June 19 2024

CSI Files

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Review: CSI: New York–‘Vacation Getaway’

9 min read

The NY team discovers serial killer Shane Casey is targeting Danny in the show’s sixth season finale.

Synopsis:

Flack and Officer Nicholas Henderson apprehend serial killer Shane Casey only to learn he manages to escape the next day. Mac and Flack pressure Henderson into telling them that he saw Casey at the Old Cash Bar while on duty. Danny and Lindsay, preparing to head to Long Island for a vacation with their daughter Lucy, offer to come in once they hear Shane has escaped, but Mac tells them to enjoy their time off. Mac and Stella visit the Old Cash Bar and discover one of the dollars stuck to the wall has been altered. In addition to Casey’s inmate number, the bill also has a series of symbols and the reversal of the words “e pluribus unum” to read “from one, many.” Stella, Hawkes and Adam decode the symbols to find they refer to a painting of a dollar bill made to look like an America flag. Mac and Stella go to the museum the painting is housed in and find another altered bill in the donation jar. The bill has the words “Noose tree” on it in Latin, the meaning of which becomes clear when the body of Shane’s former cellmate and partner, Ethan Ganz, is found hanging in Washington Square Park. When the team cuts him down, they discover he’s wearing Danny’s police academy shirt, and carrying Danny’s badge in his wallet. Mac realizes Shane is targeting Danny.

Unable to reach Danny and Lindsay and uncertain of where they’ve gone on their vacation, the team searches their apartment building and finds evidence that Shane was in the laundry room and Ganz put a tap on the phone line. Sid autopsies Ganz and discovers another altered dollar folded into the form of a crab in his throat. Hawkes discovers references to pirate William Kidd and a man named Jacob Hand on the dollar, as well as a depiction of a lighthouse. The CSIs begin a search for lighthouses on Long Island, and are able to trace Lindsay’s cell phone when she turns it on to take a picture. Realizing the Messers are in Amagansett, the team rushes to the lighthouse there. When Danny, Lindsay and Lucy climb to the top, Shane Casey is waiting for them, gun in hand. He tells Lindsay and Lucy to get out, and Danny hands Lucy to Lindsay and urges her to leave. She does, and Shane turns on Danny, angry at the CSI for exposing his brother as a murderer. When Mac arrives at the scene in a helicopter, he has the light in the lighthouse turned on, allowing Danny to make a grab for the gun. He fights Shane, pushing him through a window and then trying to save him. Shane falls down to the water below as Flack reaches the top of the lighthouse, bringing Danny back down to safety. Danny and Lindsay return home, but later in the evening Danny wakes to the sound of Lucy crying. When he goes to her room to check on her, he finds Shane Casey holding her. Shane aims a gun at Danny, and a shot rings out…

Analysis:

My biggest problem with “Vacation Getaway” isn’t so much a problem with the episode itself as it is with the second half of NY‘s sixth season, specifically the Shane Casey arc. As soon as Danny found Shane Casey’s prints on his dog tags at the end of “Flag on the Play”, I knew Shane was targeting Danny. Somehow Danny, who has firsthand experience with Shane, doesn’t see this as the big red flag it is. Nor does Lindsay, who is standing right next to him when the results of the fingerprint analysis on the dog tags comes in, even though she was around at the time of the Shane Casey investigation and is well aware what he’s capable of. Even if we can accept that both Danny and Lindsay are living in denial, then in “Redemptio”, Hawkes sees Shane impersonating Danny using his badge, and Stella learns that Danny’s wallet and badge were stolen—and that Shane Casey is connected to it. By the time “Point of View” rolls around, Shane is using Danny’s debit card and presumably the whole team, including Mac, is aware of the situation.

Are we to believe that none of the CSIs, whose jobs entail analyzing evidence and coming up with theories based on that evidence, stop to think for a moment, that perhaps Shane didn’t randomly decide to steal Danny’s wallet? That the diabolical Shane, who for some reason that is never explained is in a Pennsylvania prison rather than one in New York, could have swiped any old cop’s badge much more easily, but instead handpicked Danny? That maybe this has something to do with Danny’s arrest of Shane in “Raising Shane”, right after he proved that indeed, Shane’s brother Ian was guilty of the murder for which he was convicted? It’s hard for me to buy something that was obvious to me as a viewer ten episodes ago somehow didn’t occur to a single one of the CSIs. It makes the team look downright dumb, and also makes the first thirty minutes of the episode, in which we watch them scramble to decipher one clue after another that Shane has left for them, feel like filler. When Mac says, “He’s after Danny!” it wasn’t a big a-ha! act out reveal, but rather such an obvious conclusion that it merits nothing more than a roll of the eyes and a, “Yeah, no kidding!”

On top of that, many illogical moves are made to put Danny in peril. Not only do the Messers not tell anyone where they’re going, but Danny leaves his cell phone at home and Lindsay turns hers off for most of the trip. This is after they’ve learned Shane Casey has escaped, though apparently both are living in such blissful ignorance of Shane’s intentions that they think going off without cell phones is a great idea. That they’ve told no one where they’re going—even though ostensibly they’re very close to their teammates—makes little sense either. Flack knows what Danny wears to the gym and that he prefers to pay cash over using credit cards, but not where Danny is going on vacation? Really? And when Lindsay finally turns on her cell phone to make a call, the CSIs are able to triangulate the Messers’ location, but no one thinks to, say, call Lindsay to tell her that a serial killer is after her husband? The number of missteps and coincidences that are hammered into the plot to set up the dangerous situation simply defy explanation.

In the end, it’s Shane Casey who leads the team to Danny and his family. I suppose it’s a good thing that Shane is the kind of killer who likes an audience, or else the CSIs would have been processing Danny’s body up in the lighthouse. Shane himself is somewhat problematic as well. For one, he’s a master escape artist, having escaped from the authorities no fewer than three times. Not only that, but unless Danny or Lindsay is having one hell of a nightmare at the end of the episode (the very definition of a cheap cliffhanger if that’s the case), Shane apparently is able to survive a fall from a lighthouse onto deadly rocks and into a surging ocean as well. I was excited about Shane’s return when the mention first came up at the end of “Flag on the Play” because he’s definitely been one of the show’s more interesting villains, but he’s almost become a cartoon by this point, still leaving crazy clues and ranting at Danny like a madman.

Though I have some problems with Shane’s motivations, the scene between him and Danny in the lighthouse is probably the best one in the episode. Carmine Giovinazzo has had very little to do this season since Danny’s miraculous recovery from the gunshot injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down at the beginning of the season, so it’s gratifying to see him get to bring back some of Danny’s much-missed intensity in the face-off with Casey. Edward Furlong definitely sells Shane’s insanity, though it’s a bit disappointing that his ranting at Danny seems so ill founded. One of the more interesting things about Shane was the connection he felt to Danny over the consolation Danny kindly offered him at the end of “Hung Out to Dry” after Shane went on a killing spree to avenge what he believed was his brother’s wrongful incarceration. He says here that his beef with Danny is over Danny ripping that illusion from him at the end of “Raising Shane” when Danny re-arrested him. I suppose since Shane is so clearly off his rocker, the audience is expected to buy whatever reason he came up with—he could have claimed to hate Danny’s lame orange sweater with just as much validity—but it’s a bit disappointing to see a character whose motivations were previously based on something much more interesting than “he’s just insane” boiled down to an off-his-rocker psychopath.

I was grateful to see that, at least initially, Shane wanted to limit his vendetta to Danny. Sending Lindsay and Lucy away was almost honorable—a brief flash of the deeper character Shane used to be. Shane tells Danny that unlike his brother, he can live with what he’s done. Like any good serial killer in a television show (or in a book or movie), he rants at his victim long enough for help to arrive. As Flack races up the stairs, Mac orders the light at the top of the lighthouse turned on, momentarily blinding Shane and giving Danny the chance to fight him for the gun. Danny manages to knock Shane through the window and over the railing, but being Danny, he immediately tries to help Shane to safety. “Hold on to me!” Danny says, and Shane vows he will—just before he plummets into the water.

And then at the end of the episode, he’s somehow back, standing in the nursery holding Lucy, whom he’d previously shown no interest in harming. Danny rushes in, finds himself at gunpoint once again and then the screen fades to black and a gunshot rings out. Just Danny’s nightmare? Or did Shane actually fire at Danny? That would make two seasons in a row concluding with Danny getting shot, making that outcome pretty unlikely. Did Lindsay, hearing Danny once again in distress, grab her gun and run to the rescue of her husband and child? That’s probably the best—and most likely—outcome. I certainly hope next season doesn’t open with a manhunt for Shane and Lucy. Baby-napping is the last cliché the show needs to pile on at this point. The “it was all a dream!” wouldn’t be much more promising, unless the dream somehow started in the lighthouse, and we found out that Shane did in fact manage to hurt Danny pretty badly. Whatever the resolution is, I hope it’s more original—and logical—than what came before it.

As ever, Flack and Adam can be relied upon to brighten any episode with their wit. Leave it to Flack to perfectly describe Shane Casey as being “five nuggets short of a happy meal.” And I loved Adam’s frustration with Shane’s penchant for communicating through code, as he wondered why Shane doesn’t just come out and say what he wants. The Messer family interactions were fun, too—after over a year of marriage, it’s nice to get a chance to see them acting like a married couple outside of work—though Lindsay’s detailed description of how she’d get away with Danny’s murder fell a bit on the creepy side. Could her joking self-defense rationale be foreshadowing a real action she takes to save her family at the end of the episode? I guess we’ll find out next season.

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