Review: CSI: New York–‘It Happened To Me’

Hawkes is wracked with guilt after a man he treated while volunteering turns up dead a few hours later.


A man lies dead in a crosswalk in the middle of a New York street, surrounded by a pool of his own blood. When the CSIs arrive, Hawkes is surprised to recognize the man, though he doesn’t say anything at the scene. The man’s wallet IDs him as Mark Stafford, the CEO of a small financial firm. Stafford apparently bled to death through his nose and ears, leading the CSIs to suspect he was poisoned. Later in Mac’s office, Hawkes confesses he encountered the man earlier that day working as with a volunteer medical unit in Central Park. A young woman with Stafford called for a medic, but when Hawkes examined the man, he noticed both he and the young woman were tipsy, and dismissed Stafford’s problem as a minor nosebleed–which it seemed to be at the time. Sid examines Stafford’s body and can’t find any evidence of the poison in his system, indicating it was absorbed quickly. He posits that it was ingested orally. He recovers granular trace from Stafford’s shoulder, and a piece of linguine from his inner thigh–under his clothes. Danny recovers prints and hair from the linguine, and learns that Stafford’s company went under recently and he filed for bankruptcy. Mac sends Danny over to Stafford’s apartment.

When Adam finds the prints and hair on the linguine all belong to different people, he offers up a theory: Stafford was “sploshing”–experiencing food in a sensual way at a trendy Manhattan locale. Flack and Stella pay a visit to a the restaurant that hosts the sploshing parties, but the hostess says Stafford wasn’t a member of the group. Flack spots Danny across the street in Stafford’s apartment and realizes that Stafford lived nearby. Danny peers through a telescope aimed at the restaurant when Flack calls him, and recovers a bootie in the sparse apartment. Danny gets samples from the liquids in the apartment, and Adam finds the culprit when the orange juice sample ignites when he tests it. Outside, Hawkes’ friend Brian Hamilton approaches him and tosses him an extra set of keys to his place. Hawkes thanks him, and Brian reassures the CSI he’ll get back on his feet.

Lindsay is able to identify the powder from Stafford’s shoulder as insect chalk made by a Chinese import company. Danny and Hawkes go over the YouTube videos of the sploshing party, and Hawkes spots the girl Stafford was with in the park on the video drawing something on the window. When he and Danny go to the site, they see an arrow drawn on the window pointing up, and head to the roof, where they find champagne glasses and a charm with a name on it: Tracy. Adam discovers the orange juice in Stafford’s apartment contained Dimethylnitrosamine (DMN), an incredibly potent toxin when ingested. Mac theorizes that after the invite from Tracy, Stafford mixed the orange juice and vodka and brought it over to the roof, where they drank it and hooked up. Lindsay is able to get Tracy’s full name by linking her with the purchase of the insect chalk: Tracy Wallace. Mac, Hawkes and Flack rush to her apartment, but it’s too late: Tracy is lying dead in a pool of water from her overflowing bathtub.

Sid confirms Tracy died from the same poison Stafford did, and together he and Danny perform an experiment to determine how long ago the poison was put in Stafford’s orange juice. Comparing the crystallization on the glass, they estimate it was about 48 hours ago. The CSI team discovers there was an open house at Stafford’s apartment, which was up for foreclosure, at that time. Dawn Higgins of Repo Luxe led a tour of ten people through the apartment, but when Stella looks at the sign-up sheet, she notices an eleventh name: Thelonious Cross. Stella takes the pen Dawn used to have everyone sign in, but finds too many prints on it to isolate just one. Across town, Hawkes is sleeping on his friend Brian’s couch when he’s woken by an unexpected knock at the door at 2am and several police officers burst in and arrest his friend Brian for grand larceny. Flack confronts Hawkes at the police station, but Hawkes denies any knowledge of Brian’s felonious activities–and refuses to elaborate on why he was on Brian’s couch, to Flack or Mac. Stella is able to isolate a print on the pen when she finds a foreign compound on it, identifying John Simmons–a former employee of Stafford’s company who lost his job when Stafford went bankrupt–as Thelonious Crook. Mac, Hawkes and Flack rush to his residence, and Simmons runs, about to jump off the fire escape out of guilt over his actions. Hawkes tries to talk him down, revealing that he too lost everything by trusting a crooked financial advisor. Mac and Hawkes catch Simmons just as he slips. When they return to the precinct, Mac tosses Hawkes his spare keys, telling the CSI he’s got an extra room–and it’s not up for discussion.


It’s about time Hill Harper got another juicy storyline thrown his way. After masterfully laying bare a past hurt in last season’s moving “Help”, Harper now gets to show Hawkes in another vulnerable situation, albeit a much different one. Sheldon Hawkes is not a rash man–he doesn’t act impulsively in the way Danny, Stella and even Mac are prone to, which is why he’s so thrown when he learns he made a bad call, and why he doesn’t reveal that he’d seen Stafford earlier that day right away. He might have made a split second decision about Stafford, but it was one based on his medical savvy. How many doctors would have seen Stafford and assumed that his nosebleed was indicative of a deadly and fatal poison? Probably not many. The episode goes out of its way to exonerate him–even noting that had he diagnosed Stafford correctly, there was nothing he could have done to save him–but no one really blames him for the understandable misdiagnosis.

His mistake is in not telling Mac about his prior encounter with the victim right away, but because he’s a man who gives care and consideration to everything he does, he has to go over what happened in his head a few times before going to his supervisor. Not only that–he also tries to do what he can to further the investigation, talking to Stafford’s neighbors to see if anyone can identify the girl he was with. It’s as though he doesn’t want to come to Mac empty-handed; he’s clearly hoping to contribute something alongside his confession. To his credit, Mac–who later admits to Stella that he was indeed angry–keeps his cool and doesn’t chew Hawkes out. He doesn’t offer comfort either, taking the matter-of-fact approach instead by telling Hawkes he can’t go back and save Stafford–all he can do is catch his killer.

Hawkes is wracked with guilt throughout the episode, imagining both Stafford and Tracy sitting up and saying to him, “You could have saved me.” The flashes are abrupt and jarring, physical manifestations of the sharp pangs of guilt Hawkes feels as he looks at the two victims. At the end of the episode, Hawkes is given a chance to redeem himself when John Simmons is ready to jump and Hawkes actually does act impulsively by opening up about the secret he’s been keeping for an entire month: that he lost a great deal of money to a crooked financial advisor. Hawkes’ split second decision to open up to Simmons gives the man enough pause that Mac and Hawkes are able to make it to him in time to pull him to safety. Saving a life–albeit not by medical means and in a way that’s quite unexpected for Hawkes–is just what the good doctor needs to restore his faith in himself.

Hawkes is definitely a proud man, which is what makes it so hard for him to ask anyone for help. Rather than turning to Danny, who expresses concern anytime he notices Hawkes is down, or Mac, who might be a hard man in many ways but has always expressed care for his colleagues and friends, Hawkes calls on an old graduate school acquaintance he isn’t close to, because it’s easier to explain his troubles to and ask for a favor from someone he’s not as close to–someone who, after he does get back on his feet, he won’t have to see on a daily basis and be reminded of the difficult times. Indeed, when he is confronted by the people he works with, he clams up, refusing to tell Flack, who takes the hard line with him, or Mac, who is more gentle but equally straightforward, what’s going on.

It’s Stella who is the most thrown by Hawkes’ actions–she’s always looked at him as someone who is both reliable and upfront. Stella tells Mac she’s not sure what to say to Hawkes–a common theme for her this season, it seems. Flack is one of her closest friends, but she hasn’t said anything to him about his out-of-character behavior, commenting about it to Mac instead. She’s queried Hawkes and Lindsay about Danny’s condition rather than asking Danny himself how he’s doing. While Stella might be more passionate and reactive than Mac, I think she’s equally uncomfortable around raw emotion–which is part of the reason she and Mac get along so well. She can confront Mac about bottling things up because she does the same thing–whereas confronting someone like Danny, who will pour his heart out at the slightest invitation is much more difficult for her. She’s able to talk to Hawkes once she’s made aware of exactly what’s going on with him, but she wants to know what she’s walking into.

But it’s Mac who does something truly unexpected when he tosses Hawkes the keys to his apartment, pointing out that he’s got a spare room–and that it’s not up for discussion. That’s a far cry from the Mac in season two’s “All Access”, who offered to get Stella a hotel room after she was attacked–rather than opening up his own home to her. Mac has been slowly opening up as a character throughout the series, growing more comfortable with emotions he once held at bay. Oh, he’s still plenty righteous and judgmental at times, but he’s a lot less rigid than he used to be, and more understanding. Would the Mac Taylor of a few seasons ago have resisted the urge to let his anger show when Hawkes came to him after the fact to admit he’d seen the victim? Probably not.

Danny seems cheerier this week than he has since the season began: he’s even able to crack a joke about his condition. After Mac tells him to go check out Stafford’s apartment, Danny quips, “I’ll hobble my way over.” Though he’s developed the somewhat irritating habit of calling everyone “buddy” or “bud”–he does it with both Flack and Hawkes here, and did with Flack in the previous episode, “Battle Scars”–it’s nice to see him more chipper… and it certainly beats out the overplayed “Montana.” Ever sensitive to the moods of others, Danny expresses concern for both Hawkes and Flack here, albeit the latter in a much more roundabout way. Noticing Hawkes’ pensiveness, Danny asks him if he’s okay and tries to make the good doctor laugh with a joke about the sploshing being “a disgrace to Italian cuisine.” With Flack, he’s much more subtle. Before he hangs up the phone with Flack, Danny ventures, “You be careful over there, buddy.” Flack, used to being the one concerned about Danny, and not accustomed to or comfortable with it going the other way, retorts, “Who, me?” Danny persists with a simple, “Yeah.” In their friendship, where Flack is so often the one checking up on and caring for Danny, the small exchange is significant.

Flack remains noticeably troubled–clearly grossed out by the sploshing (Flack has always been particular about his food and doesn’t seem to care for experimentation or tampering of any kind) and hostile with Hawkes after he brings him back to the station from Brian’s apartment. And yet when Flack spots Danny in Stafford’s apartment, an unabashedly wide grin spreads across his face. The only other big, genuine smile we’ve seen from Flack was in “Battle Scars”–again, directed at Danny as he’s arresting Al Santiago. I can’t help but hope that Danny plays some part in pulling Flack back from the ledge he appears to be teetering on. Eddie Cahill–who is doing such a marvelous job with Flack’s gradual downward spiral–and Carmine Giovinazzo have really made Flack and Danny’s friendship one of the most believable, deep relationships on the show. Their friendship is one of the few things Flack still seems to be able to find joy in, and it would be nice to see that pay off with Danny being able to get through the wall Flack has built up in the wake of Angell’s death.

Poor Adam is in distress this week after finding newbie lab tech Haylen Becall has rearranged the lab–which he thinks of as his. After nearly losing his job last season, it’s understandable why Adam feels so threatened by the new lab tech, who was pushy about getting her job, even after learning in “Epilogue” that it could come at the expense of Adam’s. Haylen’s presence is chipping away at the newfound confidence Adam seemed to be gaining after surviving the shooting in the bar, and sleeping with longtime crush Stella. Though that encounter is apparently being left as a one night stand (story), it’s a little surprising to see no residual sexual tension between Adam and Stella. Though I can understand why pursuing yet another coupling between regular characters might not be desirable, it does beg the question, why go to that well in the first place?

Sid gets out of the morgue for a bit to perform an experiment with Danny in the lab. It’s fun to see the quirky coroner in a lab coat working alongside one of the CSIs. Robert Joy injects a delightful curiosity into Sid that’s apparent in all of his interactions, and it’s gratifying to see him be able to offer up some non-autopsy-related help in solving the case.

Source: "It Happened To Me"

Kristine Huntley


Kristine Huntley

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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