The team launches an investigation after a judge is shot, and the DC rapist case hits a snag.
Judge Vincent Corsica is presiding over the trial of Victor Markov, a Russian mobster who is accused of killing three people in front of a bakery one year ago. The jury asked to visit the scene of the crime at night, which is when the murders took place, so Corsica accompanies them to the street in front of the bakery. They are joined by a group of NYPD police officers, but the cops are unable to stop a man on a bicycle who races past their barricades and shoots the judge.
The shooter gets away, but Lindsay realizes one of the police officers may have hit his mark when he fired at the man fleeing the scene. She heads down the nearby alley, hoping to find a blood trail. There’s no blood to indicate that the shooter was hit, but there is a damaged bicycle at the other end of the alley. There’s also a piece of glass from a car headlight, explaining how the bicycle was damaged.
The car was rented by Pavel Danshov, who is associated with Markov. He denies killing the judge, implying that he was simply looking for blackmail material since Corsica was corrupt. A fingerprint from the bike leads back to Nick Albertson, who has a job at the steakhouse where Corsica ate four nights a week. Nick says he got hit by the car, but he denies shooting the judge. Flack and Danny realize that things don’t add up when they try to map Nick’s actions—he should have been coming from another direction if he actually shot the judge. Jo looks at Nick’s arrest record, which was mysteriously erased from the criminal court records, and she discovers that Corsica was the judge who sent Nick to a juvenile detention center when he was fifteen years old after he stole a pack of gum. The center was owned by James Nelson, who got money from the government for every kid who was sent there. Nelson worked with Corsica, giving the judge a cut of the money in exchange for sending a steady stream of kids to the detention center—Nick never should have gone there over such a minor offense, and the event put him down the wrong path.
Nick’s accomplice when he was a teenager was Tommy Hill, and the team finds him with the murder weapon in his backpack. Nick got Tommy a job at the steakhouse, and they saw Corsica and Nelson together one night. Tommy killed the judge when he realized what the man had done. Flack heads to Nelson’s house with some officers to arrest him, but Nelson is watching the news inside. He sees the story on TV and hears the police officers at the door, so he kills himself before he can be arrested.
“Crossroads” finds the team investigating the death of a judge with a lot to hide. Corsica was crooked, and the CSIs uncover a scheme he was running with a juvenile detention center run by Nelson. The center is privately owned, and the amount of money they get is determined by the number of kids they have at any given time. Nelson offered Corsica a kickback for every kid sent his way. It’s clear that Nick and Tommy aren’t the only two teenagers who were sent to Forest Brook for such minor offenses, and it’s disturbing to think that something similar might happen in real life. In fact, this plot is likely based on the case of former Pennsylvania juvenile court judge Mark Ciavarella, who was convicted on similar charges last year and sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Despite the situation they found themselves in, Nick and Tommy react very differently to the news that Corsica was working with Nelson. Nick wants to go to the police, but Tommy is still bitter and doesn’t trust the authorities after what happened to him. He takes matters into his own hands, slipping antifreeze into Corsica’s drink at the steakhouse before deciding to take a more violent approach when his first attempt fails to kill the man. Nick tries to talk him out of shooting the judge, and Tommy knocks him out so he can get a head start. Nick races after him, but he’s too late to stop Tommy from ruining his life. When Tommy expresses anger at the end, Mac and Jo have little patience for his rant. Jo reminds Tommy that there is a system of justice in place, but Tommy just scoffs. He’s had enough personal experience with the so-called justice system, and he doesn’t regret what he did. He thinks it’s only fair that he took Corsica’s life after the judge took his life away from him.
In the previous episode, “Crushed”, viewers were introduced to John Curtis, the rapist from Jo’s past who caused her to leave the FBI and come to New York. Ali Rand came forward in “Crushed”, revealing that she was raped by Curtis and causing the team to launch a new investigation. As the second part of a three-episode storyline, “Crossroads” focuses more heavily on the rape investigation as the team prepares for Curtis’s preliminary hearing, but it’s still the B-case compared to Corsica’s death.
Jo is kept in the loop about the case, but Lindsay is the one in charge of the investigation. Despite this fact, Jo takes a trip to the jail to speak to Curtis. He wonders if she came there to gloat, but she can’t enjoy seeing him behind bars because it would be disrespectful to Ali and the way she suffered. She will have to wait until the jury finds him guilty before she can take pleasure in his arrest. She tells him that he won’t get away with his crimes, promising that none of her colleagues will make a mistake this time. Curtis, however, doesn’t think she’ll be happy with the outcome of this investigation, and he promises that their case will fall apart as soon as they put Ali on the stand.
Senator Matthews comes to the crime lab to speak to Mac and make sure the Curtis case has the NYPD’s full attention. His daughter Serena, the original victim from the DC rapist case, is there as well, and Mac is confident that Lindsay will succeed in bringing the man to justice. When Senator Matthews sees Jo walk by the office, he demands that she be kept far from the case. Mac says she’s not working the case, but he insists that Jo is a capable investigator. There is a rather awkward line about how Mac would want Jo to investigate if his own daughter was raped—while Lindsay is standing right there, no less—but I do appreciate the intent behind the exchange: Mac sympathizes with the Senator’s viewpoint, but he trusts his team.
Senator Matthews does not trust Jo at all, but Serena approaches Jo later to talk about their shared, painful history. Serena apologizes for the fact that Jo’s career was destroyed; she was angry, but she does understand why Jo told the truth despite the consequences. She knows how hard the decision must have been for Jo to make, as a woman and a mother. However, despite her understanding, Serena is still haunted by what John Curtis did to her, and she wants to be there when the man is finally arrested and put behind bars, where he won’t be able to hurt her again.
As Lindsay prepares for the preliminary hearing, she discovers something that could hurt their case. She approaches Flack, telling him that she needs to speak to Ali again. They bring her in, and both detectives stress the need for complete honesty. Ali denies using drugs recreationally, and she doesn’t appreciate the insinuation that Lindsay doesn’t trust her. Lindsay tells her she doesn’t have any more questions, and Ali leaves. Once she’s gone, Flack asks Lindsay what she’s going to do. Lindsay says she has no choice but to tell the truth. When she gets on the stand during the hearing, Lindsay reveals that the level of GHB in Ali’s system after the attack is inconsistent with her story. If she was telling the truth about the timeline of events from the night she was attacked, John Curtis would have dosed her with 1000mg of the drug—enough to kill her. The judge does not dismiss the case, stating that there is enough evidence for the trial to go forward; however, Lindsay’s testimony raises questions about the credibility of Ali as a victim, and it prompts the judge to reduce Curtis’s bail.
Jo is in the courtroom during this scene, and so are Senator Matthews and Serena. Jo winces when Lindsay explains the flaw in the case, and she leans over to whisper in Lindsay’s ear when the distraught CSI takes a seat beside her. They are not pleased to hear that Curtis will be free to roam the streets before the trial, but Serena is so upset that she gets up to leave the courtroom. A livid Senator Matthews gets to his feet, meeting Jo’s eyes before he leaves. The episode ends with Jo watching Curtis, who is practically smirking as he looks at her and Lindsay, helpless to keep the man behind bars.
As the middle of a three-episode arc, “Crossroads” sets up the pieces for the final act without resolving everything. It’s nice to see Serena and her father, and the interaction between Serena and Jo is very interesting. Serena doesn’t hate Jo for what happened in DC; anger would be understandable, but she just wants relief from the fear that has dogged her since Curtis was set free. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get any relief this week, and she—like the audience—has to wait until the final episode of the arc to see how it all plays out.
Sela Ward and Anna Belknap do a nice job with their material this week, although Jo and Lindsay don’t share many scenes this time around. It’s a bit disappointing, since the interaction between these two is one of the most interesting elements of the storyline, but hopefully the next episode will provide more of that. Prior to the final scene, Jo is quietly triumphant about seeing Curtis behind bars, and she’s very confident that Lindsay and the rest of the team won’t make any mistakes. Lindsay, however, has to struggle with the fact that Ali’s testimony doesn’t add up, and it’s clear that she doesn’t want to face the reality that their case could fall apart when she gets on the witness stand.
Lindsay only shares her worry with Flack, and I particularly like their first scene in the precinct when she says that she needs to speak to Ali again. She has concerns, and Flack assumes it has to do with Ali’s career as an escort. Lindsay says it’s an issue with the scientific aspect of the case, explaining the inconsistency between the GHB levels in Ali’s blood and her timeline of events. Flack points out that she might have trouble remembering what happened, considering that she was drugged and beaten. He seems more willing to believe human testimony, however flawed, while Lindsay is relying on the cold, hard, scientific facts. After they speak to Ali again, Flack wonders if she lied about doing drugs, but Lindsay can’t focus on her own assumptions—she has to go with what the science is telling her. As Gil Grissom once famously said: “The evidence never lies.” Regardless of the lies or half-truths that Ali might be telling them, it’s the evidence that will lead the CSIs to the truth.
See also: “Crossroads” episode guide