CSI: New York--'No Good Deed'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 26, 2009 - 10:31 PM GMT

See Also: 'No Good Deed' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Mac and Stella are enjoying a cup of coffee outside while Mac tells Stella about Ella McBride (last seen in "Forbidden Fruit") when a turkey buzzard drops a human eyeball in Stella's coffee! The team gets a lead on the eyeball's owner when Sid discovers an implantable contact with an ID on it stating it belongs to John Pollock. Flack and Stella go to the man's apartment and find the rest of his body in a flowerbed. Danny and Mac arrive to process the apartment, where Danny finds a wedding picture in a frame with blood on it and a tube of Sildenafil Prilocaine, a Viagra-like topical ointment. In the morgue, Sid determines Pollock died two days ago, but he isn't able to determine COD because some parts of the man are missing. Danny finds female DNA on both the frame and the ointment but doesn't find a match in AFIS. Pollock's wife, Flora, and her brother Enrico Palmero, come into the station. Flora is shocked her husband, an internet entrepreneur, is dead. She tells Mac she was on a trip to Atlantic City with her girlfriends but returned as soon as she heard about her husband's death. As gently as possible, Mac asks if she married Pollock for a green card, but Flora insists she loved her husband. Her alibi checks out, and her prints don't match the ones found on the picture frame. After learning the turkey buzzards are endangered and tagged and tracked by a wildlife conservation agency, Adam and Danny hunt down the birds and recover a key missing piece of Pollock's body: his stomach. Sid examines the organ and finds Pollock had an advanced ulcer, meaning a single punch could have caused the ulcer to rupture and flood his system with antacids, killing him. Hawkes and Danny turn back to the photo frame, and Hawkes suggests running the prints on the photo and topical ointment through the physician's database. They find a match to a Dr. Charlotte Rydel, a sex therapist. She admits Pollock was a patient of hers, but denies hurting him. She tells Danny and Hawkes that she went to Pollock's apartment and fought with him after three of his checks bounced, but insists she did nothing but yell at him--and throw the picture frame at his head. After Mac tells Stella he's sure of Flora's innocence, the two have a heart to heart about Ella McBride, and Stella cautions him about getting too close to her.

Adam discovers a motion-activated camera in a clock radio Danny discovered at Pollock's apartment and recovers footage that reveals a man with spikes coming out of his head in the apartment around the time of the murder. Lindsay has discovered a letter she found in Pollock's clothes from a law firm threatening legal action against Pollock is a fake, and managed to trace the printer it came from to Quentin Oswego--who happens to be the owner of the apartment building Pollock lived in. Danny and Flack find Oswego presiding over a female boxing match, and they pull the man aside to question him. He tells them he was angry about Pollock getting a deal for the apartment under rent control and reluctantly admits to being in the apartment to sabotage it, but denies touching--or even running into--Pollock. Flack arrests him on the fraud charge over the fake letter, but he appears to be a dead end. Enrico Palermo makes a frantic 911 call--his sister has been attacked! Stella and Flack meet them in the hospital and find Flora gravely injured. Stella asks for sex assault kit on Flora, and also asks for a DNA sample from Enrico after she notices blood on his hands. Hawkes and Danny find no signs of forced entry at the Pollocks' apartment, while Lindsay listens to the 911-call and hears Quentin in the background pounding on the door, yelling at Enrico about him not being on the lease. Adam goes back to older footage on the camera and finds Enrico and Flora arguing--after he tries to kiss her. Hawkes comes back with the results from the sex assault kit: Enrico is the one who raped Flora. DNA proves they were in fact not related. Flack arrests Enrico, who tries to run, and along with Stella lays out their case: Enrico and Flora were running a con on Pollock. Flora married him for his money but when she fell in love with him, Enrico was left out in the cold. Pollock caught them on tape and tried to send Enrico packing, only to have the man attack him and kill him. Enrico buried Pollock's body in the flowerbed on the roof of the apartment, but the turkey buzzards made sure Pollock did not go undiscovered. After the case is closed, Mac decides to pay a visit to Ella in the halfway house where she's been staying following her suicide attempt, offering her hope--and a helping hand. He takes her for coffee, and she tells him the latest urban legend she's heard, about an eyeball landing in a woman's cup of coffee.

Analysis:

A funnier than usual script helps elevate the latest installment of CSI: New York, penned by freelancers Rusty Cundieff and Floyd Byars. Quips from the characters are plentiful in this episode, especially from everyone's favorite funnyman, Don Flack, who can't resist taking a few shots after the eyeball lands in Stella's coffee. "I prefer cream myself," he notes as Mac fishes the eyeball out of the coffee. When he and Stella go to Pollock's apartment to see if they can find his body, Flack frets that the man might be alive and just missing an eyeball. "I don't think I'm ready for that," he deadpans. In addition to providing dark humor for the show, Flack is often the representative of the audience. Unlike the CSIs, he's not making giant leaps from small clues or removing eyeballs from coffee cups without batting an eye. Flack's a layman when it comes to the science, so his reactions often mirror the audience's. And, of course, it's impossible to go wrong by giving Eddie Cahill comedic material: he always delivers those snarky lines perfectly.

There's an awful lot of convenient tracking devices here, from the ID tag on the implanted contact to the GPS trackers on the birds to the camera in the clock in Pollock's apartment. I suppose the surfeit of technological monitoring devices could be seen as a commentary on the way personal privacy is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, but much of the time they feel awfully convenient. Individually, they're believable if cutting edge--that conservation society sure must be well funded to be able to afford to put tracking devices on birds--but all three together feel awfully convenient. The same is true of the "laser printer fingerprints" apparently mandated for the last twenty years by the government that lead the CSIs to the one printer in all of Manhattan that the fake legal notice was printed on. I realize that sometimes these conveniences are necessary to move the stories along so that they don't get totally bogged down in the details, but sometimes too many of them are crammed into one episode.

I'm also getting a little tired of the Totally Obvious Killer, who inevitably shows up within the first ten minutes of the episode with either another suspect or a witness and stands out simply because he (or she, but usually he) is assertive in a way that gets noticed. I pegged Enrico Palermo as the killer right away, in the same way I picked out Colin Clark as the killer in "Help" several episodes ago. Often this Totally Obvious Killer is a man who stands beside some shaken female character and asks the CSIs questions or gets defensive when they question the woman beside him. Clark and Enrico stood out like sore thumbs. It's nice when the trend is bucked, like in "Enough", when I was certain the woman's brothers had committed the murders. In a truly surprising twist, it turned out the lawyers had in fact offed their own clients. The Totally Obvious Killer hasn't become too much of a trend...yet. Let's hope the show won't make it one.

What is happening to Mac Taylor? In "My Name Is Mac Taylor" he got moony over a woman. In "Rush to Judgment" he told Flack he believed in him absolutely--before the evidence came in to back up Flack's story. Mac didn't have anything to say about Danny calling in with the blue flu in "The Party's Over", simply commenting that he supported the officers' right to take a stand--despite the fact that it adversely affected his lab. And here we see him fretting over Ella McBride, visiting her in the halfway house and taking her to breakfast with a naivete that rivals Danny's. Is this the same Mac, or is he morphing into some kinder, gentler version of himself, a guy who reaches out to the survivors of tragedies and is affected by them. While I admit that's something I really enjoyed about Horatio Caine in CSI: Miami--back when he was more human than super hero--I don't think that's ever been Mac. A little softening is okay, but to the point where he's opening himself up to a girl who has proved herself to be both unstable and fixated on him? It seems unlikely, unless we're supposed to attribute this to some form of male weakness. Ella is, after all, very blonde and very pretty.

I suspect that's what Stella might think it is. She takes a hard line with Mac, reminding him that Ella fabricated evidence and inserted herself into his life. The latter is a classic stalker move, and as we all know, Stella has more than a little experience in that department. She perceptively points out that Mac's behavior towards Ella is out of character, noting that she's usually the emotional one while he goes by the book. Mac responds that he's reevaluating this approach, that perhaps just investigating crimes and solving them for the victims is not enough, but is this because he's changing or because Ella has effectively wormed her way into his feeling? I don't think he's interested in her romantically, but she's definitely playing on the hero complex Mac has, and no doubt he thinks by reaching out to her, he can save her. But as Riley pointed out on last week's episode of CSI, "Miscarriage of Justice", some people can't be saved. Whether or not Ella is one of those--whether this new friendship with Mac will appease her or whether she still intends to make him love her as it seemed she did at the end of "Forbidden Fruit"--remains to be seen. It's possible that this episode could wrap up the storyline, but I rather hope not, because a simple, easy solution wouldn't really pay off what was set up in "Forbidden Fruit." I think it's a good idea to soften Mac up a bit, but that needs to be tempered with reason. Going from one extreme to the other is never a good thing.

Why does Lindsay so often come off as the proverbial teacher's pet, competing for a gold star for simply doing her job? Usually it's Stella who humors her: she once cautioned Mac to "be patient--it's always worth the wait." In a rare reversal--and perhaps more evidence of the kinder, gentler Mac Taylor--Mac is the one who tells Stella to be patient while Lindsay slowly, verbosely makes her way to her point. While back in seasons two and three this song and dance was amusing, it's long since gotten tired, and only serves to highlight how little there is to Lindsay's character. She likes to impress the boss and she's having a co-worker's baby--this is hardly impressive development for a character who has been on the show for four years.

That's certainly not a problem the nuanced Adam has: in last week's "The Party's Over", we got to see a more serious, wounded side to the quirky lab tech, and here he's back to his humorous self, getting downright goofy when he and Danny go after the turkey vultures together. AJ Buckley isn't afraid to let loose and get a little silly, actually doing some sort of bizarre bird imitation as he tells Danny that the birds feed their young by regurgitating their food. Buckley does just as well with the comedy as he does in the scenes that reveal Adam's more serious side; he's been an asset to the show ever since his introduction in "Bad Beat". Of course, Adam isn't just the goofy, slightly vulnerable lab tech--he clearly scores with the ladies! In "Oedipus Hex" we learned Adam once dated a suicide girl, and here we find out one of his girlfriends had a proclivity for getting her tongue pierced. Clearly, Adam likes to take a walk on the wild side when it comes to his romantic relationships, and the idea of the mild mannered lab tech dating women who are fairly adventurous provides for a chuckle--and some insight into Adam.

After coming off in a less than flattering light in "The Party's Over" when he left a crime scene with the blue flu, Danny is back to his usual self here, cracking jokes and getting incensed when he questions people he thinks are lying to him. He gets upset with Pollock's "happiness surrogate" when she lies to him about being in Pollock's apartment, and then counters her assertion that her visit was purely business by saying it "smells like funny business to me." Later when he and Flack go to pick up landlord Quentin Oswego, he of the spikes in his head, Danny reacts to Oswego's quip that they're messed up by saying, "You've got horns in your head, buddy. We're messed up?" Of course, per usual with the pair, the funniest line goes to Flack, who tells Quentin they've got a few questions for him, and then leads with "public ugly" being the first issue. Cahill and Carmine Giovinazzo always play off each other so well in these scenes that it's hard not to wish for a whole episode where the two investigate a crime--and snark suspects--together. Danny also gets a softer note in this episode with Lindsay, when he starts reading a comic book to her belly. That Danny is already talking to the child shows just how invested he is in the baby, but did we really expect anything less from the lab's most emotional--and affectionate--character?

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.