of cooking and eating Harry (or Spot!) appalling, perhaps it’s time to examine your moral inconsistencies vis-à-vis “meat” consumption. Ditto: dairy and eggs. (I have a t-shirt that reads, “If milk is so natural, go suck on a cow’s teat!” Better still: “If milk is so natural, go suck on your mother’s teat!”)

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* Suicide Food, anyone? Why on earth would pigs choose to seek refuge in the place of their demise? Answer: they wouldn’t. They’re porcine, not stupid.

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