Marg Helgenberger, or “Catherine Willows” as she is better known to CSI fans everywhere, is returning to the CBS hit show for the series’ 300th episode. The season beginning Wednesday, September 6 will mark the start of the original Crime Scene Investigation‘s 14th season. (CSI’s avid Las Vegas fan base ignited several other spin-offs of the series.)
Of Marg’s return, executive producer Don McGill said, “We were just really excited to have Marg come back because, obviously, she’s such an important part of the history of CSI.” He then added, “And she was super excited. It was kismet!” Helgenberger does seem excited, tweeting from the set:
— Marg Helgenberger (@MargHelgen) August 20, 2013
Helgenberger’s character, forensic scientist Catherine Willows, left the show halfway through the 12th season; she went out in a two-episode bid farewell, “Ms. Willows Regrets,” and “Willows in the Wind,” in which Willows’ hard work on a case earns her a job offer from the FBI and she accepts. “Willows in the Wind,” Helgenberger’s final performance, originally aired on January 25, 2012, drawing a staggering number of spectators.
Helgenberger’s work on CSI has earned her two Emmy nominations, a Golden Globe nomination, and a cast-wide SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2005. She also went out as one of the two highest-grossing actors on any CSI; she reportedly renewed her 2010 contract with CBS for a sweet sum of $325,000 per episode. (Which was $25,000 more each week than even Laurence Fishburne earned.)
Asked last January how she felt about leaving CSI after more than ten years and 263 episodes, Helgenberger said, “Letting go of a show that has been an enormous part of my life for 12 years isn’t easy.” Revealing the reason for her decision, she went on to say, “I instinctively felt it was time to end that chapter of my career.”
It was abuzz that Helgenberger was leaving to pursue more acting jobs on Broadway and in films; she has only now just accepted a job, starring in the pilot episode of a new series, Intelligence, which will air this Fall.
Willows’ return to the drama will be partly through flashbacks; McGill says, “We will flash back 14 years to seminal moments that show Catherine (Helgenberger), Nick (George Eads), Sara (Jorja Fox), Greg (Eric Szmanda) and Ecklie (Marc Vann) as they were, [and how that] informed the evolution of the characters now. It’s going to be a really fun episode, very emotional, that honors 14 years of CSI.”
The ‘seminal moments’ McGill is referring to were described as being bits and pieces of a homicide that was never solved in 2000, and has now come back around to haunt the team. Willows has come back to help the original crew solve the case once and for all.
Helgenberger’s upcoming apperance will most definitely be a blowout as far as viewers are concerned; the second part of Catherine Willows’ two-episode farewell raked in more than 14.26 million audience members. “Willows in the Wind” brought more viewers than any other CSI of the season.
You can catch Willows and the rest of the gang on CBS on October 23; the 14th season premiere (sans Willows) will air on Wednesday, September 25 at 10 p.m. ET.