CSI: Vegas EP And Actress Discuss The Powerful Episode's 'Satisfying' Ending And The 'Wonderful' Moment That Had To Be Cut
CSI: Vegas EP Anthony Zuiker and actress Regina Taylor opened up about the emotional episode... and what didn't make the final cut.
Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 17 of CSI: Vegas Season 2, called "The Promise."
CSI: Vegas never shies away from serious and sometimes gruesome cases for Max and the rest of the team to investigate, but the hit show tapped into the powerful story of a mother still dealing with the death of her daughter more than forty years after she was killed and her body taken. The First Lady's Regina Taylor guest-starred as Raquel Williams in the emotionally-driven episode, and she was joined by executive producer/episode co-writer Anthony Zuiker to discuss with CinemaBlend the heartbreaking but "satisfying" ending, as well as the moment that had to be cut from the finished product.
The case of the week began on an already-somber note with the discovery of the remains of a young girl in a barrel that had been beneath the water of Lake Mead for 41 years. A reconstruction of her face enabled her mother Raquel to recognize her daughter, although deeply upset by how the skin tone made her look different. It took a lot of effort and work late into the night, but the team found the evidence they needed to finally get justice for Phoebe, decades after her murder.
And they couldn't have cracked the case if Raquel hadn't agreed to have the bullet in her chest removed to be used as evidence, after Max spent the episode building a rapport and trust with her. Tragically, Raquel died by the end of the episode, but it wasn't entirely heartbreaking for some emotional reasons, wonderfully portrayed by Regina Taylor. When I spoke with her for CinemaBlend, the actress shared her thoughts on her character's journey from beginning to end:
Given that the emotional weight of this episode fell on Regina Taylor's shoulders as a newcomer to CSI: Vegas, I'd say that it's very good to know that she received the support she needed! After all, Raquel had a tragic backstory to convey within the course of less than an hour to make her death pack as much of a punch as it did.
EP Anthony Zuiker, who is also the creator of the original CSI, co-wrote the episode that ended with Raquel's death without getting all the answers she'd been waiting 41 years for. He revealed that he spoke with former BET president Richard Gay, and explained that they "talked about the African American community and this type of storyline" to be sure to get it right. The executive producer continued:
While the episode didn't actually show Raquel and her daughter in any form of the afterlife, it did end with mother and daughter in caskets next to each other, with Max having kept her promise to make sure that the reconstruction of Phoebe truly looked like the little girl before being laid to rest. The bond between Max and Raquel grew as Max stepped up in a way that the cops back in the 1980s didn't, and was at the heart of the episode. Regina Taylor addressed that element:
Raquel didn't immediately trust Max after what she'd been through the first time that she'd hoped for an investigation into what happened to Phoebe, but Paula Newsome's character found a way to get through to her. Anthony Zuiker explained how the women came to be on the same page:
As Anthony Zuiker pointed out, Max had a rough time in "The Promise" both personally and professionally. There was originally a moment of levity scripted for Max and Raquel, but it ultimately had to be cut from the finished product. He explained what viewers ultimately didn't seen in this episode:
Sadly, there just wasn't time in "The Promise" for Max and Raquel to share a laugh. The emotional impact was there, but the episode didn't have a lot of humor to offer. Even with that moment having to be cut, I think it's safe to say that this hour of television will be one of the standouts of Season 2 as it heads toward its finale.
The episode also brought back an O.G. CSI star, with Eric Szmanda reprising his role as Greg Sanders. He joins fellow CSI veteran Marg Helgenberger, who returned as Catherine Willows in Season 2 following the departures of William Petersen and Jorja Fox. Given that the show has already been renewed for Season 3, it's not too soon to start speculating if more O.G. stars might sign on!
For now, fans can keep catching new episodes of CSI: Vegas on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS, and revisit past episodes streaming with a Paramount Plus subscription.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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