The story was rather forgettable, but I enjoyed seeing Grissom and Jack Malone go toe-to-toe. At least in the "CSI" episode.
Having them question each other's methods of operation was a good choice by the writers. It would have been overdone had they kept with the "How did that work out for you?" schtick going for too long. I liked how Malone looked around in bewilderment at Grissom's office. It's no wonder Grissom was defensive when the FBI agent asked if this really was his office and why he kept an infant pig in a jar on a shelf. "For fun," Grissom said. What a jokester! (I know; he wasn't kidding. That was what was so entertaining about that brief interchange.)
I've only seen a few episodes of "Without a Trace," and have enjoyed it each time. But if Thursday had been my first exposure, I would have been less than impressed. I got the distinct feeling the episode was all about Malone and everyone else was slammed indignantly to only-important-enough-to-do-research-for-Jack status.
I also couldn't get past the feeling Malone had a private vendetta (which I still couldn't discern) for solving the case instead of being concerned about the boy's well-being. After all, he does investigate disappearances! The two episodes — especially "CSI" — shined when the characters were put in fish-out-of-water situations. Malone having to speak the dead boy's father in the morgue comes to mind. Or how about when Samantha mentioned to oblivious Grissom that his makeshift lab in "Trace" smelled like chemicals? (Grissom: "It does?!?")
I have to admit it felt a tad forced for Grissom to be so absorbed in his research he didn't realize Samantha was leaving — not quite the "CSI" Grissom, but not too far off base, I guess. Strange seeing him filmed in harsh bright lighting, instead of the blue haze his home show camera men prefer.
Another highlight was having Malone instantly pick up on Grissom and Sara being an item after she came by his office, apparently to tell Grissom she had walked his dog. ("That's how it starts," Malone said, showing nice insight.) And is it just me or are the "CSI" writers slightly overdoing Sara's newfound repulsion to crime scenes and her career choice? There's foreshadowing and then there's this: "Let's come up with a context for Sara's character to unexpectedly leave the team during sweeps month …" Gag!
"Trace" — although I do admit to sleeping through about half of it — was a bit of a letdown. We saw the best parts in "CSI" and didn't get enough storyline holes filled in for the conclusion.
All in all, two fairly decent episodes. Not great by any stretch. "Trace" just didn't feel like it flowed as well as "CSI" and the writers didn't quite "get" Grissom. But then again, who does? Maybe that's why I like him so much.