CSI: New York--'Right Next Door'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 10, 2008 - 7:50 AM GMT

See Also: 'Right Next Door' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

When a death on the streets of New York turns out to be a sad accident, Mac sends Stella home, but the CSI awakens hours later to find her apartment filled with smoke. She rushes into the hallway and rescues Jason, the son of her neighbor Bonnie Dillard, who is grateful when Stella brings the boy to her. The CSI team suspects arson when they find a charred body in the apartment of Sean Nolan. Sid determines that the victim was female and that she died not of smoke inhalation but of injuries from a car accident. Hawkes uses goldfish in the department to figure out the woman has been dead for days and when Nolan is tracked down, he identifies her as Martha Brackton, who was taking care of his fish. Lindsay determines the fire didn't originate from Nolan's apartment, and Stella asks Adam to follow up on a note she found in her apartment after the fire reading "Help Me." The CSIs return to the building and determine the fire began in Bonnie Dillard's apartment. When fingerprints on a lighter found in the apartment are a match to a missing girl named Bailey O'Dell, Stella realizes the girl Bonnie claimed was her niece was in fact an abducted child.

After sharing a passionate night with Rikki Sandoval, Danny declines to have lunch with Lindsay, causing her to get upset with him for not confiding in her about the death of Rikki's son, Ruben, and telling him she's fallen in love with him. The CSIs manage to catch Bonnie when she files an insurance claim on her apartment, but she refuses to give up the children's location. Adam matches prints off of the note in Stella's apartment to Jason. Lindsay is able to trace a rare pollen to a rooftop garden, and Mac, Stella and Flack rush there, relieved to find both Jason and Bailey among the flowers. Bailey is returned to her family and Jason, whose real name is Austin Tanner, is returned to his mother.

Analysis

Stella's apartment goes up in flames in this exciting episode, proving once again that it's more fun when the team is united on one case, and it means more when one of the team has a personal stake in what's going on. In this case, it's Stella, who really hasn't had an episode focused on her since last season's "Cold Reveal". Poor Stella goes home after a hard day's work only to wake up coughing in the middle of the night, realizing her apartment building is on fire.

The dramatic teaser gives Stella a chance to be a hero: she rescues Jason, the son--or so she thinks--of her neighbor Bonnie Dillard. Melina Kanakaredes always rises to the occasion when Stella is called into action, and this episode is no different: she rushes out of her apartment and immediately begins to instruct her neighbors, with all the authority of someone who has been through a crisis or two, to get out of the building. After clearing the hall, she bravely rushes into Bonnie Dillard's apartment, searching for the woman and the two children she knows are with her. Would we expect anything else of the brave, tough CSI? Not really, and it's fun to see her in action.

Stella is somewhat more subdued when viewing the ruins of her apartment. She sadly picks up a picture of herself in uniform, noting the cracked and charred frame. Mac is on hand to offer her a place to stay, but just as she did in "All Access", Stella opts to go it alone instead, mentioning that she'll go for a hotel room over the spare room in Mac's apartment. Stella is resolutely independent, and what on anyone else might seem like false bravado is simply in character for her. Stella isn't just reluctant to lean on her friends, she downright refuses to.

Which isn't to imply Stella isn't shaken by what happens over the course of the episode: she's horrified to discover that she swallowed Bonnie Dillard's claims all too easily, taking for granted a situation that proved to be anything but what it seemed. It's impossible to fault Stella for not picking up on the fact that Jason wasn't Bonnie's son and Bailey wasn't Bonnie's niece, but it's not surprising that Stella--who is as tough on herself as she is on others--apologizes to Jason for misinterpreting his motive for digging through the mortar that separated her apartment from Bonnie's.

The scene where Stella apologizes to Jason is a poignant one; she tells the boy she's sorry for misreading his action and taking him to task for it. In a way, she's representing both the CSIs and the audience, who are often led to believe one thing based on the evidence when there's really more to the story. It's a nice moment for Stella, and Kanakaredes conveys her sincerity with dexterity and subtlety.

Might Adam have a bit of a crush on CSI: NY's leading lady? He sure does start stuttering and turn positively bashful around her. Adam nervously tells her he's "glad she's okay," but he's positively blushing as he does so. AJ Buckley, who is so good at getting across Adam's geeky enthusiasm for the science and twists of the cases the CSIs encounter, is equally adept at showing Adam's bashful side.

Danny and Rikki, the mother of Ruben Sandoval, who was murdered in "Child's Play" on Danny's watch, forge a physical connection in this episode, sleeping together to ease their mutual hurt. Rikki tells Danny that one day he'll wake up and realize that Ruben's death wasn't his fault, but in the meantime wholly acknowledges she's taking advantage of his guilt over the incident. And why shouldn't she? Rikki lost her son, after all, and clearly has little left--it's hard to blame her for "taking advantage" of the handsome man who blames himself for the boy's death. The fact that she boldly tells Danny it's "just sex" shows that she has no illusions about their connection, and is doing everything she can to ensure he doesn't, either.

For his part, Danny seems more than willing to be taken advantage of. The morning after they sleep together, Danny is up making Rikki omelettes, insisting she has to try them. He's eager to please, just as he was to help Rikki out after she stole his gun in "All in the Family". But in addition to his guilt--still evident in this episode as it has been in the previous ones--he's obviously attracted to Rikki. Their banter after she suggests that what happened the night before was just sex is easy and natural--he tells her she's wearing his shirt and he's going to need that back, which naturally leads to more kissing, and, most likely, another romp in the sack. It's more natural than anything that's ever happened between Danny and Lindsay Monroe, including their romp on the pool table in "Snow Day", when Lindsay won a bet with Danny over a pool game and claimed sex as her reward.

Danny's connection with Rikki leaves Lindsay out in the cold, as she's been since he first learned of Ruben's death in "Child's Play." Naturally, Lindsay is none too pleased at this, giving Danny the cold shoulder when he brushes off her suggestion of lunch early in the episode. This causes Lindsay to predictably act snotty and put-upon throughout the rest of the episode, as if Danny turning her down for lunch is some sort of egregious sin, along the lines of daring to forget her birthday in "DOA For a Day".

And of course, when Danny dares to attribute her bad behavior to his forgetting her birthday, Lindsay lets him have it, accusing him of shutting her out as he deals with Ruben's death. This might not be so laughable had the audience actually seen her trying to reach out to Danny and be there for him. But all we saw was Lindsay telling Mac she wasn't "good at this kind of thing" right after Ruben's death in "Child's Play" and then passing off Danny's disappearance onto Flack in "All in the Family." The only interaction of a personal nature we've seen between Danny and Lindsay since "Child's Play" has been her snidely taking him to task for forgetting her birthday. Under normal circumstances, one might feel bad for her, but given that he'd been dealing with the death of a child he's close to, Lindsay comes off a something of a self-centered spoiled brat.

In pure childish fashion, Lindsay dramatically tells Danny she's "fallen in love with him" and that she has to find a way to "let that go." The scene, which would have benefitted from something other than Anna Belknap's flat, monotone delivery, ultimately comes off as one of miscommunication: Lindsay insists Danny not paint her as a "shallow, clingy girlfriend" but it's clear from Danny's reaction that he never thought of her as a girlfriend at all. Carmine Giovinazzo has done a fine job of conveying Danny's hurt over Ruben's death over the last few episodes, and he does a great job of getting across Danny's bafflement and surprise at Lindsay's behavior here. Danny clearly doesn't feel any guilt until Lindsay calls him to the carpet because he didn't view their relationship in the same way she did. Now that he knows she's in love with him, it's anyone's guess what he'll do next.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.