CSI: New York--'Pay Up'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 15, 2009 - 8:35 AM GMT

See Also: 'Pay Up' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Flack is giving confidential informant Terrence Davis his dispensation papers when he gets a call from Detective Angell, who is tasked with guarding Connor Dunbrook, who is set to testify against his father, newspaper mogul Robert Dunbrook, in court that morning. Their phone call is cut off when a truck slams into the diner where Angell and Connor are eating and shots are fired. Flack races to the scene only to find Angell down and bleeding from gunshot wound to the abdomen and Connor gone. While Flack rushes Angell to the hospital, the shaken CSI team comes to process the scene. Stella finds a 50-caliber hollow point shell casing, along with others from a .45 gun. Lindsay tells Mac, Stella and Hawkes that witnesses say a truck crashed into the diner, four men got out. Two fired at Angell and two grabbed Connor. After Angell went down, the men fled with Connor in a Hummer. Dunbrook pounds on the diner window and angrily confronts Mac over his son's abduction. Mac suspects he's responsible for arranging the kidnapping in order to prevent Connor from testifying against him. The tense standoff between the two men ends when Dunbrook gets a phone call. In the diner, Hawkes finds evidence that Angell managed to shoot one of the kidnappers. Danny rushes to the hospital to find Flack, and the grief-stricken detective tells him that she's gone. Mac shares the news at the crime scene, vowing to find the people responsible. Danny gets a call that the Hummer has been found abandoned, and he and Mac rush off to recover it. At the hospital, Sid arrives to take Angell's body to autopsy and finds Flack standing with her. He vows to the detective that he'll watch over her.

Adam puts a tracking device on Dunbrook's car, scooting away just before Dunbrook, carrying two heavy duffel bags, climbs into the vehicle. Mac and Danny approach the Hummer and are joined by Flack, who tells them he needs to be there. They discover the Hummer is outfitted with state-of-the-art bulletproof tires, windows and paneling. Mac finds an artificial blood packet inside, leading him to think the kidnappers are military men. Back at the lab, Lindsay discovers the man who killed Angell was using a Desert Eagle gun while Hawkes learns hair he found in the van belongs to a bat suffering from a fungal infection dubbed white nose syndrome. Adam tracks Dunbrook from his office to his lawyer's office to his bank to his apartment and then to the airport, leading Stella to call Mac to warn him Dunbrook is trying to flee. Mac, Flack and Danny race to the airport and pick up radio of Dunbrook telling the men he brought the money and demanding to see his son. Realizing Dunbrook is paying a ransom for his son, Flack calls for backup, but the three men realize they can't wait and get out of the car, only to be shot at by a sniper. They manage to get into the hanger after Danny drives the car forward covering Mac and Flack, but by then the kidnappers have fled, leaving behind an angry Dunbrook, who tells Mac he just killed his son. Back at Mac's office, Dunbrook shows them a tape the kidnappers forced Connor to make, and Mac realizes the kidnappers took Connor knowing Dunbrook would be the top suspect. One of the kidnapper's hands is visible in the video before it's shut off, and Hawkes recovers prints from it belonging to Simon Cade, a solider formerly stationed in Iraq and brought up on manslaughter charges.

Flack pays his respects at Angell's funeral and returns her badge to her father, Cliff, a retired cop. After leaving the wake, Flack is approached by an unexpected ally: Terrence Davis, who tells the detective a guy known as Crazy Tony was in his club bragging about outfitting a Hummer. He hands the detective a paper with Tony's name and the name of the body shop he works at. Mac, Flack and Danny go to the shop and get Tony to give up the old tires from the Hummer, which Danny takes back to the lab and recovers trace from. With the trace from the tires and the information about the bats, the team is able to locate the warehouse where the kidnappers are holding Connor. Mac, Stella, Flack and Danny storm it, and catch the men by surprise. Mac rescues Connor, while Flack finds the man who murdered Angell--and shoots him dead. After his son is rescued, Dunbrook brings Mac an advance copy of the next day's paper, with a cover honoring Angell. He also tells Mac the fraud and embezzlement charges against him won't stick and leaves the CSI with the words, "Be safe." Mac joins the rest of the team at a local bar to raise a toast to Angell, but as they do, a shooter in a silver BMW pulls up and opens fire on the bar....

Analysis:

CSI: NY bids farewell to Emmanuelle Vaugier's Jessica Angell in a tense finale that leaves the entire team in danger--a cliffhanger people are bound to be wondering about over the summer. Was Dunbrook's "be safe" comment to Mac just before the end of the episode a kindly comment--or a veiled threat? The two men certainly didn't part friends, despite Dunbrook's gesture of putting Angell's picture on the cover of his paper. Dunbrook is unapologetic when he tells Mac he's got a skilled team of lawyers working hard to make sure the charges of embezzlement and fraud don't stick. He frankly tells Mac he loves his son, despite the fact that Connor is testifying against him. Obviously that doesn't extend to Mac and his team--but would Dunbrook go so far as to gun down the people who just saved his son's life? And to what end? Even if Mac is going to testify against him, it's not like he'd be there as a star witness; Mac would testify about the evidence they found against Dunbrook. Rather than shooting up the team in a bar, Dunbrook would be better served staging a robbery at the lab while Mac and his team are out toasting their fallen colleague.

It could very well be Dunbrook that hired a shooter to take out the team, but I hope not. There's something just a bit more honorable than that about the newspaper scion, at least in the shrewd way Craig T. Nelson plays him, despite Mac's unwavering scorn. If not Dunbrook, though, who would target them? Fellow soldiers angry about the downfall of Simon Cade and his team? Neo-Nazi Michael Elgers, sick and tired of being questioned by New York's finest? Someone else entirely? We're going to have to wait until season six begins to find out--and to learn if anyone on the team was shot...and possibly killed. While I doubt there are any fatalities given that the team just lost Angell, it would be a bit of a letdown if everyone walked away fine and dandy. My money is on Danny, whose recklessness has really been highlighted this season. From chasing an armed suspect without a bulletproof vest in "Point of No Return" to giving the aforementioned Elgers a brutal beatdown in "Yahrzeit", Danny has been taking chances that seem all the more foolish in light of his new fatherhood. Thematically, he's the most logical choice--and it would be interesting to see how the always emotional Danny would handle a recovery, not to mention how Carmine Giovinazzo would handle the material.

The loss of Jessica Angell is a tragic one, though it gives the incredibly gifted Eddie Cahill some fantastic material to work with. This is Flack at his most raw; he's a character I never thought we'd see cry on screen, but Angell's death takes him to that point. Though her call to him before the van bursts into the diner speaks of the flirty, fun side of their relationship, it's been clear since "Dead Inside" that the two genuinely care for each other. Indeed, in "Grounds for Deception", Flack pulled Stella aside to make sure Angell wasn't in danger--and to see if there was anything he could do to help. Though it was clear from their flirtatious banter that the sex was hot--and really, with Flack and Angell, how could it not be?--there was obviously more to their relationship than sparks in the bedroom. Vaugier and Cahill have fantastic chemistry--the kind the tepid pairing of Danny and Lindsay has never been able to achieve--and it's sad to see their romance cut short.

Cahill runs with the storyline, exposing a vulnerable side of Flack that the detective almost never lets out. The detective breaks down in front of both Danny and Sid, first as he's reeling from the news of Angell's death and then again when Sid comes to take her to the morgue. Realizing Angell will be autopsied is a blow to the gut for the already floundering Flack, and it causes him to tear up and admit to Sid that he can't bear the thought of her being cut open. Sid does the only thing he can, which is promise to be with her every step of the way. Robert Joy gives a very nuanced performance in this scene and the final one at the bar, which reveals both Sid's earnest awkwardness and his old-fashioned mannerisms. "How weak and fruitless must be any word of mine," Sid murmurs as Flack holds Angell's hand for the last time. The quiet comment fits the offbeat coroner. Sid wants to help, but he knows there's simply nothing that he can possibly say to ease Flack's pain--or to take away from the reality that he's come to bring Angell to the morgue.

Not all of the reactions to Angell's death are as nuanced and graceful: after Flack manages to tell Danny that Angell is gone, the CSI literally punches the wall. Danny is passionate, yes, but the loss isn't really his, and it overshadows Flack's reaction in a way it shouldn't. And I wish someone had remembered how poorly Anna Belknap delivers silent emotional scenes: every time the camera focused on her over-emphasized Pensive Look, it brought me out of the moment. Hill Harper delivers much better, channeling an intense focus into Hawkes' words and actions. Hawkes is rattled--and his response is to delve into the work wholeheartedly, pursuing all leads, no matter how small they seem. Gary Sinise brings a real gravitas to the scene in which he breaks the news of Angell's death, vowing, "When one of our own is taken from us, we always get our man."

Flack's response in the wake of Angell's murder is to go back to work--not at all a surprising response from a man more comfortable dealing with criminals than with his own grief. Flack is at his most snarky, and his barbs have never carried more of an edge than they do here. "No, you thought he was getting ready for a family vacation," he barks at Tony after the man claims he didn't know what the kidnapper was outfitting the Hummer for. And the intensity Cahill conveys when Flack comes face to face with Angell's killer radiates out in waves through the television screen as Flack aims his gun at the man, contemplates the act...and then fires point blank at the killer. At the bar, Flack looks hollowed out and empty; now that the man who killed Angell is dead, he has nothing left to focus on aside from his own grief. I hope we'll see some exploration of that grief next season.

I'm truly sorry to see Emmanuelle Vaugier go--as Angell she had sass and spirit, and like her beau was blessed with a quick wit. She and Stella had a great rapport, bringing a dynamic female duo to the screen the likes of which hasn't been seen on CSI: NY since Vanessa Ferlito's Aiden left the show early in the second season. Watching Angell and Stella pack George Kolovos up in a shipping crate and send him off to Cyprus in "Point of No Return" was downright fun. In this episode, Flack shares a moving scene with her father, Cliff, who tells the detective that he wanted Jessica to be a girl scout--and she chose to play shortstop. The only girl out of five children, she was also the only one who wanted to be a cop like her father. Flack offers the man the comfort of knowing his daughter was an honorable officer. Angell will definitely be missed by her teammates--and CSI: NY viewers.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.