CSI: New York--'People With Money'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at September 22, 2006 - 3:16 AM GMT

See Also: 'People With Money' Episode Guide


Mac Taylor's romantic tryst with ME Peyton Driscoll is cut short when they're both called to the same murder scene. Sam McFarland lies dead on the Brooklyn Bridge, a Statue of Liberty key chain buried in his chest and ligature marks around his neck. Across the water, windows in the building Sam worked in light up to spell out 'Marry Me.' The CSIs learn Sam was seeing a woman named Erica Lancaster, but when they visit the bereaved woman and her father, Denny, they learn Sam was suppose to pick Erica up from the airport but never showed up. The ring Sam had doesn't fit Erica's finger, suggesting he was planning to propose to someone else. Stella examines the keys attached to the key ring Sam was killed with, while Lindsay focuses on dynamite found on his tie.

Across town, Danny and Dr. Hawkes greet Detective Jennifer Angell, who shows them the badly beaten body of socialite Vanessa May, who lies dead in her underwear, bruises covering her body and pillows on her hands. Vanessa's friend, Margo, found her and tried to revive her. Danny discovers ten grand in the pocket of Vanessa's jacket. Sid Hammerback confirms blunt force trauma was the COD, and points out a tongue print on her body from a tequila body shot as well as the imprint from a designer LSD tab on Vanessa's tongue. Danny and Angell track down the dealer, Picasso, who admits to seeing her at Prowl but claims her bodyguard beat him up when he tried to approach her. Blood on Vanessa's coat matches a man named Clarence Rome, but he denies killing Vanessa. He wanted to work for her, and challenged her bodyguard to a fight for employment, which he lost.

The Statue of Liberty key chain proves to be a dead end when the owner of the keys turns up in the morgue, an apparent suicide. Traces of prenatal vitamins on lipstick marks found on Sam's face further puzzle the CSIs. Lindsay suspects Erica is the culprit--a patch on her arm to treat a spider bite could contain trace amounts of dynamite--but Mac and Stella remind her about the importance of gathering evidence, not forming hunches, and send her back to the drawing board. An earring on the bridge leads the CSIs to a young woman named Cassidy who was having bungee sex with her boyfriend at the time of Sam's death, but while the couple saw his dead body, they deny any involvement or seeing anyone else around.

A lollipop stick in one of their shoes directs the CSIs to the Lollipop strip club, where they find Dori, a stripper pregnant with Sam's child. She admits to being involved with Sam, but she turned down his marriage proposal because three months prior he'd tried to give her a check for forty grand to stay out of his life. Lindsay has cleared Erica by discovering the location of the dynamite on Sam's tie indicates she was tying his tie for him, not strangling him. The CSIs turn to surveillance camera photos, where they discover a light was on briefly in Sam's office. When they investigate, Stella discovers the shredded remains of a check. Lindsay pieces it together--it's the check addressed made out to Dori, but it's signed by Denny Lancaster, Erica's father. He tried to bully Sam into marrying his daughter, but when Sam rebelled, Denny tried to strangle him and then stabbed him.

Danny and Angell track down Asad, Vanessa's bodyguard, whose tongue print matches the one on her belly. He admits to doing a body shot off her and fighting with Clarence, but not to being in her apartment. The CSIs realize he's lying when they learn Prowl doesn't serve tequila shots. Danny, Angell, and Hawkes interrogate Margo, Clarence and Asad separately, piecing together what happened. The three of them returned with Vanessa to her apartment and continued to drink. Margo, envious of Vanessa, challenged her to a fight of sorts, and the girls began to fight with pillows on their hands. But the gloves came off literally when Margo, angry at Vanessa's superiority complex, pulled the pillows from her hands and began to punch Vanessa in earnest. She claims she never intended to kill Vanessa, but that no one would have believed it was an accident. Danny tells her he would have, but because she tried to cover it up, no one will now. The cases closed, Mac worries about his relationship with Peyton interfering with their jobs. She assures him it won't and he pulls her into a kiss.


The most notable thing about CSI: New York's third season premiere might be the new spring in Mac Taylor's step, which in turn carries through to the rest of the show. Somewhere in between the taciturn Grissom and the fiery Horatio Caine, Mac is usually a cool cucumber who occasionally loses his temper. So it was refreshing to see the normally dour CSI loosen up a little and even engage in a little R&R. Seeing Mac in bed with new love interest Peyton Driscoll was meant to be a shock, and it is, simply because up until we saw it, it was hard to imagine the by-the-book CSI getting frisky with...well, anybody.

Claire Forlani proves an excellent casting choice opposite Gary Sinise. She's smart, sharp and straightforward; the best moment between the couple occurs at the end of the episode, when Mac is having doubts about dating someone he works with. Peyton frankly counters with the obvious: they're adults and can separate work from their personal lives. Mac hesitates--would he be Mac if he didn't?--before pulling her back towards him. Thank goodness he does; if there's one thing Mac Taylor needs, it's a little love in his life.

Mac's happiness carries over to the show itself. After a rather depressing end to the second season with a run of five downer episodes in a row, it's nice to see the show come up for air without suffering the pitfalls of early second season by coming across as too glib. Once again the depravity of the wealthy is in the spotlight, and as Dori notes, people with money think they can buy anything. In the case of Denny Lancaster, it's a husband for his daughter; for Vanessa and Margo, it's the loyalty of other people. Though New York focuses on the plight of the rich a little too frequently, "People With Money" is a superior entry.

In addition to Peyton, the episode also introduces Detective Jennifer Angell, who proves a winning addition to the cast. Interestingly, Emmanuelle Vaugier bears a striking resemblance to Vanessa Ferlito, who played Aiden Burn. The similarities don't end there; like Aiden, Jennifer is poised and can hold her own with the guys. She works well with both Danny and Hawkes, and hopefully will show up again before too long.

It's nice to see old favorites, too. Flack looks particularly spry after his ordeal in "Charge of This Post" when he was gravely injured in a bombing. Flack and Stella share a particularly nice moment when she asks him how he's recovering. The two have a great back and forth and it's nice to see Stella pull him aside to see how he's doing. She needn't have worried as it seems Flack is back on the job in fine form--collecting no less than three numbers from a group of admirers, and snarking at suspects with zest.

Peyton's presence in the ME's office thankfully doesn't rob us of the delightful Sid Hammerback. His exchange with Hawkes was the comedic moment of the hour, one played with skill and great timing by both Hill Harper and Robert Joy. Sid's babblings about necrophilia and embalming, and Hawkes' wide-eyed horror are laugh out loud funny. These two are gold together.

Danny's clothes continue to get more casual and tighter with each season; Mac must really be relaxing the dress code in the lab. Danny has a great moment in the final interrogation scene, possibly my favorite in the entire episode. When Margo laments that no one would have believed her that beating Vanessa to death was an accident, Danny quickly pipes up that he would have. There's something sweet and honest about the response, not unlike when he apologized to the killer about his daughter's death in "Stealing Home". There's a basic goodness to Danny that makes him the most appealing character on the show.

If only the same were true of Lindsay Monroe, who continues to be a character it's difficult to like. In this episode, she's eager to convict Erica based on a hunch. Luckily Mac and Stella are there to remind her she needs to look at the actual evidence in the case before summarily hauling someone in for questioning. She goes back to the drawing board and sure enough, finds out her assumptions were erroneous. In a scene reminiscent of the one from "Dancing with the Fishes", Lindsay turns around a proves why her previous hunches were off base. Anna Belknap conveys Lindsay's enthusiasm well in this scene, but the character still appears to care more about being clever than she does about serving justice.

But in some ways, the nebulous behavior of the characters is what makes CSI: NY so interesting. The country girl is a little harder and less feeling than one would expect. It's the supposedly rough around the edges city boy who takes each case to heart a little more than he should. And at the heart of it all, the stony, stoic leader is opening up bit by bit. The makings of an intriguing season are in place--here's hoping CSI: NY delivers.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.