One of Danny’s rookie officers shoots a man outside of a bar, and Danny’s career is on the line when the officer’s story doesn’t add up.
Danny regains consciousness in the middle of the street, bleeding from a gash on his forehead. Rookie Officer Lauren Cooper is kneeling nearby with Danny’s off-duty weapon in her hand, and there’s a dead man on the ground between them. He asks Lauren and the other two rookie officers to fill him in on what happened, and they say the man and two friends jumped the group as they left the bar. The dead man hit Danny over the head with a bottle and fired a revolver at Lauren before she was forced to grab Danny’s gun and shoot to kill.
The man’s name is Pete Miller. Danny tells Mac that Pete was harassing Lauren in the bar, and he showed the man the door. He didn’t announce that he was a police officer because he thought it would make the situation worse. Pete must have waited for the group to leave so he could get revenge. He tells Mac what happened after that, but he’s basing it on what the rookies told him since he was unconscious at the time. Unfortunately, their story isn’t adding up.
Adam finds absinthe on Pete’s shirt, which could explain his behavior. There’s gunshot residue all up the outside of Pete’s left sleeve, suggesting that he did actually fire the gun—one of his friends must have taken it from the scene. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city, one of Pete’s two accomplices approaches a ‘shoot the geek’ game. Instead of using the paintball guns provided, he pulls out the revolver from the bar shooting and kills the man.
When Mac looks closer at Pete Miller, he realizes the gunshot residue on Pete’s sleeve is inconsistent with Lauren’s story. The pattern suggests that he was standing next to the man who shot the weapon, but he didn’t hold the gun himself. Lauren was shooting at the other man but hit Pete instead.
Mac and Flack head to the hospital after a man named Ray is admitted with a gunshot wound to the leg, which he received the night Pete was killed. Ray grew up with Pete, and he went to the bar after Pete called him to come start a fight with Danny. Ray tells them that Pete didn’t bring the gun, it was the third man with them, Travis. After the gunshots went off, Ray ran, and he didn’t realize Pete wasn’t behind him until they were 10 blocks away. Travis shot him in the leg to prevent him from going back for Pete, and he threatened Ray to keep his mouth shut.
The team tracks Travis, hoping to prevent any more murders. He and Pete used to work together, but he’s being going through a tough time lately. He and his girlfriend broke up, and evidence leads the team to realize the woman is a burlesque dancer at The Latrec Club. They hurry to the club, knowing she is his next target. Mac spots the man, under the influence of absinthe, as he raises his gun to fire. Mac wrestles with him, and Travis tries to kill himself when he realizes what is happening—but the gun is empty. The police move in to arrest him.
“Officer Involved” marks an end to Danny’s brief stint as a Sergeant. The audience learned that he passed his Sergeant’s exam in the season seven finale, “Exit Strategy”. As I said in my review for that episode, the promotion was a great way to show that the lives—and careers—of the team members would continue to grow even if the show was cancelled. The show earned a reprieve, and Danny has been a uniformed officer during the first four episodes of season eight. In my review for “Keep It Real”, I pointed out that Danny couldn’t stay on the beat indefinitely. Giving him a promotion when the show’s future remained uncertain was one thing, but it’s inconvenient to have a main character whose job only allows him brief interaction with the rest of the team. I knew Danny would find his way back to the lab before too much time had passed.
Danny is a cop and a scientist, and it hasn’t felt right to see him away from the lab. I’m glad he’s back in his old stomping grounds by the end of “Officer Involved”; however, while I knew this was coming and am glad Danny is back with the CSIs, the whole thing was wrapped up very quickly. There was a lot of potential for this storyline, for Danny as a character and for Carmine Giovinazzo as an actor. He did have some good material as a Sergeant, but when all is said and done, I’m left feeling like there could have been so much more.
Part of my disappointment with this Sergeant storyline is the fact that Danny sits by passively while it is all coming down around his ears. In the early years of the show, Danny was a very passionate, impulsive character. It led to plenty of mistakes and bad decisions, but he didn’t sit around waiting for things to happen. Back then, Mac (and Flack) had to rein him in and save his ass more than once. There are parallels between “Officer Involved” and season one’s “On the Job”, in which Danny was investigated by Internal Affairs for his role in a shooting that involved another police officer, and that case is mentioned several times this week. Back then, Danny was antsy. He wanted to tell the IA officer his side of the story, but Mac warned him not to say anything. Flack met Danny at a diner and tried to calm him down, but Danny felt like no one had his back. He went against Mac’s orders and spoke to IA, and Mac berated him for his actions despite the fact that the case was dropped. Mac revealed at the end of “On the Job” that he was advised against hiring Danny, and Danny was removed from the promotion grid. Mac also pointed out that the Minhas case would come back to haunt Danny if he ever ended up in trouble again, so the references provide some great continuity this week.
As Mac told Danny in “Cavallino Rampante”, he has come a long way since those early days. I didn’t want him to blow a gasket this week or revert 100% to that impetuous young hothead from season one who didn’t think he could trust anyone, but it would have been nice to see some of that passion peeking through the cracks. I have no problem with Lindsay rushing to his side at the start of the episode and trying to look out for him and their family—I’d be disappointed if she didn’t do that. However, I’m not thrilled that Lindsay is the one who confronts Lauren when it becomes clear that she’s lying and that she and the other officers are willing to throw Danny under the bus to save themselves. It’s not the fact that Lindsay speaks to her that bothers me, it’s the fact that Danny does nothing. He gets upset during the second interrogation with Adler, when the man suggests that he and Lauren are romantically involved, but otherwise he just sits by and waits for things to happen. He doesn’t want to believe that his rookies could be capable of something like this, but he doesn’t fight back even when the truth comes out.
Lindsay confronts Lauren and forces her to face up to what she’s doing. I like that Lindsay is willing to ignore the rules to protect her family, I just wish Danny had been the one to save himself. For all that Mac points out how far Danny has come since the early days, it seems he has merely switched the people who have to come to his rescue. Back then, it was Mac and Flack, but now Lindsay has to save him when things go wrong. Danny doesn’t make things worse for himself in the meantime, like he used to, but the result is that he just sits in Adler’s office with his gun and badge in his hand and waits for the axe to fall.
In the end, Lauren finally does the right thing and tells the truth. Danny is cleared, but it’s a hollow victory. He decides that he can’t stay on the beat if it means working with people he can’t trust. While I agree that the CSIs are his family, and that none of them would betray him the way the rookies this week did, I think it’s naive of Danny to assume that he’d have as close of a bond with these cops as he does with the CSIs. He has worked in the crime lab for more than a decade. How could he create the same bond in four months as a Sergeant? The rookies respect him as a boss, but they don’t love him as family. They shouldn’t have betrayed him, but it’s not unbelievable.
One of my biggest problems with the IA investigation this week is Adler’s assumption that Danny is having an affair with Lauren. Men and woman can (and do) maintain platonic relationships, and I would have been much happier if that had never come into the equation. There was no indication that Lauren or Danny felt anything romantic toward each other in “Cavallino Rampante”, and there is absolutely nothing this week to suggest things should be seen in that light. I’m sure the point is to emphasize the unfairness of the whole situation, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Lauren shot a man, lied about it and pinned it all on Danny when the truth came to light—there’s plenty of conflict without Adler accusing Danny of cheating on his wife.
While the team investigates the case, the conflict of interests keeps Lindsay on the sidelines. Adam seems to forget about this when he discovers the traces of absinthe on Pete Miller’s shirt, and he starts to talk about the evidence with her when she walks into the lab. He’s confused about the hair-like fiber found on Pete’s collar, and Lindsay finally gets through to him and reminds him that she can’t be involved. He apologizes and asks after Danny, and Lindsay offers him a piece of advice when she walks away: “Say ‘hi’ to EDNA for me.” While it’s a fun, subtle way for Lindsay to help, the scene makes Adam look like a bit of an idiot. First of all, why doesn’t he remember that Danny is involved, therefore Lindsay can’t work the case? And why does he need Lindsay to nudge him in the direction of the incredibly convenient sample library that has been sitting in their lab for the past two years? It can identify pretty much anything, including (but not limited to) glass, clover, ant chalk, soil, beetles, and a mixture of concrete and human cremains—you would think EDNA would be Adam’s first stop when he has anything to identify, not a machine he forgets about until a colleague reminds him that it’s there.
Ultimately, EDNA does give Adam the answer he’s looking for. The hair-like fiber is from a rare type of rooster feather, which is primarily used to make nymph flies for use by fishermen. This leads to an amusing scene with Mac and Jo. Adam tries to stump Jo with a list of nymph fly types, but she recognizes them immediately. Her father used to take her fishing when she was younger, and she laughs with nostalgia when she sees the nymph flies Adam brings into the lab. A minute later, Mac is able to identify “saddle hackle” as rooster feathers right away, leading Adam to wonder if he’s the only one who has never heard of these nymph flies. At the end of the scene, Adam makes a joke about going on a “fishing expedition”, which earns a smirk from Jo but a thoughtful look from Mac as it helps him figure out that Lauren was lying about Pete Miller’s role in the shooting. He wanders off without a comment, leaving Adam and Jo to share a curious glance. Between this scene and the RF cloning device scene in “Cavallino Rampante”, I’m starting to think the combination of Mac, Jo and Adam is almost as great as the combination of Mac, Jo and Flack. The latter is probably my favorite dynamic on the show, all together or in individual pairs, but Adam brings a different energy to the equation. It’s a lot of fun, and I hope we see plenty of interaction between all four characters as season eight continues.
See also: “Officer Involved” episode guide