The case of a missing teenage girl takes the team from the Big Apple to the City by the Bay.
Ethan Grohl is stabbed to death on the Brooklyn Bridge following a mugging-gone-wrong, and the team finds an envelope in his backpack with photos of a possible second victim. They are able to identify the subject of the photos as Mary Portico, a 15-year-old who ran away from home after fighting with her parents. She withdrew all of the money out of her bank account, using the $700 to follow a boy she liked, Oliver Epps, to the West Coast. Paint flecks from the Golden Gate Bridge lead the team to San Francisco, where they catch Oliver. He confesses to helping Mary fake her own death and sending the photos to her parents back in New York, but he claims she’s still alive. However, she started talking about going to the police and running home to her parents, so Oliver made sure she was kept high and docile in a drug house so she couldn’t rat him out. They locate her and bring her home to her parents.
“2,918 Miles” takes the team from the streets of New York all the way to the City by the Bay, and the production crew filmed on location in San Francisco for several key scenes. There’s a fantastic shot of Mac, Jo and Agent Cade Conover standing on the rocks by the water with the Golden Gate Bridge looming up behind them. A later scene features a great view of The Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, which provides the backdrop for a conversation between our two detectives and the FBI agent. It’s a nice change of scenery, although there is a distinct lack of local police presence during the episode. I suppose this can be explained away by Agent Conover’s involvement in the investigation, but I’m not sure the San Francisco Police Department would appreciate a couple of NYPD officers running around and making arrests without bringing any local officers along.
Seeing San Francisco is great, but the real focus of the episode this week is family—specifically, some of the common struggles families face. The missing girl, Mary, ran away from home following a minor argument, and her decision to follow Oliver Epps to San Francisco quickly gets out of hand. Her parents blame themselves, and they tell Mac they just want to find out what happened to their daughter. Jo is watching the conversation from the other side of the glass with Flack, and she tells him that being a parent is the hardest job in the world. In fact, Jo’s adopted daughter, Ellie, makes an appearance this week, and it looks like Jo knows exactly what it’s like to deal with a difficult teenager.
Ellie was last seen in “Identity Crisis” during season seven, and now she’s a few years older. We first catch sight of her toward the beginning of the episode, when Jo is fooling around with Agent Conover in her bedroom. Jo hears a noise and reaches for her gun, moving carefully into the main room of the apartment. She and Cade can see two people lurking in the kitchen, but when Cade turns the light on, it is revealed to be Ellie with a boy, Jordan. Jordan looks slightly terrified, and Ellie is not impressed by the sight of her mother, shirt open, aiming a gun at the pair of them while a strange man stands nearby with his shirt open as well. Jo thought Ellie was going to be at a party a few floors down, but she and Jordan came upstairs for more drinks—and to kiss in the kitchen. It’s an awkward first meeting, especially since it’s obvious that Jo and Cade were messing around before they interrupted the teenagers.
A bit later, Jo is making dinner while Ellie sits at the kitchen table and gives her mother the cold shoulder. She’s not hungry, she says, because she ate nachos at school. Jo reminds her that she said she’d be home for dinner, but Ellie doesn’t seem to care. Jo tells Ellie to put her phone away, and she starts to ask more questions about Jordan. It’s clear that Ellie thinks her mother is being a hypocrite, since she brought a man home as well; however, Jo reminds her daughter that she’s the adult, so the rules are different. The whole conversation is realistic, with the two women on very different wavelengths. Ellie has reached an age where she no longer confides in her mother like a best friend, and Jo hasn’t yet adjusted to the difference in their relationship. She wants to talk about Jordan, and about Ellie’s feelings for the boy, but Ellie isn’t eager to share. She doesn’t know her own feelings yet, and she knew if she tried to talk to her mother about Jordan, the woman would ‘pry’ into her business.
Fortunately for the mother and daughter, the episode ends on a high note. They sit at home alone, wearing robes and painting each other’s fingernails while they talk about boys. It’s all kind of corny and adorable and so very Jo, and I love it. Jo tells Ellie that Jordan is cute, but that boys get better with age. Ellie brings up Cade, and Jo teases her for ‘noticing’ that he’s attractive, but Ellie denies it because that would be gross. She can tell that her mom likes the man, but Jo points out that he lives in California while they live in New York. Ellie suggests that they could move—as long as her mother buys her a whole new wardrobe—and Jo says they’ll talk about it later. It’s a sweet scene, and it’s nice to see them getting along instead of just arguing. Raising teenagers can be difficult, but it’s not always bad.
Jo brings up children to Mac toward the end of the hour, when he acknowledges that the Mary Portico case really affected her. She brings up her relationship with Ellie, and she worries that a simple argument could lead to her own daughter taking such drastic, dangerous actions. Mac reassures Jo that she’s a great mom, and Ellie is lucky to have her. Jo, never willing to miss a chance to offer up her opinion, says that Mac will understand it all when he and Christine start having babies of their own. Mac is smiling and tells Jo to slow down, but she knows what she’s talking about—she has seen Mac and Christine together.
There’s another budding romance in the lab, between Flack and newcomer Jamie Lovato. Right now they’re just in the flirtatious stage, but the chemistry between them is obvious. This week, they have a slightly-heated argument about the New York Yankees vs the New York Mets. Flack is a Yankees fan, and he brings up the fact that the Yankees have 27 World Series wins vs the 2 earned by the Mets. Lovato, however, is adamant that the Mets are the heart of New York City baseball. They go back and forth in the car until Lovato spots Boyd Hackman riding by on a bicycle. She interrupts what Flack is saying to jump out of the car, running up and kicking the wheel of the bike to knock Boyd off and arrest him. Once she’s done, she looks up at Flack and asks if he was saying something. Flack is smiling, and he’s still amused when the pair of them get Boyd into the interrogation room. The man doesn’t want Lovato anywhere near him, so Flack suggests that he could leave them alone together. Lovato stands during the interrogation, clearly intimidating Boyd as they confront him about mugging and killing Ethan Grohl.
At the end of the hour, Flack walks into the precinct to find a not-so-pleasant surprise on his desk: Lovato has wrapped it in blue and orange tinsel garland, and she changed the background of his computer to the Mets colors as well. He takes the joke in good humor, picking up a baseball that says “Let’s go Mets!” while Lovato suggests that his desk needed to be spruced up. They’re both smiling as the scene ends, and I’m really liking the way things are going with these two. It’s been too long since Detective Angell was around; she and Flack had a really fun, comfortable relationship that I loved, and the interaction between Flack and Lovato is reminiscent of that past relationship—at the same time, however, it’s different enough to feel like something new. I also look forward to learning more about Lovato on her own, separate from her romantic chemistry with Flack.
“2,918 Miles” features more moments that tie into the theme of family and relationships. Danny and Lindsay have a daughter of their own, although she’s much younger than Mary Portico. They won’t have to worry about her being a teenager for a long time yet, but they can’t help but think about it. When Lindsay walks into the lab to look over the evidence photos with Danny, he suggests that they should make their daughter wear body armor when she’s a teenager. Lindsay looks around at the photos of Mary, bleeding on the ground, and agrees that it doesn’t sound like a bad idea. I’m sure Lucy will be able to avoid wearing body armor, but there’s no doubt that her parents are going to be intensely protective as she grows up. I would expect nothing less from a pair of our CSIs!
Danny and Lindsay have a fun scene with Sid as well, when they call him up to the lab to do a “photo-topsy”; since they don’t have a body, they need his expert opinion on the images of Mary. He’s eager to get out of the morgue, and he describes Mary’s injuries and points out the track mark on her arm, which suggests that she was using drugs (or was forced to use them). Lindsay wants to know if there’s a chance the injuries are fake, but Sid is convinced that they’re real. He tells a story about his own daughter, who once faked a bloody nose with food coloring because she didn’t want to take a spelling test. The anecdote makes the Messers smile, and it makes me wish we could see this daughter of Sid’s on the show. With a father like him, I’m sure it would make for an interesting episode.
Adam also mentions a bit about his family, asking Hawkes if he ever ran away from home. Hawkes never did, but Adam says he ran away a few times. He had a bad home life, but he says he can’t imagine traveling to the other side of the country the way Mary did. The farthest he ever got was across town, when he ran away to be with a girl. Unfortunately for young Adam, two other guys showed up, and it got a bit crowded. I’ve always been curious about Adam’s life growing up, and I hope this scene serves as foreshadowing for later in the season; I’d love to learn more about his difficult childhood. I also hope we learn more about Hawkes, who hasn’t received nearly enough focus during the ninth season so far. Fortunately, we’re only three episodes into the season, so there’s plenty of time for the writers to offer up some juicy tidbits about the good doctor.
See also: “2,918 Miles” episode guide