Review: CSI: New York — ‘Crushed’

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A teenager is crushed by a fallen balcony, and a spectre from Jo’s past comes back to haunt her.

Synopsis:

A group of teenagers are having a party, but things get out of hand when the news goes viral online. More and more teenagers show up, and disaster strikes when a group pulls a heavy table out onto the balcony. The balcony collapses, and one young woman is found dead in the rubble: Libby Drake, the girl who threw the party.

The team check the balcony’s construction, and they discover that it was built well; it only collapsed when the marble table was dragged outside. Whoever carried the table is responsible for the balcony falling. Danny lifts a distinctive handprint from the table, and the unique scar on the palm matches a boy in the hospital named Steven. He could be charged with manslaughter.

Despite the fact that she was crushed by the balcony, that isn’t Libby’s cause of death: she was choked. Libby’s boyfriend Jake has some injuries, so the team questions him to see if he attacked his girlfriend. Jake admits that he got into a fight with one of the other party-goers because it got out of control, but he swears the rest of his injuries were caused when he searched for Libby.

Libby is wearing a necklace, but the killer put it on her after she died. The necklace contains two DNA profiles, one of which matches Kate Weber, a girl who was victimized by Libby and Jake. The other source of DNA is Kate’s half-sister Rachel, who confronted Libby for ruining Kate’s life. Libby was unrepentant, and Rachel lost her temper and strangled her. She panicked and pushed the body out the window, where it was crushed by the falling balcony. Rachel isn’t sorry that she killed Libby, insisting that the planet is better without her.


Analysis:

“Crushed” finds the team investigating a tragic accident that turns out to be murder, and the victim is anything but innocent. Libby Drake and her friends have been targeting unpopular virgins, making them feel wanted, and violating their trust in a heinous way. One of Libby’s male friends, usually her boyfriend Jake, would have sex with the girl before telling Libby all about her “performance”. Libby would then rate the girls on a secret website, where she and her friends would mock the clueless young women. The mark of shame for the girls is a beautiful heart-shaped necklace, which lets everyone know that they’ve been duped by Libby’s little club.

It’s a disgusting idea, but it’s not unrealistic. People can be cruel, and social networking sites provide plenty of opportunity for teenagers (or anyone, for that matter) to form secret groups and harass their peers. When the truth comes out, it becomes hard to sympathize with Libby at all. She didn’t deserve to die, but did she really think she could continue to destroy young girls’ lives with no consequences?

The episode offers viewers a look at two different victims, Kate Weber and Erin Watson. Kate found out what Libby and Jake were doing, and it sent her into a deep depression. Her half-sister Rachel was alarmed to see the changes in Kate’s behavior, and she tried to confront Libby about it. When Libby laughed it off, Rachel snapped and killed her. The other victim, Erin, has not yet learned the significance of the necklace she has around her neck. Jo tells Flack that it might be better for her to ‘feel she was loved’ for a bit longer. I don’t necessarily think that’s true, especially since Libby and her friends were preying on vulnerable young women in the first place. After seeing how Kate reacted to the news, I think it would have been better to explain the situation to Erin or her family so they could get her some help dealing with the fallout. They’re just letting her walk around in ignorance with the mark of shame dangling around her neck. The truth has to come out sooner or later.

“Crushed” also marks the beginning of the three-episode DC rapist arc, which dredges up painful memories from Jo’s past. A young woman named Ali shows up at the precinct, and Flack immediately sees that she needs help. He pulls her aside and gently asks her questions, offering to get a female officer if it would make her more comfortable to talk about being attacked. Eddie Cahill is wonderful in this scene, reminding viewers that Flack is a very compassionate man. Ali remains strong, telling him that she was drugged and raped, and she can even give them the man’s name: John Curtis. Mac brings Jo into his office to deliver the bad news: this is the man who attacked Senator Matthews’ daughter while Jo worked for the FBI in Washington, DC. There was DNA evidence in the DC case proving that Curtis was the rapist, but one of Jo’s colleagues made a mistake and tried to cover it up. Jo had no choice but to turn the colleague in, which resulted in Curtis being acquitted for the rape of Serena Matthews.

Mac puts Lindsay on the case, and Jo approaches her before she heads to the hospital to process Ali. Jo starts telling Lindsay about Curtis’s MO and reminds her what to look for, and Lindsay promises that she’ll find the evidence they need to get Curtis off the street. Lindsay understands how Jo must be feeling, but she accidentally hits a sore spot by saying that she too would feel responsible if she were in Jo’s place. Jo gets defensive, telling Lindsay that she is not responsible for what happened in DC. Her colleague screwed up, and she made the right decision by bringing that evidence to light. Jo says she hopes that Lindsay will do the right thing if she’s ever faced with the same decision, which seems to be obvious foreshadowing for this multi-episode arc.

It’s true that many viewers may not remember when Jo told Lindsay about the rape case during season seven’s “Vigilante”, but the conversation between them this week is filled with clunky dialogue, especially the exposition about the original case. However, Sela Ward and Anna Belknap do the best they can, and this is a promising storyline that offers information about Jo’s history while also tying in with Lindsay’s role in “Vigilante”. As the two women on the team, it’s always good to see Jo and Lindsay working together toward a common goal, so I hope this arc is filled with more collaboration and less arguing. Fortunately, things seem to be resolved between them by the end of the hour. Lindsay approaches Jo and apologizes for giving the impression that she thought Jo was responsible for what happened in DC. Jo does not apologize in so many words, but she makes it clear that Lindsay was right about Jo feeling guilty, and she did not react well to hearing the words come from a new colleague and friend.

At the end of the episode, Jo meets with Mac and Lindsay in his office to discuss the case. Jo is not pleased to hear that Ali is a prostitute, clearly believing that this will affect her credibility in court—at least, I hope that’s why Jo is upset at this news. It may be because I adore Jo so much, but I don’t like the idea that she’d be judgmental over Ali’s occupation. I’m happier with Lindsay’s response to the news; when Ali tries to avoid the subject, Lindsay gently tells her that she isn’t there to judge her. She simply needs to know all of the facts, and Ali’s occupation does not make her any less of a victim.

Flack brings John Curtis in for questioning, and he lies about having DNA evidence in an attempt to get Curtis to confess to the crime. Curtis, however, remains calm. He’s been through this before, and he tells Flack to speak to his lawyer. As the hour comes to a close, the media has its gaze turned on Curtis when they walk him out of the precinct and escort him to a squad car. Mac watches the television in his office, considering Jo thoughtfully as the news focuses on her standing near the door.

Both storylines are heavy, but there are moments of levity throughout the episode. Danny and Flack have a hilarious scene when they go after Mickey Nash, a security guard who robbed Libby’s house and left hashtags in place of the valuables he took. They are amused when they see the man for the first time, pausing to have a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine who has to “chase” the overweight, out of shape guard. Flack loses, and he goes jogging after Mickey as Danny heads back to get the car. It doesn’t take long before the guard is out of breath and leaning against a sign, and it’s easy for Flack to handcuff him. Danny and Flack are always fun to watch, but this scene does a great job of showing their friendship in addition to their awesome work dynamic. They’re joking around in the car before Mickey emerges from the store, and the Rock, Paper, Scissors game has a predictable result: Danny always puts out rock, apparently, causing Flack to lose when he opts for scissors. I love these two.

Early in the episode, Lindsay is doing some math calculations to determine how much weight was on the balcony, including the marble table and the party-goers. Hawkes is there as well, and he’s doing the math in his head faster than she can use the calculator. She gives him a quick look, and then she does one final calculation—looking up just in time to see him mouthing the answer as she reads it from the calculator. Nobody likes a show-off, Sheldon! It’s a fun exchange, and anything that emphasizes the friendship between the team members is always a plus.

Adam also gets a great scene to be, well, Adam. He combines pictures and videos from the kids at the party, creating a collage to analyze the events leading up to Libby’s death. It’s reminiscent of a similar scene in “Admissions” from season four, when Adam combined pictures from a school dance to discover who killed a guidance counselor. This week, Adam is smug but endearing as he forces Mac and Jo to sit through the build-up before his big reveal: he found a photo of Erin Watson in the crowd, wearing a heart-shaped necklace that marks her as one of Libby’s victims. Adam says “you’re welcome” and tells his bosses that he’ll be down the hall solving crimes if they need him. Mac and Jo seem tolerant of Adam’s dorky behavior, and I enjoy scenes with these three almost as much as I enjoy scenes of Mac and Jo with Flack. The characters are all great individually, and the different combinations are even better—especially when they give the minor players a moment to shine.


See also: “Crushed” episode guide

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