The ninth season of CSI: New York gets underway as Mac and the rest of the team search for the arsonist responsible for the death of an FDNY captain.
The NYPD and FDNY are pulled away from a hockey game to deal with a fire just down the street. Mac Taylor, Don Flack and Danny Messer help deal with the crowd on the street while the firefighters, led by Captain Curtis Smith, head into the building to fight the flames and look for anyone trapped inside. Captain Smith heads down the hallway with another firefighter, knocking open a door and stepping inside to search for victims. As soon as he walks through the door, an explosion rocks the building, and the captain is killed.
The fire was deliberately set, and the arsonist’s signature leads the team to Leonard Brooks. Brooks just got out of prison after serving 15 years, and it looks like he might have picked up where he left off. However, the real arsonist is just using his techniques. Eva Mason visited Leonard several times while he was in prison, doing interviews for her studies as a psychology student. He boasted about his secrets, and she learned a lot from him before her own downward spiral into obsession. The team finds her hotel room, and Jo Danville turns on the computer to see a live feed of Leonard’s apartment on the screen. He has just arrived home, and as they watch the live feed, Eva emerges from the shadows with a gun in her hand. She feels betrayed by Leonard, who has been helping the police even though she’s been setting these fires for him. She also set up a trap in the apartment. Leonard manages to escape before the apartment explodes, killing Eva in the process.
Mac Taylor was shot in the season eight finale, “Near Death” (review), and “Reignited” picks up six months later. His physical recovery has gone well, but there are hints that he’s still being affected by the shooting today. The episode opens with Mac getting out of the shower, the scar on his back visible as he wipes away the condensation on the bathroom mirror and stares at his reflection before heading into the kitchen to take a handful of pills. It’s frustrating when characters have an all-too-speedy recovery following major injuries, so I’m glad we’re seeing Mac deal with a much more realistic time frame.
Physically, he’s doing quite well, but Mac doesn’t tell the rest of the team or his girlfriend Christine that he’s having memory issues; when he was shot, his brain was temporarily deprived of enough oxygen, leaving him with anomic aphasia. He has trouble recalling the names of certain objects, such as a cellphone. He knows what it is and how to use it, but he draws a blank when he tries to remember the name itself. His doctor explains the situation, telling him that the problem might go away with time and therapy. However, he warns, the condition could be permanent. Mac doesn’t want to tell anyone else, and he looks back at Christine when he says this. It will be interesting to see how this storyline develops going forward. There’s a moment toward the end of the episode where he stumbles over the name of a restaurant and Christine’s favorite dish, but Christine just assumes that he’s making her guess based on his roundabout clues. As much as Mac might want to keep this problem private, it will only be a matter of time before the others notice that something is not right. It’s unclear just how much this problem will affect Mac’s career, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon.
Christine has been there for Mac during the past six months, and their relationship seems to be going strong. We see her several times this week, and it’s obvious that she and Mac are very much in love. I like seeing this side of Mac, which we’ve only glimpsed before, and I’m glad that things seem to be steady between them. The flashback to Mac in the hospital six months ago is a particularly nice scene. Mac doesn’t want Christine to see him injured and weak, but she has no intention of leaving his side. At the end of the hour, she’s waiting in the lobby when he leaves the lab. She confesses that she’s having “withdrawals” because they spent so much time together over the past six months, and now she barely sees him. Mac gives her two dozen roses, one for each week she stood by him. He tells her that no gift could come close to expressing how much it meant to have all of her love and support during that difficult time, giving him the strength to push forward with his recovery. It’s a sweet, affectionate scene, and I really enjoy the maturity of their relationship.
Another person who was there for Mac during his recovery was Captain Smith, and we get to see the pair of them joking around during the hockey game that starts the episode. It’s obvious that these two men have been friends for a long time, and they’re at ease with each other as they watch the game. Mac is more casual than we usually see him, which is a nice change. He and Captain Smith tease each other about who will be forced to pay for dinner, depending on which team wins the hockey game. The firefighters have won five years in a row, and Mac is tired of buying the other man dinner. Captain Smith, meanwhile, is confident that his boys will win the game again. Their banter soon turns to other topics, and Mac thanks Captain Smith for stopping by every week while he was in the hospital. The other man brushes it off as ‘the least he could do,’ but it’s really a nice gesture that shows how close these two are. Captain Smith also asks about Mac’s relationship with Christine, hoping he hasn’t screwed that up. Mac smiles when he mentions her, revealing that things are going great between them. It’s always a bit strange to be introduced to an ‘old friend’ we’ve never seen before, just before the character dies, but the hockey scene does a lot to make the friendship between Mac and Captain Smith feel believable.
The hockey game itself is a lot of fun. Danny and Flack are on the ice along with lab tech Adam Ross, who is guarding the NYPD’s goal. There’s a brief argument between Danny and Adam after the firefighters score, but Flack comes up to end it and tell the guys to focus. Flack trades insults with a certain firefighter, Tony D’Alessio, who trash-talks Flack’s mother and sister. Flack says his sister died six months ago, but as soon as Tony apologizes, Flack says she’s alive and well—but the next insult will earn him a punch in the mouth.
Meanwhile, Lindsay Messer is sitting with Sid Hammerback in the stands, and they’re having a friendly argument about which Woody Allen film is better, Manhattan or Annie Hall. This conversation is happening while the game continues on the ice, and I can’t help but wonder what sparked the discussion in the first place. Sid prefers Manhattan, with its classic style and George Gershwin score; Lindsay, on the other hand, is dismissive of the black and white film and prefers Annie Hall. Sid suggests that Lindsay likes a “more unconventional form of storytelling,” while he himself is a “more conventional guy.” Lindsay points out that there’s nothing “conventional” about Sid, which makes me chuckle. (Oh, Sid, I have such fond memories of you going to your “creepy place”.) The pair is distracted when Danny gets the puck, but his shot doesn’t make it into the FDNY net. Someone higher up in the seats yells, “Messer, you suck!” A moment later, Lindsay jumps up to shout back, “Hey, you wanna come down here and say that?” The other person is wise enough not to continue the argument. When she sits back down, Sid is holding his hands up as if in surrender, and when she repeats her preference for Annie Hall, he just smiles and lets the topic go. It’s a funny scene, and it’s definitely not one I expected. I like when New York switches things up and includes more unusual character pairings, and it’s always great to see Sid out of the morgue and interacting with the rest of the team.
Tony makes one last goal in the final moments of the game, breaking the tie. The FDNY is celebrating, and one of the firefighters shoves Danny on the ice. Danny throws a punch, and soon there’s an all-out brawl between the teams. Mac and Captain Smith seem cheerfully amused as they watch from the stands, and Mac jokes that there’s “no truth to the rumor” that the NYPD and FDNY hate each other. Captain Smith turns to Mac and tells him when he wants to have dinner, adding that he plans to order dessert. Mac doesn’t seem upset about paying for dinner once again, and he just shakes his head as they get the call-out for the fire. Overall, the hockey game is a great way to start the episode and kick off season nine.
“Reignited” marks the first of two appearances by former Numb3rs actor Rob Morrow as convicted arsonist Leonard Brooks. This week, the team wonders if he was involved in the fires being set by Eva Mason, but it turns out that she was only copying his technique to get his attention. Despite his innocence, Leonard is a valuable resource for the team during the investigation, and he has some very interesting interactions with Mac and Flack over the course of the hour. They first encounter him at the scene of the fire, where Leonard arrived during Captain Smith’s funeral. He apologizes for his timing, but he insists he had nothing to do with the fire or the captain’s death. Whoever is setting these fires, he says, is trying to keep him behind bars. He tells Mac that he has just as much of a reason to catch this arsonist as they do, to clear his own name.
Leonard describes his “addiction” to fire as a constant battle with his own mind, and he claims that the 15 years he spent in prison helped him learn to hold back on his impulses. However, he’s still very affected by the aftermath of the fire when he’s in the burnt-out building; he gets goosebumps, and his pupils dilate as he smells the ash in the charred room. Flack is pretty convinced that Leonard is guilty, but Mac waits for some sort of proof. He suggests that, if Leonard did set the fire, his arrogance will be his downfall. Leonard tells Mac and Flack that the arsonist did his or her homework, using dryer sheets and wax paper to spread the fire, matching his old technique. Fire gel was used to spread the fire up the walls, the sprinkler system was disabled by cutting the chain to the OS&Y valve, and there was a drop of melted metal the size of a dime near the hole in the floor that contained the ignition source. The source of the metal is one of the mysteries they have to solve, and Flack demands to know what it was—Leonard, however, refuses to tell them because he doesn’t feel like he’s being treated with respect. If he tells them what it was, they’ll use it against him. Mac, however, is done indulging Leonard, and reminds him that he claimed to have reason to help them catch the real arsonist. Leonard reveals that the metal was part of a complex time-delay device, which he says he used one time. That’s all he’ll give them, and he claims the visit to the building was helpful for him, even if the NYPD is no closer to catching their killer.
Lindsay discovers that the arsonist rigged a trip-wire specifically designed to kill a firefighter. Balloons filled with an explosive substance were suspended over the door, and Captain Smith released them when he walked through the door looking for survivors. This is very different from Leonard, who was only caught 15 years ago because he rushed back into a burning building in a failed attempt to save a woman who was trapped inside. After he receives the address of the second fire this week, he rushes over there and reconnects the sprinkler system, preventing another firefighter from losing his or her life. When Leonard is in the room with Eva at the end, she talks about how much they have in common, and how they both need to experience the fires. Leonard points out that he never tried to hurt anyone, but Eva says that he simply never had the guts to go through with it.
Leonard can tell that Eva has rigged up the apartment to explode. She cut the glass off the light bulb in the ceiling, exposing the filament. When the light gets turned on, the filament will heat up and ignite the gas that is slowly leaking from the stove. Leonard tries to talk Eva down, realizing that she means to kill him, but she’s unhinged. She’s going to leave him there, ensuring that the last thing he sees will be the thing he loves most: fire. She flips the switch and starts to unlock the door as the filament heats up, but Leonard yanks the rug out from under her feet and causes her to lose her balance. He runs for the window, jumping through the glass and falling to the ground below. Eva panics, unable to get the door open before the apartment explodes. Mac and Flack are rushing to the scene, and they find Leonard injured but alive. Eva is not so lucky; her lifeless body is blown out of the window, landing on the street below.
Very few items could be saved from Leonard’s apartment, and the episode ends with him entering his new apartment and putting his battered kettle on the stove to boil water. He stares at the fire beneath the kettle, and it seems like he’s struggling with his inner demons. We’ll find out next week if he is able to keep his impulses in check. Rob Morrow is doing a great job in the role, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the second part of his arc. If this episode is any indication of what’s to come, the ninth season of New York is off to a fantastic start.
See also: “Reignited” episode guide