Review: CSI: New York–‘Pot Of Gold’

After a blogger and an unidentified man are found murdered, Mac follows up on a lead given to him by Reed Garrett.

Synopsis:

Mac is interrupted from his conversation with a beautiful woman in his favorite deli by a text summoning him to the site of a double homicide. When he arrives at the scene, he learns the two men have been dead for about twenty-four hours. Flack finds a wallet identifying one of them as Michael Paley, a popular muckraking blogger. Paley was shot, while the other man, who has no ID on him, was apparently beaten to death. Stella finds traces of gold near one of the bodies, and Danny discovers a four-leaf clover in a shoe impression. Lindsay finds an odd collection of junk: a spoon, a battery, and a glass container. Danny identifies four sets of shoe impressions and posits that the killer may have had an accomplice, especially once he works out that the gun slid under a cabinet during the murders and was apparently retrieved after the second man was beaten to death. In the morgue, Sid tells Stella that he compared their John Doe to a picture of Paley’s blogging partner, Cam Vandemann and determined Vandemann isn’t their unidentified victim. The coroner found vaccination levels of Hepatitis A and B, malaria, typhoid and rabies in the man’s system, suggesting he may have traveled internationally recently. Stella notices number impressions in the man’s head wound. In the lab, Lindsay identifies blue green algae on John Doe’s shirt while Danny finds the four-leaf clover is a variety native to Ireland. Mac gets a call from Claire’s son, Reed Garrett, a blogger himself, who asks Mac to meet him at the diner. Mac responds and Reed asks the CSI to meet with Cam alone. Reed maintains Cam is innocent and has information, and Mac reluctantly agrees to meet with the blogger. Before Mac leaves the diner, the owner, Phil, calls him over and gives him a message from the beautiful woman he met the night before: his kindness to her convinced her to stay in Manhattan.

In the lab, Hawkes and Stella are able to recreate the pattern from the murder weapon, and are shocked to identify it as a bar of gold bullion. Stella and Hawkes go to a bank that just received a shipment of gold that morning, and are shown to the vault by U.S. Treasury Agent Pangle. They are joined by Adam in their hunt for the murder weapon, and the lab tech is the one who comes across it first. Hawkes tests the bar and finds blood on it. Agent Pangle tells the CSIs that the bar came from a shipment from the manufacturer, Elemental Precious Metals. Lindsay gets a lead on John Doe when she matches the blue green algae to a type used by a bar in the city for making green beer for St. Patrick’s Day. She and Danny go to the bar where the bartender, Finnegan Hansard identifies their John Doe as Charlie Cooper, a cad he kicked out of the bar. Charlie promised Hansard an engagement ring for his girlfriend—then delivered a cubic zirconium one and proceeded to sleep with Hansard’s girlfriend. Back at the lab, Flack tells Mac that Paley’s apartment was ransacked, while Stella has learned that Charlie has been in and out of China. Charlie also worked for Elemental Precious Metals, which made a mint on melting down reclaimed gold and turning it into bullion. Mac is distracted, noticing a newspaper with a listing for an apartment in SoHo—something he recalls the beautiful woman he met at the deli had circled. Mac contacts the realtor and sends her a message asking her to meet him at the deli the next night at 8pm. Mac turns back to the case, questioning Tom Weir, the owner of Elemental Precious Metals. Weir claims he can’t think of a reason why anyone would kill Charlie—he got along with everyone. Weir denies involvement in either death. Both Mac and Flack don’t believe his excuses.

That night, Mac meets Reed and Cam Vandemann approaches cautiously, protesting his innocence. He tells Mac that he and Paley were working on a story about international gold fraud and got a tip from a Chinese source. Cam was late to the meeting, and when he got there, he saw Paley and Cooper get murdered. Thinking the killer had left, he went in to see what he could do, and he grabbed the gun from beneath the cabinet when the killer returned. The man left when Cam threatened him with the gun. Mac tries to get Cam to turn over the gun, but fearing it’s the only thing that proves his innocence, Cam flees. Reed tells Mac the reason for Cam’s paranoia: the killer was in uniform—he was a cop. Flack is skeptical when Mac fills him in; Paley was killed with a .22, which isn’t a standard issue police weapon. Mac and Hawkes turn to the collection of junk Lindsay collected from the scene and put together that someone was using the materials to test the authenticity of gold. Tracing the clover and a piece of limestone to the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park, the CSIs are able to track down Vandemann and Flack brings him in—and gets the gun. Though the serial number is scratched off, Mac is able to recover it, and trace the gun back to Finnegan Hansard. Flack and Danny go to arrest the bartender, who runs—right through a St. Patrick’s Day parade—but Flack catches him. Flack interrogates the bartender while Mac and Stella question Weir: Weir’s company was trying to pass Tungsten off as gold and Paley and Vandemann were about to expose them. When Weir couldn’t get them to back off, he sent Hansard, dressed in a security uniform, in to kill the bloggers and their source. When Weir tells them they can’t prove he’s connected to the murders, Mac sends in Agent Pangle, who charges him with a litany of offenses, including counterfeiting and fraud. Reed thanks Mac, but Mac begs off on dinner, going instead to meet the woman in the deli, who introduces herself as Aubrey Hunter.

Analysis:

Halloween has always been the logical go-to holiday for CSI shows to build a murder around, but St. Patrick’s Day fills in pretty nicely here, even if at times the ties feel awfully coincidental—like the four-leaf clover and the limestone from the Irish memorial that happens to be right next to Paley and Vandemann’s home base. Still, there’s no arguing that it’s not fun to see Flack and Danny chasing a suspect through the big St. Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan… in which their other suspect is marching. A fun bit of trivia: apparently the show went out and got LAPD officers to dress up as the NYPD officers participating in the parade, a nice tribute to the real life heroes.

There are two pieces of big news in this episode, the first being the return of Reed Garrett, last seen falling victim to the Taxi Cab Killer in “Taxi”, nearly fatally. An aspiring journalist with a popular blog, Reed worried Mac, and while he never quite crossed the line into complete irresponsibility, he took chances the taciturn CSI certainly wished he hadn’t. Reed appears to have mellowed somewhat here, though he’s obviously still on the blog circuit given that he’s close to fellow incendiary bloggers Paley and Vandemann. Though Mac is skeptical about meeting Vandemann alone, he trusts Reed’s judgment enough to go along with the plan. Vandemann, played sympathetically by Aaron Ashmore, also trusts Reed enough to agree to the meeting, despite believing he has a good reason to stay far away from the authorities. Reed does leave out a big part of the story as to why Vandemann is so spooked: the blogger believes the man he saw murder his friend and their informant was a cop. It’s not clear why Reed doesn’t fill Mac in on this, other than the fact that it makes for a terrific (albeit ultimately misleading) act out; even Vandemann seems surprised that Reed didn’t tell Mac. Regardless, it’s great to see Reed brought into the story in such an organic way, and it’s nice to see that he and Mac are still close.

The other big news in the episode in the episode is the introduction of a new love interest for Mac, played by the sparkling Madchen Amick. The challenge of introducing a love interest for Mac is that the woman needs to bring out the playful side of the character; otherwise, the supposed chemistry falls flat. Claire Forlani‘s Peyton Driscoll managed to access that lighter side, and Kristen Dalton‘s Quinn Shelby proved a great foil for the somber CSI, but sparks didn’t fly with either Jessalyn Gilsig‘s Jordan Gates or Julia Ormond‘s Gillian Whitford. There’s a remoteness to Mac, and a reserve that is hard to penetrate, and any actress cast opposite him has to contend with that. Mac might be a brilliant scientist, but like shy people so often are, he’s simply a little bit awkward when it comes to making new connections. Gary Sinise seems keenly aware of this barrier his character unconsciously puts up, and it’s a testament to his skill and consistency as an actor that he doesn’t simply morph the character to make romance progress smoothly.

I’m pleased that Amick’s character, Aubrey Hunter, was able to believably get through to Mac and even get him to make the first move. While not seeming as closed off as Mac, Aubrey is grappling with her own problems when she meets Mac: she’s burned out on Manhattan and thinking of throwing in the towel if she doesn’t encounter a single act of human kindness on her trip to the deli. It seems like an arbitrary ultimatum, but people teetering on the edge of a decision will often let it come down to something that might seem small and relatively insignificant to others. Aubrey’s decision is likely about to go the other way when we first see her—a woman shoves her out of the way to get to the number dispenser at the deli. When she drops her newspaper, Mac picks it up, hands it to her and then offers her his second number. That could have been the end of it, but because it was significant to Aubrey, she decided to leave a note for Mac.

What’s even more surprising is that Mac tracks her down. Recalling the circled SoHo apartment listing in the paper—not surprising for someone whose job requires him to be as detail oriented as Mac’s does—he sends her a note through the real estate agent showing the apartment and even asks her out… inspired by something Reed said to him in reference to Vandemann, about having to sometimes take a chance on someone else. Intrigued, Aubrey shows up, and they awkwardly exchange a few words before she sits down with him. For all of her obvious attractiveness, Aubrey seems to possess a reserve similar to Mac’s, and also a similar desire to be drawn out. She’s nothing like the vivacious Peyton—but when Mac met Peyton, he very much needed someone outgoing and assertive, someone who would be the aggressor in the relationship. Because of Peyton, Mac has been at least partially drawn out of the protective shell he built in the wake of Claire’s death. Can anyone imagine the Mac of season one or two asking a stranger to meet him at a deli? It’s nice to see he’s made progress, and I’m curious to see where this new relationship will go.

Flack seems to have mellowed out a bit since last week’s intense interrogation of a suspect in “Uncertainty Rules”, but I had to raise an eyebrow when he claimed that an Irish temper is “not really a problem for me.” That’s not quite an accurate statement, especially this season in the wake of his shooting of Simon Cade. Flack seems to be carrying a fair amount of anger around this season, as well as a certain world-weariness that he never seemed burdened with until his girlfriend was murdered and he executed her killer. Flack even seems to have washed his hands of Danny’s problems, which he used to relentlessly take on in previous seasons, even when met with resistance from Danny. Flack’s frustrated response upon learning that Danny’s badge had been stolen—and that Danny had avoided reporting it missing—in “Flag on the Play” was not followed up with a heroic attempt on his part to recover the badge—a notable change from his behavior in the past. Seeing Danny lag far, far behind Flack in their pursuit of Hansard made me wonder if Danny’s injury was slowing him down, or if it was the fact that he didn’t have a badge to flash when breaking through the parade participants (many of whom were NYPD officers). No good can come from Danny’s badge being missing this long—and probably in the hands of Shane Casey.

The humor in the episode comes from the always reliable A.J. Buckley, notably when Adam joins Stella and Hawkes in the vault and sees the gold bullion stacked in piles all around him. “This is what all the money in the world looks like,” the lovable lab tech sighs. “So pretty!” When searching for the bar that was used to kill Charlie Cooper, Adam is caught sniffing a gold bar by a scowling security guard. Adam’s excitement is always fun to watch, and it’s rewarding when he is the one to discover the bar the team is looking for.

Source: "Pot Of Gold"

Kristine Huntley

Author

Kristine Huntley

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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