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CSI Files - CSI: New York--'Point Of No Return'

CSI: New York--'Point Of No Return'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at March 19, 2009 - 8:58 AM GMT

See Also: 'Point of No Return' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A body is discovered at the Wham Bam hotel by housekeeper Lila Wickfield--who promptly disappears after the discovery. The team is shocked when she's identified as Anabel Pino, the wife of former ME Marty Pino, who was fired by Sid Hammerback after Pino's gambling problems led him to falsify his overtime claims. Hawkes finds white powder on Anabel's body, while Danny lifts a shoe impression off the bathroom door. Pino is brought in for questioning, but the grief-stricken man insists he didn't kill his wife. After Pino confirms the dead woman is his wife, Sid is unable to autopsy Anabel, whom he knew well, and tells Hawkes he'll give the case to another ME. Flack and Danny go to Lila Wickfield's apartment and find a man matching the suspect's description--wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses--fleeing the building. Hawkes determines the substance on Anabel's body is heroin--and not just any heroin. It's made from human remains. Sid matches the remains to the body of an addict brought in a few weeks ago missing several organs: the kidneys and bladder. Danny processes Lila's computer and finds the suspect opened two programs on it: an e-mail from her boyfriend, Chester Bryson, and the address book program, which contained Chester's address. Hawkes determines the bullet that killed Anabel went through a wrapped kilo of heroin first. Danny is able to trace the bullet to a gun owned by Steve "Little Stevie" Alvarez.

Mac, Flack and Danny go to a massage parlor owned by Little Stevie, but Mac forces Danny to wait outside when he realizes the younger CSI has forgotten his bulletproof vest. Flack and Mac go to apprehend Little Stevie, who fires at them with a semiautomatic weapon and runs from the building. Danny sees him and gives chase, cornering him in a warehouse, where the two exchange gunfire. Danny is finally able to take Little Stevie out, and elicits a deathbed confession from the man: Little Stevie killed Anabel because she and Pino tried to give him heroin instead of the $75,000 Pino owed his employers. Pino locked himself in the bathroom and fled out the window after Little Stevie killed Anabel. Flack brings Mac to a storage locker Pino was renting, revealing the lab where Pino made heroin from human organs. The two realize Pino is the man in the baseball cap and sunglasses--and he's on a mission to get his heroin back. Sid exhumes the bodies from Pino's last 15 OD cases with the lab and finds the kidneys and bladders missing from all of them. The team is able to track Lila and Chester, who are about to sell the ill-gotten heroin that Lily took from the Pinos' hotel room, to a warehouse. Pino arrives first and is about to make off with the heroin and the money, but the team shows up before he can escape. After a tense standoff, Sid convinces Pino to turn himself in, putting an end to his twisted drug manufacturing business.

While the rest of the team pursues Pino, Stella and Angell go forward with their plot to entrap George Kolovos and Sebastian Diakos, the shady Greek nationals who are after rare ancient coins. Stella looks up Professor Papakota, her archaeology instructor in college, who tells her that Diakos and Kolovos raided tombs in Cyprus and were double-crossed by their partners. Now the pair are seeking to buy back the coins their partners took from them. Angell lures Kolovos to a shipping yard with the promise of a big batch of the coins, but she and Stella manage to trap the man when he arrives, threatening to send him off to Cyprus, where he's wanted for theft, in one of the big shipping crates if he doesn't give up Diakos' location. He finally tells Stella that Diakos is in Jersey City, but the two lock him in the crate and ship him off anyway. Stella and Angell rush to the apartment in Jersey City, where they make a shocking discovery: Diakos is dead on the floor, Greek coins covering his eyes. Discouraged, Stella returns to work, where Mac tells her about Diakos' murder. Stella requests to work the case, but Mac turns her down, promising to see to it personally. Stella almost tells him about her involvement, but backs down and simply thanks him instead.

Analysis:

What an episode! "Point of No Return" becomes a nail-biter the minute Marty Pino, a former coroner who turned up in several second season episodes of CSI: NY, is connected to the case. Seeing Marty isn't just a flash from CSI: NY's past--it also hits home for several members of the team. Sid, Hawkes and Danny all react to Pino's plight in very different ways, based on their experiences with the man. Though Pino only appeared in three episodes back in season two--"Trapped", "Super Men" and "Run Silent, Run Deep"--the personable young coroner really made an impression, in part due to Jonah Lotan's charismatic, energetic portrayal. Marty's slick, carefree demeanor in season two gave no hints as to the demons that ended up costing him his job--the flashbacks we see from the earlier episodes highlight his confidence and breezy banter with his co-workers. Hawkes greeted Pino with obvious glee in one flashback, while in another Pino drolly walked Danny through an on site body examination over the phone while Danny was trapped in a panic room. In just three episodes, it was clear that Pino had a great rapport with his colleagues.

The character hit the hardest by Pino's sad decline into drug dealing and murder is the one who never actually shared a scene with him prior to this episode: Sid Hammerback. Sid is so gutted by the sight of Anabel on his autopsy table that he's haunted by memories of her voice, asking him to give her away at her wedding. Sid attempts to go through with the autopsy and finds he can't--he's too close to the dead woman on the table. He tells Hawkes that he was the one who told Pino that Anabel was the one for him and refused to let him come to work until he proposed to her. At their wedding, Anabel leaned over to Sid and thanked him. Marty and Anabel used to come to Sid's house for weekly dinners. His close ties to the Pinos make the revelation that Marty was an organ thief while at the MEs office and later a murderer a real blow to Sid. The coroner clearly feels responsible. Firing Marty for falsifying overtime couldn't have been easy, but finding out what Marty went on to do is clearly far worse for Sid. Robert Joy is excellent in these scenes, conveying Sid's anguish over Pino's fall from grace and his wife's murder with pathos and humanity.

Hawkes and Danny are both affected as well. Hawkes stands by while Flack interrogates Pino, watching through the mirror. Flack goes easy on Pino, at least for Flack--Eddie Cahill softens his tone as Flack questions the grief-stricken man, a rare move for the hardened detective. He's not letting him off the hook by any means, but Flack is gentler with Pino than he usually is when facing off with a suspect, either out of deference for Pino himself or his colleagues who are close to the man. But once Flack brings up the boot prints in the room that happen to be Pino's size and presses the matter, Hawkes knocks on the window and gets Flack out of the room. Hawkes reminds Flack that Pino just lost his wife, and Flack--again, gently for the gruff detective--reminds Hawkes that the fact that Pino is his friend might be affecting his view of the situation. Hill Harper gets across Hawkes' concern and disbelief deftly; though the good doctor is usually capable of approaching cases with a certain amount of clinical detachment, he can't put aside the fact that he knows Pino, and simply doesn't think him capable of harming his own wife.

Sweet, trusting Danny, who, for all of his tough New York attitude and thick accent, can often be the most naive and disbelieving of what people are capable of doing to each other, has a hard time believing Pino could be involved in his wife's death. "He was one of us, Mac," Danny says incredulously to his supervisor. Mac, who is well aware of his protégé's vulnerabilities, immediately offers to let Danny take a step back from the case. Danny of course turns him down, but throughout the episode, even after Pino's murderous activities have been revealed, Danny remains in a state of disbelief about his friend's true nature. Carmine Giovinazzo has always been particularly adept at bringing out this side of Danny, at peeling away the tough exterior to reveal the somewhat innocent faith Danny has in people. Of all the characters, Danny is the most easily hurt by others and by the job simply because he always sees the best in people. After all, it was Danny in "Raising Shane" who refused to accept the possibility of Hawkes' guilt, and was willing to bend the rules to try to help his friend.

It's that same naivete and recklessness that causes Danny to foolishly charge after Little Stevie when the man flees the massage parlor with a rather deadly automatic weapon. Danny doesn't have his vest on and was ordered by Mac to stay behind, but Danny has never been one to obey an order he doesn't like, so into the warehouse Danny goes, with just his service revolver for protection. After Little Stevie fires off a few rounds, Danny registers his own foolishness, but by that point it's too late--he's trapped in the warehouse with a killer who is gunning for him. Danny gathers his wits about him and fires off a frankly lucky shot, but he's more than lucky that things didn't end badly for him. Danny's impulsive behavior has gotten him in trouble in the past, from his ill-fated pursuit of a suspect in "On the Job" to pushing the big red button in the panic room in "Trapped," and it's clear that five seasons down the road, Danny still has those reckless tendencies. Let's face it: the character is at his most interesting when he's behaving impetuously. What makes Danny so interesting is his childish willfulness, his spirited, animated passion.

Of course, his actions in this episode hardly indicate he's the "changed man" he claimed to Lindsay to be in "Green Piece" when he talked her into marrying him. He's clearly conscious of this, too--when he gets to the locker room and begins to wash the blood off his body, his eyes land on his bloody wedding ring. Danny starts scrubbing it, but the blood doesn't come out before his phone rings with a call from his new bride. Danny's response is to remove the bloody ring before picking up the phone and telling Lindsay that everything is "same old, same old." Coming just one episode after their wedding, the scene reveals all the weaknesses in the pairing: Danny and Lindsay have never been able to communicate honestly with each other. Knowing Lindsay won't approve of his actions, Danny simply decides not to tell her about them. Is this really a promising start to their union? More than ever, it seems that the only thing they can talk openly and warmly about is their child.

The final showdown with Pino proves to be an exciting and pivotal scene. Once Pino loses Lily as a hostage, he turns one of the two guns he has on himself, eliciting strong reactions from the entire team. Their expressions vary: Mac looks on with angry scorn, Danny with wide-eyed fear, Hawkes with an intense, imploring gaze and Flack with clinical scrutiny. Though both Hawkes and Danny implore him to stand down, it is Sid who steps out to rationalize with Pino, telling the desperate man that "there's been enough death already." Pino gives himself up, allowing Flack to hastily cuff him. But Sid isn't done--he wants to know how many lives Pino took after he was fired from the ME's office. Pino locks eyes with him but finally shakes his head: he simply doesn't know. Sid is horrified and disgusted. "Get him out of my face," he tells Flack, revulsion in his tone. In that moment, Sid is hit with the realization that he's not at fault for Pino's actions after he fired him from the lab--Pino is a monster, period.

The appearance of real life couple Ashley Simpson-Wentz and Pete Wentz was hyped prior to the episode's airing, but the couple don't have much screentime. Though stunt casting can be dicey business, the couple acquit themselves well as the avaricious Lila and Chester. Simpson-Wentz in particular provides a few laughs in the episode's opening as she knocks on door after door, languidly calling out, "Housekeeping!" and going through the rooms, each in a various state of disaster. Of course, no one can top Flack in the humor department--the snarky detective definitely gets the best line when he observes that women weren't the only attendees at the waxing party. Where would CSI: NY be without Flack's brilliantly funny lines, and Cahill's spot-on deadpan delivery?

Lindsay departed for Montana after last week's "Green Piece," but unlike the last time Anna Belknap took off for maternity leave, she isn't forgotten. That, of course, is because she's now married to Danny; would Mac be mentioning missing her if she weren't carrying the child of his protégé? Probably not, since Lindsay's absence didn't register with him last time she took off to visit Montana. The mentions of Lindsay only underscore how her only real purpose on the show at this point--and really, since the two hooked up at the end of season three in "Snow Day"--is as Danny's love interest. She's certainly not missed in this episode--no one is around to give long-winded, winding, breathless explanations that frustrate either Mac or Stella (depending on which week it is). And we certainly didn't need the silly beaver crime scene story Danny relays to Mac--it simply serves to underscore how trivial Lindsay's character is.

The Greek coin storyline that began in "The Cost of Living" is furthered here, with the dynamic duo of Stella and Angell scoring a major victory by tricking George Kolovos and shipping him off to Cyprus. Melina Kanakaredes and Emmanuelle Vaugier are just terrific together, playing off each other well and showing what fun it can be when this show lets its tough female characters team up. Of course, the pair also hit a major dead end when they go to confront Sebastian Diakos and find him dead, two Greek coins covering his eyes. The twist is unexpected--I fully expected Diakos, the man who attacked Stella in "The Cost of Living," to be the major villain of the storyline, but apparently that's not the case. Stella reconnects with an old teacher of hers, Professor Papakota, an archaeology instructor who fondly remembers Stella from class, and also is able to fill her in on the ancient coin theft, revealing that Diakos and Kolovos were betrayed by their partners and were wanted in Cyprus. No doubt these partners will be the major villains of the piece, and I can't wait to meet them.

Stella might have a little trouble with Mac before that happens, though. In "Forbidden Fruit", the pair clashed when Mac ordered Stella to drop the pursuit of the case. Stella argued with him about his decision, but Mac refused to back down. Rather than following orders, Stella went to Angell and continued to pursue the Kolovos and Diakos behind Mac's back. Mac doesn't know, something the savvy Angell guesses at, pointing out to Stella that Mac is likely going to figure out. I have no doubt that he will, but for now he believes Stella has dropped the investigation and even after Diakos' death, he refuses to let her pick the case back up. He promises to work it himself, knowing how much it means to Stella. It's the act of a true friend, and I can't help but wonder how Mac is going to feel when he inevitably learns that Stella has been conducting her own investigation behind his back. It's bound to be a real test of their friendship.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.