CSI: Vegas Executive Producer And Guest Star Regina Taylor Preview The 'Emotionally-Driven' New Episode And Why Fans Should Probably Bring Tissues

Matt Lauria, Paula Newsome, and Regina Taylor in CSI Vegas
(Image credit: CBS)

CSI: Vegas is on the verge of returning to CBS after a few weeks off with an episode that should be more than worth the wait. The case of the week sees the CSI team seeking justice for a young girl after her body is discovered at the bottom of a lake... decades after she was killed. The First Lady alum Regina Taylor will guest star as Raquel Williams, the mother of the victim who has been waiting decades for answers. Called "The Promise," the episode was co-written by CSI creator Anthony Zuiker, and both Zuiker and Taylor spoke with CinemaBlend about what is going to be an emotional hour of television.

The episode is emotional not just because of the discovery of a young girl who was killed and denied justice for nearly half a century, but also the mother who has been denied answers and closure until the case falls onto the desk of Maxine Roby (Paula Newsome). Anthony Zuiker opened up about why now is the right time to tell the story of "The Promise," telling CinemaBlend: 

I'm not gonna be able to write the show forever, and I've been writing it since 1999 as of August. And I've learned television from my mentors, Carol Mendelsohn and Ann Donahue and then Pam Veasey, [who] are all very strong female writers. I really wanted to be able to showcase 25 years of doing this by writing something that had a lot of weight to it. Now, the barrel on the bottom of Lake Mead has been a story, and the rumor has it there's some mobsters who have some murders involved in that back in the '80s, but I didn't want to tell a mobster story.

While there truly was a body found inside of a barrel on the bottom of Lake Mead back in 2022 as the water level dropped (via NPR), the story at the heart of this episode isn't ripped from the headlines. As the CSI creator and episode co-writer pointed out, he didn't want to tell a mobster story with this CSI: Vegas case. Zuiker continued: 

I really wanted to tell an emotionally-driven story about pain, about something that had a lot of emotional weight to it, and really be able to cast the highest-caliber actors to pull it off at the pinnacle of my career, which is writing a show of this kind of caliber from how I've been taught by the women for 25 years. It was never designed to be a whiz-bang, flashy episode. It was really designed to have a lot of character weight to it, and it is one I'm extremely proud of.

This case will be more emotional than action-packed, judging by what Anthony Zuiker previewed. It says a lot about what's in store that somebody who has been writing for the franchise that he himself created for 25 years considers this an episode that he's "extremely proud of."

Of course, Zuiker also mentioned casting the "highest-caliber actors" for this episode, and it appears that a lot of the emotional weight of the case will rest on Regina Taylor as the victim's mother. The actress shared how she prepared to dive into the deep end of CSI: Vegas as a guest star, saying:

Well, I read the script and it floored me. I started crying just reading it! I knew I felt it in my bones, so I was just looking forward to the journey of it with Paula [Newsome] and with Anthony. I was just full, just reading it.

If Regina Taylor was crying just reading the script for the episode, it seems safe to say that viewers might want to stock up on tissues before watching it on March 30! Fans will have to wait until CSI: Vegas is back to see whether they're in for happy and/or sad tears, but it certainly sounds like an emotional rollercoaster on CBS. The actress went on to praise co-star Paula Newsome for her work on the episode, saying:

It was very kind, very generous of her. She reached out to me and she said, 'There's an episode that's coming up, and I would love for you to be in it.' I was moved by her graciousness and generosity in that. I know who she is. I know her work. I've seen her for years, have always wanted to work with her... and we had a lot of fun. The chemistry was right and righteous between us. And I think Anthony, just in exploring these women, did such a brilliant job.

While the two actresses may have had a lot of fun working together, all signs point toward an episode that isn't going to be terribly fun for many of the characters as the show approaches its Season 2 finale. Anthony Zuiker went on to address finding the right tone for "The Promise" and how he too was emotionally affected by the episode, saying:

The main concern was to be racially sensitive to the material… And we went all the way to the very top to have the conversation about how to racially get that correct. I didn't want to have any backlash in the show. It's emotionally jarring for me to write the show. As much as Regina was emotionally affected by reading it, I was affected by it by writing it. You have to dig a little bit deeper to make those words come alive, and then when an actor can come along and even elevate that vision, that's when it gets special. I've been doing this for 25 years for CSI. We're not really an awards-driven show, but... this performance by Regina Taylor is something I've never seen before on network, and I believe should definitely be recognized.

If the previews of what to expect with the episode aren't enough to start generating some excitement, the CSI creator/writer hyping Regina Taylor's performance as awards-worthy is certainly a sign that a standout episode is on the way. Whether or not she will be recognized for her work remains to be seen; network television has been overlooked somewhat by the Emmys and Golden Globes in favor of cable and streaming shows in recent years. (There are exceptions like NBC's This Is Us and ABC's Abbott Elementary, the latter of which was a big winner at the 2023 Golden Globes.)

For a teaser of what's on the way with "The Promise," check out the CBS promo below:

Tune in to CBS on Thursday, March 30 at 10 p.m. ET for the special new episode of CSI: Vegas. You can also find the first two seasons so far streaming with a Paramount+ subscription, with the first bringing back William Petersen and Jorja Fox back in 2021 and the current second featuring the return of Marg Helgenberger. You can also find the original runs of CSI, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY on the streaming service, as well as more viewing options on our 2023 TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

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.