CSI: New York--'Sex, Lies and Silicone'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 23, 2008 - 8:55 AM GMT

See Also: 'Sex, Lies, and Silicone' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Flack, Mac and Danny are called in after a woman dies in the middle of a renegade street party. Her business suit indicates she wasn't a partygoer, and her wallet--sans credit cards--is found a ways from her body, identifying her as a consultant named Ann Steele. Mac observes that she apparently died due to blunt force trauma to the head. Danny collects plastic shards from around her body, and Mac discovers her last call was made to Chief Brigham Sinclair. After the body is transported to the morgue, Sid surprises an intruder and scares him off. Mac complains to Sinclair about the lax private security and questions Sinclair about his association with Ann Steele, who he's learned had a reputation for making powerful people's problems go away. Sinclair says he met her at a few fundraisers and claims she was calling him about a parking ticket. Mac is skeptical, but Sinclair reminds him he's his boss. Flack gets a hit on Ann's credit cards, leading him to a barber named Lars, but the man says he found Ann's wallet after the party broke up and prior to that had been at the festivities. Stella identifies tissue in Ann's bracelet as synthetic polymer while Lindsay discovers hair in her nylons belonged to a blonde woman. Danny and Hawkes scan surveillance tapes from a camera in a nearby intersection and notice a woman looking out over the street around the time of the murders. Danny and Flack go to the condo she was seen in and question the owner, Trevor Jones, an employee of the district attorney's office who claims the woman with him that night was a one-night stand.

Greg Pullman, Hawkes' college buddy, approaches the CSI and brings up Ann's murder, mentioning that she had dirt on his father. He and Hawkes make plans to meet later for a drink. Danny and Flack go to Ann's apartment only to discover an intruder there. The duo manages to take him down and learn he's a private investigator named Anthony Martino. When they interrogate him, Danny accuses him of breaking into the morgue as well, but Martino is nonchalant--the people he works for are powerful enough to ensure he won't do time for the breaking and entering. Mac updates Sinclair and asks if Ann might have helped him with the sexual harassment case he was embroiled in last year. Lindsay traces the hair on Ann's stocking to a Boston woman who died a year ago, but Adam is the one who connects the dots and uncovers that the funeral home the woman was taken to was selling body parts--including hair. He finds a connection to the silicone polymer: a highend doll shop that specializes in life-size--and life-like--female dolls. The CSIs pay a visit to the doll shop, with a warrant in hand for the customer list. Flack and Lindsay question Hank Gorem, who owns three dolls. He traded away his blonde doll for a red headed one on a doll site, but can't recall the name of the man he traded with. Flack and Lindsay take the doll and Lindsay finds prints on it that match Trevor Jones. Danny and Flack arrest Trevor and take his doll back to the lab with them. Trevor claims he brought Ann home from a bar but she got spooked when she saw his doll and left.

Hawkes meets Greg for a drink and is horrified when Greg asks him to remove the files on his father from Ann's flash drive when it's found. Greg invokes his father, telling Hawkes that the man paid for his last year of medical school via a scholarship. Hawkes leaves in disgust, but when he returns home to his apartment building, several men accost him, beat him up and steal his wallet. The next day at work, Danny tells Hawkes that Trevor has walked because they couldn't find the flash drive at his apartment. Hawkes gets the idea to look in Trevor's doll and finds the drive hidden in her eye socket--complete with Trevor's print and blood from the victim on it. Mac confronts Trevor, who tries to weasel his way out of the charges, but the bloody print is the proof the CSIs needed. Hawkes meets Greg and gives him a check for his father in the amount of the tuition of his last year of medical school. He tells Greg he'll be arrested soon for sending the thugs after him to try to steal the drive. Mac refuses to turn the flash drive over to Sinclair, who tells Mac that the sexual harassment charge was false...but that he knows he looks guilty for paying Ann to make it go away. He confides in Mac that his marriage is on the rocks. The flash drive heads to the evidence warehouse, where it's taken by a man waiting there to steal it.

Analysis:

Forrest Gump co-stars Gary Sinise and Mykelti Williamson are united once again when Sinclair returns to oversee a particularly sensitive case Mac is working on. It's obvious from the get-go that Sinclair has a personal stake in the case. It all ties back into an e-mail first introduced in last season's "You Only Die Once", which suggests Sinclair was guilty of sexual harassment. The victim in this episode helped Sinclair make the scandal go away, literally, by paying off his accuser. Sinclair understandably doesn't want it to get out.

Mac, in the overly righteous way Mac gets, naturally assumes the worst of Sinclair. It's only at the end of the episode, when he actually sits down with Sinclair and hears the chief's story that he realizes Sinclair's motive wasn't simply to make a scandal go away but to preserve his failing marriage. Sinclair admits that marriage crumbled once he, afraid the news would get out some other way, confessed to his wife that he'd hired someone to bury the scandal. Sinclair insists he was innocent of any misconduct. Mac finally drops the judgmental attitude and offers some solace to the grieving man. Both Sinise and Williamson are very good in this scene, exuding sincerity in what comes across as a very honest moment between two men who don't often see eye to eye.

Less effective is the introduction of the budgetary concerns facing the department. In somewhat clunky, exposition-style dialogue, Mac complains about the fact that security is being handled by the private sector instead of NYPD officers. Sinclair counters that it's three times cheaper to hire private guards. Sinclair pushes further, telling Mac he'll soon be receiving a missive with suggestions on how to cut the lab's budget. Assuredly this will spell trouble for the lab, and given the amount of time devoted to the issue, it's likely going to rear its head in the not-too-distant future.

Hawkes runs into a conflict of interests when his friend Greg asks that he tamper with evidence to hide his father's wrong-doings. Greg comes off as smarmy right away, so we never quite trust him, and really, we don't suspect for a millisecond that Hawkes would tamper with evidence. Luckily the episode doesn't try to play that note; Hawkes' integrity is never in question. He immediately rejects Greg's suggestion--which quickly turns from a request to a kind of reverse quid pro quo--and does so with such resolution that Greg decides to resort to violence rather than trying to reason with Hawkes further. The moment that the two guys jumped Hawkes was a shocking and unsettling one. Luckily Hawkes wasn't injured too seriously, though I have to admit, I was surprised to see him analyzing those hairs he pulled from one of his assailants the next day--until I realized he told no one what happened to him.

Hill Harper is excellent in this episode, turning in a nuanced performance. He gives us a sense of history in that first scene with Greg; even though the two don't seem to have much in common now, it's clear that back in school they bonded over ambition mixed with a healthy dose of fun. Hawkes initially enjoys reconnecting with his old friend, but there's a sense of unease right below the surface; Hawkes is too smart a man not to know on some level that their meeting isn't accidental. Once Greg presses for the unethical favor, Hawkes digs his heels in and makes a stand without being overly righteous. It's great to see the good doctor finally get some development in the form of a sticky situation.

One question nags about the whole thing: where did the guy who was pulling extra shifts in "Raising Shane" get the money to write a twenty-two thousand dollar check? Granted, it's two seasons later, but twenty-two thousand dollars isn't a drop in the bucket to anyone but the super-rich. I realize it was a point of pride for Hawkes, but still, it's hard to believe that a mere two seasons after we learned he was so hard up he was taking on extra shifts, he's able to write out a check for that much money. Still, the move establishes Hawkes' very strong sense of pride.

The show features some fine guest performances. Devon Gummersall, hopelessly nerdy Brian Krakow in My So-Called Life, is deliciously deceptive as Trevor, who continues to deny murdering Ann even as the evidence piles up against him. His agitation when Flack takes his doll is palpable. Christopher Stapleton turns in a satisfyingly smug performance as shifty private eye Anthony Martino. The guy doesn't even lose his cool going up against Danny and Flack; impressive! One of the highlights of the episode: Martino telling Danny he was looking for his sister. Flack offers a "Whooooo" while Danny simply laughs and tells the PI he doesn't have a sister. Martino holds his own with New York's snarkiest. Brian Poth, who recurred for quite a while on CSI: Miami is delightfully deluded as Hank Gorem, who has no fewer than three dolls--whom he relates to better than he does people. To him, they are people.

Adam seems to be sporting a bit of a crush on Stella. The oft-flustered lab tech is especially antsy around Stella, and in this episode he goes to brush an eyelash off Stella's cheek and recoils when he sees her baffled expression. I wondered back in my review of "Right Next Door" if Adam might have been crushing on Stella when he bashfully told her he was glad she was alright; his behavior here seems to be further proof that he likely is. A. J. Buckley does such a wonderful job with Adam's nervousness: it's always right there on the surface, but never over the top. Adam is often the character that does the deepest digging, but Buckley's delivery sells the various leaps. Let's face it: if there's any character that's going to go above and beyond for the job, it's Adam.

Lindsay makes similar leaps, but Anna Belknap's rushed delivery makes them hard to follow much of the time. She's better in the humorous scenes in this episode, particularly when she's talking to Stella about not wanting to know why the doll's tongue detaches. It's fun to see the ladies laughing about the dolls together and shooing Adam away. Lindsay makes quite a scene for poor Flack as they're wheeling one of the dolls away, acting like he's just left her for the doll. Flack counters as best he can, but threatens revenge. It's a nice bit of continuity with her teasing and his terse response in "People With Money", though here his shortness seems to be more mocking than genuine irritation.

Is it time for Danny and Flack to get their own spin-off yet? This delightful duo gets laughs whenever they're together, and thankfully they're together a lot in this episode. Rather than falling back on the tired 'good cop/bad cop' routine, Danny and Flack are both the snarky cops, disdaining suspects and playing off each other as they do. Both Danny and Flack have more energy whenever they're together, and the one-liners fly back and forth rapid fire. "Danny, silicone," Flack corrects sarcastically after Danny calls Trevor's doll his "rubber girlfriend." As he leads Trevor off, Danny quips to the suspect, "This is why boys shouldn't play with dolls." They're similarly riotous with the smarmy private detective. They're just downright fun to watch, and Carmine Giovinazzo and Eddie Cahill riff off each other so well that it's impossible not to wish that their characters could do every interrogation together. No suspect stands a chance against their combined disdain and derision.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.