CSI: New York--'Outside Man'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 11, 2004 - 9:50 PM GMT

See Also: 'Outside Man' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A man looks out in terror from beneath a plastic bag as people argue in the background. A shot is fired and then the gun is reloaded. A hand holding the gun fires it into the man's head.

The CSIs arrive: three people are dead, two have survived--Terrell Davenport and Olivia Figueroa. All were bound with duct tape and had plastic bags around their heads. Danny immediately suspects its an inside job. Mac decides to let Danny and Aiden work this case alone, with Danny taking the lead in the hopes of getting on the track for promotion to CSI Level 2.

Aiden says the night manager was about to make the evening deposit. Danny notes that the bags on the victims are all the same, and he finds the source: a roll of bags at the restaurant. Aiden notes the lack of a roll of duct tape and says that the shooter must have brought it himself. The victims' watches and jewelry are missing, but Aiden wonders why the shooter would kill everyone if it was just a simple robbery.

Mac meets Stella at another crime scene. But the pair doesnít even have a whole body--only 15% of one. Mac lifts a lower leg out of a pile of trash and ponders where the rest of the body could be.

Danny finds blood on the keypad of the phone, and Aiden tells him Terrell Davenport called 911. Danny puzzles over how a man who had just been shot in the head could call 911, especially after he had just moved several people up the stairs. Aiden asks if it was indeed an inside job, why was everyone on the inside shot?

Dr. Hawkes takes a look at the lower leg Mac and Stella found and determines that the cut is consistent with a power saw, but he can't find anything on the leg that indicates it required amputation. He does uncover a rod in the leg with a serial number. Mac and Stella trace the number and identify their victim as Frank Hertzberg. Dr. Willems, the doctor who operated on his leg to insert the metal rod, remembers him. Frank claimed to be cleaning his gun when it discharged into his leg. Dr. Willems said Frank almost lost his leg and is clearly pleased with his work.

Danny and Aiden have constructed a model of the restaurant and are trying to puzzle out which employee might have let the killer into the restaurant. Danny notes that Terrell had just finished serving a sentence of three and a half years for armed robbery. He focuses in on a blue fiber from the duct tape while Aiden gets a print from the tape that matches Terrell.

Mac and Stella go to Frank Hertzberg's apartment where they discover the rest of the man lying dead in his bed. He's been dead at least 24 hours, and gangrene had started to set in at the point where his leg was severed. Mac finds a prescription antibiotic and a photo album with pictures of amputees in it, while Stella makes a more gruesome discovery in the freezer: a human finger.

At the hospital, Danny and Aiden learn that Octavia had died. They see her family--her brother, her boyfriend and their two children--grieving. They question Terrell, whose eyes are covered by a bandage. He denies involvement, and says he was forced at gunpoint by the killer to put the bags on his colleagues' heads. When he asks the CSIs to confirm his story with Octavia, Danny tells him Octavia is dead.

Dr. Hawkes takes a look at the finger from Frank's freezer and determines nothing was wrong with it. Dr. Hawkes tells Mac that the striations on Frank's leg indicate the person who amputated it changed saws mid-cut.

Danny and Aiden hit a road block in their case. They get a print off the key used to open the door, but it doesn't match Terrell. They can't get a hit on the shell casing from the gun, either. Danny decides it's time to stop looking for the accomplice inside; it's time to work from the outside in. The pair heads for the trash outside the restaurant.

The finger from Frank's freezer belongs to Joe Garford. He sits in a wheelchair and appears to be missing a leg. He tells Mac and Stella that Frank felt "oppressed" by his left leg. Frank had asked to keep Joe's finger after Joe had it amputated, but Frank went further than Joe ever did, Joe says, standing to reveal his left let, which was folded up beneath him.

Danny and Aiden gripe about being on trash duty, but they hit pay dirt when they come up with three needles. A bloody fingerprint on the needle matches Olivia's brother, Jose. Danny calls Jose in, but Jose insists when he got to the restaurant the robbery and shootings had already happened. Freaked out, he went to shoot up. Danny remains suspicious and decides to keep him in police custody.

When Terrell doesn't ID Jose as the shooter, Danny and Aiden are back to square one. Danny dusts the broken pieces of the window from the restaurant and finds a palm print; someone was looking in the door. The print matches Lamar Adams, but when questioned he claims he was there for a girl, but didn't see anything when he came by. Danny notices he's wearing a blue wristband and immediately thinks of the blue fibers he found.

Stella talks with Frank's wife Deirdre, who says that Frank used to strap up his leg; he tried to drill and freeze it in order to force doctors to amputate it. Deirdre hoped his problem would correct itself, but it never did and she's done with him. She doesn't even want his body for burial.

Danny is disappointed to find that the fibers don't match Lamar's blue wristband. After he finishes telling Aiden about that, she shares some good news with him. Two different duct tapes were used to tape up the victims. Aiden cross references the tapes and finds several garages that carry both, including the garage used by Octavia's boyfriend, Luis Torres.

Mac and Stella question Dr. Willems about the prescriptions Frank had, but Willems claims they're the original prescriptions he had when his leg was first operated on. He says he wouldn't have risked his career to amputate Frank's leg.

Danny and Aiden go to Luis's shop, where Aiden spots several rolls of duct tape hanging up behind the counter. Danny asks to see his car and finds a blue circle in the trunk, possibly where a roll of duct tape sat. But when he brings Luis in, Luis denies all involvement. A search of his apartment comes up empty, so the CSIs go back to the trash...again.

Mac recalls the clocks in Frank's apartment were all off by a few minutes, leading the CSIs to check the fuse box. The fuse must have gone out mid-saw. Stella gets a print off the fuse box, which is a match for an EMT. The EMT had met Frank the first time he shot himself, and Frank begged him to sever the leg. He offered the EMT ten thousand dollars. Disgusted, Mac asks if he's ever heard of the Hippocratic Oath.

Danny finds a plastic bag in Luis's trash that matches the perforations of the other bags; it came from the restaurant. He also finds a bouquet of flowers that Luis used to get into the restaurant.

CBS cut to a newsbreak at this point. Here is a brief summary of what happened: Danny and Aiden tell Luis that they know he killed Octavia because she was planning to leave and take their children with her. He made the killings look like a robbery to cover up the fact that Olivia was his target. He covered the victims' heads with plastic bags so that he didn't have to look them in the face when he killed them. After Luis is taken away, Mac finds Danny in the lab and congratulates him: he's now in the running for the promotion. But Danny isn't jubilant; he's greatly shaken by the case and says that you never know which day will be your last.

NB: This episode will be re-aired Friday night at 10pm Eastern time.

Analysis:

After "Grand Master" delivered decent cases but little in the way of character development and "A Man A Mile" presented good character moments but very mundane stories, writer Rob Bailey gets them both down in an episode that's both effective and gripping. Both stories are involving: the restaurant because of the horror of the carnage and the multitude of suspects, and the amputee story for its exposure of a bizarre subculture. CSI shows do the latter so well.

And yes, wannabe amputees are out there. I didn't doubt it--after I verified that chimeras were real (from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation's "Bloodlines") and that indeed the VeriChip wasn't science fiction (as seen in CSI: Miami's "Legal"), I didn't doubt it. The story itself in the episode is pretty straightforward. I didn't have much doubt that Frank's murder was a home job gone wrong, and that the CSIs would eventually find the person who performed it. (Though it really was fun to see the delightfully sinister Patrick Bauchau playing an arrogant surgeon.) The interesting aspect of this case wasn't uncovering the murderer but uncovering the subculture. The CSIs' baffled expressions mirror the viewers', and yet it's fascinating stuff.

I wasn't sorry to see Mac and Stella relegated to the B-story this week. Though Mac has showed some signs of life in "A Man a Mile" when chiding Danny and this week in the interrogations, Mac and Stella's younger counterparts are stealing the show out from under them. Smarmy Danny (love him or hate him) and spirited, smart Aiden are much more fun to watch. Gary Sinise is too dour and Melina Kanakaredes isn't brining enough energy to her role. On the other hand, Danny's snarkiness is at least lively, and Aiden seems wise beyond her years.

This episode is Danny's from start to finish, and Carmine Giovinazzo acquits himself well, effectively expressing Danny's drive and determination. I can't help but wish he and the writers would try to make Danny a tad more likeable, though. I can admire Danny's ambition, but his arrogance grates. When he glibly tells a suspect that he's going to "put him up for a few days, but if [Danny] finds he did it, [Danny will] put him away for good." CSI writers often have the characters spouting lines like this; Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami does it all the time. But where David Caruso exudes a chilly confidence when issuing threatening statements, Giovinazzo comes across too aggressive. That's hardly the only scene; he's callous when he tells Terrell that Octavia has died, and he ignores Aiden when she comes to him with good news, insisting on focusing on his own lead first. The character is supposed to be gruff and prickly, but it needs to be toned down a tad if he's to remain likeable. Don Flack is pretty similar (almost too much so--one of these guys needs to have his sarcastic edge dulled lest they become too much alike), but Eddie Cahill seems detached or even flippant as opposed to being disagreeable and abrupt.

This promotion that is on the horizon for Danny is going to be an important part of the season, I suspect. Mac is focused on molding Danny into the kind of CSI who thinks more with his head than his heart, and though it might not be an easy task, Danny does eventually let go of his preconceptions and focus on the evidence. His intuition keeps telling him itís an inside job, and true to form, Danny works that angle first. But once he exhausts that option, he goes back to the evidence and looks at the evidence from another perspective. It's good that he doesn't need Mac to tell him to do this; it shows some growth in the character as well as the fact that he's a competent CSI.

Luis apparently staged the robbery so that he could kill Octavia, who was going to leave him and take their children with her. I did find the way the whole robbery played out chilling, especially the plastic bags put on the restaurant workers heads. Luis apparently wasn't able to look them in the face when he killed them, but the plastic bags make his act more, not less, heinous. The victims had to wait in terror, their vision partially but not wholly obscured as they heard gunshots go off. It was a disturbing twist to an already horrifying crime.

I also understand Danny makes a moving speech at the end of the episode, which shows how deeply affected he was by the case. Again, this adds a nice bit of depth to a character that often comes off as abrasive. It's nice to see that beneath that often over-enthusiastic and overbearing veneer, there's a real sincerity to Danny. I suspect if he mellows just a tad, he'll end up being one of the best characters on the show.

And before I finish I must express my disappointment at CBS's decision to preempt the last three minutes of this episode to announce that Yassar Arafat had passed away and then present a retrospective of his life. I'll put politics aside here, but either way, it was a poor decision. The news follows CSI: NY in most if not all areas, and it could have announced then. No other major network preempted their programming for a story that could literally air three minutes later. I'm usually the last person to argue with news preemptions, but this one was unnecessary. Besides, given that Arafat's death was incorrectly announced several times, CBS might have used those three minutes to confirm that this time they had the story right.

Next week: The CSIs must find a missing baby.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.