CSI: New York--'DOA For A Day'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 3, 2008 - 9:43 AM GMT

See Also: 'DOA for a Day' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The CSIs get a lead on the assassin who escaped them in "Down the Rabbit Hole", but when they descend up on the warehouse where she's been hiding out, they find her dead body, a knife sticking out of her head. In the morgue, Sid extracts the knife and hands it to Mac, who recognizes it as a Navy Seal weapon. Sid also points out that the victim, Suspect X, has had extensive plastic and reconstructive surgery. Mac asks the coroner to try to deconstruct the victim's face in the hopes of IDing her. Adam finds a piece of shrapnel in the hilt of the knife, and Mac suspects that the Navy SEAL it belonged to may have been wounded in battle, meaning he would have received a Purple Heart medal. When Danny and Lindsay connect the knife to the New Jersey judge Suspect X murdered, Mac thinks the man's son, a wounded vet named Russ McHenry, could be the killer. Mac and Flack question the young man, but they see three of his limbs have been replaced, and though he insists he'd be capable of killing someone, he tells them he didn't know the killer's identity. Danny finishes the facial reconstruction on the computer and makes a startling discovery: the dead woman wasn't Suspect X. Danny found the woman's real likeness in the missing person's database: her name was Katie Mann. Suspect X attempted to use Katie to fake her own death.

The CSIs learn Katie was the assistant to the mayor's criminal justice coordinator, Jordan Gates. Mac and Jordan are friends: he helped her out when her ex-husband was stalking her and in turn she aided him in getting his lab reconstructed after a bomb he set to catch a killer blew up. Jordan is shocked to learn that Katie is dead. She tells Mac and Flack that she reported the girl missing two months ago, and recalls that Katie was going to go to Club Random the night she disappeared. Danny and Flack go to Club Random, the cosplay club where many Second Lifers hang out. When the Second Life interface on the screen at the club is hijacked, the two realize that Suspect X is watching them. Lindsay comes up with another lead: she traces the plastic surgery materials to a Dr. Joseph Kirkbaum, who lost his license after a woman named Lori Hess sued him. Lori was killed execution style two months ago, and Mac surmises Suspect X killed her in exchange for the plastic surgeon operating on Katie. Angell, Flack, Danny and Lindsay go Parkbaum's office. Danny and Lindsay discover Kirkbaum held Katie in his embalming room, and they make another gruesome discovery: Kirkbaum himself has been murdered and left for them to find, a camera in his eye. Danny dislodges it and breaks the cord, realizing they were once again being watched by Suspect X.

Adam makes a major break in the case when he goes over Kirkbaum's subpoenaed electronic records and discovers Suspect X contacted him after he sent several heated e-mails to his attorney. Adam surmises Suspect X was using a spider search to find keywords and phrases in people's e-mails identifying them as potential clients. Mac has Adam set up several e-mail addresses hoping to lure the assassin to them. Hawkes identifies a bottle of liquid the killer left behind in a jumpsuit as feral liquid, indicating she was working with sound systems at some point. Mac recalls the big rally Jordan Gates is planning features a large sound system. Mac, Danny and Flack rush to the event and Danny discovers a gun concealed in a speaker. They managed to thwart the assassin this time, but Mac warns Jordan that the mayor or some other official is in danger. Adam has good news for Mac: he's gotten a hit on one of the e-mail addresses. Mac sets up an undercover operation with Angell posing as the woman Suspect X thinks will hire her. Suspect X shows up, but a random cop spooks her and she runs, with Mac hot on her trail. He chases her to a building under construction and the two exchange gunfire. Mac fires a fatal shot, and as she's dying, he asks her what was in it for her. She tells him of the thrill of killing a person as she dies, dropping her gun to the ground. Mac has some frightening news for Jordan: her ex-husband had hired Suspect X to kill her.

Analysis:

CSI: New York returns with a nail-biting follow-up to last fall's Second Life tie-in episode "Down the Rabbit Hole." Originally slated to air in February and tie in with the Grammy's (and feature a Grammy-nominated artist), the episode doesn't suffer for being pushed back a few months, and really, we're probably better off for the episode not ending with an extended music video anyway. As cool as it can be to see musical artists featured on television shows, it's nice to have the focus remain on storytelling. As it is, there's a lot to fit in the episode, and I wouldn't have wanted the final showdown between Mac and Suspect X--whose name we never learn--to have been shortened at all.

It's interesting to contrast that scene with the opener from Miami's last episode, "All In". Horatio killed ten men in the teaser in what was supposed to be a tense shoot-out and yet, there was far more suspense in watching Mac chase after and exchange shots with one lone female assassin than there was in seeing Horatio take down ten men with ease. Did I seriously worry that either Mac or Horatio would be seriously wounded? No, not for a second. But I bought into the gunfight at the end of this episode in a way I couldn't while watching Horatio mow down ten armed men. Sometimes, less is more, and that was definitely the case here. The showdown made for a thrilling ending.

I do wish the writers had resisted the urge to sexualize Suspect X in the last few minutes of the episode. When Mac asks who she is, it doesn't ring true for her to respond with "whoever you want me to be--a lover, a friend, a fantasy, a nightmare." She's defiantly been her own woman throughout these two episodes, slipping into guises but never once slipping out of the persona of a ruthless serial killer. And perhaps that's what's so frightening about her--it's okay for a sinister man to be a cold-blooded killer, but there's something inherently terrifying about a female sociopath, a woman completely lacking empathy. The fact that she was beautiful and blonde only added to her unsettling mystique. That aside, her final comments to Mac were chilling, though perhaps not wholly unexpected. She was, after all, essentially a serial killer, but one clever enough to turn it into a business enterprise.

Getting back to the beginning, clever as her ruse was, I never for an instant thought Suspect X was the dead woman in the warehouse. It was wise to have the CSIs put that together rather quickly, and it gave Danny a nice moment to shine. All of the junior CSIs get that chance here: Danny discovers the woman's true identity, Adam figures out the technological tricks Suspect X has been using to find clients, Lindsay connects the plastic surgeon to Suspect X and Hawkes figures out how Suspect X was using the feral liquid, allowing Mac to make the connection that Suspect X is zeroing in on her next target at the rally Jordan Gates is organizing.

This episode marks Jordan Gates' first appearance and despite my admiration for Jessalyn Gilsig's acting ability, the character of Jordan doesn't really make much of an impression. She's rather muted throughout the episode and doesn't spark with Gary Sinise the way Claire Forlani or Sonya Walger did. I was surprised to learn that she and not the mayor was in fact Suspect X's target; given that her ex-husband stalked her, the revelation is by no means out of left field, but it's unexpected and therefore interesting. Gilsig is slated to show up again, so hopefully future episodes will add depth to the character.

It was nice to see Angell take a big role in this episode, going undercover to face off against Suspect X. She didn't end up actually getting the opportunity to confront the assassin, but it's clear Angell is becoming more essential to the CSI: New York-verse with every episode. Flack would certainly be pleased to know that; once again he busts out his "game" on her, telling her she makes Kevlar look good. Poor Flack--for all of his dashing good looks, he's no better at hitting on women than he is at picking out attractive ties. It's cute to see him attempting to flirt, and Angell definitely appears to be receptive to him.

Poor Hawkes dons glasses in this episode, perhaps trying to take a page from Danny in the hopes that specs will get him a little more screentime. Alas, at least in this episode, the effort seems to be in vain: aside from the feral liquid, Hawkes is relegated to delivering the most incidental of clues, and gets overshadowed by bigger twists twice. First Danny rushes in with the big reveal that the dead body in the warehouse was not in fact Suspect X. Then Lindsay swoops in with the plastic surgeon connection to Suspect X. If he's not going to get good storylines--and he really could use a good storyline--Hawkes at least needs to get in on the evidence discovery action.

Adam gets to employ his crazy technological skills, though perhaps not to the same extent he did in "Down the Rabbit Hole." This time Adam is setting up an elaborate e-mail ruse rather than fighting in a Second Life gladiatorial ring, but he still has a few charmingly comedic lines. He admires Suspect X's method for fishing for clients, calling it "brilliant," until he catches Mac giving him a funny look, when he immediately turns serious and adds, "But evil, really evil." A.J. Buckley delivers the line with perfect comedic timing. The second funniest scene in the episode is Danny and Flack's banter in the cosplay bar. Who would have thought the sexy New York detectives would be Star Wars geeks?

Taking a page from the infamous Sex and the City inspired book He's Just Not that Into You, Danny gets called to the carpet by Lindsay for forgetting her birthday. Under normal circumstances it would be a pretty big oversight, but given that Danny has been completely consumed by his guilt over the death of his neighbor Ruben on his watch in "Child's Play", it's understandable that Lindsay's birthday wouldn't be the first thing on his mind. It could also be that Danny is tired of Lindsay's self-centered behavior. We've seen Danny talk to Mac, Flack and Angell about Ruben's death, but Lindsay, who he went out of his way for time and again last season, only made one half-hearted attempt to approach him about it. Yes, she admitted to Mac that she's not good with "this kind of thing," but if she truly cared about Danny, she probably would have gotten over it in order to help him. Several episodes later, in "All in the Family", when Danny goes missing, Lindsay sends Flack after him rather than dealing with him herself. She seems unable to cope with Danny on an emotional level--and with Danny, is there really any other level?--and yet has no problem getting irritated with him over a minor transgression.

Danny doesn't seem too bothered about forgetting Lindsay's birthday--it could be that he's just not that into her, or that he's decided she's just not worth being into. He's even dropped the irritating "Montana" nickname, opting instead to use her first name several times in the episode. Lindsay is more than aware of the chill coming off Danny; she looks visibly upset when he walks away after dropping the birthday conversation. His excuse was admittedly pretty lame, but if she couldn't even get past her own issues to reach out to him when he needed it, does she deserve any better? In his latest CSI Files interview, Executive Producer Peter Lenkov said viewers would get a "real hint of where the relationship is" in this episode. If this is where it's at, this mismatched pairing might be history before the season's out.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.