CSI: New York--'Past Imperfect'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 26, 2007 - 8:58 AM GMT

See Also: 'Past Imperfect' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The body of a young woman, her face wrapped in saran wrap, turns up on Coney Island, and as Mac arrives to investigate, a young man, Scott Colson, rushes up and falls into his arms trying to report a murder--his own. Dr. Hawkes accompanies Scott, who appears to have been poisoned, to the hospital where he's met by Scott's brother, Jesse, who tells Hawkes that Scott used to be into drugs but has since cleaned up his act. Danny follows up on a lead that Scott ran with members of the Russian mafia. He questions Yuri Sokoff, a man Scott owed money. Yuri saw Scott the day he was poisoned and got some of his money out of him. Yuri denies killing Scott, but Danny is skeptical. Hawkes examines Scott's body and discovers a small pellet in his leg, which tests positive for ricin, a deadly poison that shuts down the body's organs. Scott only has days to live. Danny and Hawkes follow up on a beard hair found on the body, which belongs, surprisingly to a woman. Danny and Hawkes question the bearded lady at Orion Park on Coney Island and learn that Scott, whose father owned the park, had made plans to sell it.

A padlock around the neck of the female victim leads Stella and Flack to Club Random, a lock and key club where women wear padlocks and men fish the keys to them out of a bowl randomly. The hostess identifies the woman as Emma Pierce, and the CSIs are able to track down the man she hooked up with in the club, Justin Parker. Justin claims that Emma got sick and that they left separately. When Sid Hammerback removes the saran wrap from Emma's face and shows Mac that her eyelids have been cut off, Mac recognizes the signature as that of Clay Dobson, a serial killer who was put away five years ago based on the testimony of Officer Dean Truby, but when Truby himself was arrested on murder charges, Dobson was freed. Mac confronts the arrogant man at his father's architecture firm, but Dobson brushes off his accusations.

Stella learns another young woman, Katie Lawrence, has been missing for a month and thinks the two are connected. Gerrard confronts Mac about not following up on semen evidence on the blanket Emma's body was found wrapped in, and Mac angrily confronts Adam over not sharing the DNA results, which match a man name Martin Boggs, with him first. Stella defends Adam, who has been working on her HIV test results. Adam has good news for Stella: the results have come back negative. At Coney Island, Danny finds a group of boys under the boardwalk who recall seeing Scott Colson--and remember a red headed woman dressed as a cowgirl who bumped into him. Danny and Hawkes find the woman, Tara, beside an arcade shooting game, and discover an air gun inside the fake weapon. Danny pressures Tara and she admits that Jesse, Scott's brother, put her up to it. Jesse has put a lot of hard work into Orion Park only to have his father turn around and give it to Scott when he cleaned up his act. Danny finds Jesse in the hospital and gives him ten more minutes with his dying brother before arresting him.

Mac interrogates Martin Boggs, who works for a moving company and admits to sleeping with some of his clients. Mac, Stella and Adam cross-reference buildings Boggs moved clients into with the location where Emma's cell phone was found, along with algae trace on the body, and come up with the Weddington. The CSIs rush there and discover Katie Lawrence chained up in the basement, alive but wounded and terrified. Mac takes off in pursuit of Dobson, Flack hot on his trail, calling for back up. Mac confronts Dobson in his office and the killer flees, running to the roof where Mac corners him. Flack's back up arrives just as Dobson comes crashing down, landing on one of the squad cars, his wrists secured behind him in handcuffs. Mac looks down from the roof and meets Flack's eyes.

Analysis:

CSI: New York went into overdrive last season with their final episodes, packing a lot of action--the revelation about Danny's past, Stella's face off with Frankie, Aiden's death and Flack's grave injuries in the bombing--into the space of five episodes. If this episode is any indication, the final episodes of this season could be very similar. Mac clashes with no fewer than four people during the course of this episode, and the ending certainly suggests he'll have more than a few battles ahead of him.

The genesis for this episode began in "Consequences", when Mac discovered one of Flack's detectives, Dean Truby, was a thief, a drug dealer and a murderer all rolled into one. Truby was hardly a model defender of the law, and Mac pressured Flack into handing over his log book in order to get the evidence that he needed to connect Truby to the drugs. Flack was reluctant to turn on one of his own, but he ultimately gave Mac the book.

The discord that request created between them is revisited here, in a magnificent scene between the two. Director Oz Scott uses close ups of the two men to build intensity during the face off. Flack is angry at the situation and even though he asserts that arresting Truby was the right thing to do, and that he willingly turned over his log book, it's clear that he has some lingering resentment towards Mac for making him do so. Mac sticks to his guns, but both men tacitly acknowledge that by locking Truby up, the door was opened for people he justly put away to walk free, as Dobson did.

Mac, who tends to see things in the strictest of terms when it comes to right and wrong, doesn't regret the move. Flack seems less certain, but being a practical man, realizes they have to work together to stop Dobson. Gary Sinise and Eddie Cahill play off each other expertly in the scene, conveying their frustration with each other and the situation in general.

Mac, who was so calm when faced with pressure from Deputy Inspector Gerrard in "A Daze of Wine and Roaches", is much less cool here, losing it with Adam after he learns the tech shared a crucial piece of DNA information with Gerrard before running it by him. Mac's outburst at Adam is unjustified, and Stella is quick to leap to Adam's defense, first saying that he was helping her and then simply defending Adam's actions in general. Mac, despite his assertion to Flack that he did the right thing pursuing Truby, clearly feels in some part responsible for Dobson's release, and is fixated on catching him.

And catch him he does. After a brief chase scene, Mac corners him on the roof. We see Mac lower his gun after Dobson's challenge, but the scene cuts to Flack finally getting his back-up, only to have Dobson crash down on one of the cars, his hands in cuffs. Did Mac push him? Did Dobson jump? I suspect we're supposed to believe it's possible that Mac shoved him, but given Mac's strict moral code, it doesn't quite make sense that he'd go vigilante. Mac has no qualms about wanting to see criminals dead, and if he didn't have the evidence to convict Dobson, I might consider it. But with Katie Lawrence alive--and coherent enough to know exactly who was holding her prisoner--it's unlikely the prosecutor would be unable to secure a conviction.

Still, it's a shocker of an ending, and one that will no doubt have consequences for Mac. He didn't win any points with Gerrard in this episode, and Gerrard did have a point about Mac being fixated on Dobson. He half-heartedly questions Martin Boggs about his DNA on the blanket, but it's clear from the get-go that Mac is sure Dobson is behind the murders.

For his part, Joey Lawrence does make a convincing sadistic killer. He's all smooth condescension when we first meet him, thanking Mac for his freedom in a snide way, driving the knife in by reminding Mac that it was his actions that led to his freedom. My only regret was that we didn't see more of him; it would have been fun to watch Dobson match wits with Mac and chip away at the CSI's cool before that big final scene.

In a somewhat anti-climactic reveal after several months of waiting, Stella gets the results of her HIV test. Adam deserves to be smacked for hemming and hawing and preceding the word "negative" with "HIV." Wouldn't "you're negative, Stella" have sufficed? I'm glad for the character's sake that she doesn't have HIV, but it's not exactly shocking. Back in February I said in my review of "The Ride In":

How likely is it that the lead female character in a CSI show will end up being HIV positive? The answer is not very, and therein lies the problem. The audience has to believe there's at least somewhat of a risk factor in an extended storyline like this....If it were Lindsay or Hawkes going through this, I could buy that the writers might be toying with the idea of having one of them test positive. But the show's leading lady getting HIV? The likelihood of the writers doing that is so slim I'd give it less than a one percent chance.

Though the storyline did provide some nice moments--like the one in "The Ride In" where Stella told Sid about her brush with HIV-infected blood after she revived him--and Melina Kanakaredes did a wonderful job with it, the lack of suspense made the storyline less involving than it should have been. Had it been Lindsay or Hawkes who had the brush with the infected blood, I think the suspense would have been much more heightened. There simply was never a moment during the past two months that I ever believed Stella would test positive.

Like the secondary case in "Heroes", the B-case in this episode might have been served better in another episode. The Dobson story should have been fleshed out and allowed to stand on its own, with all the CSIs working the case and Dobson himself being better established. Like the case in "Heroes," the B-case wasn't inferior in any way, just a tad underdeveloped and overshadowed by the flashier A-case.

I'm not sure what's happened to the character of Danny Messer, however. In the course a season, he's gone from a vibrant, passionate character to a rather pallid, passive one. What happened to the guy who used to rail at killers, or show disdain for the murderers who represented the worst of human nature? The passion has been completely drained out of the character, and with it what makes him interesting. The ill-conceived romance with Lindsay hasn't helped, taking up most of his attention this season, but there's simply no reason for him to be so wishy-washy as he is in this episode.

Granted, we still, a season later, have no idea what exactly the fact of Danny's brother Louie--last seen clinging to life in "Run Silent, Run Deep"--is, but are we to believe Danny has virtually no reaction to Jesse's murder of his brother? I expected scorn from Danny when Jesse asked for time alone with the brother whose death warrant he signed, but Danny simply grants him ten minutes with him, virtually no emotion in his voice or expression. Maybe Danny can relate to Jesse about having a ne'er do well brother, but in "Run Silent, Run Deep" it was clear Danny loved Louie. Compassionate though he certainly is, it's hard to imagine him sympathizing with a man who killed his own brother, but what's even harder to believe is that the formerly passionate, spirited Danny Messer has no reaction at all.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.