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DEADLINE: Let’s start with the final scene of Gil and Sara sailing off into the sunset. How did that ending come about?
ZUIKER: Sixteen years ago, William Petersen, (executive producers) Cindy Chvatal and Jonathan Littman and myself sat down at the Beverly Wilshire, that was the first time we got together. We actually met there 16 years later, same table, same party of four. And William Peterson pulled out this research folder that dealt with sea shepherd. This is a gentleman that goes along the ocean and does things in terms of keeping the ocean safe. That was the beginning of me thinking of the Gil Grissom’s character being a CSI at sea. We knew we wanted to start with him on a boat. Then we started to think about ending with him on the boat. And it just organically happened. Once he’d gotten in touch with his heart and when he really understood that Sara was the only person for him, it was only fitting as a closure for the series that Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle would drive off into the sunset.
DEADLINE: Was there any alternative ending you considered?
ZUIKER: No, there wasn’t. We knew right away that if we were going to grab (Gil) on a boat to start his arc it only was fitting to end there. The one thing that wasn’t planned, it hit me during the running, was them actually driving off into the sunset, only this time it was on water. The metaphor of them driving off into the sunset happened in the moment.
DEADLINE: The Gil-Sara romance has been a very popular storyline for many seasons but also divided some fans. Why did you make it the centerpiece of the finale? Did you always know that the two of them would end up together or you did it for the fans?
ZUIKER: This one really was for the fans. I’d put some feelers out early on Twitter about what were some things the hardcore Twitttersphere wanted to accomplish. And overwhelmingly it really was a sufficient closure between Grissom and Sara. We knew that we would be going that route. We had to complicate that fantasy, and that was the reason to put Lady Heather in the middle because she suddenly became this other option that Grissom had been wrangling with over the course of many seasons, much to the point where a lot of the audience was convinced, and maybe even Grissom himself, that Lady Heather is the one that actually has his heart. As it turns out, Grissom has to make a choice by the end of the show, and I think the audience would be happy he chooses Sara and we finally put them together.
DEADLINE: If there is a CSI: 10 Years Later special a decade from now, where will we see the main characters? Will Gil and Sara still be roaming the seas?
ZUIKER: I believe so. I believe in my heart 10 years from now that Grissom and Sara not only are conquering the seas and sailing the oceans but they are also probably saving the environment on land and sea. They would probably have children and they would dedicate their lives to the betterment of humanity. In terms of the other characters, probably Catherine would still be running the crime lab, Bass probably would retire, living somewhere in Hawaii, and DB probably is working in the private sector in Washington DC. And I think that all these characters would still have their toe in the crime water.