CSI: New York--'Super Men'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 13, 2006 - 9:03 PM GMT

See Also: 'Super Men' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A man dressed in a superhero costume runs by Tyrell Mann, a football player just picked for the first-round draft for an NFL team, giving an interview to the news media outside his hotel. In a matter of hours, both "Superman" and Tyrell are dead. Mac and Stella work the Superman case; Flack shows them a credit card issued to one Matthew Palmer found near the body, and they discover clothes and glasses in a nearby phone booth. Matthew Palmer turns out not to be their victim, but a man who the victim saved. Palmer was being robbed at an ATM by a hoodlum with a knife attacked when the brave young man came by and attacked the robber. The robber ran away and Superman pursued him. In the morgue, Dr. Hammerback goes over the young man's body and discovers several bullets and knife points beneath his skin, but he tells Mac and Stella they're from old injuries. He send blood off to tox and continues to look for the COD.

Danny and Lindsay take Tyrell's case. The up-and-coming football player lies on his stomach in his hotel room in a pool of his own blood. The only visible injury is a puncture wound to his neck, so the CSIs begin to search his hotel room. Danny discovers several footballs, some not even inflated, and also finds a bloody football championship ring, while Lindsay scans the bed with the ALS and notices signs of sexual activity on it, along with a few letters and numbers in lipstick. Dr. Marty Pino has determined Tyrell was killed by an air embolism--when he was stabbed in the neck, air was pushed into his veins, leading to his heart and killing him. Danny recalls the deflated balls and wonders if Tyrell may have been killed by the device used to inflate them. Pino also points out writing in lipstick on Tyrell's chest that was beneath the blood, as well as an old injury to Tyrell's knee that should have kept him out of the NFL. Danny pays Rodney Pruitt, Tyrell's personal physician, who Danny suspects was giving Tyrell painkillers to help him play despite the injury. Rodney admits to being well compensated for the work he did for Tyrell, but insists he had no reason to kill his meal ticket--and friend.

Back at the lab, Hawkes has recovered some glass from the clothes in the phone booth and DNA lab tech is shocked when he identifies Krypton in the glass. Hawkes tells Mac and Stella that he's found evidence of both anti-psychotics and anti-depressants in Superman's blood stream, and a prescription written out for Oxy from the prescription pad of one Dr. Burr in the alley where Superman's body was found, leading the CSI's to the New York Psychiatric Home, where Burr works. Burr claims the prescription isn't in his handwriting, and he recognizes Superman right away--the man's name was Clark Kranen, and he was a resident at the home. Clark had a developmental disorder, and Burr leads the CSIs to his room, where they find a police scanner, a broken florescent light (the likely source of the Krypton-laced glass) and envelopes with Clark's name on them and money inside. Vern Dox, an orderly at the home, tells Mac he and Clark were friends, and he gave Clark one of his Karate trophies. He says Clark has a brother, Steve, who lives in town but only visits once a month. Several other patients inquire after Clark, and are saddened but unsurprised to learn he's dead.

Danny and Lindsay find evidence of two different women in Clark's room--the woman who wrote her name in lipstick on Clark's body and a woman whose blood was found on the championship ring. Lindsay uses the pictures of Clark's chest and the bed to reconstruct the woman's phone number, which leads her to Charlene, the woman Tyrell hooked up with the night before he died. She claims she wrote the number on his body after a passionate evening and had no reason to kill him--she explains a bruise on her wrist as evidence of rough sex, not violence. She also adds that she wouldn't leave her own phone number on the body of a man she'd killed. Lindsay remains skeptical. Flack and Hawkes catch a break in their case when they view the ATM camera footage and Flack recognizes the robber as Carter England, a thug he's dealt with before. Flack arrests England for the robbery and questions him for the murder. England claims he outran Clark and went to get some Oxy from a dealer he buys from outside Walman's drugs on 64th. He says the dealer is a white guy in hospital scrubs.

Mac tracks down Steve, who is homeless but works as a shoe shiner at 9th and Madison Avenue. Mac is at first skeptical of Steve, who tells him he got into a brawl with Clark that Dox broke up over Clark coming home. Steve tells the CSI that he is ashamed that he lost their family home due to his gambling, and now has nowhere to bring Clark. He blames himself for Clark's condition--when Clark was four he fell out a window trying to fly when Steve was supposed to be watching him. Their mother drank herself to death after putting Clark in the home. Steve accrued some gambling debts, and he has been taking most of the money from the state meant for Clark to offset his debts. Despite Steve's questionable behavior, Mac recognizes Steve is trying to make good. Back at the lab, Stella compares the handwriting on the prescription from the alley to a sample from Burr and proves they're from two different people. The prescription the dealer gave England was a forgery. Hammerback finally has a COD: a single blow to the back of Clark's neck. Mac surmises someone may have been familiar with his susceptibility to cranial trauma to his childhood wound, and also wonders if it was a karate strike that killed him.

Danny and Lindsay are trying to track down the woman whose blood was on the championship ring when Lindsay recalls that there was supposedly a room service cart in Tyrell's room, but when they were going over the room, it was nowhere to be seen. Indents in the carpet indicate it was there, and Lindsay wonders if the murderer used it to get the murder weapon out of the room. Sure enough, a trip to the hotel's lost and found yields the football air pump. Though Lindsay doesn't get a hit off the prints in AFIS, she finds the DNA has 13 alleles in common with the woman's blood on the ring. A scan of newspaper articles about Tyrell reveals he was in a car crash in high school that killed his girlfriend, Elaine Bradford, who is pictured in the newspaper wearing Tyrell's ring around her neck. The CSIs bring in Maurice Bradford, who sorrowfully tells them he went to Tyrell's room to make peace and return the ring, but was rebuffed by the football star. Bradford lost control and stabbed the man. Mac's case has also come to a close: the handwriting of the orderly, Dox, matches that on the fake prescription. He was dealing Oxy and when Clark chased Carter, he spotted Dox and threatened to turn him in. They fought and Dox killed Clark to keep his secret. Mac pays Steve Kranen a visit to tell him what happened to his brother before going to answer a call on his cell summoning him to yet another crime scene.

Analysis:

Though the cheesy montage at the end is overkill, "Super Men" is a great episode that really drives home its theme that unsung heroes like cops and ordinary people are more often than not the real "super men (and women)" in life, not the people lionized by the media (like football players and celebrities). Heroes are people like the CSIs, who go from one case to the next, driven by their commitment to seeing justice served. Though the montage at the end was a little bit of overkill, it illustrated the idea that the job never ends for the CSIs--it's one emotionally toll-taking case after another. I think Mac getting the phone call at the end would have been enough to illustrate this point--one case just closed, and he's already being called to the next, then perhaps cutting to the scene of him and Stella arriving at the next scene.

Heroes are also people like Clark, who have no real obligation to go out into the world and help people, but do anyway. Clark wasn't just playing a part--he was actually going around saving people. If that doesn't make someone a hero, what does? I found Clark's death especially sad, because unlike the superheroes in comic books, he did eventually get taken down (permanently) by one of the bad guys. And Vern Dox was a villain, from his drug dealing to his callous and cruel dismissal of Clark as "retarded." If there was ever a line that made a character completely worthy of contempt, it was that one.

Maybe heroes are even people like Steve, who are struggling to turn their lives around. At first, Mac is contemptuous of Steve--it seems like he all but abandoned his brother, and on top of that was taking most of the money that was supposed to go for Clark's care. But when Steve tells Mac his hard-luck story--and the reason he doesn't often visit Clark--Mac visibly softens and develops some real sympathy for the man. Gary Sinise plays the scenes with Steve so well. We can feel Mac's anger towards Steve dissipate as he realizes the man is actually trying to make good. It's nice to see Mac showing compassion for someone who has made mistakes in the past but is trying to redeem himself; it makes Mac more human and complex.

Eddie Cahill again provides pitch-perfect comic relief in the form of a truly laugh out loud line. When Flack has Carter carted off, the thug protests, telling Flack, "I thought we were brothers!" Flack deadpans in response: "Sometimes, brothers fight." It's rare when a CSI episode actually makes me laugh as hard as I did for this one, but Cahill's delightful delivery was just dead on. Cahill really has great comic timing, and it's great that he's given so many witty lines. Smart, funny Flack is one of the show's greatest assets.

I'm really starting to feel bad for Carmine Giovinazzo. His performances are usually imbued with so much feeling, but even he can't do anything with a ridiculous line like the one he has to deliver to Lindsay after she spouts off the football statistics. His voice is monotone throughout the entire "flirtation," which simply has no heat on his part. Where is the Danny who gamely flirted with Stella, Aiden and Maka? I'm starting to think that there simply isn't chemistry between Danny and Lindsay, despite the writers' very obvious efforts to generate some. Danny appears to deflate during their scenes together, and sucking energy out of the show's most vibrant character seems to be a major misstep to me.

Alas, no one has clued Lindsay in. At one point, she is even chasing Danny down the hall, and proceeds to deliver an irritatingly long-winded speech, only getting to the point after some prodding by a frustrated Danny. Do other characters give these sorts of speeches all the time? Of course--it's a routine part of the CSI shows. But there's something especially irritating about this character. Take, for instance, when Lindsay questions Charlene, the woman who hooked up with Tyrell, her tone becomes hostile for no good reason. Charlene is dead on when she questions why she would leave her phone number on a man she'd killed. What is Lindsay's response? "Don't leave town." I laughed at both the stupidity of the character and her needlessly condescending tone.

I think an attempt is being made to turn Lindsay into some sort of Calleigh-type character. And the writers are correct in the fact that like Emily Procter, Anna Belknap does good work when she's given a lighter scene, such as when she teases Mac about the girl who is flirting with him in "Jamalot", or when she gets Danny to come to the bar to see Mac play the bass in "Stuck on You", or when she shoots the arrow in the same episode. Belknap does have a good handle on these scenes, but unfortunately CSI shows are not all lightness and unlike Procter (who can switch between Southern charm and steely determination with ease), she can't seem to handle the scenes that require more passion and fervor.

She strikes the wrong note in the interrogation of sad Maurice Bradford, who went to make peace with the man he believes is responsible for his daughter's death and instead ended up killing him when Tyrell dismissed his attempt at closure. Tyrell, hyped up on his own sense of self-importance and his proximity to his dreams, callously shoves the man off. Bradford didn't come there planning to kill Tyrell; he came with an olive branch extended and had his peace offering literally thrown across the room. Lindsay sits in stony judgment of the man. It is Danny who extends his apologies to Bradford on the loss of his daughter, and offers no condemnation. Giovinazzo is excellent in this scene, reminding us again why Danny is the heart of this show.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.