The CSI franchise made its grand return to television back in 2021 with the CSI: Vegas revival, which brought back original series stars William Petersen and Jorja Fox to reprise their fan-favorite roles. The returns of Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle to the small screen was greatly hyped by the network ahead of and even during the first season, which was originally billed as a limited series of ten episodes. Fortunately for fans loving the modern take on the franchise, CSI: Vegas scored a renewal for Season 2. Less fortunately, the two stars won’t be back, which raises the question: can the show survive without the two TV icons front and center?
Well, to figure out whether the show can be as much of a hit without William Petersen’s Gil and Jorja Fox’s Sara, let’s look back over how Season 1 built the foundation of CSI: Vegas and see if that foundation is strong enough for Season 2. There are some definite pros and cons when it comes to the future of the show without the two stars, but I find it pretty easy to come to a verdict by the end. But let’s start at the beginning!
CSI: Vegas Might Not Have Become A Hit Without Them
Even though the CSI franchise still had plenty of name recognition even five years after the end of the last remaining spinoff in 2016, the Vegas revival was largely hyped with William Petersen and Jorja Fox front and center as the major stars returning to the franchise. Considering the series might have just been another crime procedural on TV without them as a big hook, it likely would not have become as much of a hit as it did without them.
The rest of the characters of course contributed and had storylines of their own, but Gil and Sara were the headliners before and after it premiered. If it became a hit because of them, can it remain a hit without them?
Gil And Sara Drove The Biggest Storyline
Although CSI: Vegas generally followed a different case each week with the new characters, the serialized story of Season 1 was all about the mystery of who framed Hodges. That was what kept Sara and Gil back on the mainland (with Gil powering through an illness to do it), and what delivered the majority of the major twists and turns throughout the ten episodes.
Even some of the biggest twists of the cases of the weeks tied back to Gil and Sara’s attempt to clear Hodges’ name, as with the serial killer who made a chilling threat about what he’d do if freed on the Hodges technicality. If the heart of the first season was the Gil/Sara/Hodges story, what is there for a second season without all three of them?
Gil And Sara Got Closure
Despite what seemed to be signs that CSI: Vegas was going to kill Hodges off in the finale, all the legacy characters survived. Hodges got his name cleared, and Gil and Sara got some closure with the knowledge that they’d saved their friend and kept a whole lot of very bad criminals from being released. They ended the Season 1 finale riding a rollercoaster hand-in-hand, and there was no big cliffhanger about their fates in any way.
The characters received some closure, and were theoretically free to return to the sea. With Jorja Fox deciding not to return for Season 2 because she didn’t have the heart to split up Sara and Gil after William Petersen’s departure had already been announced, CSI: Vegas ended their story by more or less riding off into the sunset together. The characters who are sticking around won’t have to fumble to resolve a cliffhanger that was designed for Gil and/or Sara. If they already got their closure, does CSI: Vegas actually need them back?
Season 1 Finale Set Up The Next Big Mystery
It took the team comprised of the returning favorites and the new characters nearly ten full episodes to crack the case and catch the criminal who was framing Hodges, but Gil and Sara getting their closure at the end doesn’t mean that Season 1 ended with a sense of finality to the show overall. In fact, the very end of the finale set up a new serial killer who is designed to be an absolute madman. The scene was short on any details about who this man actually is or what precisely he does to his victims, but CSI: Vegas certainly set the stage for a pretty chilling new killer.
What appeared to be his lair was entirely covered or painted in white, and there were hand-drawn symbols written all over the place. A news broadcast playing over the season mentioned “a third homicide victim in as many nights” in downtown Las Vegas, and the reporter was already floating the idea of another serial killer. The setup at the end of Season 1 means that Season 2 won’t need to recover from the loss of Gil and Sara or flounder without them, but jump right back into the action and balance cases of the week with the overall mystery, if that’s the goal with the next batch of episodes. And that can’t be a bad thing, right?
Season 1 Set Up Some Solid New Characters
As much as CSI: Vegas was pretty much the Gil and Sara show in the first season, the new members of the team got some pretty solid introductions. Paula Newsome’s Max is actually one of my favorite new TV characters of the 2021-2022 TV season so far as the head of the Las Vegas Crime Lab, and the show wasted no time in setting up a brand new “Will they or won’t they?” dynamic between Matt Lauria’s Josh Folsom and Mandeep Dhillon’s Allie Rajan. There’s a strong core left behind even without William Petersen and Jorja Fox.
Some other characters, like Park, could use some fleshing out, but that’s what Season 2 is for! There’s also the possibility that CSI: Vegas could recruit some other former CSI franchise stars to appear, even if not quite as series regulars like Petersen and Fox in the first season. So, with a serial killer already set up for Season 2 and characters who are strong enough to stand on their own without Gil and Sara, can CSI: Vegas survive without William Petersen and Jorja Fox?
I would absolutely say so. Season 2 might feel like a bit of a different show compared to Season 1 after all the focus on Gil and Sara, but as long as the show can evolve and continue fleshing out its new characters while telling classic CSI cases, there’s no reason why this show can’t be as successful as some of the others in the franchise. All things considered, I’m looking forward to Season 2, even without Gil and Sara.
If you missed CSI: Vegas in its original run on CBS back in the fall, you can always binge-watch it now with a Paramount+ subscription. If you need some new shows during the wait for Season 2, be sure to check out our 2022 TV schedule.
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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 and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).