CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Season 1 Episode 9

Unfriendly Skies

Aired Sunday 10:00 PM Dec 08, 2000 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
492 votes

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Episode Summary

Grissom and his team investigate the death of a first class passenger on a flight to Las Vegas. The investigators are forced not only to examine the physical evidence, but also to interview all of the first class passengers to get their personal accounts of the incident.moreless

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  • Grissom and the team race against the clock to investigate the death of a first class passenger on a Vegas bound flight.

    My favorite episode of the inaugural season. "Unfriendly Skies" is the episode that made me a fan of "CSI". Everything works here. The main cast is, as always, excellent. Seeing the team work to find the answer to the question of what happened on the flight is nothing short of amazing. Even after multiple viewings I am still as entertained and enthralled as I was the first time I saw it. This episode benefits from a masterfully written script which has just the right amount of drama and suspense. Even a small amount of comedy is thrown in the mix as well. Just enough as to not interfere with the main plot of the episode. "Unfriendly Skies" also has an excellent conclusion. The final scene of the team discussing the final outcome of the case is nothing short of fantastic. Jorja Fox's emotion felt very genuine. You almost for get she is an actor playing a part. The same can be said for Marg Helgenberger. Grissom's final words were a fitting way to end the episode. This just goes to show that even when evidence gives you a clear picture of the events, it is not always easy to come up with a simple answer for everything.moreless
  • A murder on a plane.

    This was an exciting episode and one of the first CSI episodes I have ever watched so I will always remember it as it got me interested in CSI Its always dangerous when its on a plane when a man who was murdered on a plane originally thought to have a panic attack was kicked to death by multiple people What Grissom said at the end was right that no one asked what was up with him when there was something clearly wrong with him and if they would of asked and not acted how they did the man could still be alive In the end the people who helped to kill him on the flight was able to walk free because it was said they was trying to protect the rest of the people on a flight.moreless
  • After a first-class passenger is killed on a flight heading for Vegas, Grissom and his team must quickly gather statements and piece together evidence before they're forced to turn over the case to the FBI.moreless

    UNFRIENDLY SKIES is one of my favorite episodes; in fact, it's the episode that got me into CSI to begin with. I loved the reenactment at the end, particularly Warrick and Nick's bickering and how everyone's role fit them. I also liked Grissom's "all of the above" metaphor, and the team's debate in the final scene really made me think. Personally, even though Grissom made a good point, I'm siding with Catherine. I don't have a kid, but if I did, his or her health and safety would be first in my mind. Barring that, though, I'm not sure how I would react in that situation, but I would like to think that I'd maybe try to find a solution that wasn't so final before resorting to the "other guy or me" situation. All in all, I'd rate it nine-and-a-half first-class passengers out of ten. ;)moreless
  • Interesting episode

    The CSI team must figure out how a man died mid flight and all the suspects are the witnesses. There is also some character development when the team is forced to evaluate how they would react if placed in the same situation. It makes you think about what you would do if someone on your flight began to act bizarre, and what the consequences could be. I liked how Grissom did not respond with a sure response placing himself in the same situation, stating that if the other passengers had asked if he was ok, or approached the man differently, the passenger would not have died.moreless
  • Grissom and his team take on a case of a death on a plane

    This was an interesting episode. There were so many suspects with there own version of what happened on the plan. After investigating the suspects, it was still hard to determine what exactly had happened. I probably would have reacted the same way if I was on a plane and I felt as if my life was in danger. I don't think i would have tried to kill him though. That would have had to be the last resort. I felt bad for the guy at the end though because was actually sick, but you cant be acting crazy on a plane and think nobody will retaliate.moreless
Christine Tucci

Christine Tucci

Dr. Kiera Behrle

Guest Star

James Avery (I)

James Avery (I)

Preston Cash

Guest Star

Deirdre Quinn

Deirdre Quinn


Guest Star

Eric Szmanda

Eric Szmanda

Greg Sanders

Recurring Role

Glenn Morshower

Glenn Morshower

Sheriff Brian Mobley

Recurring Role

Judith Scott

Judith Scott

Dr. Jenna Williams

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Goof: Tony Candlewell's age is given as 30. One shot shows a close up of his drivers license which shows his date of birth as 06-18-75. This episode was from 2000, meaning he was only 25.

    • Goof: Nick is walking up the steps behind Catherine, but when the camera switches to a longer shot, he hasn't even hit the first step yet.

    • Sara Sidle claims that she could never take another's life.

    • The passengers on the airplane were actually under no threat when the victim tried to open the door. The doors are designed so that they must be pulled in first before they can swing out. Since an airplane is pressurized while in flight, the door is sealed shut against the hull and even multiple people pulling against it will be unable to open it.

    • Goof: The dead guy's driver license says his last name was spelled "Candlewell." But, on the dummy the CSIs were using it was spelled "Candelwell."

  • QUOTES (16)

    • (Answering questions asked by Catherine)
      Flight Attendant: You know, I have seen it all. I've seen ferrets in suitcases... uh, fellatio in first class...

    • Grissom: I want five of those passengers arrested for murder.
      Sheriff Mobley: Oh, that's four more than I anticipated.
      Grissom: We looked at the evidence, and the evidence says five.
      Sheriff Mobley: Let me get this straight. Five strangers get on a plane
      and then, together, they kill a man.
      Grissom: On the surface, self-defense. They thought Candlewell was bringing the plane down.
      Sheriff Mobley: And he would have.
      Grissom: But he didn't. They stopped him, and then they killed him -- not as individuals, but as a mob.
      Sheriff Mobley: Let's cut to the chase, Gil. Can you prove your case?
      Grissom: Not yet. I need more time.
      Sheriff Mobley: Well, time's up. I'm going to give these people their walking papers. If the Feds want to pursue it, let them.
      Grissom: Don't do that.
      Sheriff Mobley: Oh, come on. No jury's going to ever convict them.
      Grissom: You don't know that, Brian.
      Sheriff Mobley: Look, if you or I were on that plane we would do whatever
      it takes to save our lives.
      Grissom: That's what a jury would say. That's not what the evidence says.
      Sheriff Mobley: That's exactly my point.

    • Sheriff Mobley: You've got a whale of an opportunity here, Gil. A dead body on an airplane. The FAA has jurisdiction, but the Feds won't be here till sunrise. That gives us 12 hours to be heroes.
      Grissom: I don't follow you.
      Sheriff Mobley: Well, we either hand over the guy who did it when the Feds get here, or we give them all the glory while we watch from the sidelines.
      Grissom: I don't even know if we have a homicide yet.

    • (During the re-enactment)
      Brass: The guy probably spilled Lou's drink.
      Catherine (impressed he was right): Very good.
      Brass: I was boss at CSI once. For a reason.

    • (Inside the airplane, Grissom and the rest of the team re-enact the events of
      that night)

      Grissom: Okay, Vicki Mercer and Carl Finn. I believe are in the bathroom. (Warrick and Catherine carry their dummies into the plane's bathroom)
      Warrick: Mile high club.
      Catherine: If you ask me, it's their spouses that are the dummies.
      Grissom: Emily Behrle is in 3F. (Nick puts the dummy he's carrying into 3F)
      Grissom: Preston Cash, 1A.
      Brass (raises his dummy): Tony Candlewell, dead guy.
      Grissom: Right there, 3C. And for now, he's alive until he's dead. (Brass sets his dummy into seat 3C, then turns to Grissom)
      Brass: So, you want to tell us what we're doing here? (they gather around to hear his explaination)
      Grissom: The physical evidence that Sara, Nick, and I collected is contradicting the anecdotal statements that you, Catherine, and Warrick got and my money's on the physical evidence.
      Catherine: So is mine. These passengers are lying.
      Grissom: I mean, if this was an arson case, we'd burn down an empty house to prove our theory, right? Well, in this case we're going to recreate the flight from... 1630 hours on. You are in 4B. (he hands Brass a card)
      Brass: Lou.
      Catherine: Lou--- the angry businessman. How about that?
      Sara: I want to be Shannon. (he hands Sara the card) Good.
      Warrick: The stewardess.
      Sara: Excuse me--- it's "Flight Attendant".
      Grissom: Catherine---the doctor, 3E. (hands her the card)
      Catherine: Single mom. What an imagination you have.
      Grissom: Max and Marlene, 2E and F. You two are married. Who wants to wear the pants?
      Nick: CSI-3 seniority, "sweetie". (Nick takes the card from Grissom. Warrick reaches over for his)
      Warrick: Yeah, whatever. You're henpecked anyway.
      Sara (to Grissom): Let me guess---you're the computer geek.
      Grissom: In the interest of clarity, yes. Nate in 2C.

    • (Catherine is in the office going over her notes and absently eating a snack. Grissom lingers in the doorway)
      Grissom: I need their shoes.
      Catherine: Why you telling me?
      Grissom: Because you're the "people" person, right?
      Catherine: Well, why don't you tell them that? They're not giving me bupkus.
      Grissom: Please? (Catherine looks up at Grissom and stares at his puppy-dog eyes as he gives her the look. She gives in and gets up off of the empty office chair. She passes him on her way out the door and hands him her bag of snacks)
      Catherine: Okay, people. Listen up. (beat) Shoes...off. (Catherine walks up to the group and looks around. Not one of them moves) Now. (finally, they move to take their shoes off. Grissom stands off to the side and watches, smiles and eats her chips)

    • (while examining the airplane bathroom)
      Sara: I take it that's not blood?
      Grissom: No, but it has protein in it.
      Sara: Ah, the mile high club. That means the two passengers may have had no
      idea what was going on inside that cabin.
      Grissom: High altitude enhances the entire sexual experience. It increases the euphoria.
      Sara: Well, it's good. I don't know if it's that good...Cite your source.
      Grissom: Would you hand me a swab please?
      Sara: You're avoiding the question. "Enhances sexual experience. Increases euphoria." Cite your source.
      Grissom: A magazine.
      Sara: What magazine?
      Grissom: "Applied psychodynamics in forensic science".
      Sara: Never heard of it.
      Grissom: I'll get you a subscription. (Sara is silent) Now cite your source.
      Sara: Oh, now you wanna go down that route?
      Grissom: Yeah.
      Sara (smiles and shakes her head): Nah, nevermind.
      Grissom: You started it.
      Sara: Delta Airlines, Flight 1109, Boston-Miami, March '93, Ken Fuller. Hazel eyes, Organic Chem Lab TA, BMOC...overrated...in...every aspect. (Grissom looks at her) Could we get back to work please?
      Grissom: Yeah, I think due to your uh...first hand knowledge and experience in airplane bathrooms you should do the swab.

    • Grissom: Mr. Cash, you got to help me. I got eight eyewitnesses with various stories. I put them all in a mixing bowl, add eggs, milk, stick it in the oven, and all I got is a limp souffle.

    • Nick (to Greg): Hey. Are you losing your touch there, Einstein?

    • Grissom: If nothing criminal happened on that flight... why isn't anybody talking to us?
      Catherine: I'm going to go out on a limb here... and say... they're hiding something?
      Grissom: Then we get to play hide-and-seek.

    • Sheriff Mobley: Arrest would be good for you. It would be good for me, too. Good for Las Vegas.
      Grissom: You running for mayor?

    • (During the re-enactment, Warrick and Nick are playing a married couple. Nick is Max, Warrick is Marlene)
      Nick: If I'm Max, I want no part of this. Plus, I don't have an aisle seat.
      Brass: Yeah, but you're lucky. Your wife is going to make sure that you get in the playing field.
      Warrick (to Nick): Yeah, go ahead, honey. Save my life.
      Nick: Right. Max gets up...(Nick gets up from his seat and heads for the aisle) ...slides across Marlene. Excuse me, "buttercup".

    • Sara: Those people should be going to jail not some hotel on the Strip.
      Warrick: It's out of our hands. Our field ruling was overturned by the good old Sheriff and the Feds.
      Nick: And you're okay with that? We processed evidence for twelve hours laid out the whole case and now those passengers are going to suck martinis and eat shrimp cocktails? Where's the justice?
      Warrick: Oh, you think this is about justice?
      Nick: Yeah. What else?
      Grissom: It's about human nature -- how people react when their lives are
      Sara: I know you're not condoning what they did.
      Warrick: I'm not discounting it. I mean, think about it -- is there anyplace more vulnerable than being at thirty thousand feet in a tin can?
      Sara: Feeling "vulnerable" is not a defense and where they were is irrelevant. They took a life.
      Warrick: Because their lives were threatened.
      Nick: Their lives were threatened when Candlewell was at the emergency exit
      trying to open it, but the five feet between the exit and the aisles is what
      made the difference between self-defense and murder.
      Warrick: Human nature again. I mean, adrenaline doesn't come with an off
      Sara: I don't care what you say. I could never take a life.
      Warrick: If it was between him or me, I could. Nick?
      Nick (shakes his head): I don't know.
      Catherine (walks in): Well ... it's wicked serious in here.
      Sara: Yeah, well, we were just talking about murder and whether we would commit it. I couldn't, Warrick could and Nick's on the fence. We're taking an exit poll.
      Nick: Catherine, you're a mother. You and Lindsey are on that plane. How far do you go?
      Catherine: All the way.
      Sara (suprised): You didn't even hesitate.
      Catherine: That's right. If it involves the protection of my child I fight to the death.
      Warrick: See? We have four people here, all with different opinions. Think of how the passengers must have felt.
      Sara: What do you think, Grissom?
      Grissom: I can't answer that question.
      Catherine: That's a cop-out. It's a simple question. What would you have done if you had been one of those passengers?
      Grissom: It's not about that. You all have different opinions but you've taken the same point of view. You've put yourself in the shoes of the passengers, but nobody's put themselves in the shoes of the victim. That's the point.
      Sara: I'm sorry. What are you saying?
      Grissom: Nobody stopped to ask Candlewell if he was all right. They just assumed, because he was kicking the back of Nate's seat, that he was a jerk --
      because he was pushing his call button that he was bothering the Flight
      Attendant -- because he was trying to get into the lavatory he was making a
      scene -- because he was going back and forth up and down the aisles, he was
      posing a threat.
      Catherine: He was a threat.
      Grissom: No. He turned into a threat. It didn't have to be that way. People make assumptions. That's the problem. You just did. And I think these passengers made the wrong assumption and now this guy's dead.
      Warrick: Well, if that's your stance how could it have been prevented?
      Grissom: If just one person had stopped and taken the time to look at the guy, to listen to him, to figure out what was wrong with him it might not have happened. It took five people to kill him. It would have only taken one person to save his life.

    • Grissom: A, B, C, D or all of the above? Standoff with the police -- guy gets shot in the chest, runs back into his burning house inhaling smoke as he goes. The roof collapses, the air conditioning unit falls on his head, he dies. What killed him?

    • Grissom: I want this whole plane taped off ... nose to tail and wing to wing.
      Brass: Oh, it's going to take a lot of tape.
      Grissom: I've got a dead body, a crime scene with wings. Something very wrong happened in this plane.

    • Grissom: So, dead guy in first class?
      Brass: Las Vegas Air, I always heard it was a good time.

  • NOTES (2)

    • International Episode Titles:
      Czech Republic: Nepřátelská obloha (Unfriendly Skies)

    • The plot of this episode parallels an event of four months earlier when 19-year-old Jonathan Burton stormed the cockpit door of Southwest Airlines Flight 1763 from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City on August 11, 2000. He was subdued by eight other passengers with such force that he died of asphyxiation.


    • Episode Title: Unfriendly Skies

      The title of this episode is a play on the United Airlines advertising campaign (Fly The Friendly Skies)that started in 1969 and carried on for many years.

    • (The team re-enacts the crime near the end of the episode)
      Grissom: We have 10 minutes...We're going to have to do a 'Run Lola Run' in real time.

      He is alluding to the 1999 film "Lola rennt" (in English, Run Lola Run). However, Lola and her boyfriend, Manni, have twenty minutes to complete their task.