CSI: New York--'Snow Day'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 17, 2007 - 8:38 AM GMT

See Also: 'Snow Day' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Flack and his team hit pay dirt when they successfully seize 900 kilograms of cocaine and heavy weaponry from the team of drug lord Gavin Wilder. Shockingly, the drug lord himself is found dead from a gunshot wound to the back. The body, the drugs and the weapons are taken back to the lab, while Adam is left behind to process the scene. Mac sends Danny, who has taken over Lindsay's shift after the two spent the night together, to help him, but when Danny arrives he's hit over the head and taken prisoner. The gang has returned, intent on getting their drugs back, and have taken Adam and several officers hostage. Danny tries to get a call out on his cell, but one of the thugs sees him and crushes both the phone--and Danny's hand. Adam tells Danny that the men tortured him into giving up the access codes to the lab. Danny fakes an escape attempt in order to give Adam a chance to grab Marquis solution from his kit.

A gas leak causes the lab to be evacuated, saving Mac from having to give Peyton an answer when she suggests they take a vacation to London together. Mac and Stella are suspicious when they discover a burner emitting gas from a liquid not typically used in the lab, and their suspicions grow when the find both cell phone service and the lab lines and internet are down. Their fears are proved to be founded when a group of men, dressed in gas company garb, storm the lab, looking for the drugs and weapons Flack's team seized earlier. An instant message on the computer reveals Dr. Hawkes is still in the morgue; he too figured out the leak was a fake. The ringleader, Colm Gunn, notices something is off and starts a hunt for the CSIs, killing one of his own men in the process. Mac sends the body down to the morgue so that Sheldon can extract and examine the bullet. Stella lifts Colm's prints off the elevator and matches them to ones found on a gun near Gavin Wilder's body, proving Colm killed Gavin.

The thugs in the warehouse force Danny to call Flack, and the homicide detective brings a team to the warehouse where he's met by Lindsay, who came to work and learned Danny had been abducted. The abductors prepare to disguise themselves as cops and send the real cops out dressed in their clothes, but Danny foils their plans by throwing the Marquis solution in their face. Lindsay takes charge of the badly wounded Danny while Flack and his team discover gas canisters in one of the abductor's cars and realize the gas leak at the lab was faked. Back at the lab, Mac, Stella and Hawkes have taken steps to prevent the gang from making off with the drugs. Hawkes matched the bullet in the dead man to one that killed FBI officer Candace Broadbent months ago, and Mac confronts Colm Gunn with the knowledge that he killed Candace. Mac and Colm get into a fistfight and Colm lunges for his gun--falling into a booby trap Mac set earlier and blowing himself--and part of the lab--up in the process. The lab secure, Mac decides to accompany an overjoyed Peyton to London.

Analysis:

Pam Veasey, who co-wrote this episode with fellow Executive Producer Peter M. Lenkov, referred to it in TV Guide as "Die Hard in the Lab" and boy, she wasn't kidding. There's more action packed into this episode than most thrillers boast, and even an episode of Miami doesn't often reach these heights. The action starts about fifteen minutes in and doesn't let up until the final scene, when Mac rushes out of the building.

If Gary Sinise was pondering an action film during the show's hiatus, he probably needn't bother. Mac is every bit the action hero in this episode, stripping down to a black t-shirt and wielding a gun with ease, as if he handled one every day. Mac is an ex-marine after all, and apparently he hasn't forgotten his combat training. If last season's finale, "Charge of This Post" showcased his triage skills, this one proves Mac still has plenty of fight left in him.

Now, logically, the simplest solution for Mac, Stella and Hawkes would have been for them to sneak out of the building as soon as they realized something was amiss and call for back up, but for the sake of entertainment, one must sometimes put aside logic. If it's good entertainment--as it is here, it's worth it. Seeing Mac, Stella and Hawkes run around the lab like action heroes is undeniably fun and I found myself on the edge of my seat throughout the episode, a description that, as entertaining as the CSI shows are, I'd be more likely to apply to an episode of 24 or Heroes than one of the CSIs.

It's particularly great to see Stella in action. After the writers went out of their way in last season's "All Access" to turn her into a victim, they spent much of the season reminding us that Stella had been victimized--she empathized with a woman who seemed to be in a similar situation in "Open and Shut" and let her foster sister go after learning she'd killed their abusive foster father in "Cold Reveal". Stella was admittedly a pretty cold character early in season one, but her tough core is what really sets her apart and we simply haven't seen enough of that this season. Seeing her knock out bad guys and brandish large artillery fits with her character more than victimization storylines do, and Melina Kanakaredes proves she's made of strong stuff in these scenes.

Thankfully, the criminally under-utilized Hill Harper gets in on the action, too, connecting a tattoo on the man who tells him to evacuate the vault with one on the body in his morgue. Hawkes stays in the morgue and gets one of the best scenes in the episode when one of the thugs follows a blood trail left by the body Mac sent him in the elevator and comes snooping around. Hawkes hides the body under a white sheet on a morgue bed--and hides himself away in the same fashion. Seeing him "rise from the dead" behind the bad guy is a hoot--and a clever nod to horror films.

It's a little absurd to see the team running prints and bullets in the middle of hiding from this very dangerous gang of men; I'd hardly think getting a hit off of AFIS would be their primary concern during the crisis. This allows Mac to connect Colm Gunn to the death of Candace Broadbent, the FBI agent who died in "Sweet 16" after getting a lead on a case related to the IRA. Though I'm glad that didn't end up being a loose end that never got tied up, I would have preferred it to be a bit more than an aside in an already packed finale.

Seeing the trio work together to stop the would-be thieves is as fun as watching the con unfold in Oceans 11. Stella pops through the elevator shaft and makes off with a big percentage of the stash, while Hawkes makes it to the garage and blocks the bad guys' access to their getaway cars. The showdown with Colm Gunn is reserved for Mac, who taunts the villain that his 24-hour crime spree will be the shortest in history. It's a fun moment for the oft-serious Mac.

Also showing some spirit is Danny Messer, who has been quite the passive puppy for most of the season but bucks up after swapping shifts with Lindsay puts him in a hostage situation. While providing a distraction for Adam to secure his test kit, Danny mouths off to his captors and Carmine Giovinazzo gets to show off the spark that made Danny such an interesting character in the first place. A lot of Danny's charm is lies in his mouth--one never knows quite what he's going to say, but chances are, it'll be provocative. He's been sadly muted this season while saddled with the weak 'will they or won't they' storyline with Lindsay, but now that the question has been answered with 'they will,' hopefully his character can move forward beyond the silly love plot.

Yes, Danny and Lindsay do go there--a first on screen for a CSI couple (unless you count Grissom and Sara being in robes in the same hotel room in "Way to Go") where both characters are regulars. And, in a page that could have been borrowed from a Victorian novel, Danny is "punished" for it--he sweetly switches shifts with Lindsay only to be taken hostage and beaten for his trouble. He's even wearing white--the color of innocence--his shirt half-tucked in so that it's obvious that he dressed in haste. One has to wonder if in his non-answer at the end when Lindsay is going on about how guilty she feels, he's realizing that she's brought him nothing but misery or that he's finally picking up on how noxiously self-involved she is.

Has there ever been a more useless character than Lindsay Monroe? In this episode she exists mainly as a plot device to put Danny in jeopardy--and to expose Carmine Giovinazzo's body to the audience. I suppose we should be thankful that she's no longer being called on to emote after dragging down the middle of the season with her irritating histrionics, but she remains an unnecessary addition to the team, never more so than now, when she's been reduced to nothing more than a love interest for Danny. At least Peyton made herself useful in the episode, which is more than can be said for Lindsay.

The supporting players--Peyton, Sid and Adam--prove they're much more than just that here. Peyton is sharp enough to pick up on things being off early on, noticing that cell phone reception is dead and quickly realizing Mac isn't among the group outside. Sid is mostly around for commentary and to make the scene feel more real, which he does. The audience is aware that something is amiss--and that across town Danny and Adam are in peril--but Sid and the group outside don't know that, and his simple banter about the rain provides a nice contrast to the action going on inside the lab.

The hostage situation is probably Adam's worst nightmare, but he rises to the occasion even before Danny is there to give him courage, warning Danny when he sees the CSI about to walk into danger. He's too late, but it's a noble effort. AJ Buckley gets Adam's fear across without making him seem a coward in any sense of the word. Indeed, by the end of the episode he's brave enough to run out in front of Flack's team, risking his life, to tell them that the men dressed as hostage takers are in fact the actual officers.

Perhaps he's inspired by Danny, who puts up a brave front despite taking a lot of abuse--first having his hand crushed when trying to dial for help on his cell phone and then running to provide a distraction so that Adam can get to his kit. Danny even goes so far as to taunt his captors, laughing at them for hijacking a crime scene clean up. Danny puts up a fair amount of bravado, but Giovinazzo wisely allows a little fear to creep into his voice when the thugs force him to call Flack.

Flack gets to play the superhero in this episode almost as much as Mac. First he leads a drug bust and kills a man, something he clearly has some misgivings about. He speaks to Hawkes briefly about it, but is able to dismiss it just as quickly. Flack isn't a man who allows himself to get tangled up in grey areas or take things to heart too much. He was doing his job, and the pride in his voice as he gives the press conference makes it clear that he knows he's done good.

Flack races from the hostage crisis to the lab one with nary a moment to take a breath--or get in one of those quips he's known for. Eddie Cahill proves he's just as good as playing Flack serious as he is at delivering the funniest lines in the show. He's noticeably short with Lindsay during the hostage crisis, pointedly not looking at her when he tells her Danny didn't sound good, and later he seems a bit put out when he tries to get Danny medical attention and Lindsay cuts him off by saying she'll take care of him. But another crisis awaits him at the lab, and he quickly jets off to address it--arriving just in time to see a good chunk of the building blown away. Interestingly, Flack, who was hurt in a bombing in "Charge of This Post," doesn't react to it, instead barreling ahead to find Mac.

The writers could have opted for a cliffhanger, but given that Sinise is the star, there probably wouldn't have been two many people gnashing their teeth over the summer, wondering if Mac survived. As is, the ending is a neat little wrap up--Mac hesitated earlier about taking time off to join Peyton in London, but after stopping a drug heist, he's clearly reconsidered. Claire Forlani brings such warmth to the character of Peyton who, with her upper class British accent and striking beauty could have easily been an aloof character, that it's impossible not to be happy for her when Mac comes out of the building, embraces her and tells her he'll go to London. It's a happy ending, but a hard earned one.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.