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CSI Files - CSI: New York--'Trapped'

CSI: New York--'Trapped'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at December 15, 2005 - 8:14 PM GMT

See Also: 'Trapped' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A stripper named Kandy is found dead after engaging in scuffle in a jello pool with a patron. Kandy, whose real name is Joanna Kelton, lays dead on a bright spotlight, burns covering her body. Hawkes sees signs of a struggle, but can't find any likely cause of death other than the burns on her body. When Lindsay arrives, Mac sends her into the jello pool to look for clues. Across town, Danny and Stella enter the expensive mansion belonging to Hunter Hudson, a billionaire found murdered in his bedroom. Danny tells Stella he's been avoiding calls from his brother Louie, but their focus turns to the body when they enter Hudson's windowless master bedroom. Stella follows a blood trail out leaving Danny to give the bedroom a once over before processing begins. Flack tells Stella that Hudson was found by his housekeeper, Linda Cortez, that morning, and runs through the list of hired help. Back at the strip club, Lindsay uncovers a wedding ring in the jello and Mac finds a printed page from a web site that exposes cheaters on the floor of Kandy's dressing room. Kandy's picture is on the page, and the word 'bitch' is written under it. Back at the lab, Dr. Marty Pino determines Kandy was killed by the burns and points out an intimate tattoo on Kandy's thigh--a heart with the letter A at the center.

Stella questions Dr. Lyle Penn, Hudson's personal physician, who tells her that Hudson suffered from both Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. When Hudson was a child, his brother Joshua was kidnapped and killed even though his parents paid the ransom. Hudson's parents were killed only a few years later in a plane crash, leaving Hudson without a family but quite wealthy. Upstairs, Danny hits a red button in the bathroom expecting the lights to come on, but he realizes something is wrong when he hears an alarm sound. A metal door slides shut, trapping Danny in the bedroom just as Stella runs up to the door. Linda Cortez tells Stella that Hudson slept with the room locked down every night, and that it was set to open at 9am in the morning. But now that it's in lockdown, only someone with the code can open it, and Hudson was the only one with that code. Flack goes to retrieve Jerry Gordon, the man who built the panic room, to see if he can free Danny. Danny is able to communicate with Stella via a view screen, but he doesn't have his kit with him.

Mac interrogates Andy Kula, the club manager, thinking he might be the 'A' tattooed on Kandy's leg. While Andy admits to having a relationship with her, he says the tattoo was there long before he took up with Kandy. He says they fought over the cheating web site mention, but that he didn't kill her--with so many other prospects around, he says he wouldn't have bothered. Stella finds the blood trail from Hudson's room leads first to a sink before the phone, making her instantly suspicious of Linda. Flack arrives with Jerry Gordon, but Jerry says he doesn't have the key either. He's going to have to shut off the main power and cut a new door, a process that will take at least 13 hours and leave Danny with no air conditioning. Because the body will decay, Stella tells Danny they're going to have to improvise a way for Danny to process the scene without a kit.

Lindsay traces the e-mail that put Kandy's picture up on the cheater's website to Angie Charles, a photographer who tells Lindsay and Mac that she and Kandy had a two year relationship that ended in a bad break up when Kandy cheated on her with Andy. She saw Kandy a week ago and admits to putting her up on the website, bitter about Kandy's betrayal, but Angie denies killing her. Pino and Danny confer over the phone and Pino walks Danny through figuring out the time of death, which given the body's temperature, Pino estimates as four hours ago, at 8am. But that was an hour before the panic room opened in the morning--who could have gotten into the locked room if only Hudson had the key? Stella and Flack question Linda, who Hudson left 40 million dollars to in his will. Linda denies any involvement--she says she considered Hudson a boss and a friend. Jerry is hard at work on freeing Danny, not even picking up when his girlfriend calls. Stella recognizes the song and Jerry tells her his girlfriend uses it, too. Stella tells Danny to use chemicals from the master bedroom to get prints off the night. After using pen ink to get an elimination sample from Hudson, he finds one foreign print and holds the knife up to the camera for Stella to photograph. She runs it through AFIS which provides a hit: Roger Hagler, Hudson's bodyguard. Roger, a former NYPD officer, admits he broke Hudson's no alcohol rule by going out drinking with his friends the night before, but denies any involvement in the man's death. His prints were on the knife because he used it in the kitchen when he made a sandwich.

Hawkes gets a second sample of skin from the spotlight and Lindsay identifies a likely suspect: John Grimes, the customer Kandy fought with. It was his wedding ring that Lindsay found in the jello. Grimes tells Mac that Kandy humiliated him in the jello pool and he was kicked out when he tried to take a swing at her. When he realized his wedding ring was missing, Grimes went into the alley hoping to find someone who could go back in to the club and retrieve the ring for him, but he discovered Kandy dead on the spotlight. He didn't kill her, but he burned his hand when he took $500 out of her bikini. Mac, disgusted, has him arrested for larceny. In the panic room, Danny is starting to get restless and uncomfortable, especially when he discovers a human ear in a jug--the 'proof of life' evidence from when Hudson's brother was kidnapped. Danny discovers articles about Joshua's kidnapping and death, but he still doesn't pick up when his brother Louie calls again. Danny finds a nicotine stain on Hudson's pajamas, and Stella turns to Dr. Penn, a pipe smoker. While Dr. Penn, who frequently uses hypnosis as a technique on patients, admits he hypnotized Hudson into believing he didn't smoke (since smoking was another thing Hudson forbid his employees to do), he denies killing him. He admits to having a fight with Hudson the night before, but Hudson pushed him out of his bedroom just as the panic room doors closed. Penn also tells Stella that Linda smoked as well.

Hawkes finds a sample of aged amber on the light, leading the CSIs back to Angie, who took a trip to South America with Kandy while they were involved. Mac notices Angie's recent photographs are out of focus, the result of her eyes being burned by the spotlight. At first Angie tries to deny it, but she finally admits to arguing with Kandy outside the club. She claims the fight got physical and that Kandy's death was an accident. Flack tells Stella that Penn and Hagler's alibis checked out, and when they find Linda's bloody uniform in the washer, their suspicions return to her. At the station, Linda refuses to admit to anything and Stella, looking at the spatter pattern on Linda's uniform, thinks Linda may have hypnotized Hudson and made him cut his own throat. Danny mentions that Hudson's blood is starting to coagulate, something that shouldn't have happened if he was on anti-depressants, which makes Stella think that someone was switching his pills with placebos to make him suicidal. Danny also finds another blood sample and thinks that if Linda doesn't have a cut on her body that she may have had a partner. Stella looks Linda over, but she doesn't find any slashes on her. Linda's cell phone goes off, and Stella recognizes the ring tone as the same one that Jerry has. Sure enough, it's Jerry calling, and when Stella picks up, he knows the game is up. Grabbing a gun, he enters the panic room and threatens a shocked Danny with it, who realizes he had the code all the time. Jerry tries to force Danny to call Stella to get her to release Linda, but Stella and Flack burst into the room, guns drawn. Jerry grabs Danny, using him as a hostage to try to get himself out of the situation. Danny reaches for a cup of chemicals he mixed earlier and throws it in Jerry's face. Jerry screams in pain and Danny is able to break free, allowing Stella to shoot Jerry. Jerry is arrested and taken away, and a liberated Danny finally picks up the phone and calls his brother.

Analysis:

My favorite moment in "Trapped" comes after Jerry, realizing the game is up, has opened the panic room door and is threatening Danny with a gun, and Danny--hot, sweaty, and clearly agitated--angrily responds with, "You had the code all the time?" It's a great response, and so perfectly and completely Danny that I have to admire the writers and Carmine Giovinazzo for, in the space of just a year and a half, creating a character so fascinating, frustrating and compelling all in the same breath. Danny is such a child in so many ways, sulking and complaining almost as much as he's processing evidence even when not trapped in a panic room, but he has that rare ability to provoke a strong reaction, either positive or negative, in viewers, making him the show's most powerful character by far. Love him or hate him, it's impossible to be indifferent to Danny.

Danny's response also illustrates why he was the perfect character to stick in a panic room for an episode. Danny's bothered that Jerry's the killer, sure, but what really pisses him off is that Jerry could have freed him from the room hours before and didn't, presumably to avoid casting suspicion on himself. It's an endearingly childish and egotistical reaction to the situation, but that's what we've come to expect from Danny. When he learns he could be stuck indefinitely in the room, his first thought is not about the body or the evidence, but that he doesn't want to remain there all weekend. He dramatically flings himself down on the bed, saying, "I gotta get out of here." Later in the episode he pesters Jerry to hurry up because he doesn't want to miss "it all going down." There's something so childlike about Danny; it's always evident, whether he's complaining about the smell of fish or demanding a suspect pay attention to his questioning, but it's highlighted here because of his isolation.

Danny's predicament does lead to some inventive science, and I couldn't help but think it was awfully lucky that Hudson's bathroom was stocked up, but Danny wouldn't have been stuck in the first place if Hudson hadn't been eccentric. The home forensics was interesting to watch and relatively simple to follow, even if I didn't know exactly what Danny was making. I'm still not sure how Danny knew one of the bloodstains on the floor came not from Hudson but from someone else. Even if its position suggested it, wouldn't the first logical conclusion be that it came from Linda, who left a trail when she went to call for help?

I loved the thrilling ending, with Stella realizing that Jerry is in on it when Linda's cell rings and Stella recognizes the ringtone and picks it up to discover Jerry. She and Flack make it from the station to the mansion awfully fast, but for an ending like this one, it's easily forgiven. By this point, Danny is clearly exhausted and stressed, but given the circumstances, he keeps his cool remarkably, cleverly throwing the solution he mixed earlier when processing the knife for prints in Jerry's face, giving Stella a chance to shoot Jerry and save the day. On a side note, it's nice to see a role reversal, with the blond, emotional guy in peril and the cool-headed woman saving the day. Stella even leaves it to Flack to ask Danny if he's okay while she restrains Jerry. I love that the writers have resisted turning Stella into some sort of mother figure to the department, instead always portraying her as calm and collected and in charge of every situation.

It's no big surprise that Danny avoids his errant brother's calls--it, too, fits in with his character. The parallels drawn between the fates of Hudson and his brother and Danny and his are not at all subtle, but I'll take blatant comparisons over a lack of character development any day. Hopefully Danny's brother won't be dropped--I have a feeling he'll figure into the "Tanglewood" story somehow. But it's an interesting twist to show Danny, who is often rash and overly-emotional, as the more mature sibling, so I hope at some point we get to see Louie.

Both the writers and the camera love Giovinazzo. Without question, Danny has gotten the most development of any of the show's regulars, but part of that must be because Giovinazzo imbues his feisty character with so much personality. Just as it's impossible to remain neutral to Danny, Danny himself reacts to everything around him, no matter how simple or easily dismissed by someone else. Not so for Danny--he's a passionate character, which in his case means he's passionate about everything, from his dislike of the smell of fish to his love of teasing his co-workers. There's a deep sexuality to Danny, too, that the camera captures especially well in this episode, with its focus on his muscled arms and appealing pout. I'll go so far as to say that this character, with his troubled history, touchy temper and raw emotions is the best thing about the show.

Jonah Laton makes his first appearance as Dr. Pino, the third coroner we've seen this season. Apparently, Dr. Hawkes wasn't so easily to replace. I liked both Yao and Hammerback, and Pino is no different. He's youthful and funny with an effortless charm. He gives as good as he gets if not better in a hilarious scene with Danny where walks Danny though getting the time of death for his victim, which includes Danny having to insert a thermometer in the victim's backside. Pino clearly enjoys pushing the CSI out of his comfort zone, leading Danny to rag on him about why he went to med school, which Pino, unfazed, replies that he did it for the women. I hope the writers keep Pino around: his humor and over-the-top personality make him a welcome addition.

There's not much to say about the other case which, despite appearing first, isn't really substantial enough to call the A-case. I suspect it was featured first so that Danny could lock himself in the panic room at the episode's fifteen-minute mark. The case of the dead stripper really seems like an after-thought--it never gains much momentum and follows the standard CSI pattern of finding evidence, questioning a suspect, finding more evidence, questioning another suspect, etc. until they find the evidence that takes them back to a suspect they questioned earlier. The routineness of the case didn't bother me, mostly because the main storyline is so good.

Did Gary Sinise scale back his work hours? Mac has barely registered in recent episodes, and as bad as I feel about saying this, that's not been a bad thing. Mac in small doses has been more light-hearted, and his stepping back has given the other, more interesting characters a chance to shine. Stella, Danny and Hawkes have been front and center this season, and it's no coincidence that they're the most interesting characters on the show. (I would include Flack in this too, and on my New York wish-list is more screen time for the quick-witted detective.) Lindsay Monroe remains an outsider, and she seems woefully out of place among the more colorful characters she works with. I hope the writers give her something other than a "dark secret" to distinguish her.

Peter M. Lenkov has penned a terrific episode: "Trapped" is a superior entry and a great way to finish off the calendar year. After the episode ended, I was left with one nagging, unanswerable question: why wasn't this episode aired during November sweeps? It has all the trappings of a sweeps episode: character development, a shocking twist, a character in peril. Now that's a mystery for Mac and company to look into.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.