Crossposted from V for Vegan.
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…