If you tuned in to the 300th episode of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” Wednesday night to see Catherine Willows return “to help the CSIs solve a cold case that has haunted the team for 14 years,” then you were likely disappointed.
Willows, the crime-scene investigator played by Marg Helgenberger for the first 11-and-a-half seasons of “CSI,” turned up twice in the episode seen on CBS — both in flashback scenes rendered in black-and-white and each lasting approximately a minute.
Also read: Marg Helgenberger Says Goodbye to ‘CSI’
They must have been filmed this year, though, since the flashbacks referred to a cold case from 14 years previously that was not a case ever seen on the series.
That means Helgenberger must have moseyed over to the “CSI” set for an hour or so for this “return” appearance that turned out to be a lot less substantial than CBS made it out to be.
A press release sent out by the network on Oct. 14 had this headline: “Marg Helgenberger Returns as Catherine Willows.” The press release itself said, “Catherine Willows returns to help the CSIs solve a cold case that has haunted the team for 14 years, on the milestone 300th episode of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
Sure, the statement is technically correct: In one of the two flashback scenes, she is seen imparting some advice 14 years earlier to the then-young investigator Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda), who conjures this piece of advice in the present day to help him solve the case that took up the bulk of Wednesday’s episode. So, in that way, she did indeed “help” him advance the investigation.
But you can be forgiven for forming the impression from the CBS announcement that Willows would come bounding back into the office for a full-fledged reunion with her old workmates — something that definitely did not happen.
The episode wasn’t bad, though. Jason Priestley guest-starred as a man suspected of killing an 18 year-old girl 14 years previously and then another one in the present day. And at the episode’s conclusion, the show saluted itself with a brief clip montage to celebrate its 300th-episode milestone.
Watch the episode, above.