Review: CSI: New York — ‘Late Admissions’

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The team investigates the death of a student, while Lindsay heads to Montana to bring closure to a dark chapter of her past.

Synopsis:

Teenagers are sitting down to take the SATs, but not before crushing and snorting pills to give them an edge. One boy doesn’t make it to the test, however. Luke Stevenson is found dead in the library, and it has been a week since his friend Nate overdosed on prescription drugs mixed with alcohol. Luke has a bag of dextroamphetamines in his backpack, but he wasn’t taking the drugs. Fingerprints on the bag lead back to Billy Wharton, a boy with a prescription for dextro who claims that Luke stole them from him. They got into a fight the day before, and Billy claims that Luke cheated off him on a test. Mac and Flack, however, aren’t buying his story.

Danny locates a long, blonde hair that has been damaged by exposure to a swimming pool. He matches it to one of the girls from the swim team, Melanie. She was dating Nate, and she says the boy changed after he got addicted to dextro. They wonder if she killed Luke for dealing drugs to her boyfriend, but Melanie insists that Luke took Nate’s death hard. She brought him Nate’s pocket watch because she thought Nate would want him to have it, but she didn’t kill him.

Danny tests a blank page in Luke’s notebook, discovering that there are impressions from the writing on the previous page. Luke was writing a letter to the New York Times, planning to blow the whistle about the rampant dextro use at the school. Believing that Billy was involved, they check his phone and figure out that he was selling to a lot of other students, including Melanie. She had a lot to lose if Luke went public with the story, but Billy told her he’d take care of it.

Billy offers to make a trade with the CSIs, trying to save himself. The principal, Mr Connors, knew about the drugs, and he did nothing because the increased performance from the students made him and the school look good. Hawkes reconstructs the shattered coffee mug used to kill Luke, but the fingerprints he gets aren’t complete enough to prove that Mr Connors held the murder weapon. Mac has Hawkes digitally complete the fingerprints, showing the doctored image to Connors so that he will confess. The man tried to convince Luke not to come forward because it would ruin his life, but Luke couldn’t stop thinking about Nate. He had to do what was right, but Connors lost his temper and grabbed the mug to kill the boy.


Analysis:

The main case in “Late Admissions” involves high school students taking performance-enhancing drugs to deal with their stressful course load. Several scenes in the episode focus on interaction between Mac and Frank Stevenson. The audience has never met the man before, but we learn he and Mac have known each other for years. A few lines of dialogue establish the relationship, although it would be great if we could have seen the men interact before this episode; however, I do know that sort of set-up probably isn’t feasible for a procedural crime drama, especially when the payoff is a storyline that only lasts for one episode.

Frank’s son is the victim, and he’s clearly distraught about Luke’s death. He wants to help the CSIs with the case, but his grief drives him to cross the line. Mac catches him heading toward Billy, assuming that the man is going to attack the boy he considers responsible for his son’s death. Instead, Frank pulls out Billy’s psychiatric records. A judge owed him a favor, so he found out the boy had multiple prescriptions for dextro. Mac wants to bring down the killer, but he’s livid about Frank putting the case—and his career—at risk instead of letting the CSIs do their job. He does convince the man to back off, and in the end he’s able to give Frank some closure. It’s an interesting subplot for Mac, emphasizing his desire to help a friend and bring a killer to justice, but not at the expense of his integrity as a police officer.

The secondary storyline in the episode also deals with the tragic deaths of young people, but this time it’s a personal story that focuses on Lindsay. This is the second episode that follows a team member home, following Flack’s story in “Misconceptions” earlier this year. Lindsay’s storyline revisits the tragic deaths of her friends when she was a teenager, which viewers first learned about back in season three. In “Slight Out of Hand”, Lindsay took the stand in Montana to testify against Daniel Katums. The man shot her three friends in a diner, and she was the only one who survived because she was in the bathroom when Katums opened fire.

This week, Lindsay heads home once again, this time to witness Katums’ execution. The episode does not clarify her reason for heading to Montana immediately, instead teasing the story over the course of the hour. Unfortunately, Katums’ name is only mentioned at the very end of the episode, and fans who don’t remember the storyline from nearly six years ago (or newer fans who didn’t watch the show back then) might be confused about what’s going on.

At the beginning of the hour, Lindsay gets a phone call from Danny after she wakes up in Montana, but she chooses not to answer it. Since she’s not in New York, and the episode hasn’t explained the situation yet, it might seem like the couple is having trouble. That isn’t the case, of course, and despite her reluctance to speak to Danny directly, Lindsay doesn’t hesitate to listen to his encouraging voicemail. It’s obvious that he wants some reassurance that his wife is doing okay, but he doesn’t push it. During the original Katums case, communication was definitely not Danny and Lindsay’s strong suit, but they’re married with a child now, and they seem to have a stable and comfortable relationship. This time around, Lindsay’s desire to keep a bit of distance doesn’t feel like she’s pushing Danny away, which is how it seemed back in season three. This is just something she needs to do for herself.

As for Danny, he wants to be there for Lindsay, but he doesn’t take it upon himself to fly out to Montana like he did six years ago. It’s clear that he trusts Lindsay to come to him if she really needs him. He does, however, wait for her on the stoop in front of their home at the end of the hour, coffee cup in hand. Lindsay sees him when she climbs out of the cab, and they hug before heading inside. It’s a sweet gesture, showing that he was eager to see her and be there for her, but without the whole flying-across-the-country element from “Sleight Out of Hand”.

The scenes with Lindsay and her father are great, and James Read is an excellent choice to play Robert. There’s an easy sort of chemistry between him and Anna Belknap, and it’s nice to see their dynamic play out onscreen. Robert is waiting out by the truck as soon as Lindsay wakes up, ready to take her fishing. I’m glad we get to see Lindsay against that backdrop, offering a glimpse at a side of her we don’t see when she’s solving crimes in the Big Apple. While they’re out on the water, they have a heart-to-heart about her reason for being back home in the first place. Robert wants to protect his daughter, and he’s worried that she’ll just cause more heartbreak for herself by going to see Katums—it won’t change the way she feels or get rid of the pain. She’s adamant, however, and Robert doesn’t pressure her. She’s a grown woman and a mother, and all he can do is offer to stand beside her. It’s nice to see Lindsay’s relationship with her father get some focus since most of her major development over the years has been tied to Danny.

Lindsay goes to speak to Katums on her own, which is a stark contrast to her fear at being in the same courtroom with him six years ago. He’s about to be executed, safely stuck behind bars, but it still takes a lot of strength for Lindsay to confront the man and try to get some answers. Her father offers to go with her to speak to Katums, but she has to do this herself. Katums has always claimed that he’s innocent, but when the time comes, he offers up a belated apology for what he has done. It’s good to get closure on this part of Lindsay’s past, and I’m glad they got Jason Dibler to reprise his role after first playing Katums in “Sleight Out of Hand”.

“Late Admissions” also features several flashbacks of Lindsay with her friends, which we didn’t get back in season three. The audience gets to actually meet the girls, adding an extra layer of sadness to the fact that they died so young. One of Lindsay’s friends, it is revealed, was named Lucy. Back when Lindsay and Danny’s daughter was born at the end of season five (“Greater Good”), there was a bit of debate between husband and wife about what they would name their baby. Lucy was actually Danny’s choice, while Lindsay preferred Lydia. Danny won out in the end, but the flashbacks this week offer a hint about why Lindsay might have been reluctant to choose the name, even if it did belong to a dear friend—the thought of calling her daughter Lucy might have seemed like a daily reminder of tragic loss. Now, of course, I’m sure she couldn’t imagine calling the little girl anything else.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about Lindsay’s storyline this week. I liked seeing her as a teenager, bonding with the friends that she lost, and I especially love the father-daughter moments in the episode. The two scenes with Danny (or a scene and a phonecall, I suppose) were nice as well. I do like that her storyline is a continuation of something viewers first learned about so many years ago—with a procedural drama like CSI: New York, longterm continuity usually takes a backseat to the case of the week. However, although there were elements that I liked, I do wonder if the tease-and-reveal nature of the storytelling was a good choice. I’m a more dedicated viewer than many, I’m sure, but it might have been too confusing for less avid viewers to know what was actually happening. Plus, this secondary storyline was slow-paced, especially with all of the flashbacks, and it might have brought down the flow of the episode for anyone who isn’t curious about the characters’ personal lives. That said, I do think it was an interesting departure from the usual method of storytelling, and I appreciate the writers’ decision to mix things up. We’ve learned some really interesting things about Flack and Lindsay so far, and I’m looking forward to watching other characters on their days off.


See also: “Late Admissions” episode guide

Rachel Trongo

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Rachel Trongo

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