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CSI Files - CSI: New York--'Greater Good'

CSI: New York--'Greater Good'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 7, 2009 - 6:00 AM GMT

See Also: 'Greater Good' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

As hit man Ronny DeSoto takes an assignment, Mac Taylor meets Talmadge Neville, newly released from an eighteen month prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter, as he gets off the prison bus. Mac tells Neville that he's convinced Neville wasn't driving the car that struck and killed Maris Donovan when she was riding her bike. Neville puts off the CSI, insisting he wouldn't have gone to Rikers for eighteen months if he hadn't been responsible for the girl's death. Mac recalls processing the scene with Stella and finding a cell phone with a half-finished text message on the floor. He tells Flack that he recalls Neville rubbing his right shoulder after the accident, indicating he was in the passenger seat and not the driver's seat. The orientation of his thumbprint on the seatbelt release and the cell phone landing on the floor rather than the seat of the car corroborate Mac's suspicions. Neville refuses to budge on his story, noting that he was a struggling single father who wouldn't have thrown everything away for someone else.

While Mac uses his day off to pursue the truth behind the Donovan case, Lindsay returns from Montana and promptly goes into labor. A nervous Danny meets her at the hospital. When Mac goes to see them, he catches sight of Neville's daughter, Karita, a surgeon at the hospital. Suddenly Mac realizes who Neville was protecting, and he confides his suspicions to Stella. Stella turns the screws on the young woman, but Karita refuses to admit she was in the car. Mac asks Sid to pull the autopsy report on Maris for him to see if there was evidence that someone performed life-saving measures on her just after the accident, and Sid confirms that some of her injuries are consistent with that conjecture. He also tells Mac that someone pulled the autopsy records a week earlier, but he doesn't have any information of who might have accessed them. Mac pays a visit to Katharine Donovan, Maris's bereaved mother, and tells her he's reopening the case, sharing his suspicions about Karita with her. Flack and several officers go to Neville's apartment, but the man isn't there. Flack finds a white bike pedal wrapped in a copy of Maris Donovan's autopsy report. When Hawkes sees Adam examining the pedal, which has been painted white, he recognizes it as a ghost rider--a bike painted entirely in white to memorialize a rider killed in an accident.

Flack and Stella are surprised when hit man Ronny DeSoto walks into the precinct and tells them he was hired to kill Neville--and then the person who hired him changed the hit to Karita. He tells them he doesn't kill women or children, and that the person who hired him--a woman in her 40s--is probably desperate enough to carry out the hit herself. The prints on the pictures of Neville and Karita DeSoto turns over to them match the prints on Maris Donovan's autopsy report found at Neville's apartment. Unable to find either Neville or Karita, Mac goes back to Katharine Donovan, telling her he knows she hired DeSoto. She tells him she's still grief-stricken after two years, and he shares with her that his wife died in 9/11. Rather than arresting her, Mac offers her compassion--so long as she doesn't harm Neville or his daughter. Karita shows up at the police station and confesses she was indeed driving the car, but her father insisted on taking the rap, fearing that the accident would ruin her future. Neville, too, pays a visit at the precinct, asking for the bike pedal and returning it to Maris's memorial. At the hospital, Lindsay gives birth to a baby girl, and, surrounded by the team, she and Danny ask Mac to be their baby's godfather. The CSI leader happily accepts.

Analysis:

Mac relentlessly pursues a case only to find out compassion occasionally trumps blind justice in this excellent entry of CSI: NY. The conclusion is all the more surprising because it's Mac, he of the unshakeable beliefs and sometimes frustratingly dogged adherence to the letter of law. Mac isn't one to see the shades of grey in situations--he doesn't even seem to consider that, when Talmadge Neville persists in his denials despite Mac presenting evidence to the contrary, that the man might be protecting someone out of love and not fear. His first thought is that an overzealous teamster got behind the wheel in order to shake down Neville. That Mac never considers Neville might be protecting one of his children until Mac is literally confronted with the woman's name ringing over the loudspeakers at the hospital where two of his CSIs are about to become parents emphasizes just how much Mac is not a parent. Anyone with a child would have likely immediately suspected Neville was protecting one of his own.

Parenthood and what it means to love unconditionally as a parent is at the forefront of the hour, which is fitting in an episode which features two CSIs becoming parents for the first time. Neville is willing to take responsibility for the death of Maris Donovan and go to jail for the tragic accident rather than have his daughter Karita face the consequences. Katharine Donovan is devastated by the loss her daughter, to the point that she's willing to hire a hit man to kill the person she believes is responsible for the girl's death. Veteran actors Charles S. Dutton and Mare Winningham are very good as the tormented parents and both are incredibly sympathetic. Neville maintains the debt to society has been paid while Katharine doesn't ever think the loss of her daughter can be compensated for, though she makes an attempt to go about things biblically, hiring a hit man to kill Neville hoping in her grief to assuage the pain she feels from Maris's death. Both believe they are doing what's best for their children in the face of a terrible tragedy.

There aren't really any "bad guys" per se in this episode; even the hit man turns out to be a decent guy--or at least not a total monster--coming forward after Katharine changes the hit from Neville to his daughter. "No women, no children" he tells Flack and Stella, though he bristles at the idea that he's coming forward because of a change of conscious. He's there to prevent the desperate Katharine from killing Karita without his help. But when Mac visits Katharine, she's deflated, pointing to the white roses from DeSoto and telling the CSI they're from a friend who was supposed to do her a favor but couldn't...and it turned out she didn't need it done. DeSoto refusing to kill Karita was clearly a wake-up call for the bereaved mother and by the time Mac catches up with her, it seems she's given up her revenge plan. Because of this, Mac offers her compassion instead of a Miranda warning, willing to overlook the conspiracy to commit murder plan she'd cooked up so long as she truly does leave Neville and his daughter alone and unharmed.

After dogging Neville throughout most of the episode to get at the truth of who was actually driving his car when it struck Maris Donovan, Mac offers the man some compassionate words, though he stops short of making sure Karita's confession never sees the light of day. He does tell the man that no DA with "an ounce of common sense" would pursue the case against Karita. As Neville has maintained all along, the debt to society has been paid. Mac doesn't even read the riot act to Karita; the young woman gets to tell her side of things to Stella, who chewed her out earlier in the hospital about letting her father take the fall for her. Even Karita ends up being a sympathetic figure--her father insisted on taking the rap for her, but she wasn't able to just abandon him--or the girl she hit--at the scene, instead staying to see what happened and attempting to revive Maris. At the end of the day, what happened to Maris was an accident in the truest sense, that could have happened to anyone--Karita took her attention off the road for only an instant during a conversation with her father--long enough for Maris to pedal out in front of her car.

The fact that the accident could have happened to anyone is emphasized by the fact that both Hawkes and Mac have near-misses during the episode. Mac's is in flashback--he slammed on the breaks of his car three months ago and ended up with a sore left shoulder from his seatbelt, which is what led him to start thinking about the case and re-evaluating it based on the fact that he recalled Neville rubbing his right shoulder, not his left, after his accident. Hawkes is rushing Danny to the hospital with his siren on when he swerves to avoid hitting someone. Like Karita, Hawkes is distracted by his passenger, in this case a frantic and nervous Danny. Driving can be a dangerous proposition, especially in a city as crowded as New York.

Despite all the mitigating circumstances, Mac isn't usually one to stray from the letter of the law. Just a few episodes ago in "Prey" he arrested a young woman for killing the man who was stalking her, despite his own disgust at the man's actions and Hawkes' reservations about the arrest. Mac has felt compassion for suspects before, but once they've crossed the line into actual wrongdoing, he doesn't budge. It makes one wonder how Mac would react if he found out Stella gave her foster sister, who murdered their abusive foster father, warning that she'd be coming to arrest her the next day in "Cold Reveal", allowing the woman plenty of time to get out of town. That's not something I could see Mac doing, not even for someone he cared about. But what saves Katharine is DeSoto's refusal to kill Karita--and what seems to be her own change of heart about truly wanting the young woman dead.

Mac gets plenty of ribbing for using his day off to work a case rather than catching up on a little R&R. Flack teases the CSI leader: "You were the kid in school who did extra credit projects, weren't you? Made all the rest of us look bad." Flack is probably right on the money, and it's always funny to see the street-smart detective taking a crack at one of the bookish CSIs. Sid also balks at seeing Mac working on his day off, leading the sometimes-humorless CSI to respond testily with the question "Why is everyone so concerned with what I do on my day off?" Is it any wonder Mac's season three girlfriend Peyton Driscoll had to buy tickets to London in "Snow Day" to get the man to come with her on vacation?

The other big news in the episode is of course the arrival of the "first CSI baby" as Lindsay returns from Montana and promptly goes into labor. She comes to the lab looking for Danny...or Stella...or Mac but finds only poor Adam, who she irritably barks at that she's "not ready to deal with him" and then grabs his shirt and demands he take her to the hospital. Thankfully, it's the only time in the episode that the rather odious, unlikable side of Lindsay's personality rears its head. Who but Lindsay could insult someone and then demand they do her a favor in the same breath? Like his lab rat counterpart on CSI, Hodges, Adam has gotten pigeonholed into the role of being the butt of his teammates' jokes and frustration. Both Hodges and Adams have a rather endearing (to the audience) and grating (to their colleagues) way of taking a while to get to the point of the matter. Poor Adam looks absolutely terrified when Lindsay grabs him by the shirt, and per usual, A.J. Buckley's comic timing is impeccable.

Anna Belknap gets a chance to shine when Lindsay and Stella are walking down the hall, waiting for Lindsay to reach full dilation. Lindsay admits to Stella that she's scared about becoming a mother. "What if I stink at it?" she asks Stella, going on to wonder what she'll do when her daughter screams that she hates her and then going on to imagine her daughter getting a body piercing resulting in an infection and eventually an eating disorder before landing in therapy. Stella gently points out that the fact that Lindsay has thought so far ahead indicates that she'll be a very good mom. The experience of being a mother will hopefully help Lindsay grow up somewhat and give her character more definition. Aside from Danny, Lindsay hasn't really had an anchor as a character and even though her now permanent tie to Danny means she'll never get the chance to stand on her own, it would be nice to see her character become less fluid and changeable.

As one would expect from him, Danny Messer is a mess as Lindsay prepares to give birth. He paces the hallways, he bounces up and down, he makes frantic phone calls and texts his boss. And he's hilarious doing it, making more of a fuss than Lindsay, the one who is actually going to give birth, does. He worries to Adam that he's going to go into cardiac arrest and frets that Lindsay might have twins. "You've seen Lindsay--she's huge!" he laments to the lab tech. Even Adam knows that calling a woman huge is never a good thing, reacting with a nervous "Whoa," but Danny offers a resigned "She knows it." Carmine Giovinazzo's delivery is spot on in the scene, making Danny's hand-wringing downright hilarious.

One mystery remains--what is the baby girl's name? Lindsay says, "Lydia" while Danny insists, "Lucy." Looks like we're going to have to wait another week to find out. The happy parents do ask Mac to be the child's godfather, which Flack jumps in and says is code for diaper duty. Mac asks if he gets to spoil the baby, but Hawkes jumps in and says that Danny has that covered. Per usual when it comes to the couple, there's more emphasis on Danny than Lindsay--Stella even points out that the baby looks just like Danny. It's a nice moment for the team, and I am curious to see how Danny and Lindsay's baby will be integrated into the scope of the show.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.