The owner of a popular speakeasy is killed and robbed, and Adam spends his day off with his sick father.
A woman heads through a phonebooth and into a hidden bar, a modern-day speakeasy that is filled with customers. The owners, Jason and Eli, are enjoying big success with this business venture. Jason’s girlfriend Courtney dances on the bar, and she tries to flirt with him while he works, but it’s obvious that there’s tension between them.
By the end of the night, Jason winds up dead in a Christmas tree lot. He has been hit over the head, and a protrusion from the chain-link fence stabbed through his neck during a struggle. Some of the bar’s money is missing from the bank deposit bag beside him, but the killer didn’t take it all. The wound on Jason’s head is from a gun—he was pistol-whipped, but the killer never fired the gun. Blood on Jason’s watch, which is covered by his gloves, leads the team to investigate an earlier struggle at the bar. The DNA matches Nathan Brody, who admits that he got into a fight with Jason after sneaking into the speakeasy. He claims it was just a random bar, but Flack and Danny don’t think it’s a coincidence.
Jason ingested methanol, which converted to formaldehyde and then to formic acid. Mac thinks this process is responsible for a recent series of police reports relating to disorderly conduct and public intoxication near the speakeasy. Lindsay tests the alcohol at the bar and discovers that there’s counterfeit vodka in the back. It contains methanol, which is essentially poison that causes a mild reaction similar to being drunk. The bar had been serving it, but they stopped. The CSIs talk to the man who sold the vodka, and he says Jason confronted him about selling fake alcohol. However, the bar knew exactly what it was getting. Courtney was the one buying the vodka, and Jason confronted her about it. She was trying to save money, but Jason had no idea that they were having financial problems. She and Eli were just trying to find ways to cut corners, although Courtney never told Eli about the counterfeit alcohol.
The pistol used to hit Jason over the head is a starter pistol—the killer just wanted to scare him, not kill him. There are also traces of denim and boric acid in the head wound, which leads to denim insulation. Eli and Jason used to work for a company that installed this type of insulation, and one of the houses they worked on belonged to Nathan’s grandmother. Nathan just got out of prison after serving five years for stealing $10,000. The money was never recovered because Nathan hid it in his grandmother’s attic, but it wasn’t there after he was released from prison. He figured out that Jason worked for the company that replaced the attic insulation, so he went after the man to take the money back. However, Jason had nothing to do with it; Eli found the money, and he assumed that no one would realize it was missing. He didn’t tell Jason the truth, lying and saying that he won the money in Atlantic City. They used the cash as starter money to open the speakeasy.
“The Real McCoy” checks off one of the biggest items on my CSI: New York wishlist: we’ve finally met Adam’s father. I’ve been curious about Adam’s family for years, and the knowledge that his father was a bully (as revealed in “Some Buried Bones”) only increased my desire to see him on the show. The story this week does not disappoint; it really pulls at the heartstrings to watch Adam deal with his father’s mental decline due to Alzheimer’s disease, and the episode features a phenomenal acting effort from AJ Buckley and guest star James Handy.
Adam’s frustration and pain are palpable, and Charles changes from one moment to the next. One minute, he thinks Adam is his brother, Brian, and they’re playing a friendly game, but an edge appears when Adam tries to help the man take the proper number of game tiles. A minute later, Charles gets paranoid, claiming another woman in the nursing home keeps taking his wallet, and he’s in an irritated state when he takes off. When Adam finds the man in the precinct, Charles is angry, and he finally recognizes Adam—but his response is to call his son a disappointment, to shove him and blame him for the fact that Charles is lost and confused. A uniformed officer takes Charles into an interrogation room, and a few minutes later he seems upbeat and even innocent when Adam brings him a milkshake. His memory and mood are in a constant state of flux, and it’s obvious that it wears on Adam. Charles has always been hard on his son, and now Adam can’t even count on the man knowing who he is from one moment to the next.
One particularly interesting interaction between father and son happens when Adam gets Charles back to the nursing home. Charles mentions his arm, which was broken years ago when his own father lost his temper after Charles and his brother stole some beer to impress two girls. Charles references other times that he was hit, and he says his father would have hit Brian too if Charles hadn’t protected him. Adam wonders why Charles let his father hit him, but he was only 15 at the time. Adam tries to ask more questions, but Charles says they shouldn’t remember that stuff. Unfortunately, Adam’s memory is fully intact, and he can’t forget all of the times his father hurt him. Charles is wide-eyed and confused, still believing that Adam is Brian, and Adam gets frustrated. He needs his father to acknowledge the pain he caused him, but Charles simply can’t force his brain to cooperate. It’s heartbreaking to see them both so helpless in the face of this disease.
Adam has a wonderful scene with Mac at the end of the hour, and it really highlights the fatherly dynamic that has developed between Mac and the younger members of the team—which is in stark contrast to the relationship between Adam and his actual father. Adam has always seemed to be the youngest member of the group (I don’t think his age has ever been clarified, but he’s definitely the ‘youngest’ in terms of his interests and personality), and that has always made the scenes between him and Mac stand out compared to the rest of the team. Adam will do something silly, and Mac will be the exasperated parent who occasionally makes Adam nervous. This week, however, the focus is on a much more serious side of their relationship, and the acting between Buckley and Gary Sinise is understated but powerful. Adam can open up to Mac in a way that he can’t with his own father—in a way he’s never been able to open up to his own father. Adam is scared of the fact that he feels nothing when he sees that his father is old and sick, and he wonders what it says about him. Even though his father was always abusive, Adam goes to see him because he wants to feel something. All he ends up feeling is hurt and anger, and Mac tells him that he should forgive his father and let that anger go—not just for his father, but for himself. The scene ends with Mac reaching out to put a comforting hand on the back of Adam’s neck. It’s a really intense and heartfelt moment between these two men, and I’m glad Mac took the time to come see Adam away from work to be there for him in a personal capacity. There’s no doubt that Mac wants to be there for his employees on the job, but it’s nice to be reminded that he really considers them to be his family.
The episode also introduces Adam’s girlfriend Michelle. This is the first time we’ve seen her, but since New York usually focuses on the characters during work hours, it makes sense that we wouldn’t have met her before. Adam and Michelle share a cute scene at the beginning of the hour, as Adam gets ready to leave. They tease each other, but despite the fondness between them, Adam doesn’t tell her the real reason he’s going to the nursing home. He says he’s volunteering, which she approves of, but it’s obvious that he isn’t quite ready to share all of his more painful secrets. When she shows up later on, however, she comes face-to-face with the reality that Adam was trying to hide from her. While Adam is distracted, his father takes off out the door, and Michelle goes with Adam to track the man down at the police station. She watches, horrified, as Charles berates his son and talks down to him while he’s surrounded by his colleagues. It’s a difficult scene to watch, seeing the emotion on Adam’s face and wishing that he didn’t have the added pain of being treated that way in front of people he knows and cares about. We don’t see Michelle again until the very last scene of the episode, and Adam is nervous as he tells her he’d understand if she wanted to walk away. They’ve only been together for a few months, and he has a lot of baggage. Michelle shrugs that off, insisting that everyone has baggage, and she’s willing to help him shoulder that burden. Relieved, Adam shares the one good memory he has of his father: going to the record store when he was a kid. He puts on a record, The Troggs’ 1966 single “With a Girl Like You”, and the couple dances around the apartment. It’s a sweet moment, and it ends Adam’s storyline on a hopeful note. I’m glad Adam has someone who wants to share his life, even when things aren’t pretty, and it’s great that the audience finally got a chance to learn more about his character.
Another couple that gets some focus this week is Mac and Christine. In “Clue SI”, Mac finally told Christine about his ongoing struggle with aphasia, and Christine promised to be there for him. This week, Christine asks Mac about his latest doctor’s appointment while the couple shares a moment in the park. Mac reveals that he’s showing steady improvement, and he says he couldn’t have done it without her. It’s good that Mac finally let Christine in and accepted her help and support, and it looks like things are moving in a positive direction. Since it doesn’t seem to be a pressing issue anymore (it hasn’t been mentioned in several weeks), might we have seen the last of the aphasia storyline? Only time will tell, but it has certainly been an interesting element of season nine so far.
See also: “The Real McCoy” episode guide