CSI: New York--'Admissions'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 1, 2008 - 3:10 PM GMT

See Also: 'Admissions' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Prom night at Nathanson Academy turns tragic when guidance counselor Robert Greggs is found murdered, his face partially melted by hydrofluoric acid. Sid determines the acid killed Greggs, but also notes he took quite a beating before he died. Mac, already under pressure to make an arrest in the case of the taxi cab killer, is similarly harried on this case when he learns Inspector Stanton Gerrard's daughter, Natalie, is a student at Nathanson. The team gathers cell phones from the students, hoping to piece together the scene at the gym between 10:18 pm, the time Greggs was last seen alive, and 10:30pm, when he was found dead. Adam uses Photosynth to reconstruct the scene at the gym in pictures. Marijuana in a fish tank near Greggs' body leads the CSIs to suspect the Prom king and queen, but they insist the plants' presence was just a prank. Mac and Lindsay process Greggs' office, where Mac discovers a box of money and tokens hidden beneath the closet floorboards. The tokens lead Mac and Flack to a laundromat where they discover a hidden gambling hall. Mac catches sight of a man wearing Greggs' watch, but the guy claims Greggs gave it to him to pay off a debt, and has an alibi for the night of the murder. While the CSIs work their case, the Taxi Cab killer stalks another victim.

Hawkes discovers pepper spray around the victim's eyes, and he's traced keys found in the victim's hand back to Natalie Gerrard. Inspector Gerrard isn't happy about his daughter being questioned, but Mac reassures him. Mac and Lindsay speak with Natalie, trying to find out why her grades plummeted and she suddenly opted out of college. When Mac asks her if make-up found on Greggs' sleeve is hers, Gerrard storms in and ends the interrogation. Using Photosynth, Stella and Adam catch sight of a picture of Greggs leaving the gym, following someone wearing skull and crossbones cufflinks. Adam locates the boy, Jesse Carver, in another picture. Flack questions him, but the boy says he was only going to get his girlfriend Lacey Pearlman's keys. Before Flack can get further, the boy's father, Wallace, arrives at the station and puts an end to the interrogation. Mac joins Adam in the lab, studying the images from Photosynth and sees Natalie departing at the same time Greggs left with Jesse. Mac and Lindsay question Natalie again with Gerrard present, but Natalie soon asks to speak to Lindsay alone. She tells the CSI that she and Jesse dated, and that he got her drunk one night and raped her. She recalls another man being in the room as well. After seeing Jesse with Lacey, she turned to Greggs, hoping to prevent another girl from suffering what she did. Gerrard looks on, distraught. Natalie turns over the dress she was wearing the night she was raped, and semen on it matches Wallace and Jesse Carver--who are not in fact father and son but two adult men. Jesse, who is actually 32, has been posing as a high school student to get access to teenage girls. Mac and Flack apprehend the two men who say little before asking for lawyers. The CSIs leave the interrogation rooms, but rush back when they hear a gunshot ring out. They discover Gerrard, standing over Jesse's dead body, a gun in his hand.

Analysis:

What has gotten into Mac Taylor lately? Over the last few episodes--since the 333 caller was put away--we've seen a kinder, gentler Mac Taylor. He stood by Danny after Ruben Sandoval's death in "Child's Play". He gave Reed the scoop on the Taxi Cab Killer in "Like Water For Murder"--the same episode where he cut Lindsay slack despite the fact that she left evidence out and made the lab look bad during an evaluation. And in this episode, we see Mac being downright compassionate to Stanton Gerrard when the man's daughter gets caught up in a murder investigation. There was clearly nothing political about Mac's desire to make things as easy as possible for Gerrard and his daughter; Mac was simply being compassionate.

It's something of a surprising move, given Mac's history with Gerrard. Gerrard was a thorn in Mac's side when Hawkes was framed for murder in "Raising Shane" and during a high profile investigation in "A Daze of Wine and Roaches". Even more than that, Mac believed Gerrard had it in for him after serial killer Clay Dobson plunged from a roof after an altercation with Mac in "Past Imperfect". Mac essentially blackmailed Gerrard and Chief Sinclair in "...Comes Around", bringing about an uneasy truce that ended the investigation into his actions with Dobson, but likely didn't endear him to either man. It's gratifying to see Mac, who isn't the most flexible or forgiving of men, acting so compassionate towards Gerrard. He could have easily taken a hard line with Gerrard--the man's daughter was at the center of a murder investigation--but it's gratifying to see him choose not to.

Gerrard is in a truly untenable position. He fights to protect his daughter from an interrogation that could implicate her only to discover he wasn't able to protect her from the real threat: a rapist disguised as a high school student preying on teenage girls. Carmen Argenziano turns in an incredibly sympathetic performance, as does the girl who plays his daughter, Kelen Coleman. Argenziano is particularly good, making the audience feel his pain as a father upon discovering what's happened to his daughter and the anger that causes him to shoot Jesse point blank in the head at the end of the episode. It's ironic that in this moment Gerrard probably understands Mac's actions back on that roof last season, but unlike Mac, Gerrard's action will without a doubt end his career.

Career-ending or not, Gerrard's shooting of the man who raped his daughter is something it's hard to fault him for. Few baddies are as demonically unrepentant as this duo is. Their plan was elaborate and downright evil. I would have loved to see Danny's reaction to them--as the most emotional character on the show, he no doubt would have gotten worked up about it, but I understand why he was removed from the episode so early in the game. His emotional reaction would have taken away from Gerrard's, and that wouldn't have worked as well as it did, and it might have taken away from the shocking sadness of the ending. Gerrard ended his career with that shot, and though no one will shed a tear over Jesse's death, it's sad to see Gerrard's life ripped apart by the case.

The episode's sole misstep is to put Lindsay in the room with Natalie. It's understandable that Natalie would want to speak to a woman, but Lindsay's blank expression and detached demeanor strike the wrong chord in the scene. Anna Belknap simply doesn't have the range to pull it off; she comes off as cold where she should be compassionate. Melina Kanakaredes has perfected the art of being compassionate without seeming weak or to be over-involved; Stella would have been a better choice by far, but even the male characters would have been warmer than Lindsay is. She's not even really awkward, which would have been another direction to go in, one that would have been interesting given Lindsay's inability to really connect with other people. Instead, she's just flat, which makes Lindsay look cold and unfeeling in the face of Natalie's pain.

There's great banter between the characters in this episode--scribe Zachary Reiter has an especially good feel for who the characters are and how they interact with and play off each other. Mac and Stella ask who discovered the body in unison, and Flack teases them about working together too long. Reiter even riffs on Danny's use--or overuse--of the word "boom" by having Flack say it and Mac retort that Flack and Danny have been working together for too long. The scene is a cute, light one that underscores the show's strongest relationships: Mac's friendship with Stella and Flack's with Danny. It is these two relationships that far and away run the deepest on the show, and are often the most interesting to watch.

It was nice to see Danny and Hawkes working together again, albeit briefly as Danny is in the early part of the episode but then absent from the rest of it. Their first scene together is hilarious, with Hawkes geeking out over the hydrofluoric acid and Danny playing the part of the over-eager high school student, calling out "pick me! pick me!" Danny strolls up to the chalkboard and writes N(E)R(D) for the chemical equation Hawkes is looking for, and Hawkes fires off, "That's cold, man" in response. It's a laugh out loud moment between the two, and reminded me of how much I enjoyed them working together back in season two when they were often paired up. Unlike when he's paired with the hilariously snarky Flack, Danny gets to be the funny one when he's with Hawkes because Hawkes is the quintessential straight man, easily and unwittingly setting up Danny's jokes.

Adam has truly grown comfortable in the lab; he's caught by both Stella and Mac on separate occasions getting a little too into catching bad guys with Photosynth. Adam has clearly had a few too many Ho-Hos and is operating on some sort of sugar high because he's delightfully, amusingly weird throughout the episode, earning reactions from his bosses. But the funniest moment of the episode occurs in the morgue, when Sid reveals that he sometimes wonders what it would be like to drink acid or autopsy himself while still alive and Mac plays along, pretending he's thought about those things, too. Sid doesn't get it until he turns around and sees the expression on Mac's face, and realizes Mac wasn't being serious. Robert Joy and Gary Sinise play off each other so well, as this scene readily illustrates.

The audience is spared another round of Danny and Lindsay Drama-rama in this episode, thankfully, but the absence of any interaction between Danny and Lindsay make it glaringly clear how little she's connected with anyone else on the team. In an episode where we see all of the other characters bantering, teasing each other or in some other way displaying their closeness, Lindsay is the only one left out in the cold, the sole character who doesn't have one of those moments with another character. It's rather telling that even after three years, Lindsay still feels like an outsider on the show, the one who to most of the other characters is more like a co-worker than a friend. I suppose, given that Danny is the only character she really shares any connection with, it's too much to hope that their chemistry-free match-up is actually at an end.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.