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The Catherine Willows Scene That Went Too Far On CSI

Marg Helgenberger left "CSI" in 2012, leaving a Catherine Willows-shaped hole in fans' hearts for a whole decade. Though she's been confirmed to return in the role for "CSI: Vegas" Season 2, it's been a long time without Catherine. The Crime Lab night shift boss is every bit as integral in the "CSI" universe as long-serving fan favorites like Gil Grissom (William Petersen) and Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), and fans are no doubt eager to welcome the franchise original back in the fold. 

 Still, even the most beloved characters can have a few hiccups on their road to legend status, so it's no surprise that Catherine — just like pretty much every long-serving fictional figure out there — has had some plotlines over the years that have been a little bit more out there than you might prefer. Here's one particular time Catherine Willows might have gone too far on "CSI."

Catherine's discussion with Robert Guffey has some fans raising their eyebrows

"CSI" is somewhat notorious for getting all sorts of thing about forensics wrong, but in "CSI" Season 7 episode 11, "Leaving Las Vegas," Catherine Willows gets creative with some other aspects of police work, too. Catherine is a notoriously determined character who stops at nothing to catch wrongdoers, but in this particular episode, she straddles the line of pushing things too far.

While visiting convicted murderer Robert Guffey (Michael Sean Tighe) in prison to find out whether he's innocent, Catherine bribes the initially uncooperative man to comply by unbuttoning one of her shirt buttons for every question he answers. With this tactic, Catherine quickly finds out that Guffey isn't the killer, and only confessed because ... the investigating cops coerced the confession out of him. 

Now, it's worth noting that the conversation is hardly a formal interrogation. Catherine's interrogation tactics also don't fall under full-on coercive police tactics (Per Justia), since she doesn't threaten or physically or psychologically abuse Guffey. Even so, some viewers have noted that a law enforcement officer basically bribing a guy into confessing that other law enforcement officers coerced a confession out of him is not very cool, especially since Catherine makes no secret of her disdain about coercive tactics in the episode. 

"Catherine was pretty angry with the local cop for coercing a confession, but wasn't that blouse-unbuttoning a bit of coersion too?" one IMDb reviewer wondered. When you look at it like that, it's certainly not the best look for a protagonist.