CSI: New York--'Forbidden Fruit'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at December 18, 2008 - 9:54 AM GMT

See Also: 'Forbidden Fruit' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Two officers run across a man dumping the body of a woman into a car trunk. They go after him and in the process of climbing a fence in an attempt to flee, the young man is killed. Mac Taylor shops in a convenience store and runs into Ella McBride (last seen in "Dead Inside"), whose mother killed her father. Ella asks Mac out to breakfast, but he gets a call to a crime scene. He meets Danny and Flack by the car; the man the police shot is identified as Tony Clark, while Danny finds car registration forms belonging to Isabelle Vaughn, giving them an ID for their victim. Danny uncovers a bright red stain on the driver's side carpet, and recovers Tony's cell phone with a fresh text reading, "Is it done yet?" There's no corresponding stain on Tony's shoe, suggesting a second person is involved. The bodies are brought to the morgue where Sid begins the autopsies and is shocked to discover Isabelle's organs have literally liquefied. Sid tells Hawkes that both victims consumed some decidedly odd cuisine, from raw onions to dandelions to citrus peels, but Isabelle consumed large amounts of sodium hydroxide, which killed her. Adam tells Danny he discovered the substance under Isabelle's fingernails is elephant dung. He tries to give Danny financial advice, but Danny is distracted when Lindsay comes to tell him the baby kicked. Lindsay heads off to show Mac a discovery she's made: the trace on the car carpet was from a red berry that alters taste buds, explaining the odd cuisine Isabelle and Tony ingested. Flack gets an ID from the phone company for the person who sent Tony the text: Quincy Feeney. The young woman tells Mac and Flack that she barely knew Isabelle, a famous handbag designer. She claims Isabelle's death was accidental and that she and Tony were simply trying to get rid of the woman's body, knowing that her death at Tony's party made them look suspicious. At Tony's apartment, Danny and Hawkes find the primary crime scene in the bathroom, where the sink is filled with Isabelle's blood. Danny finds drain cleaner and wonders if it is the murder weapon.

Ella McBride shows up at Mac's office with one of the postcard confessions from the site she runs that she thinks might be linked to Isabelle, featuring her trademark logo with the words "I want her dead" on the back. Mac and Flack question Marina Morton, Isabelle's business partner whom she was suing and about to break away from. Marina scoffs at the idea of Isabelle as a threat, and claims she made Isabelle who she was. She denies any knowledge of the postcard. Back at the lab, Hawkes discovers the sodium hydroxide that killed Isabelle was mixed in a blender. He also learns it was pure, meaning the drain cleaner Danny found wasn't the murder weapon. Hawkes is befuddled when the genetic analyzer is unable to get a read on Marina's DNA, and he takes the machine apart to recalibrate it. Adam has analyzed elephant feces found in Tony's apartment and managed to trace them to a man named Colby Fisher, who uses the material in making recycled paper. Danny and Flack pay the man a visit, and he admits to trying to get Isabelle to eat the material as a prank at the party. Danny notices sodium hydroxide on a shelf and takes a canister for analysis. Lindsay analyzes the card Ella brought Mac and finds evidence Ella herself made it, confirmed by Mac when he runs a handwriting analysis on a doodle beneath the other material on the card. Mac angrily confronts Ella, who tells him she was lonely and just wanted to see him again. Mac leaves angrily after telling her she wasted precious time on the case. Danny matches the sodium hydroxide from Colby's paper plant to the substance that killed Ella and he and Flack interrogate the paper maker. Colby admits to having a relationship with Isabelle that ended when he cheated on her with her business partner, Marina. He adamantly denies killing her. Hawkes figures out the mystery of Marina's DNA: a leaf she ingested that dissolves DNA. When the CSIs find traces of the leaf on the blender and realize Marina's affair with Colby gave her access to his sodium hydroxide, they realize they have their killer. Marina arrogantly tells them she killed Isabelle for defying her. Mac gets a call from Ella McBride, clearly in distress. He rushes to her apartment and finds she's sliced her wrists; he bandages them up and takes the distraught young woman to the hospital, passing by a secret that reads, "I will make him love me."

Stella has a case of her own: Angell calls her to a pawn shop where owner Declan Rooney has been murdered in the exact same way Wolford Bessie was killed (in "The Cost of Living"). Stella is convinced that Sebastian Diakos, an antiques dealer she met at the Greek embassy, is behind both murders. Sid confirms the killings were performed in the same manner, and Mac posits that the murderer had special ops training. Stella examines an empty piece of display felt she found at the scene and finds an impression of a Greek coin, which she shows to Danny. Danny recognizes it as the same Philip II coin they recovered from an amulet in the previous case. Angell introduces Stella to Stan Travado, an ex-con who went away for counterfeiting coins. In exchange for getting his brother, Marty, transferred to a different prison, Stan agrees to make 20 counterfeit Philip II coins for Stella. When Mac gets wind of Marty's transfer, he orders Stella to drop the idea of trying to trick Diakos with the fake coins. Stella storms out of Mac's office. Later, Angell meets with George Kolovos from the Greek Embassy offering to sell him a batch of the coins and showing him one of the fakes as proof. After she has him hooked, she rendezvous with Stella in a car outside the restaurant and tells the CSI he took the bait.

Analysis:

When are New Yorkers going to learn to stick to good old fashioned pizza and hot dogs? First we had the "exotic cuisine" in "Fare Game", which included lamb brains and worms, and now we have a party full of people who purposefully trick their taste buds so they can feast upon cod liver oil and dandelions. I have to share in Flack's disgusted befuddlement; I can see adventurous spirits chowing down on insects for curiosity's sake because they're delicacies elsewhere, but cod liver oil? At least Isabelle drew the line at elephant dung. As ever, Flack is the voice and expressive face of reason here; his disgust mirrors the audience's. There's no moment quite as brilliant as the look of abject horror that crossed his face in "Happily Never After" when he saw firsthand the truth behind his beloved vendor carts, but it's always fun to see Flack turn his nose up at some of the decidedly weird habits of certain sects of the city's population.

Marina's motivation for the murder is slightly less than satisfying--one presumes she simply assumed she'd get away with it, but it's still a flimsy motive. Surely if Marina is as shrewd a businesswoman as she appears to be, she could have found a more inventive and less personally perilous way to crush Isabelle. That aside, the case is a thoroughly enjoyable one right from the get-go, with its deceptively simple opening. How many times does a guy dumping a body turn out to be completely innocent of any wrongdoing, aside from complete stupidity? The decision to get rid of Isabelle's body rather than just calling the police certainly isn't a sound one, but then to compound it by running is just plain asinine, especially when the cops are waving guns.

Tony and Quinn are hardly the only ones making stupid decisions; Ella McBride makes several in the episode, starting with bringing a CSI false evidence after seeing how adept he was at closing her father's murder case. To be fair, poor Ella certainly has more reason than most to be coming unhinged, having learned her mother killed her father after finding out he was having an online romance with none other than Ella herself. Ella didn't know the man she was corresponding with was her father, but when she found out, she sent him a picture threatening to expose him--which is what led her mother to kill him. To say Ella is carrying some baggage is a massive understatement.

Ella apparently has decided to fixate her daddy issues on Mac, who is certainly old enough and has behaved paternally enough towards her to fill the role. Casey LaBow makes Ella a sympathetic, lost, lonely girl with an undercurrent of desperation that runs through her interactions with Mac. For his part, Mac is guarded and cautious around her; he's obviously not the type to fraternize with anyone who has been involved with one of his cases. But even though he suspects her of following him to the convenience store, he clearly doesn't grasp the potential depth of her fixation. Did Ella really break down and cut her wrists in an attempt at suicide, or was it simply a ploy to get Mac's attention? Given the cryptic words that stand out from Ella's wall at the end reading, "I will make him love me," I suspect we'll find out at some point down the road.

While I love the continuity with the previous episode, given last season's 333 caller, hasn't Mac been stalked enough for a while? It's an interesting situation, but I can't help but wonder if it's a predicament that would have been more interesting for one of the younger male characters, who, with far less experience and wisdom than Mac, would likely not have been as discerning about the situation. Still, I'm intrigued to see where this will lead, and to find out if Ella will be a real threat to Mac--or those he cares about.

Stella's pursuit of Sebastian Diakos, the man she believes attacked her in "The Cost of Living," takes a turn when yet another likely victim of his turns up. Stella decides to take matters into her own hands to flush Diakos out, and she's aided in this by Angell, who brings her to a man capable of counterfeiting the coins she needs. The idea of Stella and Angell teaming up is a great one; both are strong, savvy women and it's fun to see them working together on this. I particularly liked the last scene, where Angell, always cool under pressure, approaches Kolovos to tempt him with the counterfeit coin. As we saw in "DOA for a Day", Angell tackles undercover assignments with aplomb, and she carries this one out equally convincingly. She and Stella make a great team.

Of course, Stella is defying a direct order from Mac in pursuing this; after he learns she pulled strings to have Stan's brother transferred, he orders her in no uncertain terms to back off the case. We've seen Mac and Stella butt heads before; each is more than ready and willing to stand up to the other when he/she disapproves of a move the other one is making. But I'm not sure I can recall a time when Stella out-and-out defied Mac before. It shows just how determined to take down Diakos she is, and also, perhaps, how she's lost perspective a bit. As much as she expects Mac to listen to her, he has a right to expect the same from her, especially when his counsel comes in the form of a direct order. Mac won't take it well when he finds out she defied him, and this could be the beginning of a potentially severe conflict between the two. It will be fun to see Melina Kanakaredes and Gary Sinise face off when their characters finally do have a showdown over the issue.

Amid the more serious goings-on, there are also some very nice lighter moments in the episode. Hawkes dissects an expensive piece of equipment to his boss's evident chagrin, doubting it before the DNA sample Mac collected. Adam tries hard to impress Danny with his elephant dung research, but the latter is decidedly hung up on the "dung" part of the proceedings and refuses to even give the over-eager lab tech a high-five. A.J. Buckley gives Adam an endearing earnestness that even makes his financial advice to Danny regarding the baby come off as cute rather than slightly intrusive.

Danny and Lindsay share a nice moment when she comes to tell him that the baby has kicked. While Lindsay is much more open about the pregnancy--she talks about it in front of Adam and directly to Mac--Danny is more bashful, pulling her into a corner to see if he can feel the baby kicking and then quietly asking her to come find him if the baby kicks again. There's more warmth between the two characters than there has been in a long time, and their interaction in this scene feels more natural than much of what has come before. Might these two finally be finding their rhythm?

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.