Lynette Rice
December 12, 2008 AT 10:00 PM EST

Last night’s CSI episode was significant in that it marked the debut of Laurence Fishburne as the walking-pressure-cooker-that-is Prof. Raymond Langston, but I prefer to look at it as the calm before the storm — the storm being the waterworks that are sure to erupt next month when William Petersen makes his long-awaited exit as the beloved Gil Grissom. This was Petersen’s penultimate episode, fans, as evidenced by that subdued speech he gave to his obviously stunned team. Well, maybe Catherine wasn’t so surprised. “I knew before you knew,” she admitted when Gil apologized for springing the news. Coroner Al was a lot more skeptical. “Are you running away or to someone?” he said. Gee, I’d like to know that myself! For now, Gil wasn’t giving any answers, just subtle clues about his mindset, like finally giving up on his precious crossword puzzles to sharing an ironic moment with Brass in which both men tacitly acknowledge how their friendship won’t last once Gil leaves the building.

But I should probably address Fishburne. The CSI scribes went out of their way to set up a plausible scenario in which Gil would attend Langston’s class about serial killers — which also happened to feature a guest serial killer speaker (show of hands from those of you who were able to keep up with the killer’s checkered past and who he killed when and how). I use the word plausible loosely; Gil’s not the type of guy who would slip up and reveal that he’s a law dog, something the killer-speaker picked up on immediately during a colorful session (special shout-out to the marvelous Bill Irwin, fresh from his day job as Sesame Street‘s hapless Mr. Noodles, to play the merciless murderer Nate Haskell). It’s from here that we learn that Langston’s got a bit of temper; in fact, I’m pretty sure that was steam coming out of Langston’s ears when he discovered Gil’s true identity and how Brass wasn’t going to reveal everything about the ongoing investigation. “Little cranky for an academic,” Brass harrumphed. Truth be told, I found Langston’s anger a little off-putting too, but this drama could probably use a fresh jolt of intensity (not to mention a few more surprise appearances by uber-cool bands like Paramore).

What did you think? Do you think Fishburne has the right stuff? Will he be a good fit with the team? And where on earth do you think Gil is headed?

More CSI and other TV news:
TV Ratings: Laurence Fishburne Debut Draws More Than 20 Million Viewers to CSI

CSI: Ken Tucker on William Petersen’s Farewell Season

Ausiello Files: NCIS Scoop! Spin-Off Makes Casting Call

The Mentalist: Crime Pays for CBS

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