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CSI Files - CSI: New York--'Taxi'

CSI: New York--'Taxi'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 15, 2008 - 9:06 AM GMT

See Also: 'Taxi' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Detectives Flack and Angell are bringing a suspect in when Flack is nearly run down by a taxi cab on a body dump mission. The two detectives are surprised when they see the victim is a New Jersey police officer named Jimmy Comitis. Quinn Shelby, a New Jersey CSI who evaluated the lab several weeks ago, shows up to aid the NY CSIs with the case. Mac Taylor suspects Comitis is the latest victim of the taxi cab killer plaguing New York City. Flack can't recall any unusual details about the cab, but Danny does find a special motor oil made from animal fat. Only one cab company is using it: 5 Brothers Cabs. Flack and Stella visit the company and speak with two cabbies, Jeff and Artie, who insist all of their cabs are accounted for. In the morgue, Sid shows Mac and Quinn that the scratches on Comitis' neck don't match those found on the previous victims, which all read "L 27:29." The coroner also observes that Comitis was beaten by three different assailants before being gassed with carbon monoxide. Angell calls Flack and Danny to tell them she's located the cab, but the three are surprised to discover that the cab was registered to Comitis himself, who was moonlighting as a cabbie.

The mayor's criminal justice coordinator, Jordan Gates, turns the heat up on Mac when sensitive information about the marks on the victims' necks appears on Reed Garrett's blog. Mac confronts Reed, but Reed refuses to name his source. Lindsay tells Stella she's identified blood on Comitis's jacket as containing monkey DNA--specifically a white-throated monkey considered a delicacy, despite the fact that it can cause monkey pox. Stella recalls seeing signs of monkey pox on Artie's hands at the cab company, and the man is brought in for questioning. Under interrogation, he admits he and two of his co-workers killed Comitis after reading in Reed's blog that his source said the killer was a driver named Jimmy. Quinn lines up a judge to force Reed to reveal his source, but when Mac goes to try to talk with the young man, he finds him missing, his backpack in front of his apartment door, the keys still in the lock. Mac tries to call Reed, but he's bound and gagged in the cabbie killer's trunk, forced to listen helplessly as the killer pics up a new victim. After the killer murders her, he dumps the body in with Reed. The cabbie killer forces Reed to blog about his exploits while he carves up his latest victim's neck.

Mac's entire team works the case. Danny brings Mac Reed's taped interview with the killer and the CSIs hear the killer tell Reed that he suspected Jimmy from 5 Brothers of being the murderer. Lindsay is only able to trace Reed's IP address to Midtown, but Reed leaves clues in his blogs that allow Mac to figure out he's being held at an abandoned brewery. The CSIs arrive just in time: the killer has slit Reed's throat. Stella manages to slow the bleeding, but the killer escapes. Jordan warns Stella that the mayor is going to turn the case over to the FBI's forensics division. Hawkes matches prints on the killer's cab to those found on Comitis's car, leading the CSIs to realize that Comitis and the killer were in a car accident with their cabs. The killer didn't want Comitis to report the incident, so he targeted the man through Reed's blog. Using Reed's recounting of his time in the killer's cab and a worn fire hose in the killer's car that transported the carbon monoxide to the back seat of the cab, the CSIs conclude the killer has been living in an abandoned firehouse in Washington Heights. The CSIs storm the building an apprehend the killer, a religious fanatic suffering from delusions that made him believe the faces he saw on billboards were sinners he needed to deliver to the underworld. The killer finally caught, New Yorkers--including Mac and Reed--can once again safely take cabs.

Analysis:

The taxi cab killer storyline which began three episodes ago in "Like Water for Murder" comes to an end in this episode, but much as I enjoyed the storyline, I can't help but feel a bit let down by its conclusion. In my review of last week's episode, "Personal Foul", I wrote that I hoped the mental patient's record was a false lead:

The strongest lead the CSIs have on the killer at the end of the episode is that he's a patient released from a mental hospital, but I have my doubts. The taxi cab killer, at least from what little we've seen of him, doesn't seem like someone suffering from extreme psychosis. His pattern seems methodical and rational and he seems calm and collected anytime we see him in his cab, so much so that he can drive around the streets of New York City while literally killing someone in the back seat of his cab. Maybe I'm wrong and the killer will turn out to be someone from this mental hospital, but I have my doubts. I smell another red herring.

Though it's not directly referenced in this episode, I assume we're supposed to think that the cabbie killer, who is never even named, is this mental patient. When he's ranting at Reed and later when the CSIs find him, he's ranting about religion and sinners, claiming to be Charon sent to ferry the sinners over the river Styx. Mac finally recognizes the numbers on the victims' necks as Leviticus 27:29, and surmises the killer had a psychotic break after seeing the same faces on billboards day after day. He was, Mac notes, a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

I can't help but be disappointed by all of that. The religious crazy gone off the deep end is such a clichéd character, and I was frankly hoping for more with the taxi cab killer. As I said in my review for the previous episode, the killer seemed methodical and rational--nothing like the raving lunatic we see ranting at Reed, demanding he write in his blog while the cabbie killer carves up his latest victim's neck. I simply expected something more creative, especially after how well done the build up to this episode was. The killer in the show's very first episode, "Blink" was so frightening because he was a genuine cold, calculating sociopath with a motive. A sick, twisted motive, but that's part of what made him so interesting, and so memorable. I hoped the same would be true of the taxi cab killer, and I'm a little disappointed by the lack of creativity.

The only red herring from last week was Reed's apparent kidnapping; it turns out the killer was using him initially to take care of the problem of Jimmy, whose cab collided with his earlier. After Reed does this, then the killer abducts him, assuming he can use Reed's blog to reach the masses but not thinking that Reed might give hints as to his location in the blog. The taxi cab killer is crazy, so why would that thought cross his mind? The whole sequence demystifies the killer, reducing him to a wild-eyed looney who works on leaving his message on his victim's neck but rants at Reed when Reed tries to talk to him. The scene might have been scary had the killer been lucid and methodical, but he's revealed to be such a stock character that it takes the wind out of his sails--and the storyline's.

Thankfully, Reed survives his encounter with the taxi cab killer, though just barely: when Stella finds him, his neck is gushing blood. I was pretty sure he'd live, but one of the benefits of putting a recurring character in jeopardy as opposed to one of the regular cast is that there's actually worry that the character might die. I figured his chances were decent when he was found still alive; I suspect had the writers decided to dispatch him, Mac and his team would have arrived too late. Presumably Reed learned a lesson from his ordeal; he certainly paid a heavy price for, as Stella pointed out, being 23 and assuming he could make a difference. He did in the end lead Mac to the killer, but I imagine it will be a while before he'll be sticking his neck out, so to speak, for a story again.

Reed's predicament combined with the pressure to find the taxi cab killer gave Gary Sinise a chance to shine. I really loved the sequence where he raced from room to room in the lab, desperate to find a lead, putting pressure on all of the CSIs to give him something concrete to go on. His nervous energy and urgency carry the scene, which literally comes full circle back to his office as he tries to interpret Reed's message. I also liked the scene earlier in the episode when Mac confronted Reed, interrogating him like a suspect rather than trying to show the young man how important the information he has about the killer could be to his investigation. Sinise and Kyle Gallner imbue the scene with a father-son dynamic that has developed over the last season and a half between their two characters.

Stella doesn't even have to ask Mac how things went with Reed; given his sour demeanor when he returns to the office, she knows exactly how it played out: Mac confronted Reed, who got defensive, leading to one of them storming off. Ever the voice of reason, Stella reminds Mac that Reed is young and idealistic. I have to say, I prefer Stella butting heads with Mac as opposed to comforting him. Mac is a headstrong character and sometimes he needs to be told to look at an issue from someone else's perspective. Melina Kanakaredes is always excellent in these scenes; Stella comes across as tough but not overly confrontational, reminding the audience why Mac and Stella make such a good team.

Both Quinn Shelby and Jordan Gates make appearances in this episode, but only one is at all helpful. Quinn comes in to help with the case once it's revealed that the latest presumed victim of the taxi cab killer is a Jersey cop, and just as in "Like Water for Murder," she's actually an asset, as opposed to simply being a thorn in the team's side. If the producers were at all considering the possibility of adding another CSI to the team--and I truly wish they'd ship the dead weight of Lindsay Monroe back to Montana in favor of a worthier character--Kristen Dalton's Quinn would be at the top of my list. She brings a completely different energy to the show, one that compliments the team well. Her sharp wit and snappy observations make me want to know more about the character.

The same isn't true of Jordan Gates, who really is little more than a frustrating bureaucrat brought in to turn the pressure up for the CSIs. She shows up twice to chide the CSIs for not catching the killer quickly enough, understandably causing them to bristle, and then seems surprised when they regard her as the enemy. Her attitude with them is completely off-putting, and it's nice to see Stella refuse to take her attitude. Ultimately, the character isn't very interesting: she's far more one-note that other characters that have gone up against Mac, like Stanton Gerrard and Chief Sinclair. The role is an unfortunate waste of Jessalyn Gilsig's talents.

Poor Don Flack has a rough time of it at the beginning of this episode, nearly being run over by a cab. Luckily for him, Angell is quick on her feet and literally pulls him out of harm's way. Flack is clearly rattled, and finds himself on the other side of a witness interrogation when Mac tries to glean information about the cab from him. Frustrated, he walks away and tells Danny what he remembers seeing. Later in the episode he turns his trademark tough guy snark on the cabbies at the 5 Brothers Cab Company, vowing to stay there while every car at the lot is processed. Flack is a man who likes to be in control at all times, and clearly doesn't appreciate being turned into a witness--and almost-victim. Eddie Cahill does a good job at getting Flack's frustration and irritation to come through his trademark wit.

Do we need a reminder in almost every episode that Lindsay is from Montana? If it's not mentioned in the finale, I really might forget. Last week's unsubtle reference, where Lindsay actually told Danny walking in the rain was a Montana thing that he wouldn't understand was definitely the nadir, but this week's was pretty pointless as well. Hawkes refers to Lindsay by the overused nickname Danny came up for her in season two, Montana, causing Lindsay to take a moment to pause and reminisce that she hasn't heard the nickname in a while and misses it. Both have been beat into the audience's collective heads ad nauseum: yes, we know Lindsay is from Montana and yes, we know things between her and Danny have been rocky lately. Can we move on?

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.