Apr 292022
 

Aired April 7, 2011 IMDB

“Unleashed” is the first Lady Heather episode without William Peterson as Gil Grissom, after the actor’s departure from the show. It also retreads some of the same ground as the notorious “Fur and Loathing in Las Vegas” episode (to be discussed). 

This time, the dead body is a woman in a leotard who got mauled to death by a mountain lion in the woods. The woman shows signs of having been beaten and restrained. 

Further examination reveals feline dental prosthetics and signs of being hit by a stun gun. ID’d as Iona Vail, who ran a battered women’s shelter. The co-manager of the shelter, Debra, says Iona left weeks ago.

Examining the victim’s address book reveals she was seeing “Dr. K”, which turns out to be Dr. Heather Kessler, formerly “Lady Heather”. She now has a PhD, a certificate in sex therapy, and an office that shows her taste for Victorian furnishings. 

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Apr 272022
 

CSI S09E05 “Leave Out All The Rest” IMDB Aired November 6, 2008

The discovery of a dead body (what else?) with the marks of S&M leads Grissom back to Heather Kessler. 

In this case, it’s a set of markings from needle play around the man’s nipples, out of place next to all the corpse’s other injuries. 

Grissom: “S and M?”

Willows: “Gone very, very wrong.”

ME: “These stab wounds are brutal, random and postmortem”, 

Willows: “Which is inconsistent with S&M.”

ME: “Well, it’s hard to take pleasure in someone’s pain once they’re dead.”

Willows: “Which is the ‘gone wrong’ part.”

After the low point of the last episode, in which Heather was offering herself up to be murdered for money to provide for her grand-daughter, she’s somewhat recovered. No longer a dominatrix, she’s finished a Masters in psychology and is a practising therapist. 

Heather’s transition to therapist from dominatrix who acts like a therapist makes a degree of sense. It’s consistent with the trope of pro-dominatrix-as-caregiver that turns up so often in mainstream media. (E.g. Going Under, Personal Services). It further desexualizes an already desexualized character. In this episode, Grissom is grieving his beakup with Sara Sidle, and his emotionally stunted interactions with Heather are with her as a caregiver, not a lover.

Also note that after being much more mobile and active in the previous two episodes, Heather reverts to being stationary in her home. 

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Apr 132022
 

“Pirates of the Third Reich” aired February 9, 2006, IMDB

Jerry Stahl returns as co-writer for the third chapter in the Lady Heather saga. The director, Richard J Lewis, also directed “Lady Heather’s Box”.

“Slaves of Las Vegas” normalized Lady Heather in her conversation with Catherine Willows, as a business owner, career woman, and single mother. This episode throws that into ruin. Zoe Kessler, said to be going to Harvard in Lady Heather’s first episode, is found dead in the desert: emaciated, poisoned, shaved bald, branded with a number, and missing her hand. This marks the fifth person in Lady Heather’s immediate circle who is murdered.

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Apr 122022
 

IMDB Aired February 13, 2003

Melinda Clarke returns as Lady Heather. (Also features a cameo of Elizabeth Berkley of Showgirls infamy.) Note that this episode’s story was co-written by Josh Berman, who also wrote the episode of Bones focusing on ponyplay, “Death in the Saddle” (S03E03).

A pair of male sex workers murdered by injections of insulin lead the CSI team back to Lady Heather’s house. It appears they got the same house for interiors and exteriors as the previous episode

Just as before, Lady Heather is completely cooperative with the authorities, and readily acknowledges the men were on her payroll. It isn’t clear what they did, however. Also, the staff and clients are completely unconcerned with police officers walking around. 

Detective Brass astutely points out that these are the second and third people in Lady Heather’s employ to end up dead in suspicious circumstances. 

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Apr 042022
 

IMDB Aired November 15, 2001. 

Co-writer Jerry Stahl also wrote the notorious CSI episodes “Fur and Loathing in Las Vegas” (2003) (dealing with furry culture) and “King Baby” (2005) (dealing with infantilism). He also co-wrote the screenplays for the cult porn films Nightdreams (1981) and Café Flesh (1982), under the pseudonym Herbert W. Day. 

Melinda Clarke makes her first appearance as Lady Heather. She also played a brothel madam in the Firefly episode “Heart of Gold” (2003) and the body-modified zombie lead of Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993).

As so many of these types of episodes, it begins with the discovery of a dead sex worker. In this case, it’s a nude young woman found buried in a sandbox. Also typical, the victim’s body is treated as a puzzle to be solved that will lead to the discovery of their true identity. 

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Nov 232021
 

“Twenty-Five Acts”, aired October 10, 2012 IMDB

The Law & Order franchise often fictionalizes real-world events. In this case, it alludes to the publication and popularity of the Fifty Shades trilogy, in an episode aired only 6 months after the trilogy was re-released by Vintage. (FSOG was first published May 25, 2011 by Writers Coffee Shop, and the trilogy was re-released by Vintage in April 2012.)

I thought that this episode also referenced the case of Jian Ghomeshi, a Persian-Canadian radio host and interviewer who allegedly strangled his girlfriend and excused it as consensual BDSM. However, in an odd moment of life imitating art, I found that this episode actually aired 2 years before the allegations about Ghomeshi went public in 2014. 

The author of the hot new erotic novel Twenty-Five Acts, Jocelyn Paley, appears on a talk show. The host, Adam Cain, meets her for dinner, and she secretly gives him her panties under the table. They go back to his place. After some sex she initiates, he crosses the line, throws her on the bed and chokes her with a belt.

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May 172021
 

“Death in the Saddle”, Aired Oct 9, 2007

Some films and TV episodes at least play lip service to the idea of BDSM being a consensual and healthy sexual variation. Others, like this one, don’t even bother. 

This time the deceased is a man found buried in the woods, his feet cut off and buried separately as is done with dead champion racehorses. (The forensics techs refer to him as “Mister Ed”.) This and other evidence lead Booth and Brennan to a ponyplay convention at a ranch near the body site. 

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Apr 282021
 

Millennium is a 1996 horror/mystery TV series, loosely spun off from The X-Files. Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) is a criminal profiler for the mysterious Millennium Group, investigating serial murders and other occult-tinged crimes. 

In “Loin Like a Hunting Flame” (S01E12, aired January 31, 1997), this week’s serial killer is Art Nesbitt, a pharmacist with a habit of drugging people, abducting them, videotaping them having sex, killing them, and then leaving their bodies in artistic tableaux in public places. The victims are selected because they match his fantasies of sexual experiences he didn’t have: a young heterosexual couple at a rave, a pair of married women from a swinger party, and a newlywed couple. 

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Sep 022020
 

iZombie, “Spanking the Zombie”, aired May 2, 2017 IMDB

iZombie is a TV series about a world in which an infectious disease gives people a craving for brains, though some can retain their human intelligence and appearance. The protagonist is Olivia “Liv” Moore, a police forensic scientist who investigates murders by literally eating the brains of the victims and inheriting their memories and personalities temporarily.

In this episode, the victim is Roxanne Greer, who worked as a pro dominatrix known as Sweet Lady Pain. This is literally all we know about her. Even though Liv has access to some of her memories and behaviours, all we see is a few visions of her interacting with clients. We learn nothing else about her, not her family, her background, how and why she got into this business, what she thinks of the work or the men she sees, or what she is like when she’s not being a dominatrix.

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Aug 292020
 

“Miss Rebecca Thrall”, aired October 11, 2017 IMDB

The main plot of “Miss Rebecca Thrall” concerns a scheme by Waterday Financial to take out life insurance policies on poor people, and then bribe police officers with loans to kill them, and collect the money. 

The main agent of this operation is Miss Rebecca Thrall (played by Sarah Wynter) who negotiates with both the victims and the killers. She also keeps a man in a full rubber suit and hood bound to a St. Andrew’s cross in her basement. 

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