CSI: New York--'Heroes'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 11, 2006 - 4:54 PM GMT

See Also: 'Heroes' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The body of a marine, Corporeal Trevor Price, is found in the bushes near where his fellow officers are celebrating "Fleet Week." Killed by a single stab wound to the chest, blood around the area makes it appear he was dragged into the bushes. Hammerback finds extensive bruising on his back, which Price's commander confirms to Mac was from the training "bull ring." Stella, Lindsay and Hawkes are on the case of a burned out car with a body inside. Hammerback confirms the skeleton belonged to a woman and tells Hawkes she was beaten to death before she was burned. When Hawkes does facial reconstruction and runs the skull through FastScan, he's horrified to discover the identity of the victim: Aiden Burn, a former CSI. The car she was found in belonged to a man named Charles Wright. Mac and Stella vigorously interrogate the man, who reported the car stolen hours after the CSIs found it, but he tells them he was simply trying to hide the fact that he was with a prostitute at a hotel when it was stolen.

While Lindsay and Hawkes go over the car, particularly an unusual indentation in the car's passenger side armrest, a shaken Danny examines Price's clothes and finds a drop of blood on his shirt, a watch in his pocket inscribed from a woman named Ellie and a single lima bean--but no money. This leads the CSI to Rondo, a street hustler who does magic tricks for tourists. Rondo, sporting a shiner, admits to conning Price but says the marine was good-natured about it and took a lima bean as a souvenir. The black eye was courtesy of some marines who didn't look so fondly on Rondo's tricks. Stella is unable to match Charles' ear to an ear print on the passenger side window, so she and Mac turn to Aiden's apartment, where they find surveillance photos of D.J. Pratt, the rapist who Aiden considered planting evidence in order to catch, and thus ended her career. When Stella last saw Aiden, Aiden told her she was working on an independent project, as well as getting her P.I. license--the CSI now knows what Aiden meant. Mac is certain Pratt murdered Aiden.

Danny traces a drop of banana-flavored beer on Price's pants to a bar that specializes in the beer, the Yard Bar. Flack goes to the bar, but the waitress, Alexandra, wasn't working that night. The bartender remembers Price as genial--everyone clapped for him and the bartender gave him his drinks for free. He does recall Price was looking for a woman named Ellie and left around 11:30pm. Danny and Mac confer on the case, and Mac shows Danny how the marine would have defended himself and incapacitated an attacker. They conclude there must have been a second attacker, and Mac sends Danny to the hospital to the first man, whose nose is likely broken from the attack. Danny and Flack find Keith Gale, admitted to the hospital blocks away from where Price's body was found, only 10 minutes after their estimated time of death. His bruised wife, Stacey, defends taking her abusive husband back again and again when Danny confronts her, and when he turns to what happened with Price--the marine saw Keith beating her and stepped in to protect her--she says she stabbed Price because she thought he'd killed her husband.

Stella and Lindsay find paint flecks in the ignition of the car from the tool used to get it to start, but though they match the paint to the kind Pratt is using at his current job, the paint is too common to be an exact match. Looking at the pictures Aiden took of Pratt following a blonde from his building, Stella suspects Pratt lured Aiden into following him so he could kill her. The case comes together when Hawkes matches the bite marks on the passenger side armrest to Aiden. The CSIs bring Pratt in, and he's booked and photographed--the CSIs match the ear print to him and the booking photos reveal a bite mark on his arm. The case against Pratt has finally been made. Stella asks Mac how he connected it all and he recalls a similar case Aiden worked as a rookie patrol officer. Before meeting his colleagues to toast Aiden's memory at a local bar, Mac takes the watch Price was carrying and returns it to Alexandra, whose fiancé--a marine posted with Price who died in combat--called Ellie.

Analysis:

When a character is dispatched in an episode, the prevailing question always is, "Did the story do justice to the character's exit?" Aiden Burn was only on CSI: New York for a season, but she was a regular cast member and definitely made an impression in that first year. I was actually quite pleased with "Grand Murder at Central Station" when she left the team without being killed off. So when I heard she was coming back only to be killed off, I thought it was rather unnecessary. Even if Aiden had never shown up on the show again, she'd been given a satisfactory exit.

Many complained about how Tim Speedle was killed off on CSI: Miami, but at least it didn't happen in flashbacks. For all of the hype about Vanessa Ferlito's return, I'd be very surprised if she was on screen for five minutes. Didn't Aiden deserve just a little bit better send off than a few minutes of flashbacks, most of them devoted to her brutal murder? I would have liked it if Mac had visited her at her apartment because he figured out she was the one trailing Pratt and warned her off of doing that before she was killed. Actually, if I'm being completely honest, I would have preferred to see Aiden go vigilante and kill Pratt in an attempt to save his next victim, which would have been more true to the character in general and more in line with the fact that she nearly planted evidence in "Summer in the City" in order to get the guy arrested. Wouldn't it have been interesting and groundbreaking to see the team investigate a murder, and be shocked by the identity of the killer rather than the victim?

But, the writers chose to turn Aiden into the victim instead, and I have to say that it didn't play out quite as terribly as I expected it to. I did suspect they would skirt the issue of whether she was raped or not--predictably, Sid can't tell anything on a sex assault kit from a burned corpse. The flashbacks are somewhat vague as well--are we to believe she was biting down on the armrest of the car while he was beating her? That scene itself was somewhat ambiguous. If she was raped, at least it wasn't sexualized in the disturbing way the attack on Stella was in "All Access". The violence against Aiden also didn't feel as graphic as the violence against Stella did in that episode. Still, it's impossible to ignore that in the last three episodes, two of them have featured some kind of violence against regular female cast members (current or former).

The performances were excellent in this episode, particularly those of Gary Sinise and Carmine Giovinazzo. It was great to see these two clashing again, with Mac as the consummate man of reason even in the face of a personal case, and Danny the man of feeling, who can't put his emotions aside even when he needs to. I love the contrast, and I actually found myself sympathizing with both men this time around, as opposed to just Danny, because Sinise did let the emotion beneath his stoicism show at times.

The scene where the original team stands in front of the Fastscan rendering of Aiden is the best one in the episode. This is Giovinazzo's best moment in the episode--without a single word, he conveys Danny's anguish at the discovery that his friend is the victim from the car. The moment when he walks out of the room is particularly effective. Danny is the most emotional member of the team, but he was also the closest to Aiden. Stella's reaction is also spot on, and Melina Kanakaredes displays both anger and grief when Stella passionately vows to catch the killer. It was a reaction very much in tune with her character. I also liked how Hawkes' voice wavered just a little when he first discovered the match in the previous scene.

But what is both interesting and rings very true is how, with the exception of Danny, the rest of the characters all react to Aiden's death as a beloved colleague, but not as a friend. Stella acknowledges that she never called Aiden, Mac hadn't talked to her in a month and when Lindsay asks Hawkes how well he knew Aiden, he responds as a colleague more than a friend. Danny is clearly the one who was closest to her--he was supposed to have dinner with her over the weekend. Because of that, I expected a bit more of a breakdown from Danny, who after the near-fatal attack on his brother in "Run Silent, Run Deep" and now this, is probably close to an emotional implosion. Mac and Flack somehow manage to keep him in line and mostly focused on the case he was working on.

Mac allows himself a little more leeway than he gives Danny, most likely because he knows he can handle it. I was happy to see Mac working both cases, and grappling with the emotional repercussions of both--in a way, he lost two colleagues, even though he didn't know one of them personally. Sinise portrays Mac's dedication to both cases quite effectively, his anger really only boiling over with Charles Wright, just after he's learned Aiden was the victim in the car. Sinise also conveys the information about how he put the case together based on Aiden biting the armrest with just the right mix of admiration and sadness.

After two screaming fits in the previous two episodes, Lindsay Monroe calms down and gets to be the voice of reason this time around, and I have to say I like her much better this way. It's fitting, given that unlike the other characters, Lindsay has no personal attachment to Aiden. Her best moment in the episode was when she had to gently tell Stella that despite the fact that the paint in the car matched the paint from the apartment Pratt was working on, the paint type was far too common to stand alone as evidence to arrest Pratt on. Lindsay's comment, while firm, also had a sympathetic air to it. Anna Belknap plays the scene quite well.

It did surprise me when Lindsay fished for information about Danny and Aiden's relationship while she and Stella were going over the car by not so subtly mentioning that Danny talked about Aiden a lot. It was just a little bit on the tacky side, but I actually liked it. Much of the time Lindsay comes off as a goody-two-shoes, and that has made her character hard to warm up to. But when it comes to Danny, it seems Lindsay is willing to push the limits, like she did in "Run Silent, Run Deep". In this case, trying to gauge how far Danny and Aiden's relationship went might not make her totally sympathetic, but it does make her a much more real and interesting character. Like her final scene in "Stealing Home", this was a moment that made me think there's more to Lindsay Monroe than just being an earnest young woman from a small town.

Chad Williams gives D.J. Pratt a truly creepy presence. His arrogance and flip attitude as nothing we haven't seen before, but the actor's cadence and sinister glower made me truly believe Pratt is completely evil. Knowing he's responsible for at least three rapes and two murders, it's satisfying to see Mac and Stella finally have what they need to put him away. Everything we've seen about Pratt suggests he was extremely crafty--he avoided leaving physical evidence on Regina Bowen the second time he raped her, he stalked Lillian Stanwick in "Live or Let Die" and he lured Aiden to her death by pretending to target another young woman. In this case, I definitely felt like the CSIs had to work hard for this arrest.

If I haven't talked about the marine's case much, it's not because it was bad. On the contrary, it was an excellent story line that deserved better than to be thrown in with a case the audience has a personal stake again. I've said it before and I'll say it again--I cannot stress enough how much the show shoots itself in the foot when it pairs a regular case with one of emotional importance to the characters and the viewers. Both CSI and CSI: Miami have gotten away from the two-case format when it comes to big episodes (or these days even just very involved cases), and New York could only benefit by following their lead. New York is distinguishing itself by mixing great character stories with the science, but in sticking to the two case format for every episode, it's clinging to an old format that doesn't lend itself to emotional stories.

The case with the marine was a great one, but it was hard to pay attention to it when what I wanted most was to know what happened to Aiden. In that respect, I was right there along with Danny. It's a good thing Flack was standing by (as he always is when Danny needs him) to keep Danny on task. Danny's scene with Stacey Gale when he confronted her about killing Price was especially effective. Danny makes every case personal, and this one was no different--he couldn't understand why Stacey would have killed a man who was trying to help her escape her abusive husband. Mac's scene with the waitress was also moving and underscored what a noble man Trevor Price was.

The final scene in the bar wraps up the episode a little too neatly. I would have preferred to see the team attending Aiden's funeral as opposed to seeing the team drinking to her memory. Because the scene is so short, we don't really get a feel for how they got to the point to where Danny was telling a funny story about Aiden. Moving the marine's story to another episode would have allowed for more of a focus on Aiden's story and given it the emotional weight it was due.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.