Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sara Sidle

Sara Sidle, until recently, was an elements analyst at the Las Vegas Police Department Crime Lab. Born on September 17, 1971, in California, Sara Sidle grew up in a B&B run by her two hippie parents. Always analytical, Sara would present them with business plans and suggestions for the business.

Despite the hippie background, the Sidle home was abusive and violent. When Sara was nine, her mother, Laura, killed Sara's father and was sent to a mental institution. Sara (and presumably her brother, though he is only mentioned once) spent the rest of her childhood in the foster care system. It is said that she had a rocky start in the system, was unreachable and angry, and was moved around a lot in her first year. Despite these circumstances, or perhaps because of them, she focussed her energy on schoolwork. She graduated high school a year early, at age sixteen, and left for the east coast to attend Harvard on a scholarship, where she majored in Physics.

After Harvard, she moved back to Los Angeles, and began moonlighting nights at the county coroner's office. She eventually joined the LA CSI team and began working as a full time investigator. In 1999, she met her future supervisor and fiance, Gil Grissom, at a Forensic Academy Conference in California. Many years later, she admitted that she stayed behind to ask so many questions about archaeology because she was trying to get up the nerve to ask him to dinner.

In 2000, Grissom asked Sara to come to Las Vegas, where he was the LVPD Crime Lab night shift supervisor. One of his CSI's, Warrick Brown was under investigation after the death of newcomer Holly Gribbs, and Grissom needed Sara to run the internal investigation. Sara was met with a chilly welcome from the team, but she soon showed herself to be fair, unbiased and a talented investigator, and the team was happy to have her come on board permanently.

Sara's obsession with her work rivalled Grissom's, to the point that he became concerned for her. He mentioned that she barely slept, she read forensic journals or listened to her police scanner for fun, and didn't seem to like anything else. He encouraged her to have fun and find something outside of work. Despite the fact that Sara's increasing bitterness was based in their unresolved attraction, she took his advice to heart, and briefly dated paramedic Hank Pettigrew. This relationship ended when she found out that he had another girlfriend.

After this, Sara became increasingly more abrupt and argumentative, especially with Grissom, and seemed to be in a self-destructive spiral. In 2005, she was pulled over at a roadblock and was arrested for driving under the influence. Because the blood alcohol limit had so recently been lowered, she was not charged, but Grissom was informed. Shortly thereafter, she had a very public confrontation with Catherine, a senior CSI, which resulted in her suspension. This appeared to trigger Grissom to act, and he asked her, as a friend, to explain what was happening to her. Sara revealed her violent childhood and her mother's killing of her father. That conversation seemed to turn a corner in their relationship, though it was some time before they were revealed to be a couple.

In 2006, it was revealed that she was in a romantic relationship with Grissom that had obviously been going on for some time. Their fellow CSI's were kept uninformed until late 2007, when Sara was kidnapped by the Miniature Killer, and Grissom explained the killer's motivation as revenge to "kill the only person he ever loved." Sara escaped but was badly injured, and was found by colleagues Nick Stokes and Sophia Curtis. Upon returning to work, she moved to the Swing Shift, so she and Grissom could still be together without violating lab policy. While physically healing, Sara seemed to be increasingly ground down by the constant scenes of death and abuse that made up her daily life. At this point Grissom proposed marriage, which she accepted delightedly. This seemed to bring her out of her PTSD-induced depression, but only temporarily. A month later, Sara decided to leave her job at the crime lab after a series of emotionally harrowing cases, culminating in the return of a youthful murderer who had previously "run her in circles". In a tearful letter, she explained to Grissom that she had to leave to bury her ghosts.

Sara's character arc is a cyclical journey through personal darkness, and finally into the acceptance of genuine love and hope. At first she appears preternaturally energized and eager to please, but this facade eventually wears off, and her old scars revealed. She is unable to make any deep human connection, and sets herself up for failure when she attempts to, seeking approval from unavailable or authoritative men. It is only when she opens up her past story that she begins the long process of healing, and in doing so, she also helps Grissom more than she seems to realize: he himself becomes much more comfortable and open. Sara's departure in the middle of Season Eight does not seem to be a return to her old pattern of running away, but a positive decision to revisit her past and come to terms with it, so that she can move forward.

Sara is occasionally heard from indirectly, as she and Grissom talk by phone, or her ex-colleagues ask after her. It is speculated that she will return in at least two episodes of the next season.

Sara was last seen in the jungles of Costa Rica in the arms of the recently retired Gil Grissom.


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