Review: CSI: New York — ‘Air Apparent’

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The relationship between two brothers is tested when one of them is accused of murdering his girlfriend.

Synopsis:

As Riley Frazier plays basketball, his brother Hank listens to the game in prison. When he’s released the next day, Hank promises Riley that he’s clean and that he’s going to stay that way. The things that kept him sane in jail were the thought of seeing his brother and his girlfriend Angela again. When Angela turns up dead, the team finds Hank’s name written in blood on the wall. They bring Hank in, revealing that they found cocaine in her apartment, and he has cocaine in his system. He says he didn’t kill Angela because he was elsewhere getting high. Flack doesn’t believe Hank, so Hank promises that he’ll tell them whatever they want to hear as long as he can see his brother first.

Angela was stabbed 10 times, and she has a lot of defensive wounds. However, some of the stab wounds have hilt marks while others don’t; to add to the confusion, the deepest wounds are the ones without hilt marks. Sid also reveals that the stab wound in Angela’s back incapacitated the left side of her body, but Hank’s name was written with her left index finger—the evidence was staged.

Riley comes to see Hank but throws the table over on him. He’s angry at his brother, and he throws a crumpled paper on the floor before he storms out of the interrogation. It’s an agreement he signed with Hank when he was seven, a promise not to let anything stand in his way of becoming a big basketball star. Hank used to be great too, Riley says, but he tore his Achilles tendon and ended up getting into drugs. Angela stayed by him through thick and thin.

Hawkes recreates the stab wounds, discovering that the three stab wounds with hilt marks were delivered with force. The other seven were pressed in slowly, not leaving a bruise but creating a deeper wound. Whoever killed Angela stabbed her three times, then added the other wounds to make it look like a crime of passion.

Adam tests a piece of plastic found in the victim’s body, which is a piece of a hologram depicting the Asantewaa Living logo. The company recently teamed up with the Wyandotte Sports company to make exclusive, expensive bracelets for athletes. Flack and Lindsay match epithelials under Angela’s nails to Nick Blount, who worked at the same hair salon. He has priors for drugs, but he says the skin under her nails got there when she gave him a head massage while shampooing his hair. However, he’s wearing one of the athletic bracelets, and the hologram is missing. They put the man into the back of the patrol car, but he manages to get free—and immediately gets hit by a passing cab. Blount is put into an induced coma, but the murder weapon is found in the dumpster outside his apartment and has his fingerprints on it. He also has a kit to make a key mold. It’s obvious that he killed Angela, but there’s still a mystery to be solved: a drop of blood in Angela’s apartment doesn’t belong to Blount. There’s another person involved.

Jo reassembles a torn letter from the crime scene. It’s a love letter from Hank to Angela, which mentions Riley and their mother. The letter says that Riley is going to sign with Kansas, which isn’t what Hawkes thought. Blount’s bracelet was a gift from Gavin, Riley’s coach. Gavin has a reason to want Hank out of the picture. Kansas was Hank’s choice when he was a player in the past, so Riley had his heart set on that school. He changed his mind after Hank started making mistakes, and Gavin worried that Riley might go for Kansas now that Hank was turning his life around. Gavin hired Blount to plant some cocaine in Angela’s apartment so they could send Hank back to prison and ensure that Riley would make the “right” college choice—there were millions of dollars in it for Gavin if he delivered Riley to the right school. Unfortunately, Angela came home and caught Blount in the act, and he killed her. He called Gavin to come to the scene, and Blount punched the coach during an argument and gave him a bloody nose—leaving the blood drop on the floor. Left with few options, they staged the scene in an attempt to pin the murder on Hank.


Analysis:

“Air Apparent” marks the return of Don Flack’s younger sister Samantha, who was last seen in the season five episode “Dead Inside”. Back then, it was revealed that Sam was an alcoholic, and the audience was left wondering about her for the past few years. It’s great to see her back this week, and it’s even better to learn that she has gotten her life together since her previous appearance. Flack is reminded of Sam when he thinks about Hank’s addiction, telling Mac that he used to live in fear of his sister doing something stupid while she was drunk. Mac asks if he speaks to Sam regularly, but it’s clear that perhaps they don’t speak as often as they should. Later, Flack heads to Sam’s apartment. He says four of the last five times he called her, the phone went straight to voice mail, and the fifth call told him her number had been disconnected. Sam knows him well enough to guess that he came to visit because he caught a case that made him think of her. She says she’s sober, and all she does all day is watch soap operas.

Sam gives Flack her new number, and he heads out to his car. He sees Sam leaving the apartment and decides to follow her. When he sees her exit a building, he waits for her to round the corner before he heads over to see where she’s been. A while later, he returns to her apartment to confront her about the application she dropped off at the temp agency, asking why she didn’t just tell him she was looking for a job. Sam is angry that he would pry into her life like that, but Flack is undeterred. He tells her she can’t lie about her record or her addiction, but she insists that telling the truth has gotten her nowhere. Flack tells Sam that she has a new lease on life, and she can do whatever she wants, but she isn’t buying it. Flack has the NYPD in his blood, and he knew exactly what he was going to do with his life. Sam was different, but Flack points out that she used to dream of being a journalist. Those dreams aren’t available now, she says, and she tells him to stop trying to give her a pep talk. She points out that he’s here because he cares about her, but he’s also here because he feels guilty about not coming to see her more often.

At the end of the episode, Flack heads back to Sam’s apartment with something for her. First, he gives her an NYPD hat, which she assumes is a gift. However, he reveals that she’ll need to wear it for her new job in the NYPD media relations office. He called in a favor and got her the job, but she worries that it will reflect badly on him if she screws up. He isn’t concerned about that; he just wants her to use this as an opportunity to follow her dreams. I hope we see Sam again later this season, especially if we get to see how she’s doing in her new job. It would be interesting to see how these two interact in a professional capacity. Sam and Flack are very different, but it’s clear that they love each other despite having an imperfect relationship. Kathleen Munroe is great in the role, and she and Eddie Cahill play well off of each other.

Mac seems to form a connection with the Frazier brothers in “Air Apparent”. It is revealed that he spoke to Hank offscreen, telling the man that he’d be checking in on him in rehab—and Hank can tell that Mac is serious. He also speaks to Riley, giving him the paper he threw on the ground in the interrogation room earlier. They might not be the idealistic little kids they used to be, but they are still brothers. Riley knows that Hank is trying, and that he hates to disappoint his brother. Mac points out that, with Angela dead, it would be easy for Hank to fall back into old habits. He tells Riley not to give up on his brother—Hank is going to need him. Hank walks into the gym while Riley is shooting some hoops, and they end up playing a friendly game together.

Danny is back in the lab full time, but there is no mention made of his previous promotion. The end of “Officer Involved” made quick work of the transition back into the lab, so I guess it’s no surprise that the team is back to business as usual this week. I wouldn’t expect the show to devote too much screentime to Danny’s return to the crime lab after the previous episode focused on the storyline, but I am disappointed that there wasn’t any sort of mention.

Lindsay and Flack have an exciting scene in the barbershop when they head in to speak with Blount. The man is casual when he talks to them, explaining away his DNA under Angela’s fingernails. When Lindsay steps aside to take a phone call, however, he’s watching her closely. She learns about the holographic bracelet and looks back at him, eyeing the bracelet on his arm and the missing hologram. Blount takes off before she can say anything, and Lindsay and Flack jump into action. Blount grabs a woman and holds a straight razor to her neck, threatening her life if the cops don’t let him go. Lindsay points out that she has a gun pointed at his head, and she can shoot him before he even thinks about hurting her. Lindsay’s dialogue during the stalemate seems a bit awkward, but it is nice to see her sharing an action scene with Flack—it reminds me of their takedown in last season’s “Vigilante”, and it’s good to see Lindsay out of the lab and alongside one of the show’s resident action heroes.

If Flack is the go-to guy for action scenes, Adam is the go-to guy for comedy. “Air Apparent” is no exception, and the dorky lab tech shares a hilarious moment with Jo in the lab. Adam has a white band on his head, and he leans back with his arms out and announces, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach, bitch! What up?” The lab tech sharing the room with him doesn’t even glance up, but Jo arrives in time to observe his behavior. She speaks up, asking when he’s leaving, and he quickly pulls off the headband and stammers his way through an explanation. He says it’s all for a good purpose, and Jo says she’s “all ears” with a smirk on her face. I’m not sure which part is more funny: that Jo walks in and catches him acting like a dork, or that the other lab techs are apparently so used to his antics that they don’t even notice them.


See also: “Air Apparent” episode guide

Rachel Trongo

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Rachel Trongo

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