By Jay Conaty

“This is how they framed him,” a triumphant Sara tells Maxine after a very long road to the truth in CSI: Vegas’ second outing.

But let’s rewind to the beginning and follow the evidence to this point, shall we?

While Maxine, Josh and Allie work the case of a young couple murdered the day before their wedding, Gil and Sara find themselves at a crossroads in their investigation into former friend and colleague David Hodges.

Without hard copies and original files, the pair realize they can’t work the evidence as they might have liked. However, Maxine delivers an even greater blow when she tells them, that as potential accomplices to Hodges alleged crimes, they are now legally not allowed to work the case at all.

The pair go to visit Hodges who has been let out of prison on bail. As Sara and Gil debate if Hodges is truly guilty, and just how well does one person ever know another, Hodges surprises them by greeting his very pregnant wife in the hallway.

Hodges is adamant he has been framed. Sara believes him. Gil, in typical fashion says he believes the evidence. Neither Sara nor Hodges are exactly happy, but they, and we, are left to place our faith in the science.

Gil pays a visit, incognito, to the storage unit that Hodges supposedly rented to conduct his various counts of altering and destroying evidence from previous CSI cases. Sara previously claimed that Hodges’ secret makeshift lab is too perfect. She believes the equipment and contents are staged by an expert. Gil makes another observation: the lab is strewn with Hodges’ personal effects right down to his collectibles and board games. If someone was staging the scene, they had access to Hodges belongings.

It’s not much to go on, but it’s a solid start. While Gil and Sara fall out (just a little, and adorably) over gut instinct vs science, they pay a visit to Hodges new house. He and wife Emma moved in about 6 months ago, but never quite managed to finish unpacking. As such, there’s is a large number of cardboard packing boxes in the garage. What if someone broke in and took what they needed to stage a damning scene? Come to think of it, Hodges is missing a board game!

Pictured L-R: Mandeep Dhillon as Allie Rajan and Matt Lauria as Josh FolsomPhoto: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

We think we are backing a winner with this line of thinking, but are all thrown for another loop when neither Gil nor Sara can find any evidence of a break in, or a disturbance to Hodges’ boxed belongings.

Hodges loses his temper (just a little, and adorably), and Gil and Sara go outside to cool down and think. It’s there that Gil makes his first real breakthrough. Across the street he spies a lost dog poster. It looks like Hodges’ next door neighbor lost their dog around the same time his secret lock up lab was discovered. Coincidence? Of course not.

With a little investigation Gil discovers disturbed earth behind the house. It looks like a good spot to bury a deceased formerly noisy guard dog, who would surely otherwise have alerted neighbors to a break in at Hodges’ house.

Sara is sure this is how they framed him, and now we are too.

The pair bring the carcass to the lab for further investigation. It looks like the poor pooch bit whomever killed it. Could a DNA sample from the dog’s teeth help identify the culprit? Maybe, but neither Gil nor Sara are allowed to officially work the Hodges case, and Maxine turns down their request to analyse the sample further.

However, says Maxine, as this is a totally unrelated … like so totally unrelated case of animal cruelty, Maxine gives the go ahead — wink wink nudge nude — for the pair to identify the dog’s killer. Who may be responsible for the theft of personal items from Hodges’ house. Which might help them identify the person responsible for his frame-up. It’s a long shot, but things are definitely looking up.

In other news unrelated to Hodges’ case, Maxine sends Josh and Allie to find out who gunned down almost-newlyweds Nate Kessler and Jinny Lee on the eve of their wedding day.

Our CSI’s discover the couple were members of “Scramble” a not-as-private-as-initially-hoped swingers club, where the pair, and most of the other patrons, were being secretly filmed and quietly blackmailed by the owner. However as Josh and Allie investigate and flirt their way through the case (just a little, and adorably), they discover it’s not the club owner, but Christie, his front woman who is responsible for their deaths, following their refusal to pay any more money. A strong message had to be sent to keep the other patrons in line, but ultimately gunshot residue, and Christie’s footprint gives her away.

With the case solved Josh shyly asks Allie where she’s headed to next. Home apparently. To Mark. Josh can’t hide his disappointment. And neither can we.

CSI: Vegas continues Wednesday, Oct. 20 on CBS with episode 3 “Under the Skin.”

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