Mac Taylor becomes suspicious of a neighbor after a man visiting the neighbor’s apartment turns up dead.
Mac ends up with a fractured wrist and several broken ribs after a suspect he’s pursuing pushes him over a railing at the opera. A week later, while laid up in his apartment, he notices a neighbor at the apartment across from his receive a visitor, who brings him a silver suitcase with a metallic canister inside. Hours later, Lindsay and Hawkes are at the Central Street Grill, where the neighbor’s visitor is found dead in the men’s bathroom, his nose bleeding and a mirror behind him smashed. Though it appears the man died in a fight, Hawkes can’t find any swelling or defensive wounds on him. The blood on the mirror is matched to Troy Picozzi, a man with a record for assault. Troy admits to breaking the mirror, but says he did it after learning his girlfriend was pregnant—not in a fight with another man. Adam brings Mac the folder for the case, and Mac is surprised to recognize the man from his neighbor’s apartment. After Adam leaves, Mac notices the neighbor putting on a gas mask, opening the cylinder and putting a few drops of the liquid in it in the water dish in the cage of a canary. Mac is even more shocked when the man hears a knock on his door and scrambles to hide the cylinder and bird, before opening the door to let Peyton Driscoll, Mac’s ex-girlfriend and former NYC coroner, into the apartment. Mac tries to call Peyton, but the number he has for her has been disconnected. Binoculars in hand, Mac looks over at the bird and notices the bird dead in its cage, blood coming from a small nostril in its beak.
In the morgue, Sid tells Hawkes that he didn’t get any hits in AFIS on their John Doe, and that he found disinfectant on the man’s skin. He still doesn’t have a cause of death, but notes that the man seemed to be in perfect health, save for an allergic reaction on his wrist. Mac finally gets a hold of Peyton and learns Peyton is in town to meet with the Pathologists Association and is surprised to hear from Mac. The man she’s staying with is a mathematics professor named Kevin Scott, and she claims the two are just friends. Peyton quickly notices a prescription and flowers from Dr. Aubrey Hunter, the woman Mac has been seeing. Mac brings up the bird and dead man, but Peyton dismisses his concerns. At the lab, Hawkes tells Stella and Lindsay that the allergic reaction on the dead man’s arm is a chemical burn and that he died from fumes from a poison. Mac watches Peyton in Kevin Scott’s apartment and sees her go to the canary cage and retrieve the paper from the bottom. She also finds the briefcase and uses a make up brush and tape to lift prints from it. Making an excuse when Kevin returns, Peyton leaves the apartment and accompanies Mac to the lab to run Kevin’s prints. Lindsay discovers Scott has a history of espousing conspiracy theories and a record for public disturbance. Peyton is surprised to learn Scott was forced into retirement by the university he worked for. Using wasps and sugar, Adam and Lindsay are able to locate the body of the canary in a pipe near Scott’s apartment.
At the lab, Hawkes dissects the canary and determines it was killed by Sarin, a deadly odorless, colorless poison. Danny points out that the dead man could have accidentally poisoned himself. Danny finally IDs him as Ivan Paluck, an employee of a biotech lab on Hedge Island. Stella posits that Ivan probably stole the poison from the lab for Kevin Scott. From his apartment, Mac uses his phone to record Kevin making a call, but gets caught by Kevin, who abruptly closes the blinds. Mac rushes to his apartment, but Kevin is gone. He sends the video to Adam, along with a picture of some blueprints he finds in Kevin’s apartment. Adam determines that Kevin was actually calling Ivan Paluck, not realizing he’s dead. Lindsay works on the blue prints, and she and Adam identify the structure on them as Manhattan Enrichment Conservatory—the location of the event Peyton is attending. Mac, Danny and Flack rush to the scene; Mac gets Peyton out of the ballroom while Flack hurries to the roof. Mac, Danny and Peyton find the security guard dead, and Danny races up the stairs after Kevin. Kevin races to the roof where Flack gets him to drop the canister. As soon as he has, he throws gravel in Flack’s face and scuffles with the detective, who holds his own until Danny reaches the roof and tackles Kevin, wrestling him to the ground. Kevin confesses everything… to a video camera he insists on using to get his message out. Back at Mac’s apartment, Peyton apologizes for breaking up with him with a note and Mac admits he’s missed her.
CSI: NY pays homage to the classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rear Window in this novel outing, which proves even when Mac Taylor is down, he’s not out. I’m one of the biggest critics of “Super Mac,” often getting frustrated by the numerous areas of expertise Mac has and his ability to go by his infallible gut even when he chews out underlings for behaving the same way. But Gary Sinise is remarkably understated here, and the script doesn’t require him to roll out any of Mac’s often irritating grandstanding or self-righteous posturing. Were it not for his badge, Mac would just be a nosy guy with too much time on his hands and a bit of an overzealous interest in his neighbors.
The return of his ex-girlfriend, Peyton, really helps humanize Mac here. We haven’t seen Peyton since she spirited Mac away to London at the end of the third season finale “Snow Day”… and then proceeded to dump him and break his heart via letter in season four’s “Time’s Up”. The scenes between Sinise and Claire Forlani definitely have authenticity to them: time has not diminished the couple’s chemistry, but their interaction is both familiar and awkward… and wholly convincing for exes who haven’t seen each other for a couple of years. They’re obviously happy to see each other, and can’t help but reference their past. Peyton initially scoffs at Mac’s suspicions about Kevin Scott, telling him that what impressed her initially about him was his passion for his work, but she reminds him “not everything is a crime.” When she goes back to Kevin’s apartment, Mac’s words nag at her—something it seems he expected. There’s a lot of history between these two, something that’s readily apparent in this episode even for viewers who didn’t watch the earlier seasons of the show.
At the end of the episode, Peyton apologizes for the inconsiderate way she ended the relationship, telling Mac that she didn’t want to have to choose between him and her family in London. She acknowledges that he deserved better, and he laments that she never gave him a chance. Peyton abruptly changes the subject to “Dr. Aubrey,” who Mac rather callously dismisses as “a friend.” Peyton isn’t willing to let him off the hook so easily—she reminds him they started as friends. When Mac asks her if she’s jealous, she frankly tells him she is, and he just as frankly tells her he’s glad. A playful punch leads to an almost-kiss between the two, but even when they break apart, the moment isn’t broken. The episode ends with them standing close to each other, watching a woman in the apartment across from Mac’s about to bust her daughter with her boyfriend for the second time.
Much has been teased about the “love triangle” between Peyton, Mac and Aubrey, but Mac’s preference seems pretty clear here. The history between him and Peyton, and the obvious fact that he’s still very much drawn to her—there’s some real excitement in his voice when he tells her she looks good over the phone—coupled with his dismissal of Aubrey as “just a friend” suggest Mac wouldn’t be opposed to revisiting his relationship with Peyton. Of course, the question is has anything changed for Peyton: would she now be willing to leave her family in London behind to make a life with Mac in New York? And is what started with Aubrey in “Pot of Gold” really coming to such an abrupt end? While I don’t consider it quite a burning question, I will be curious to see if Mac ends up with Peyton or Aubrey next season… or neither one.
Peyton wasn’t the only one excited to be in Mac’s apartment—Adam was practically jubilant as he scanned Mac’s shelves and discovered his straight-laced boss was actually pretty “cool.” Mac was less than amused by Adam’s curiosity, telling him to put the signed football down, that the ball chain machine is very rare and fragile and to not touch anything on the way out. Poor Adam takes his words very seriously, tucking his arms in as he exits the apartment. A.J. Buckley handles these comedic moments with Adam masterfully. For his part, Mac always appears begrudgingly amused by his admiring underling.
A mention of Shane Casey is awkwardly shoehorned into the episode early on, when Stella visits Mac to bring him paperwork and Chinese food. Apparently Shane Casey has been using Danny’s badge and debit card with abandon… and it seems no one thought to, say, cancel Danny’s debit card and therefore cut the serial killer off from easy access to cash. One can only hope poor Danny, who complained to Lindsay that their financial situation prevented him from taking any more sick days and risking medical leave in “Criminal Justice”, is being reimbursed by the department. Though initially the resurfacing of Shane Casey seemed to be a promising development, this latest twist is somewhat nonsensical. If the CSIs are hoping to track Casey through Danny’s debit card, they’re clearly doing a bad job of it. And wouldn’t Shane, whose cleverness is definitely of the diabolical variety, be smart enough to ditch the debit card, especially since he knows Hawkes spotted him escaping from jail in “Redemptio”? I can only hope the showdown with Shane will be more fulfilling than some of the lead up has been.