Brian Van Holt and Elisabeth Shue
It's been a little less than a year since Elisabeth Shue joined the cast of CSI, and the actress is thrilled to finally get a few more answers about Julie Finlay's past.
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On Wednesday's episode (10/9c, CBS), the CSIs uncover a mass grave in the desert. One of the victims is wearing a necklace that Finlay remembers very well from a case she worked in Seattle. In fact, it's the case that got her fired.
"I was glad to get to explore the emotion of why she got fired and why it was such a traumatic experience," Shue tells TVGuide.com "This is the one case for her that really got under her skin and the stakes are so much higher."
During the original murder investigation, Finlay liked Tom Cooley (guest star Dylan Walsh) for the murders, but she was fired (and sued) for trying to illegally collect a DNA sample from him. When she finds evidence that again implicates Cooley in the murders of the victims in the Las Vegas grave, she heads straight back to Seattle.
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"It's a case that forces her once again to blur the boundaries of what's appropriate and what's not," Shue says. "She gets in trouble again for the very same issues which got her fired in the first place. I love that about her. She's so headstrong. She's not somebody who will necessarily learn from her mistakes.
"I've always thought of her as somewhat immature. She's childlike in her approach to life," Shue continues. "She's very present and she follows her instincts and sometimes doesn't have that adult side coming in and telling her when something's right and when it's wrong. She enjoys getting people to react to her. You know when kids get under your skin and make you angry, but you look down and they're happy? They've gotten you to react. I think there's a part of her that will always be approaching life from that childlike [place]."
But that attitude has taken a toll on Finlay's personal relationships. A serial cop dater, Finn was once married in Seattle. During her return visit, D.B. Russell (Ted Danson) calls on Finn's ex (Cougar Town's Brian Van Holt) to keep her in line during the investigation — and they reconnect in more ways than one. "I liked that there was something unresolved between them," Shue says. "Their relationship was one that had a lot of passion involved, but I think Finn got out of the relationship selfishly."
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So might there be a rekindling? Not so fast. "I don't think she's capable of having a real adult relationship," Shue says. "She tries to sabotage relationships when there are stakes or when she has to be a responsible partner. That would be a lot of pressure on her and her personality would want to run from something that was that stable. I can't imagine her having a relationship that works."
Shue says that's precisely why her complicated relationship with D.B. works. "It's safe," Shue says of the boss-employee relationship. "There's no possibility of them being together, so she's comfortable in that relationship. She trusts him and she is the best she is when she is with him."
As Finn gets deeper into the investigation, she once again oversteps her boundaries and faces even more disastrous consequences than the last go-round. Which begs the question: Will she ever go too far? "I don't think she's completely reckless or insane... but I like that that's a question," Shue says. "Who knows what it would be that could put her over the edge. There could be something."
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Or could it be that revisiting this one particular case will finally help Finlay to move on? "I think it does change her a little bit," Shue says. "It does calm her a little bit and gives her a sense of confidence and a sense closure. But I don't want her to become a different character. I still like that she's a volatile character who is able to go off the deep end at any moment. It's more fun to play her that way. But at the same time, it's good when characters go through cycles. It's like life: You don't really fully change. But you do grow slowly."
CSI airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS.