As Season 4 of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
drew to a close, it appeared as though a contract dispute would rob the series of two of its most popular characters, Las Vegas PD forensic specialists Sara Sidel (Jorja Fox
) and Nick Stokes (George Eads
). At the last moment, however, a suitable financial arrangement was worked out, and both characters -- and the actors who played them -- were retained for the whole of Season Five. New to the series is Reiko Aylesworth
as Chandra Moore, a dedicated, no-nonsense lab tech who replaces Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda
) when Greg is promoted to CSI field duty. Both Chandra and Greg prove to be worthy to their new responsibilities, though both are somewhat nonplussed by being dropped head-first into a whole new world of investigation. In a major mid-season development, a storm of controversy attending the apparent bungling of a murder investigation prompts CSI boss Ecklie (Marc Vann) two split the forensics bureau into two teams, with senior officer Gil Grissom (William Petersen
) heading one team, and his former assistant Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger
). The arrangement is hardly to the liking of either party, especially when the efficiency their investigations are compromised by radical and often arbitrary budget cuts. Other demons plaguing the CSIers this season include the return of particularly vicious (and brilliant) serial killer from the earlier episode "The Execution of Catherine Willows", the revelation that a man with whom Catherine flirted in a bar is the prime suspect in a high-profile murder case, and the unpleasant childhood memories of Sara Sidel. The Grissom and Willows teams are reunited for the Quentin Tarantino-directed season finale, as the combined officers search for their colleague Nick Stokes, who has been buried alive in a casket filled with red ants by a maniacal murderer!