CSI: New York--'Corporate Warriors'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 20, 2005 - 10:15 PM GMT

See Also: 'Corporate Warriors' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A man stumbles around the San Gennaro Street Festival before collapsing dead in the street while horrified pedestrians look on. Stella takes charge of the crime scene when Mac is called away to Central Park, where Lindsay is already photographing the body of Jared Stanton, who sits on a bench, upright but dead with a deep cut to his throat. Mac lists Stanton's head clear off his body, revealing that his head was completely severed. Hawkes and Flack are at the scene of an apartment fire where a ten-year-old boy, James Walker, died from smoke inhalation. Hawkes sees burns on the boy's hand and wonders why he wasn't able to get out in time.

At the morgue, Dr. Zao shows Stella that the victim from the fair was killed by a splinter to his heart. He also shows her the man's bones have been surgically enhanced--tissue from his pelvis has been grafted onto the bones of his hands, making them stronger and more lethal. Stella and Danny examine the splinter and determine it is made out of cocobollo wood. Back at the apartment, Hawkes discovers that the outlet where the fire originated has been tampered with--it was unscrewed and screwed back in. When James' devastated mother, Karen, comes in with her boyfriend, Luke Robertson, a sympathetic Hawkes gives her his card, which irritates Flack, who tells him that his job is to analyze the crime scene, not console survivors.

Stella and Danny go to the San Gennaro fair to retrace their victim's steps based on the food that ended up on his clothes. A trail of blood leads them to Bowery Billiards, where they find the pool hall in shambles. The owner, Maddy, tells them two men had a Matrix-style fight in the hall, battling with pool cues and martial arts moves. The CSIs survey the scene and notice a shoe print--on the ceiling. In the lab, Stella is able to match one of the pool cues to the shard that killed the victim while Danny gets a clear tread from the shoe print on the ceiling. Dr. Zao has traced the work on the victim's hands to a local hospital and obtained an ID: Greg Thompson. Lindsay didn't get anything off Jared Stanton's clothes, but she did find a memo from American Pacific Worldwide indicating the company was inflating stock prices. Was Jared a whistleblower? Mac pays the CEO of APW, Paul Martin, a visit and is surprised to notice exotic weaponry around Martin's office. Jared was his chief financial officer, and Martin denies killling him.

Mac approaches Hawkes, who is hard at work on the outlet from the apartment fire, in the lab to ask about his progress. Hawkes shows him the wire from the outlet, which is burned outside but not inside, proving that the fire was started externally. He finds trace from potato chips on the outlet and recalls cases where chips were used to start fires in insurance scams. Stella and Danny pay a visit to Greg Thompson's spartan apartment where they see signs of a struggle. Danny finds a long blonde hair in Greg's bed, and Stella discovers an ID card for APW. Greg worked at the same company Jared did, and apparently was the chief operations officer. Mac and Stella confer: they have two dead employees from the same company. How are they connected. Mac confiscates Paul Martin's weapons and tests them out on a post, determining that it must have been the samurai sword, the katana, that killed Jared.

Hawkes cleans off a chess board and discovers a name on it, Tom Nikkos. Flack tells Hawkes that James was online playing chess when the fire started. Lindsay pays Paul Martin a visit and he tells her anyone could have taken the katana from his office. The APW employees train together as martial artists. Jared took yoga instead, but Paul tells Lindsay he was about to name Jared as his successor. Stella has a hit off some blood from Greg's apartment, which matches Lisa Kay, an APW employee who has a record for assault. Lisa tells Mac that she trained with Greg in his apartment and also that they were having an affair, but denies killing him, despite claiming that she was better qualified than either him or Jared.

Hawkes tracks down Tom Nikkos in a public chess park. The teen is bitter about being beat by James and says that he demanded a rematch with the ten-year-old. He lost again and lost his chessboard to James. Hawkes is surprised to spot Luke Robertson with his young daughter Nina playing chess a few tables away. In the lab, Danny is able to match the fibers from Greg's coat with fibers on the katana's handle. Danny also notes that Greg's last two calls were to Jared, and that Greg had bark on his clothes that matches the tree behind the bench Jared was sitting on. Greg lured Jared to the bench and killed him, but who killed Greg?

Flack brings Hawkes Nina Robertson's laptop--she was playing chess with James when the fire started. The shoe impression on the ceiling of Bowery Billiards leads Mac right to Paul Martin. Greg, envious that Jared was going to be named Paul's successor, lured Jared to the park and planted a fake memo on him to make it look like Paul had killed him to keep him quiet. Paul claims that Greg came after him and that he fought him in self-defense. He said Greg misused the power that martial arts had given him. Dr. Hawkes zeroes in on Luke Robertson, who set the fire in the apartment. Hawkes knows that Luke didn't realize James was in the apartment until he went home and found Nina online with him. He rushed back but it was too late. Hawkes urges him to turn himself in, and Luke laments that all he wanted was for Karen and James to move in with him and his daughter so that they could all be a family.

Analysis:

"Corporate Warriors" highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of the changes that have permeated CSI: NY this season. The stories have been lighter this season, but they've lacked the emotional impact that several of the episodes last season offered. For all the cool visuals in the primary case (the two corporate employee murders), the resolution feels pretty hollow. There was no real other viable suspect other than Paul Martin--Lisa Kay barely registered and was an obvious red herring--so when it comes back to him, it's not really surprising. If it truly was self-defense, why didn't he tell Mac what happened in the beginning? Self-defense is murky at best, but the ending to the case feels anti-climactic, most likely because no other suspects seemed likely, and Paul Martin is a pretty colorless villain. Even Mac can't muster much disdain for him.

Part of the problem is that the CSIs don't seem to take this case very seriously. Stella and Danny are practically giggling as they listen to the story Maddy tells about the Matrix-like fight that went down between the two men in the pool hall. Mac cracks a joke as he lifts Jared's head off his body. Admittedly, the joke is funny, especially to faithful New York viewers who undoubtedly got a chuckle out of Mac quipping, "Sometimes, everything isn't connected." It's funny, but it does nothing to detract from new glib slickness the show seems to be expousing.

Faithful CSI show viewers no doubt groaned when they saw Mac handling the weapons without gloves. After nine completed seasons of CSI shows, viewers are sharp enough to know that's a big no-no. It's a glaring error, and there's no excuse for that level of sloppiness. I suspect part of the motivation behind having Mac handle the weapon sans gloves was simply so that it would look cooler. But if we're going to take the science in the show seriously (necessary stretches aside) then we shouldn't be seeing mistakes like Mac playing with evidence without latex gloves.

I'd also like to know when Mac became a weapons expert. Like Danny did with the art forgery detection in "Tri-Borough", Mac sure seems to know a whole lot about something that is a specialty interest. Even if Mac knows weapons for his job as CSI, I suspect that's more guns and knives and less ancient Japanese swords and fans with knives concealed beneath their folds. Couldn't Mac have mentioned an interest in Asian weaponry? It would have added depth to the character and made the knowledge seem less out of the blue.

In her second episode, Lindsay Monroe grates on the nerves somewhat. With her too-eager-to-please attitude and her penchant for answering questions before they're asked (and then over-explaining how she knew they would be asked) she comes off as an obnoxious teacher's pet type. She had a great line about the tea pot being pointed in the wrong direction, but the writers need to temper her eagerness with more humor along those lines.

The secondary case is much stronger, mostly because of the strength of Hill Harper's performance. He has a deep-seated compassion that makes him immensely likable, and sheds light on his decision to leave the morgue. In "Grand Murder at Central Station", Hawkes makes reference to being a surgeon prior to being a coroner, and I'm starting to think his desire to get out into the field was motivated by a need to be near the living and not just the dead. While we've seen other CSIs affected by cases, it's usually from a point of frustration (Stella, Aiden) or anger/personal issues (Danny). But Hawkes is clearly affected by the plight of both Mrs. Walker and eventually Luke Robertson, whom he quickly deduces did not act out of malice.

I'm not sure why Flack was so irritated by Hawkes handing his card to Mrs. Walker--we've seen other CSIs do the same thing. Danny gave his card to the brother of the victim in "A Man, A Mile". The moment seems forced, to either underscore how much of a CSI newbie Hawkes is or to create conflict between him and Flack. While Flack has a good point about Hawkes' focus being needed on the evidence, the CSIs interact with the survivors and suspects all the time.

Luke is not only an obvious suspect; his motive, when he holds the box of Karen Walker's things ready to move her into his place, is equally transparent. That aside, it sets up for the episode's best moment: when Hawkes confronts Luke. Hawkes has a hunch that Luke didn't mean to kill James, and he's spot on, indicating Hawkes is a pretty decent judge of character. Were it not for his compassion, would Hawkes have zeroed in on Luke? Yes, certainly. But he probably wouldn't have offered Luke the option of turning himself in if he didn't have the ability to see beyond the science. It's a valuable trait in a CSI who needs to see the whole picture to connect the dots.

The guest casting this week was spot on. Tony Schiena exuded cool indifference as Paul Martin, while on the opposite note, the always excellent Paul Schulze (24) invited empathy for his sad character. Luke had an air of guilt about him, but also of love and neediness when he was around Karen. And Lori Petty is a delight as the slightly off-kilter Maddy who delivers a skeptical story with a weary befuddlement.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.