Catherine Willows is back, and CSI: Vegas is the better for it.
CSI: Vegas Season 2 Episode 1 already marked another time of transition for this revival of the once-hit series.
William Peterson and Jorja Fox departed after one season, so Gil and Sara had to disappear.
Fortunately, despite her role on All Rise, Marg Helgenberger was amenable to a return to Las Vegas.
Let's face it. The revival can't yet stand on its own two feet. While the new team may appeal to fresh viewers, fans of the old series want to see the OGs they know and love.
Catherine was the favorite of many viewers. Gil was the aloof scientist; Catherine was the people person. She was the more accessible member of management.
There was a believable setup for Catherine's return.
The lab was short-handed after Gil and Sara's departures and Allie's absence for lengthy training in Los Angeles. Catherine was adrift after being forced out of her casino executive role.
So why wouldn't Maxine snatch up this forensic all-star volunteering her services?
Max sensed that Catherine had an ulterior motive for her request, but the investigation of the dominatrix's murder pushed that revelation back to nearly the end of the episode.
The case of the week was vintage CSI: A dominatrix killed with a mirror in a sex dungeon made up of mirrors. Fortunately, the victim wasn't Gil's friend Lady Heather, a recurring character from the original series.
Catherine fell right back into the job while being careful to defer to Max, her new boss.
The case proved a helpful mechanism for introducing a handful of new characters to the show.
Folsom was shown in bed, not with Allie as viewers might have expected, but with someone named Serena.
Then, at the murder scene, Folsom worked alongside the new detective assigned to the team, Serena Cortez. And a lightbulb went off.
And where was Allie? She was off in Los Angeles sharpening her skills in a months-long seminar.
There was never a chance that the moon-eyed Allie wouldn't be brought back to Vegas prematurely. There couldn't be a romantic triangle without her.
An intriguing new addition is technician Beau Finado, a chemical engineer who decided to do something more meaningful during the pandemic.
Beau employed his unique skill set to break down the glue holding the mirrors in place without damaging the crime scene underneath.
Still to be revealed on air is the replacement for medical examiner Hugo, as Mel Rodriguez also left the series between seasons.
It has been announced that it will take two people to replace the quirky Hugo, a brother-and-sister team played by Sara Amini and Joel Johnstone.
The main thing that Beau's careful extraction of the mirrors revealed was that the sex dungeon was, not surprisingly, a repository of body fluids, Lynn's blood being the dominant substance.
Folsom had trouble reconstructing the crime scene manually. So Catherine suggested that he find someone who knew how to do molecular cartography to recreate the scene using that cutting-edge technique. Re-enter Allie, who had been learning about just that topic. How convenient!
Allie was in for a rude awakening. All last season, she pined for Folsom while stringing along her loser boyfriend, not admitting to her feelings.
Now she returned from Los Angeles to not only discover that the addition of a CSI legend had knocked her further down the depth chart but also that the oblivious Folsom's relationship status had changed. Better yet, she gets to work with his new girlfriend daily.
Allie, girl, you should have opened your mouth sooner.
At least Allie's newly learned skill created a clear map of the fluids in the room, which enabled Folsom to place all the furniture back into the room. Except for that missing piece, of course.
Leave it to Catherine to find that piece broken up and burned in the firepit outside. Then Beau retrieved a sample from a burnt leg that led to an actual suspect.
Earlier, Max and Catherine had interrogated and dismissed a trio of Lynn's clients as inconsequential. But Beau's discovery pointed to one of those as a suspect.
Questioned by Serena, Lynn's shrink revealed that Lynn had been a victim of a controversial shock treatment when she was a child and that her killer would strike again.
Those two strands came together when the suspect went after a man who had nothing to do with Lynn but rather had been another child forced to undergo that treatment. Even though the team later took the suspect out, he warned that he was just the beginning. So this must be the introduction of the new big bad.
Max and Catherine should prove to be an effective pairing. Catherine can serve as a sounding board for Max, as she had previously done for Gil.
Catherine finally admitted why she came back: to search for her missing protege, Grace. There also seemed to be a tie-in between Catherine's concern about Grace and her dismissal from the casino. The ending scene in the desert suggests that she's already too late to find Grace alive.
To follow the new team's evolution, watch CSI: Vegas online.
Were you happy to see that Catherine has returned?
How did you like the other new additions?
What do you think about the new big bad?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.