Review: CSI: New York–‘Unfriendly Chat’

Adam is shocked when a woman he’s chatting with online is murdered right in front of him.

Synopsis:

Adam is sneaking a little time at work on lookinatchu.com, a Chat Roulette site, talking to a beautiful young woman when, to his horror, a man comes up behind her and strangles her right in front of him. Stunned, Adam calls Mac and the CSIs jump on the case. Jo goes over the woman’s description with Adam and from his description of her apartment, she and Hawkes are able to determine the woman lived in Manhattan and pinpoint her location. Mac, Flack, Jo and Adam rush to her apartment and find her body. Flack is able to identify her as Sass Dumonde, a student from Paris studying music at Chelsea University. Lindsay and Danny go over Sass’s apartment, finding three shattered iPads and several trace items… but no laptop. Hawkes manages to trace the laptop to a company, Draga Financial, but can’t get a location on it without hacking into Draga’s system. Adam tells Mac he could easily perform the hack, but Mac shoots it down, reminding him it’s illegal. Lindsay and Danny identify wood and cellulose trace from the scene as part of headphones reported stolen by Professor Wayne Aldicott, a music professor Sass was studying with at Chelsea University. Lindsay notes that Sass was strangled with the headphones and wonders if Aldicott is the culprit. The professor admits he had no love for Sass, who accused him of stealing her music and then got her boyfriend to rough him up and steal his headphones, but he denies killing her.

Jo discovers the three iPads in Sass’s apartment were stolen and Flack gets a match to prints on them to a Torrey Powell, who has priors for theft. Flack and Jo grill Torrey, who admits that he was seeing Sass and that he used to steal things, including the professor’s headphones, for her. The last time he saw her, she blew him off. Under pressure from Jo, he finally admits he took a laptop from a silver BMW to give to Sass. Mac retrieves a picture from the chat program of the killer from another user who the chat bounced to after Adam, and Hawkes uses the facial reconstruction computer program to try to see what the man would look like without a mask. His face isn’t a match to either the professor or Torrey. Jo catches Adam hacking into Draga Financial and gets him to stop, telling him the FBI is investigating the company. Flack learns a Draga employee named Christopher Garcia reported several items stolen from his silver BMW—but not the computer. Realizing Garcia must have intended to track that down on his own because it likely contained incriminating evidence against Garcia and Draga, Mac and Flack head to his office, only to discover the man gone—but Adam’s picture is on his laptop, and his name and address are written on a notepad. Mac calls Adam, but an armed Garcia has already tracked the lab tech to the rooftop parking lot at the lab. Garcia runs Adam down and then fights him. Mac and Flack arrive in time to distract Garcia long enough for Adam to strike him over the head with a florescent light bulb. Though Mac is relieved Adam is alive, he puts Adam on a three-day suspension for disobeying his direct order about hacking into Draga’s systems.

Analysis:

“Unfriendly Chat” puts everyone’s favorite lab tech Adam in the spotlight, and it’s great fun to see Adam front and center in a storyline. It starts out as a cute moment, with Adam clearly sneaking a few minutes on a chat site at work, closing the window in haste as soon as Mac appears and then opening it up again when it looks like the boss is out of eyeshot. Adam is obviously digging Sass, and the safety of the computer connection allows him to be a little bolder than he might be otherwise. But the cute moment turns tragic when a man in a mask steps up behind Sass and starts to strangle her, killing the woman right in front of Adam’s eyes. It would have been a shocking moment for anyone, but sensitive Adam takes it especially hard. At first, he’s so stunned that he can barely recall any details of his conversation with Sass, and after her body is found, he sits in his car, shell-shocked, and closed off, at least until Jo comes up and goads him into talking.

Adam isn’t a CSI, and though he makes a reference to Sass not being just another body on a slab, he isn’t quite as exposed to death firsthand the way the CSIs or MEs are. Most of Adam’s job involves running computer programs or tests on evidence the CSIs collect at the scene. This difference is highlighted by the way Lindsay and Danny collect evidence in the apartment while Sass’s dead body rests on the floor. It’s not that they’re insensitive to Sass’s plight, but Lindsay, Danny and the rest of the CSIs are used to working around dead bodies. Adam isn’t, and his inability to stay in the apartment is just one way the audience is able to see how affected he is by Sass’s murder.

The other major instance is Adam’s decision to defy Mac, something it’s impossible to imagine him doing under normal circumstances. For Adam to even suggest doing something illegal to Mac shows how off his judgment is, and for him to go through with it despite Mac’s order not to reveals just how desperate Adam is feeling. Alerted by her friends at the FBI, Jo catches Adam hacking into Draga’s system, and she warns him off it in firmly. Surprisingly, Adam actually snaps back at her, asking, “Are you going to blow the whistle on me, too?” Presumably this is a reference to something Jo did while employed by the FBI, and though the barb was meant to ruffle her feathers, Jo handles it calmly and gracefully, recognizing that Adam is lashing out not out of malice but out of the helpless frustration he’s feeling over his inability to find Sass’s killer. A.J. Buckley is given the chance to shine here, and he does so with aplomb, limning the depth and rawness of Adam’s feelings as he grapples with his emotional reaction to witnessing Sass’s murder.

We also get a little more insight into new CSI Jo, who teased Adam in “The 34th Floor” when she first met him. Here, she’s more serious, recognizing that Adam is in pain, first putting her professional know-how to use to help him recall the details of his chat with Sass, and then taking a “tough love” approach when she sees how reluctant he is to talk at the crime scene—and realizing how much he needs to let his feelings out. I was as taken aback as Adam was when Jo told him, “You’re being ridiculous; you deal with this every day,” but after seeing how Mac’s gentle approach didn’t get Adam to open up, it was a relief to see Jo’s ploy worked. Adam quickly recognizes she wasn’t being serious and was simply using a technique to get him to open up, but he only realizes this after he’s spit out that seeing Sass get killed makes this different for him.

Danny gets a great line when he and Lindsay go to question Sass’s professor, quipping, “I failed calculus, but my teacher didn’t kill me!” Later on, he and Hawkes also get in a few jokes at Adam’s expense, staging a mock lightsaber duel in front of the shaken lab tech. Danny calls him “Obi Wannabe Kenobi” and tells him he’s lucky that “Mac didn’t suspend you from the flagpole” for hacking into the Draga computer system. It’s fun to see Danny back to making quips and marginally funny jokes; the family scenes with Lindsay and Lucy, coupled with the overprotective father schtick just isn’t aren’t as fun. A lot of wind has been taken out of Danny’s sails since the pairing with Lindsay became permanent in season five, so it’s nice to see him given a few funny moments and lines here.

Mac and Jo both try their hands at Chat Roulette during the course of the episode; Mac finds a kid who is looking for help with his homework, while Jo meets a soldier who is stationed in Afghanistan and gives him a glimpse of New York. At the end of the episode, the two end up finding each other on the program, and decide to try to race each other to see who can “next” the other first, moving on to the next chat. Of course, they end up doing it simultaneously. It’s not exactly subtle, but it does get across that Mac and Jo are in sync, and that this new duo is going to be just fine working together.

Source: "Unfriendly Chat"

Kristine Huntley

Author

Kristine Huntley

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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