Review: CSI: New York — ‘Nothing For Something’

The team hunts for a serial killer as they try to locate a possible third victim, and Mac gets in touch with his former partner.

Synopsis::

Patricia Kelly’s body is found in the park, and Mac realizes there are similarities to an unsolved case from eight months ago. Both women were stabbed and manually strangled. The previous victim, Macy Martinez, left a club with an older man the night before her body was found, and the team finds a stamp on Patricia’s hand from a club as well.

Patricia has expensive purple paint under her fingernails, which tells the team she was in contact with an old piece of art. The killer was wearing limited edition shoes, and there were only 500 pairs made. The team compares the list of shoe owners with a list of prominent art collectors and finds one common name: Charles Martin. They go to his apartment and find evidence of yellow fingerprint powder and leucocrystal violet, which is used to detect the presence of blood. Blood evidence confirms that Patricia and Macy were murdered here, but the crime scene has already been processed. It wasn’t the FBI or the NYPD, so they don’t know who checked for fingerprints and blood—but whoever it was, they had basic forensic knowledge.

The lock was picked, but whoever processed the apartment rang the doorbell first to make sure nobody was home. The fingerprint on the doorbell comes back to Mark Fields, a former police officer who is now working as a private investigator. He’s looking for a blonde woman named Christina Marino who walked out on her husband, Vinny. Vinny told Mark to go to Charles’ house because he was friends with Christina, and Mark thought the blood and fingerprints in the apartment belonged to the missing wife.

Charles Martin has been chased up onto the roof, and Jo convinces him to step off the ledge. He admits to killing Patricia and Macy, but he denies hurting Christina. He says Christina stayed with him for a week after leaving her husband; she checked into a hotel downtown three days ago. The team discovers blood spatter all over the room, and they realize Christina was killed and then shoved into her oversized suitcase so her body could be removed from the room.

They know Vinny killed his wife, but they can’t prove it without a body—so they pretend that they do have the body in order to get a confession. They ask questions that guide Vinny toward the truth, and he reveals that he dumped her body in Prospect Park, where they met.

Meanwhile, Mac is sitting with Flack in a diner when a stranger settles at the counter next to them. Flack looks at the man’s map, showing him how to get to the Statue of Liberty. The man thanks them and leaves, and it’s only when they get ready to pay that Mac realizes his wallet is missing. Later in the day, the man from the diner comes to the lab to return Mac’s wallet, which he says he found on the street. Mac isn’t fooled, and he grabs the man’s wallet and tosses it to Jo. She pulls out his release form from Rikers and identifies him as Raymond Harris. Mac meets with his first partner, William Hunt. The pair of them locked Harris up in 1994, and he served 17 years in prison after being found in a stash house with drugs, guns and money. Mac remembers seeing Harris in prison a few months after he went to jail, and Harris yelled that Mac knew what he’d done. The man sounded convinced that he was wronged in some way. Mac tells Hunt to look out for himself—if Harris went after him, he might go after Hunt too.

Hunt brings Mac his personal copies of the Harris files. Later, Harris follows Hunt, but Hunt leads him into an alley and beats him up. He pistol-whips the former inmate and tells him to let it go—what’s done is done. Hunt returns to tell Mac that they won’t need to worry about Harris any more, but Mac says he should have left it alone. Meanwhile, Harris breaks into an apartment and pulls back the doorframe, removing money and guns from the niche.


Analysis:

“Nothing for Something” marks the first of two episodes featuring Peter Fonda as Mac’s former partner William Hunt. The men respect each other, but they clearly have very different ideas about how to do their jobs. It’s hard to imagine Mac being involved in anything shady—unless it was unintentional—so it’s clear that Hunt is keeping a secret about Raymond Harris’s arrest. When Harris follows Hunt into an alley and gets pistol-whipped for his trouble, it confirms that Hunt is involved somehow. He tells Harris to “let it go”, but he doesn’t specify what he means—Harris clearly knows, however, and he is seen retrieving hidden weapons at the end of the episode. Whatever unfinished business he has with Hunt is far from over.

It’s nice to see Mac interact with an old colleague, and it’s great that the show was able to cast an actor like Fonda for the role; however, the storyline itself is a bit predictable. Mac is the perfect cop, the good guy who never forgets to honor the badge—that’s great, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve been here before: Mac goes up against a shady individual and emerges as the untarnished hero. His interaction with Ted Carver in “Justified” earlier this season immediately springs to mind. Mac wanted to go after Carver the moment he suspected the Chief was involved in his sister’s murder. The story the team uncovered was heartbreaking: a teenage boy killed his own mother because he was being abused, and his uncle covered up the murder to protect him. However, Carver seemed like a shady character throughout the episode, and despite the sad truth behind his actions, Mac was proven right for wanting to go after the man. “Nothing for Something” doesn’t reveal the exact details of what went on between Hunt and Harris in the past, but the audience can be sure Mac is right to feel uneasy about his former partner.

At the start of the episode, Mac is clearly exhausted, and Jo scolds him for coming to the scene after spending the night napping in his office. Mac tries to resist, but when Jo teams up with Flack to get him home for at least a few hours of rest, he doesn’t protest. He does snark a bit about whether Flack’s going to sing him a lullaby, but Flack just snarks right back. It’s a fun scene, and I really love the rapport between these three characters. Jo has been a great addition to the show overall, but scenes like this with Mac and Flack are some of my favorites.

I also love the scene a bit later when Flack takes Mac to his favorite diner and starts comparing their years in the NYPD with “dog years”. Flack determines that each year as a cop takes two years off your lifespan, and Mac seems amused by his line of thought. These two have grown close over the past few seasons, and it’s always a treat to see the friendships highlighted on a show that tends to focus on the forensics.

Mac and Flack also share a scene with Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum, who are the head coach and general manager of the New York Jets football team. The men are playing themselves in the episode, and the brief scene centers around football (along with a quick mention of an event to benefit the Widows and Orphans Fund, no doubt a nod to actor Gary Sinise’s work to support American heroes and their families). This sort of stunt casting is a bit gratuitous, but it does add a touch of New York to the show. So much of the series centers around crimes and lab procedures that aren’t specific to NYC, so it’s good to be reminded that the team is in the Big Apple from time to time. The scene also gives Flack a chance to offer his “expert” opinion about the Jets, and he walks away from the conversation grinning from ear to ear.

The diner scene also offers a nod to the show’s setting when Flack and Mac give Raymond Harris advice about how to get to the Statue of Liberty. Flack is rattling off subway lines, and Mac tosses in a reference to the Staten Island Ferry. It feels very much like a casual moment in the Big Apple, and I think it was the right choice to use Flack in both of these scenes. Eddie Cahill is one of the show’s native New Yorkers, and Flack has always felt like one of the most authentic NYC characters.

Jo has some great material in “Nothing for Something”. While Mac is concentrating on Harris and interacting with Hunt, Jo steps up and oversees the murder investigation in his stead. It’s nice to see her take charge, and it really shows how well she has integrated with the rest of the team this season. She brings a bit of art expertise to the table thanks to her previous job in the FBI, and she plays along good-naturedly when the others tease her by suggesting that the Feds are barely capable of processing a crime scene. When the NYPD chases Charles Martin onto the roof of his building and he threatens to jump, Jo climbs right out onto the ledge with him to talk him down. It’s a bit of a stupid move considering that they know he’s a serial killer—who is to say he would have any qualms about pushing a cop over the edge? However, the show has painted Jo as someone who has at least a basic knowledge of criminal profiling, and she clearly realizes that Charles is just as unlikely to push her off as he is to take the dive himself.

Jo has settled in well over the course of the season, but the writers haven’t forgotten her predecessor. Fans get a nice nod to Stella in this episode when Lindsay mentions that Macy Martinez was one of the last cases Stella worked with the New York Crime Lab. It’s too bad that Stella didn’t get to solve the case, but it’s great to get a casual mention of a former CSI—it’s so easy for characters to be out of sight and out of mind once they leave a show, and I’m glad the writers worked in a reference to a beloved long-time character. Stella is dearly missed, but casual references like this keep the character alive in the fans’ minds even if the show must go on without her.


See also: “Nothing for Something” episode guide

Rachel Trongo

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Rachel Trongo

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