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Review: CSI: New York — ‘Misconceptions’

Posted by Rachel - 05/11/12 at 11:11 pm


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The team investigates a 20-year-old case when the main suspect is found dead on the anniversary of a little boy’s disappearance.

Synopsis:

Tommy Lewis went missing exactly 20 years ago while walking his dog in his close-knit neighborhood, and the community is rocked once again when the prime suspect from 1992, Keith Milner, is found dead in the nearby park. There are plenty of people in the neighborhood who want Milner dead, and Tommy’s mother April is afraid that her husband, Nathan, is the one responsible. He called his wife from a bar, telling her that he saw Milner and hurt the man. They track Nathan’s cellphone to a cemetery, and they find him passed out next to Tommy’s empty grave. He remembers punching Milner, but he doesn’t know if he killed him.

Milner’s wife, Emma, comes to identify his body. She never believed that he was capable of killing Tommy, and she insists that he wasn’t the man people thought he was back then. Emma is pregnant, and Milner wanted to deal with the ghosts from his past before he became a father. According to his journal, he came to New York to convince Tommy’s real killer to confess.

Trace from the mortal wound on Milner’s neck contains green mold, green nettle, microcrystalline wax and paraffin; this strange combination of materials leads Hawkes to Flaming Nettle Gouda, a rare type of cheese that is sold at Mitch Ventri’s deli. Ventri was the last person who saw Tommy alive 20 years ago. He lured Tommy into the basement of the deli and killed him when he tried to call for help. Milner saw what happened, but no one believed the young troublemaker’s accusations against a respected member of the community.

Milner confronted Ventri in the park, urging him to tell the truth. Ventri panicked, slashing the other man’s throat with a box cutter. Now that the truth is out, Ventri reveals the location of Tommy’s body, and Mac is able to give the boy’s parents some closure.


Analysis:

Cases where a child has been hurt are always difficult, and “Misconceptions” is no exception. It has been twenty years since Tommy Lewis went missing, but his disappearance is still a painful memory for the people in his neighborhood. His parents have never left their home, believing that Tommy’s soul is there with them. More than anything, they just need closure. Keith Milner’s death doesn’t provide that, however, since he didn’t kill Tommy—and the killer silenced him before he could share any information that might help the investigation.

Milner’s unborn child is another victim in this tragedy, and now the little boy or girl will be forced to grow up without a father. Milner was only a kid when Tommy went missing, a local troublemaker that nobody trusted. He saw Mitch Ventri lead Tommy into the basement of his deli, but his own parents didn’t believe his story. Milner had caused so many problems and lied to his parents so many times that they were unable to trust him to tell the truth. Ventri, on the other hand, was a trusted family friend. They could never believe he would hurt Tommy, so they did nothing about their son’s claims. Milner carried that truth around with him for twenty years, but the knowledge that he was going to be a father pushed him to make things right. He went back to the neighborhood because he wanted Ventri to come forward and confess to his crimes. He wanted Tommy’s poor parents to have some closure. Ventri refused, and he killed Milner without hesitation.

When Lindsay and Lovato confront Ventri in the interrogation, he tells them that Tommy was the first kid he ever lured down into the basement. He made a mistake, but he insists that he’s a good guy. It’s obvious that he is desperate to convince himself (and the police) that he’s not a monster, but Lindsay isn’t fooled. She coldly tells Ventri that he’s nothing like decent people. He seems like such a normal person from the outside, but the reality is much more sinister—and little Tommy paid the price for that 20 years ago because he trusted Ventri.

Ventri says that Tommy’s body is still in the basement, and Mac, Jo, Danny and Hawkes head down with a team. They pull a sign off the wall, revealing a hollow area with a trunk inside. There are air fresheners hanging around the trunk, and the trunk itself is wrapped in plastic. Ventri may believe that he’s a good and decent human being, but he went to a lot of trouble to try to cover up his murder. When they cut off the plastic and open the trunk, they find Tommy’s small body inside. It’s obvious that the CSIs are deeply affected by this, but Mac is finally able to give Tommy’s parents some closure. He approaches their house at the end of the hour, standing on the steps as they come out onto the porch. He doesn’t say much, only that they found Tommy, and the couple clings to each other and retreats inside. They now know what happened, but dealing with their son’s loss will continue to be an ongoing struggle.

The secondary storyline in the episode follows Flack around on his day off. CSI: New York has included some personal moments so far this season, but this is the first episode that really goes home with a character. In the first scene, Flack is busy listening to music as he makes eggs Benedict in his kitchen. He’s in a good mood, and he puts the finishing touches on two plates before he turns off the music and calls for his companion to join him at the table. Instead of a girlfriend, it turns out that Flack has made breakfast for himself and his dog. It’s a funny moment, but it also brings home the fact that Flack should really get a girlfriend some time soon!

Later, Flack is at boxing practice. He’s been going there for several months, and his instructor is a man on parole. They discuss Flack’s progress, and Flack jokes that the man just likes training him so he has an excuse to hit a cop. Flack heads over to answer his phone and smiles when he sees the name on the screen; when he answers, he starts talking about the amazing night he had with the woman on the other end of the line—but he’s only joking. He’s actually talking to his grandmother, and she asks him to come over because there’s a leak under her kitchen sink. When he arrives, he finds no sign of a leak, but his grandmother has made spaghetti and meatballs. Flack’s sister Sam shows up as well, and both siblings know exactly what is going on; their grandmother used the fake leak as an excuse to get them to her house for a visit. She feeds them, and before they leave, she shows them a box that was found in the attic of their father’s house. The man recently passed away, and she wants them to take the box as well as the urn containing his ashes.

We’ve never seen Flack’s father on the show before this week, and we’ve heard very little about him over the years. We’ve known he was a cop since season one, but this week we discover that the man’s relationship with his daughter was strained. She doesn’t want to talk about the man, and she certainly doesn’t want to forgive him for making her feel inadequate. She wants nothing to do with the box from the attic, so Flack has to deal with it on his own. When he gets back to his apartment, he looks through the baseball mementos inside, including a photo of both siblings with their father at Yankee Stadium when they were children. There’s a flashback to the day, when Flack asked to look at his father’s police badge; he let his son hold it, but he said no when Sam asked to see it. He assumed that his son would become a cop like his old man, but he expected Sam to become a doctor.

Flack also finds an envelope in the box that is addressed to “Donny and Sam”. When he reads the letter, he immediately calls his sister and says that they need to get together and talk. Even after she reads the man’s words, Sam isn’t convinced. She isn’t going to forgive and forget after all the years she felt like the man loved her brother more. According to Flack, their father was tougher on Sam because he knew she was smarter than her brother—a fact that doesn’t bother Flack at all. Sam says he’s making excuses for the man; she suggests that she was just difficult to love, or that their father had trouble relating to her. Whatever the reason, she insists that she’s “over it” even though it obviously still upsets her. In order to convince Sam that their father did love her, Flack tells her about the night of her prom when she lied and said she was going home with a friend. Their father checked up on her, and he started to panic when she couldn’t be found. He and Flack drove around all night looking for her, and that was the only time Flack ever saw his father cry. The man never mentioned it to Sam because he was trying to maintain a fragile peace with his daughter, but he was relieved when she came home safe the next morning.

Despite Sam’s lingering anger, she does give in and contact an old boyfriend who works at Yankee Stadium. He lets her and Flack sneak in after the stadium is closed, and they smile and run across the field with their father’s ashes in tow. The scene features flashes to the siblings as kids, and while it may be a bit cheesy, it’s a heartwarming moment. I’m really glad we got to see Kathleen Munroe again—she and Eddie Cahill are great together, and their dynamic this week feels very real. Flack and Sam love each other, and their teasing is a lot of fun; the brother and sister may not see eye to eye when it comes to their late father, but they’re there for each other in the end. I can’t wait to see what else the writers have in store as we follow the other characters home on their days off.

“Misconceptions” also features a continuation of Mac’s aphasia subplot, and things get really interesting this week. Jo sits down with Mac in his office, and she tells him that there’s something she wants to talk about; she acknowledges that she might be overstepping her bounds as a colleague, but she is going to say it anyway. During the month since he’s been back to work after recovering from his injuries, Mac has not set foot in court. Instead, he gives someone else his notes and tells them to go in his place. Additionally, when Jo was looking through all of the files from the Leonard Brooks arson case to prepare for the trial, she noticed that Mac did not write a single one of the reports. It’s not like him, and she wants to know what’s going on. Rather than give her an explanation, Mac agrees that she’s overstepping her bounds. She won’t back down, wanting to know if something is wrong, but Mac is quick to interrupt. Nothing is wrong, he says, he is simply delegating responsibility—which he should have been doing all along. He wants her to stop wondering about his business, but before she leaves the office, she offers some parting words: she may be kind of quirky and unorganized, but she’s an incredibly perceptive person.

A bit later, Jo goes out on a limb and asks Mac’s girlfriend Christine to meet with her. She tells the woman about her concerns, explaining that Mac has been avoiding situations where he has to provide specific details, and he seems to be struggling to identify simple objects. She wants to know if Christine has noticed anything strange. It’s obvious that Christine is starting to wonder if Mac is keeping things from her, but she pretends to brush off Jo’s concerns; instead, she waits to confront Mac alone in his office. She tells him that she’s worried, and she reminds him that their relationship is built on trust. If he was dealing with anything, he should be able to come to her with it so they could work through the problem together. She’s giving him a chance to come clean, but he doesn’t take it. In fact, he gets defensive. He thinks that his integrity is being called into question, but that’s not why Christine came. She just wants him to be honest so she can help him. When he continues to deny that anything is wrong, Christine picks up a take-out container filled with the dish Mac wasn’t able to name in “Reignited”. She prompts him to identify the dish, but Hawkes interrupts before he’s forced to say a word. Hawkes offers to leave, but Mac chooses to dismiss Christine instead. At the end of the hour, Mac tells Jo to keep her nose out of his personal business.

Jo has a right to worry about how Mac’s personal problems might impact his ability to do his job, but I don’t like that she went behind his back to talk to Christine. I do, however, appreciate that Christine really listened to what Jo had to say, and she saw Jo’s actions in a positive light. It would be easy for her to feel like Jo was crossing a line, but Christine seems to understand and respect that while she and Mac have a close relationship, Jo is close to him as well. She considers it a big step that Jo approached her, and she acknowledges that Jo was taking a risk by doing so. Mac should have been honest with Christine from the beginning, and their relationship is left in an uncertain state this week. Hopefully Mac will be able to open up to his girlfriend soon, letting her know what’s going on and giving her a chance to be there for him. It is obvious that his colleagues and loved ones are more than willing to help him, even if he is too stubborn and proud to admit that he has a problem.


See also: “Misconceptions” episode guide

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