‘CSI: Vegas’ Boss on Silver Ink Case: ‘It’s Wrapped for Now,’ But There’s ‘Potential Future Fun’

Marg Helgenberger, Mandeep Dhillon, and Paula Newsome in 'CSI: Vegas'
Spoiler Alert
Michael Yarish/CBS

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for CSI: Vegas Season 2 Episode 16, “We All Fall Down.”]

As the promos teased, the silver ink case (introduced at the end of Season 1) is over on CSI: Vegas … for now, at least.

The door is left open for the show to pick it up again in the future — it’s already been renewed for Season 3, after all — but for now, the CSIs tracked down and stopped Ron’s attempt to fatally poison an entire psychiatric hospital. And while he did poison Sonya (Sara Amini) via a hidden pocket in the latest victim’s body, she will recover.

CSI: Vegas showrunner Jason Tracey and the episode’s co-writer Craig O’Neill discuss ending this arc and if it’s truly over.

Talk about crafting the entire mystery and building to this ending. When you introduced the silver ink case last season, how much did you know then?

Jason Tracey: Craig and I knew a lot because we’ve been writing together for almost 20 years, and we had a feature spec that we had been working on and we never quite finished called Human, and it posited a lot of what this arc has to do with. When we got to the end of last season, and I didn’t really have a cliffhanger in mind, Craig and I spoke and said, what if we dropped in the first scene of that script that we never quite finished? We always loved that storyline, and we spread it out as an arc for Season 2. A lot of the wheels and the nature of what the bad guy’s plan was were baked into the cake from 17 years ago. It was good to write from a place of knowing the end before you begin.

What does Sonya’s recovery look like? How much will we see of it?

Tracey: Craig, you know a lot more about thallium poisoning now at this point than I do. [Laughs]

Craig O’Neill: Thallium poisoning is quite devastating, actually, and there are a lot of neurological issues that she will be dealing with on the way back to recovery, which is why we brought in Dr. Hudson, who will fill in, but our intention is to have multiple people down in the morgue. We will slow Sonya back in, and she may be at a sort of diminished capacity at first. But yeah, thallium poisoning is pretty serious, and there was actually a real case that we based it off of where a number of family members were poisoned in Coca-Cola bottles and three of them died, one of them survived, but it’s real nasty stuff. So it will take some time to get her back up to full capacity.

Tracey: And we have to because Sara is such a fantastic talent and a great person, and we look forward to working with her again.

Sara Amini and Joel Johnstone in 'CSI: Vegas'

Michael Yarish/CBS

Did you ever consider having anyone else be the one poisoned? Sure, it makes sense it was Sonya, but I’m sure you could’ve come up with a way to put someone else in the hospital.

Tracey: For the severity and the stakes of the season to rise to that level — we’re always conscious of not wanting to be like a surgeon show where all they do is operate on each other. You can’t be the victim and the focal point of the danger very often on CSI. It’s primarily about going out and finding justice for other victims, but this felt like the appropriate place in the season. This is a dangerous field, criminal justice, and from time to time, you put yourself in harm’s way, and it felt like a strike on our own home set, at the morgue where you think you’re ensconced and safe from the dangers of the world, was the appropriate way to give this arc its due.

Why have Ron focus on Allie (Mandeep Dhillon)?

O’Neill: We viewed Ron as the ultimate bad guy who sort of believed that he was the smartest man in every room. As we did a bunch of research into serial killers, one of the things that kept popping up was they were very high-functioning human beings, and some of them were incredibly intelligent. We just loved the idea of a guy who thought he was the smartest man in the world, the smartest man in every room, and he focused on Allie because he felt like the two of them shared that kinship.

He mentions that she was let into Harvard not once but twice and that he felt she was very smart. And he was someone who used big words to puff up his own ego about his intelligence, even though he did have a very high IQ, and I think that’s why he keyed in on her because in a sea of very smart CSIs — and we believe all of our CSIs are very smart — he looked at her and saw her as a kindred spirit and thought, “if anyone is going to understand what I’m trying to do, it’s someone whose intellectual capacity is something that can rival my own.”

Tracey: He’s got kind of a fetish for credentials, and nobody’s got better credentials than Allie.

Is the silver ink arc completely wrapped?

Tracey: It’s wrapped for now. It’s a poisonous idea. Thallium is only one poison that’s in that episode. The ideas that the bad guy’s giving voice to are also pretty poisonous. We reserve the right to dip our toe back into that water. There’s no current plan to do so, so yeah, for now, I think the book is closed, but there are mysteries left floating around. The notion that nobody’s ever really quite cracked his code and what he was writing about does leave us an interesting backboard of potential future fun with that story.

Is there anything from the silver ink arc you had to scrap?

Tracey: We busted out our old manila folders of notes on the original feature script, and one of the things that were fun to find was at that time, we had 17 different serial killers in that script. They were all named for people in our fantasy football league, so a lot of them did not get the proper treatment, and I do apologize to those guys. [Laughs]

O’Neill: We, at the end of putting the reel together for the original movie, had one person escape, and it was written underneath their picture, “off to Human 2.” So who knows? Because one of the nice things we set up with this is that you don’t know how many people were put in, and are there others that got a card and didn’t get activated and ran away? So who knows? “Never close doors” is the thing we have learned from this process. So who knows, maybe somebody comes back with a silver card at some point in the future.

Tracey: Craig said it. We try not to close doors when we don’t have to. That’s kind of our credo.

CSI: Vegas, Thursdays, 10/9c, CBS