CSI: New York--'Buzzkill'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 15, 2007 - 9:18 AM GMT

See Also: 'Buzzkill' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

While Stella meets her persistent suitor Drew Bedford for a drink, model Jenna Donovan dies in an oversized martini glass at a martini ad party in front of a Times Square billboard. The CSIs first presume she was killed by tennis balls that pelted the party at high speeds, but it turns out the alcoholic who launched the balls from an athletic research company nearby wasn't responsible for her death; Jenna was in an altercation shortly before she died that could have resulted in the pulmonary edema that killed her. The CSIs discover Jenna's purse was filled with lollipops containing a street drug called Magic and trace a piece of jewelry back to a local shop, where they find some of the lollipops. The proprietor, Pattie Larkin, admits to scuffling with Jenna, trying to get to the drugs, but she claims she left Jenna alive. Flack is ready to put her away for murder--until Sid discovers a chemical burn on Jenna's arm that could have had something to do with her death. It proves to be the key when the CSIs find small but deadly jellyfish in a beach ball Jenna was holding. Stella and Lindsay question Damien Barnes, the party's mastermind, and Lia Ramsey, another model and learn Lia is at fault, but that Damien, rather than Jenna, was her target. He stole her idea for the parties, so she planted the jellyfish in the beach ball he was going to blow up for the party, but a slit in the ball saved him and instead led to Jenna's death when she tossed the ball around.

Danny rushes to the hospital in an ambulance alongside Brandi Parsons, who was shot in the head during a robbery in Club Prowl, where she worked as a bartender. He reassures her boyfriend, Paul, while he waits at the hospital, hoping to question Brandi. But all is not as it seems when Brandi's surgeon, Gavin Moore, pulls Mac aside and tells him that his brother, Charles, has been abducted and that the kidnappers are threatening to kill him if Gavin doesn't let Brandi die. When Angell mentions Brandi's mother is dead--something that directly contradicts what Paul told Danny, Danny realizes that Paul lied to him. Surveillance footage reveals Paul outside the club during the robbery, confirming he was in on it. Semen on Brandi's clothes matches semen on the robber's mask, which another victim who didn't survive the robbery ripped off. Brandi was shot because she could identify the robber.

Hawkes links a bat bone back to the shop where Paul worked, and the owner gives the CSIs a last name for Paul: Campbell. The CSIs trace Charles Moore's cell phone back to Paul's apartment, where they find evidence of a struggle, but no sign of either Paul, his roommate, or Charles. Danny finds a mailing box with a torn off piece of money on it, and Hawkes goes through the computer cache to get the name of Paul's accomplice: James Petty. Danny isn't able to recover the address on the mailing label at first, but he comes up with the idea to bake it in an incubator oven and comes up with an address. He, Angell and Hawkes rush there and discover Paul and James with Charles and the money. Danny is relieved to tell Mac that Brandi made it through her surgery and is going to live.

Analysis:

Nothing is what it seems in "Buzzkill," at least not at first glance. The model who appears to have been felled by a tennis ball was actually killed by injuries she received during a fight--no wait, she was really killed by a tiny, fatal jellyfish that wasn't even intended for her. Can we just say poor Jenna Donovan was doomed? I loved Sid's analogy that her body was like his uncle, who told never-ending stories. It's a sad irony that after all that detective work, it turns out that Jenna was never the target to begin with; Lia was after Damien, who stole her idea and turned it into a highly profitable, high profile reality.

The twist in the other case--that Paul wasn't really Brandi's boyfriend--was a bit more obvious, but still satisfying. Poor, sweet Danny really is a terrible judge of character, and as soon as I saw him going out of his way to console Paul, I immediately suspected the guy was involved with the robbery/shooting somehow. Danny trusting the wrong person yet again is a nice bit of continuity; his emotions make him sweet and caring, but they often lead him in the wrong direction. When Danny sees someone acting upset over someone he/she cares about being hurt or killed, he takes it at face value, when often he shouldn't.

Though his emotions often lead him astray, they're also an asset: Danny won't quit until the job is done, even if at that point he's barely standing. Danny camps out at the hospital for hours, hoping to get a statement from Brandi, and when Mac tries to send him home, or even to get something to eat, Danny ignores him. The dynamic between the two is rather touching, and Gary Sinise and Carmine Giovinazzo give it an element of the father/son relationship that was front and center with Mac and Danny in the show's first season. There's a vulnerability about Danny that makes tougher characters like Mac and Flack instinctively try to look out for him.

Danny goes on an emotional rollercoaster ride in the episode, first determined to see that Brandi survives and then channeling that intensity into rage when he learns Paul--someone he trusted, or at least took at face value--is involved in the crime. Danny practically snarls, "It's the boyfriend" at Paul when the CSIs finally catch up to him and his cohort, disdain and anger dripping from his voice. I realize every episode can't be an emotionally intense one for Danny, but when Giovinazzo gets these storylines, he runs with them and really shines. Danny's compassion and empathy, paired with his passionate intensity, really do make him incredibly compelling to watch.

The case, something of a rollercoaster ride itself, ends abruptly, and we never do get a wrap-up questioning session with either Paul or his partner in crime, James. Their motive--presumably greed--is probably pretty obvious, but I still would have loved to see Danny or Mac face off against Paul in the interrogation room. I assume the scene was possibly cut for time, but the lack of it highlights how necessary that final denouement really is. Without it, the case feels oddly unfinished, especially given how upset Danny was when he discovered Paul was one of the perpetrators. Danny--and the audience--was denied what would have been a fun face-off to watch.

A face-off we're not denied is the one between Stella and Drew, but when I saw Stella meeting him on a deserted roof, I was really close to yelling at my television set. Why, oh why would Stella agree to meet with Drew after he's already creeped her out? While Kerr Smith does a good job of not making Drew come off as a total sleazeball, the fact that he's sending Stella gifts at work and coming on way too strong for her liking makes it logical to conclude that Stella--especially after her experience with Frankie--would want to play it safe. So, again, I come back to the question: why is she meeting Drew on a deserted roof? If she really wanted to tell him to back off, calling him into the police station and sitting him down in an interrogation room would have made the point much clearer than basically meeting him for a romantic date and having a glass of wine with him. Stella's a smart woman, so I wish the writers would stop making her so dumb when it comes to men.

Drew has one thing going for him: he's a Chicago Cubs fan who still hasn't gotten over the Steve Bartman debacle of four years ago. Let's see: Drew is probably from Chicago. Mac is from Chicago. Mac has been harassed by persistent calls at 3:33am, which according to the Voodoo specialist in "Boo", might tie in with "sins from youth." The pieces seem to be falling into place, and with Stella and Mac both being "stalked" (albeit in very different ways), the likelihood is that, as Mac would say, "everything is connected."

One more query: isn't A. J. Buckley a regular cast member now? So why is he being listed in the credits as a special guest star--in an episode where he doesn't even appear? Buckley, a truly talented actor who has over the past few years grown Adam from a minor oddity to an essential member of the CSI team, deserves his place in the opening credits--and in the show.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.