CSI: New York--'...Comes Around'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 10, 2007 - 8:05 AM GMT

See Also: '...Comes Around' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A bachelorette party goes horribly awry when the woman's fiance is killed in the men's bathroom after he crashes the party. Even more shocking is the identity of the suspected killer: witnesses say they saw tennis champ John McEnroe with the bride-to-be, Angie Cusato, just before her fiance, Tony Rosso, stormed into the bar. McEnroe went to buy a condom for Angie as part of the bachelorette festivities, and somehow Tony ended up dead, impaled on the comdom machine. When Danny and Stella track down McEnroe, the tennis champ denies any involvement, and he has an alibi that holds up. Gravitational blood drops at the scene match McEnroe, puzzling the CSIs, until Danny uncovers a website that sells the blood of famous people. He and Flack track down the man selling the blood, who gives up the P.O. box of the man who bought it: Jimmy Nelson, a McEnroe doppleganger. Jimmy fought with Tony over Angie and then fled the scene after inadvertantly killing Tony, hoping to protect both himself and McEnroe.

While the rest of his team works the McEnroe case, Mac faces a hearing for his involvement in serial killer Clay Dobson's death. Departmental investigator Natalie Greer goes in for the kill, questioning Flack, Danny and Stella about Mac's conduct in the case. She's quick to point out that Dobson has suspicious injuries clearly not obtained in his fall and that Mac broke procedure when he left a crime scene to pursue Dobson without telling anyone. Mac feels the walls closing in--until he receives a call from none other than Dean Truby, the corrupt officer he put away. Truby leads him to a key piece of evidence: a belt Dobson used to try to hang himself, with Deputy Inspector Gerrard's fingerprints on it. Gerrard covered up the fact that Truby slipped up and forgot to remove Dobson's belt before locking him up--not an illegal move, but one Mac tells both Gerrard and Captain Brigham Sinclair won't look good to the press. Having beat Sinclair at his own political game, Mac is cleared of all charges.

Analysis:

The CSI shows aren't known for spending significant amounts of time on character development, but I have to hand it to the four writers who put together "...Comes Around": Mac's trial, which I thought might take up a few scenes here and there, is actually just as much--if not more--of a focus as the murder mystery in this episode. And guess what? It's every bit as gripping--if not more so--than a regular episode of the show. In fact, the last episode of CSI: NY I enjoyed this much was probably "Raising Shane", which was similarly focused on the cast as an ensemble.

Gary Sinise, who never seemed to have enough to work with as Mac in the show's first two seasons, has really come into his own this year with regards to the character. Sinise does some of his best work to date in this episode as Mac, opening the character up to the audience, allowing us to see both his passion and his flaws. He came off as paranoid and defensive in "Cold Reveal", but in this episode he's calmed down to the point where the audience can see he's being railroaded.

...At least to a point. The title "...Comes Around" doesn't exonerate Mac entirely. As Natalie points out during Danny's interrogation, Mac has certainly come down on the younger CSI for actions very similar to the one that's caused him to be called onto the carpet. Danny even notes that Mac storming out of the hearing in the beginning is very much like something he would do. It's a much-appreciated nod to the first season, when Mac was incredibly hard on Danny, questioning the younger CSIs methods and judgments, and even taking him off the promotion grid for trying to defend himself to IAB against Mac's orders. Throughout the episode, the underlying idea that Mac is being taken to task for something he absolutely would have reprimanded one of his people for is certainly acknowledged, to the writers' credit.

But, Mac is the hero and ultimately he is in the right: he didn't push Dobson, and his only real sin is in violating procedure twice. He shouldn't have gone after Dobson alone and he shouldn't have holstered his weapon and gotten into a physical fight with the man in the end. Calling his entire career into question is a bit extreme, as is Natalie Greer's aggressive questioning. Though it's a hearing and not a trial, it certainly feels like a trial, even more so than when Greg was investigated for his part in the death of Demetrius James in CSI's "Post Mortem".

Ultimately the political machinations of Sinclair and Gerrard backfire, and the title of the episode applies as much, if not more so, to them than Mac. Sinclair has been pandering to the press and trying to win points with the internal investigation of Mac, and Mac manages to beat him at his own game with the help of Truby, who leads him to Dobson's belt with Gerrard's fingerprints on it. Up to this point, I thought Sinclair and Gerrard were a little more genuine than they turned out to be, perhaps due to the nuanced performances of Mykelti Williamson and Carmen Argenziano. Both actors bring depth to their roles, and I hope we'll be seeing them again at some point down the road.

There's a great pair of scenes in the middle of the episode that dovetail each other nicely: Flack and Danny meet in a bar for drinks and a game of pool one night, while the next morning Mac and Peyton breakfast together in a diner. Both Mac and Danny are in apparent need of consoling and reassurances: Mac for obvious reasons and Danny because, as the most sensitive member of the team, he takes it hard when a member of his "family" is in trouble. Danny was the one who couldn't let go of Hawkes' case in "Raising Shane," and here he questions whether the work they do as officers of the law is worth the blood, sweat and tears in the end.

Good thing Flack is there to buck him up. Flack, who always seems to have a centered, logical approach to the job and life in general, is often the only one who can get through to Danny, or who at least tries--as he did in both "On the Job" when Danny was suspected of shooting an undercover officer and "Heroes", when Danny was having difficulty processing the death of Aiden. The two characters are polar opposites in so many ways--Flack is level headed and sensible whereas Danny is all raw emotion--but they have an easy, natural friendship that plays so well on screen. The more we see of these two together, the better.

Mac and Peyton also play off each other well; I love how she urged him to go see Truby because it was the last thing I expected her to do. Peyton has been a character that's surprised and impressed from the get-go though. She's avoided the trap that so many love interest characters fall into and moved beyond that role with ease. I believe that she's a coroner who just happens to be dating one of the leads, as opposed to the other way around, and both Claire Forlani and the writers deserve props for that.

Truby's mea culpa and trump card might have been a tad too convenient, but the episode works so well that I don't mind the fact that it was a bit too easy for Mac to come up with evidence that got Sinclair and Gerrard off his back. What inspired Truby's change of heart? I would have liked to hear a few words about that at least, if for no other reason than to make him seem less like a plot device to help bring about Mac's exoneration.

To be fair, there's nothing up to that point that's too easy for Mac. From the moment he storms out of the hearing in the teaser, it's apparent that Mac is truly afraid he isn't going to get a fair trial. Flack, ever the voice of reason, follows him and suggests he should go back in and share his side of the story, something we never actually see Mac do--at least not on the stand. For all his insistence of his innocence, Mac seems to have no desire to do what Flack suggests: calmly explain what happened on the roof in the courtroom and let the facts speak for themselves.

Why does no one ever listen to poor Flack? I don't know that I've ever seen a character under the age of 70 be so consistently wise on a television show. Eddie Cahill plays him with such a genuine, straightforward air that we never hear condescension or even frustration slip into his voice. With Mac he's sympathetic and yet blunt. With Danny, he's comforting and consoling, saying just what the disillusioned CSI needs to hear. Flack sparkles every second he's on the screen.

Stella gets a few wise words in as well in her scenes with Mac. From as far back as "Blink", Stella has been a pillar of support for Mac, a favor he hasn't always returned (his distance in "All Access" immediately springs to mind). She sagely suggests it's time to for him to learn to play politics, and at the end of the episode, once he's taken her advice, she compliments him on a game well played.

For his part, Mac is a little more reserved. He worries that this isn't the end of the road when it comes to Sinclair and Gerrard--it will be interesting to see if he's right. Politics is like a game of chess, and the next move belongs to Sinclair and Gerrard. Will they consider it a stalemate, or will they be more determined than ever to bring Mac down?

Usually in an episode where a main character is in focus like this, the murder case grates in that it pulls the viewer away from the more interesting storyline, but I have to say, despite the stunt casting, I quite liked the John McEnroe case, in large part because of McEnroe himself. He was just the tiniest bit awkward, but he was downright funny in an obvious parody of himself. I loved the reference to his aggressive on court antics, as well as his outrage over Jimmy Nelson being mistaken for him (look at the nose!). McEnroe was an honest to goodness hoot, and it was a treat to watch him. The same is true of this episode.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.