‘CSI: Vegas’ Boss on the Finale’s Ending, Sara & Gil’s Romance, and a Season 2

William Petersen as Dr. Gil Grissom, Jorja Fox as Sara Sidle in CSI Vegas
Spoiler Alert
Robert Voets/CBS

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the CSI: Vegas Season 1 finale “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”]

When it comes to evidence vs. the best story, the former will win every time, at least in Sin City.

It is, after all, what brings down Anson Wix (Jamie McShane), the lawyer who framed former CSI tech-turned-expert witness David Hodges (Wallace Langham) for tampering with evidence. In fact, it’s also what helps Gil Grissom (William Petersen) and Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), along with the new team of Maxine Roby (Paula Newsome), Josh Folsom (Matt Lauria), and Allie Rajan (Mandeep Dhillon), find Hodges after Wix kidnaps him.

But then in the final scene, we learn there’s a new serial killer in Vegas as someone writes all over the walls of a completely white room. So what’s going on there? And what could come next if CSI: Vegas is renewed? TV Insider turned to showrunner Jason Tracey for answers.

Have you heard anything about a Season 2?

Jason Tracey: Wheels are in motion and conversations are being had at CBS. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that there might be some good news.

Especially considering how that finale ended. What can you say about what’s going on in that final scene? Is the person writing the new serial killer in Vegas or another threat?

I don’t want to give away too much too soon because we’re going to open up a whole new box of toys for Season 2. But there’s more there than meets the eye. There’s a whole invented language behind those little doodles on the wall. And it’s a story that Craig O’Neill, who was sort of my number two on this — and he and I have been writing partners for 15, 16 years — have had in our mind for a long time. And we’re excited to hopefully roll out a whole new serialized mystery that won’t be necessarily quite as all-encompassing and every episode as this season’s serialized story, but there’s a lot of twists and turns ahead.

William Petersen as Dr. Gil Grissom, Jay Lee as Chris Park, Paula Newsome as Maxine Roby in CSI Vegas

Sonja Flemming/CBS

Is that invented language something anyone can read clues into now?

Not yet. We’re actually in the middle of figuring out a little bit about exactly what the grammatical rules for all that really is, but I can tell you that it was loosely based on this crazy medieval text that was discovered in the woods years ago called the Voynich manuscript. It’s a lot of fun to goof around with it because when you write a madman or madwoman, you’ve got wiggle room, maybe they’re making their own grammatical mistakes in their own and crazy invented language.

You said it wouldn’t be every episode, but would it be a season-long case like the Wix one?

There’s probably an appetite for bringing in a couple of different arcs in a second season. I don’t know that we would expand it from premiere to finale. But it’s a multi-step process to tell that story that is floating around in the writers’ room, and hopefully we’ll get there. But I can say that we’ll be not returning entirely to the case-of-the-week rhythm that the fans loved from the original, but we’ll do a hybrid of a hybrid. This new iteration has been far more serialized than the series was in the past, and I think we’ll probably take a step closer back towards that case-of-the-week component and just maybe split the difference.

Would it also depend on episode count because there were 10 episodes for the first season?

Absolutely. That’s a big question. Telling any story, you have to know how big your canvas is first, and CBS will let us know.

Paula Newsome as Maxine Roby in CSI Vegas

Sonja Flemming/CBS

Turning to the Wix case for a moment, talk about coming up with this idea to have a lawyer responsible and attack the CSI work vs. telling the best story, then having it be evidence, which he hates, bring him down.

When I got the phone call that they were thinking about bringing CSI back and would I like to come and pitch what my take would be, the fundamentals of exactly what you just laid out — who the bad guy was and what their motivation was —was in my head from day one. It felt to me like after 15, 16 seasons of the original, how do you pull characters out of their happy ending and back into this world that can be so dark and the work is so challenging, what would pull them back in? It felt like the stakes had to be the integrity of the lab itself, and I thought it’s great to have a smart crime, but you always have to have a fitting villain.

Wix sprang into my brain almost fully formed as the person who would — from almost a human level, you can almost understand the motivation after years of frustration. At trial, their team has always done a great job delivering that tiny bit of evidence that would change a jury’s mind or convict a felon, that it was a motive of both financial gain and also revenge. Jamie was an incredible actor and he made the character way better than I think any of us writers could have hoped for.

Are you done with Wix or could he come back?

Never say never. We definitely feel like we’ve told that story. But he’s a guy with a lot of strings that could be pulled and I would never put myself in a box of saying any living character — and we leave him quite alive — couldn’t reach out from behind bars and be a problem.

Wallace Langham as David Hodges in CSI Vegas

Robert Voets/CBS

What made Hodges the right original series character to put through everything you put him through?

I have loved Wallace Langham’s work since I first saw him on probably The Larry Sanders Show. He became a great choice for this because he was such a prickly and interesting pear in the original run and if you’re Anson Wix and you’re shopping for who at the lab could maybe be credible as somebody who might have taken liberties, I don’t think that it’s in David Hodges’ character to do that, but you could almost see how a guy who wasn’t always the kindest, sweetest sport might be the right person to target.

What did you want to do with Sara and Gil’s relationship this season, given where the original run left them and them being brought back into the work as they were?

We just wanted to get them open road together as a couple onscreen and to show a mature relationship that had really solidified and was in a great place. You don’t always feel like that’s the easiest place to mine drama, but it felt like the place that would feel novel for that relationship, because there was always a lot going on with them off-camera, and then there were ships in the night moments and could they be together? They were in different parts of the world. It was just nice to have them settle in and be a married couple onscreen and in the job for the first extended run maybe ever because it really always felt like they were kind of chess pieces moving around on different parts of the board over the original run of the franchise.

William Petersen as Dr. Gil Grissom, Jorja Fox as Sara Sidle in CSI Vegas

Ron Jaffe/CBS

Speaking of seeing it onscreen, it was really nice to have that moment at the end for them on the roller coaster.

Yeah, there was definitely a lot of discussion on social media of what happened to an earlier kiss, but when you have a payoff as sweet as what Billy and Jorja delivered in that moment, we wanted that to be where we left things this season between the two of them.

What’s next for them? There’s the debate of land versus sea, CSI work or not…

Those are all questions that, until I have my writers back, I don’t want to tie myself down, but we’ve left, I believe, all six of the main characters of this season in a great place to give us maximum flexibility to hopefully tell new stories for all of them. They all deserve fun, new stories, and we’ll talk to cast members and go from there.

Do you imagine both William and Jorja coming back for a second season?

In all candor, I don’t know what their appetites are, so I wouldn’t necessarily speak to them. I really can’t and would not presume. We had an understanding that we would be telling a close-ended story and leave them in a great place, and it’ll be up to the actors. Certainly from the writers and producers, there’s always an open door, but there’s no expectation. They were both incredibly generous with their time and helped us tell the story that we want to tell. There’s always a seat at the table for Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle, but I don’t make any presumption on their time.

Generally speaking, do you know if you’d want to bring back other original series characters or focus on the new team members?

Certainly a lot of our new folks will be coming back and we’re blessed to have a really incredible deep bench and fascinating cast of characters that populated the original series and different iterations of the show. There were phenomenal actors that brought some really interesting characters to life in Miami, in New York, Cyber as well. Anthony Zuiker, who created this franchise, maintains a pretty fantastic rolodex of all those actors. We’re going to get in the writers’ room and figure out where we can take it, who we can invite to come play.

Given that melted key, would you say Josh and Allie are closer to perhaps getting together than they have been so far?

Certainly calls into question. Folsom will have some explaining to do, at a minimum. It’s a step forward in that he’s at least not going to hold his tongue about what he thinks. Maybe he’s not going to necessarily say everything that he thinks is right for Allie, but he’s certainly gonna be a supportive partner and speak up when he sees something that’s not right.