The sixth season premiere finds the team hunting for the people responsible for shooting up the bar the team was in–and landing Danny in a wheelchair.
Picking up a month after “Pay Up”, Mac Taylor is frustrated to be no closer to finding the person responsible for shooting at the team in the bar–and hitting Danny Messer, who is in a wheelchair as a result of his injuries. Danny places a call to Mac: a woman has called him with information. Mac and Danny meet with the woman, who refuses to identify herself, in a high-rise building. She claims her brother, Jake, who was involved didn’t know what he was doing. Before she can give them any information about her brother, a man comes up the elevator and opens fire, killing the woman. Mac returns fire but the shooter flees. The team comes to process the scene the next morning, and Flack returns from a month-long leave. He points out that the security guard, Albert Pelton, is missing. In the morgue, Sid recovers a glass fragment from the woman’s shoulder. The team is called to the scene of another shooting: no one is seriously injured, but a message shows up in lights on a nearby building: “Do we have your attention? Pay us and we’ll stop.” Mac concludes they’re trying to scare people, not actually kill them, in an attempt to blackmail the city.
A perky crime scene technician named Haylen Becall shows up at the lab with the news that she found an unprocessed bloody print at the top of the elevator in the high rise. Adam bristles at the implication that he might have missed evidence until it becomes apparent the print didn’t crystallize until after he’d processed the elevator. He returns to the scene with Haylen, who is eager to earn herself a job at the lab. Hawkes matches the glass from their victim’s shoulder to the glass from the window at the bar, indicating she was there the night the team was shot at. The body of Albert Pelton is discovered not far from the high rise, with a blood trail from the killer leading away from it. The blood gets a hit in CODIS: David Wilson. Realizing the woman they met with was already in the building, Mac has Danny and Lindsay go over voicemail message boxes and get a match to the woman’s voice by comparing it to the call placed to Danny. They ID her as Risa Calaveras. Lindsay is surprised to hear during her conversation with Danny that he was told he has a ten percent chance of walking again–not the sixty percent he’d previously told her. Undeterred, she tells him she believes he will be able to walk again.
Stella checks local hospitals and discovers David Wilson died at Trinity General after being dumped off by a man in a car. The security cameras at the hospital picked up the car’s license plate, allowing the team to identify the driver, Tyson Melo. When Flack takes a unit to pick up Melo, he finds an angry Jake Calaveras holding him at gunpoint, enraged that Tyson and David killed his sister to keep her from talking to the police. Despite the fact that Flack tries to talk him down, Jake shoots Tyson before surrendering. In interrogation, Jake tells Mac that the plan to terrorize and blackmail the city was Wilson’s plan, and that he didn’t go to the bar the night Wilson and Tyson shot it up. His sister Risa did, though–she was all set to warn the people in the bar before she heard Stella eulogizing Jessica Angell and realized the bar was filled with cops. She went to stand outside the bar in the hopes that Jake would see her and put a stop to the shootout–but he wasn’t in the car. Stella helps Mac pack away the evidence from the case, while Danny looks at his X-rays and tries to move his legs. To his surprise, he’s able to slightly move one foot.
Cliffhangers are tough–while they make for exciting ends to seasons and guarantee the audience will be back the next fall to check out the resolution, it’s hard to find a resolution that really lives up to the suspense generated by the jaw-dropping final moment. Both CSI: Miami and CSI: New York went with cliffhangers to conclude their previous seasons, and while Miami flashed back for its follow up, New York jumped forward, showing the audience only two brief scenes from the immediate aftermath of the shooting in the bar. In one, everyone hits the ground and Mac gets his bearings, only to see the blood of one of his colleagues spilling out across the floor. In the second, Danny recalls getting shot: locking eyes with Flack, rolling off Lindsay who he’d protected during the shootout and realizing he’d been shot and couldn’t feel his legs. Both are effective, albeit brief, and I couldn’t help but wish we’d seen more of that immediate aftermath.
The opener takes place a month after the shooting, and aside from the personal ramifications for the team, it’s more or less a routine case, kicked off by a call Danny gets from the tip line. Why the tip line would be forwarded to Danny’s cell phone in the first place is a little baffling–cop or not, he’s still essentially a victim, and presumably wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the case. Mac, usually such a stickler for the rules, is so hell bent on solving the case that he takes Danny with him–or rather, I suppose, accompanies Danny to a clandestine meeting with the woman who called into the tip line. They meet her at night, in a deserted building. Mac’s judgment is pretty clearly off if he thinks this is a good idea. And, sure enough, it’s not–the woman ends up dead and poor Danny is subjected to yet another round of gunfire.
Stella calls him to the carpet for it later in the episode, albeit rather mildly given the risk he took. After Mac explains to Stella that he felt he had to do something, she reminds him that he’s not alone in this–and points out one of Mac’s most annoying habits: the way he takes things and makes them all about him. She pointedly reminds him he wasn’t alone in the bar that night. And despite the big picture of Dunbrook on Mac’s wall of suspects, the shooting proves to not be related to Mac or any one of the team. They were simply victims of random violence, violence not even meant to be as damaging as it was. It’s probably little consolation to Danny, but it’s nice to see Mac finding out that for once, it actually isn’t all about him.
The aftermath of the shooting causes several of the characters to act in ways that frankly feel out of character for them. Flack, burdened with both the death of his girlfriend and seeing her eulogy turned into a bloodbath where his best friend is injured, spends his time drinking and hooking up with women in bars. It’s a pretty un-Flack-like reaction, at least what we’ve seen of the stand up, straightforward detective so far. The news that Danny is back at work brings Flack running back to the job himself, so I guess some things haven’t changed, but he feels unnaturally carefree for someone who just buried a woman he cared deeply for. I’m sure it’s a front for his grief, but it’s definitely not the one I would have expected from Flack.
Looking at all the CSI show romances, is there a more unlikely duo than Adam and Stella? Adam has had a crush on Stella for ages, but did anyone ever think she would reciprocate those feelings–or that the crush would be consummated? I certainly didn’t, and that alone makes the pairing more interesting than any other (okay, maybe save Wendy and Hodges over on CSI) thus far. Danny and Lindsay were pretty much scripted to be together from the get-go; in the years since Lindsay has been on the show, she’s really never been anything other than Danny’s love interest. On CSI, Grissom and Sara danced around each other for so long that by the time they got together, it felt more like a natural progression than a shocking one. Miami‘s Calleigh and Delko believably transitioned from being best friends to lovers, and though it took a while, once again, it felt like the two characters were going down a path that made sense.
But Adam and Stella? I don’t think anyone really saw that one coming, and that’s part of the fun of it. Stella brushes it off as a one-night stand, telling Adam it was both “wonderful” and “stupid” all in one breath. With a smile and words the audience knows he doesn’t mean, Adam tells her she read his mind and pretends that he was going to say the exact same thing. Is that really the end? Is there any point to them sleeping together in the first place if it is? In television, a one-night stand is so rarely just a one night stand. I have no idea where Adam and Stella could go as a couple, and that makes them interesting to me.
Lindsay’s behavior in the episode is an example of how acting out of character isn’t always a bad thing. In the past, Lindsay has been both selfish and self-involved; this is, after all, the woman who couldn’t be bothered to reach out to Danny in season four after he felt responsible for the loss of a child because she wasn’t “good at this sort of thing.” She couldn’t be more different here: she’s loving, supportive, protective and encouraging. Despite facing some real hardships, she genuinely and steadfastly standing by Danny’s side, even after she finds out he lied to her about the chances he’ll walk again. After telling him she’s scared by the fact that he felt the need to lie to her rather than the odds that he’ll walk again being slim, she tells insecure, needy Danny exactly what he needs to hear: that she loves him and no matter what happens, she’s not going anywhere.
Anna Belknap does a nice job with the material here: she’s utterly convincing when presenting both Lindsay’s concern for Danny and her determination to be positive for him. Usually her sniping at Adam comes off as unfair and somewhat harsh, but here it’s clear she’s cutting off his good-natured teasing of Danny out of protectiveness rather than just the general frustration that’s usually in her manner when she’s dealing with Adam. Her confrontation with Danny is straightforward rather than hostile: she’s clearly surprised that the odds were so much worse than he’d told her, but rather than getting angry about it, she approaches him in a straightforward way, wanting to hear his explanation rather than vent her frustrations over the falsehood at him. Did the shooting make her realize what she has–and could have lost–in Danny? Or has being a mother mellowed her out? Time will tell.
Ironically, the one who is the most changed physically by the events in the bar is the least changed emotionally. Danny is by turns angry, determined, teasing, and downtrodden–basically the same bundle of shifting emotions that he’s always been. He was definitely a natural choice for the victim of the shooting–he’s the heart of the show, the one each and every one of the characters has a personal connection to. Danny acts on impulse–seeing him rush off to meet an anonymous tipster in a darkened building isn’t surprising in the same way it was to see Mac go along with it. He pays for it with a reminder that he can no longer give chase in the same way Mac does when faced with a suspect with a gun: Danny flings himself from his chair once the bullets start flying, but while Mac goes after the shooter, all Danny can do is crawl painfully across the floor to their dying witness. It’s a big change for Danny, and it will be interesting to see him grapple with it.
There’s a new character on the scene as well: the improbably named Haylen Becall, a crime scene technician who wants to earn herself a place at the lab. In her stylish skirt and boots, she feels woefully out of place at the lab, and doesn’t really feel like a crime scene tech either. Adam, rightfully sensing she’s after his job, is downright cold to her–a first for the normally cheery lab tech. It’s hard to tell at this point whether Sarah Carter will be able to make the audience warm up to the character, but gunning for the job of fan favorite Adam probably isn’t the best way to endear her to the show’s faithful viewers.