Review: CSI: New York — ‘The Lady In The Lake’

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A young woman in a ball gown is found dead in Turtle Pond, and the CSIs must determine why her fairy tale had such a tragic ending.

Synopsis:

Flack arrests Phil Rennick for murder, and the man says he threw the gun in the Turtle Pond by Belvedere Castle in Central Park. Adam tries to find the weapon by diving into the water, but he doesn’t have any luck. Mac is unwilling to let Rennick get away with murder, so he has the pond drained. They find the weapon, but they also discover another body. A young woman in a ballgown is tied to a sunken boat, and she has been underwater for several days.

The victim is Ashley Braden. She was hit over the head with a rock, and she was pushed into the water within minutes of being killed. She is wearing a cheap bra and a designer dress, but the tag is still in the dress, indicating that she planned to take it back after she wore it. There’s bruising around her wrist from being grabbed, and Jo finds a small blood stain preserved under her arm. A CODIS hit leads to Joseph Skiver. He has a long rap sheet, but he denies killing Ashley. He last saw her Saturday night, and she said she couldn’t see him anymore because she didn’t want to give her rich boyfriend the wrong idea. She had a past, but she was leaving her old life behind. Skiver says he was happy for her, and the blood must have gotten on her when he was hugging her goodbye.

Plant trace on the victim’s shoe leads to the primary crime scene next to the castle. There was a party in the castle that night, with 300 very rich people, but none of them reported Ashley missing. Danny reassembles a $50,000 check that was torn into pieces. The name ends with ‘ello’, and Ashley was the guest of Matthew DiBello at the party. They speak to the man, who says that Ashley sent him a text on Sunday morning that she was going to Kansas City for a few days. He had no idea the woman was killed, and he denies giving her the check. He knew about her past, but he didn’t care.

A series of divots in the ground next to the pond are from water running off an umbrella. Someone was standing there, facing the pond, during a short downpour after midnight. This person either killed Ashley or saw who did it, and a bloodstain that was protected by the umbrella leads back to Matthew. He grabbed Ashley’s arm during an argument, and the clasp of her bracelet cut his palm. In order to determine if he was the killer or the witness, they trace Ashley’s phone. It was thrown away after sending Matthew the message Sunday morning. Matthew’s mother, Krista, killed Ashley, and her son is an eye witness. The woman denies that Matthew saw anything, and she insists that he wouldn’t tell them even if he had seen something.

Jo speaks to Matthew, acknowledging the obstacles that Ashley had to overcome in her life. She was able to accomplish so much before her life was tragically cut short, and Jo convinces Matthew to do the right thing for Ashley’s sake. He asks to speak to his mother, and he confronts her about hating Ashley. The young woman was just trying to impress Krista by dressing up, but it wasn’t enough. Krista tried to bribe her to break up with Matthew, but Ashley tore up the check and turned to walk away. Krista hit her over the head and put her in the boat. Matthew didn’t know what he was seeing until they told him Ashley was dead.


Analysis:

After visiting Yankee Stadium in the previous installment, “The Lady in the Lake” offers fans a glimpse of another authentic New York City location: Belvedere Castle. It’s always great to see the CSIs working cases against a real Big Apple backdrop, so it’s a treat to see Central Park and the castle this week. Most of the time, studio lots in Los Angeles do a great job of standing in for the city, but nothing compares to the real thing. The cast and crew only head out a few time a year to film on location, and they used their trip to New York well this time around.

The case features a poor girl who fell in love with a rich young man, and she died after leaving a lavish party at a castle. She is found wearing an expensive ball gown, and Jo even discovers the young woman’s shoe before she finds the body. This reference to the classic Cinderella story makes it all seem even more like a fairy tale—although this story doesn’t have a happy ending. However, Adam does try to keep two young girls occupied with the story of the ‘princess’ while the three of them wait in the precinct. Karma and Dee aren’t exactly thrilled with his story at first, but they eventually get drawn in. It’s a way to pass the time until their mother is done with a line-up.

Adam is in the precinct because the department’s Avalanche has been stolen. The whole episode is filled with hilarious Adam moments, and the story of how the SUV went missing is a lot of fun—or at least, it’s fun for the audience. Poor Adam doesn’t seem to enjoy it very much. He drives Jo around looking for Ashley’s phone, and they park the car to search on foot. They eventually figure out where it’s located: in a garbage truck. Adam has to dive in with the garbage to search for the phone, and when he emerges from the piles of trash, they walk back to find that the Avalanche is gone. Adam freaks out, fearing that Mac will kill him for this, but Jo is preoccupied by the case and just hails a taxi.

After Karma and Dee leave the precinct with their mother, Jo and Mac approach Adam to let him know that the SUV has been found. He forgot to put the NYPD placard in the windshield, so it was towed after he parked in a red zone. They knew about the SUV quite some time ago, but they left him to stew in his panic for a while. It’s a funny scene, even if it’s at Adam’s expense. Poor guy!

Adam has another storyline running through the episode as well, and this is one that definitely captures Karma and Dee’s attention. When the CSIs are searching through the detritus at the bottom of Turtle Pond, Adam finds a strange piece of metal. It’s a shard of golden material with strange markings on it, which has carbon trace from intense heat and radioactivity, plus particles composed of nickel, iron and olivine—this object has been in space. Adam is excited, but Mac doesn’t seem too impressed. He also isn’t impressed by Adam trying to call him “MT”, and Adam gets a smack upside the head for that one. Gibbs from NCIS would be proud.

Later, Adam calls Sid into the lab, and he mentions the shard. The lines on the shard are a starmap depicting Alpha Centauri, the closest star to Earth—and the closest possible source of extraterrestrial life. Adam says the shard could launch an industry. He pitches the idea to Sid, hoping he’ll help fund his venture to create “ARea 52”—the AR would be capitalized to represent Adam Ross, of course. At the end of his spiel, Sid makes a suggestion: Adam shouldn’t try to pitch that idea to anyone who has the power to fire him. I love these two! If Sid and Adam had a scene together in every episode, I’d never complain.

In the end, Mac is able to give Adam the right clue to lead him to the truth about his so-called alien shard: it’s a fragment of Phobos 1, one of two probes launched by the Soviet Union in 1988. Phobos 2 was able to get close enough to gather data on Mars and its larger moon, Phobos, but Phobos 1 suffered a terminal failure en route to the Red Planet. The spacecraft was lost, and “The Lady in the Lake” takes advantage of this fact to include a piece of the destroyed probe in the episode—after all, part of it might have ended up falling back to Earth. Adam thought he had discovered first contact, but at least he found the (fictional) location of a historical piece of scientific equipment.

I’ve been watching the CSI shows for a decade now, and I’ve seen some really nasty corpses in that time. It’s unusual for anything to gross me out too much, but the body this week is really bad. It looks pretty icky, of course, but the scene that really did me in is the one where Hawkes tries to get fingerprints from the corpse. He peels off the outer layers of skin that have come loose from the body due to “slippage”—as if watching him remove a skin glove from the victim’s hand isn’t bad enough, he then puts the glove over his own hand and uses it to make fingerprints. Gross! The special effects department did a really great job; I had to peek at the TV through my fingers during that scene, and I’d say that’s a mark of success.

Mac’s aphasia storyline isn’t left out this week, and there are a few references to the previous episode as well. Jo tried to confront Mac about his problems in “Misconceptions”, and when he brushed her off, she went behind his back to speak to his girlfriend Christine. Mac didn’t react well to Jo’s interference, and he didn’t appreciate Christine trying to discuss an issue he wanted to avoid. This week, it’s obvious that Mac is ready to move past his anger and try to deal with what’s going on. He starts to apologize to Jo for the way he acted, but she says it is already forgotten. It’s obvious that she doesn’t hold a grudge, and she has to know that what she did was not entirely appropriate. As for Christine, Mac tries to call her several times, but he only gets her answering machine. He starts to leave a message, but he decides to delete it—I hope this means he wants to discuss the problem with her in person. The way he treated Christine was hurtful, and she deserves a sincere, face-to-face apology. Ultimately, Mac is going through a major ordeal, and he shouldn’t be pushing away the people closest to him. He needs to keep them close by so they can offer him support during this part of his recovery.


See also: “The Lady in the Lake” episode guide

Rachel Trongo

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Rachel Trongo

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