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CSI: New York--'Sweet 16'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 24, 2006 - 4:11 AM GMT

See Also: 'Sweet 16' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A flock of pigeons falls dead from the sky, taking with them a hapless parachuter. The CSIs learn the pigeons were used for racing and track down the owner of the pigeons, Ray Seeley, only to find Seeley dead outside the pidgeon coop on the top of his building, apparently killed by someone wielding a power tool. Flack discovers that Seeley's real name was Rudy Santangelo, and he was in the witness protection program, causing Mac to turn to FBI agent Candace Broadbent. She tells him that Seeley entered the program after seeing two IRA agents murder a cop friend of his, and promises Mac she'll look into the case. Mac turns towards another lead: Jesse Quinn, a teen who was helping Ray look out for the pigeons. The CSIs suspect Jesse may have been angry when he learned Seeley was planning on selling his flock, but when Mac and Flack go to question Jesse at the billiards company his stepfather, Patrick, owns, they find a skittish, nervous boy whom Mac thinks is being abused. Flack is angry when the teen runs and Mac lets him get away, but Mac is convinced the boy isn't their killer.

Across town, Stella, Hawkes and Lindsay are investigating the death of Edward Archerson, a wealthy man found dead outside his daughter Autumn's sweet sixteen birthday party in the expensive car he was planning to give her. Lindsay is taken out of commission briefly when a cobra in the backseat of the car bites her and sends her to the hospital. Stella and Hawkes work through a list of suspects: Autumn's brother Chaz, who put the snake in the car to scare his spoiled sister; Autumn's best friend, Paige, who flirted with Edward to try to get into the party; and Tim Swirsky, who Edward caught trying to spike the punch at the party and kicked out. All prove to be dead ends, but a hair found on Edward is more helpful: when the CSIs learn it's part of a hair extension, they zero in on Deborah, Edward's wife. Enraged over what she saw as a needlessly extravagant gift, Deborah snapped and strangled her husband with her hair extension.

Flack and Danny believe all the evidence points to Jesse when they discover the power saw that killed Ray at the billiards shop. Mac isn't convinced, and with the help of Flack and Danny, performs an experiment, tracing the trajectory of the one remaining bird from the billiards shop to Seeley's roof to check Jesse's alibi. Sure enough, Mac is able to prove that Jesse wouldn't have had enough time to kill Ray and then get back to the shop to release the bird. This leaves him with one suspect: Patrick, Jesse's stepfather, whom Mac is certain is abusing Jesse. Disgusted that his stepson would rather help Ray with his pigeons than work in the billiards shop, Patrick went to Ray's to poison the birds. When Ray discovered him, Patrick murdered him. Unsettled by the case, Mac reaches out to Claire's son, Reed Garrett, only to be beeped away to a crime scene before they can go to dinner. When Mac meets Flack, he's shocked to discover the victim is Candace Broadbent, who had been digging into the Seeley case. Mac recalls that he was supposed to meet her the next day to hear what she'd learned in the Seeley case and wonders if she opened up a can of worms in her investigation.

Analysis:

CSI: New York is really on a roll. The season has been barrelling full steam ahead at what feels like a very fast pace. No doubt the lack of reruns has something to do with that; going straight through November sweeps with nary a repeat was a shrewd decision. It's allowed for a great deal of continuity between the episodes.

My favorite bit in this episode was far and away the continuation of the tension between Mac and Flack from "Consequences". They ended up on opposite sides of the fence when Mac went after one of Flack's officers, Dean Truby, on a murder charge after he uncovered evidence that Truby lifted drugs during a bust. "Sweet 16" reveals that Flack is taking heat from other cops for not having Truby's back, and his attitude towards Mac in this episode shows that he's still conflicted over how the arrest went down.

For his part, Mac is fairly direct, calling Flack out on his attitude. Mac sympathizes with Flack even while he defends his actions, and points out that he knows the detective is aware the Truby case was handled properly. Flack doesn't back down, which some might see as obstinance, but it's more likely that Flack is working through his resentment, both at Truby and Mac for putting him in the situation in the first place. It's been well established that for Flack, loyalty is everything, and his reaction fits with what we know of his character.

Both Gary Sinise and Eddie Cahill play these scenes perfectly. The two have an interesting dynamic--it's not the father/son relationship that Mac and Danny had in season one, but rather two colleagues who find themselves with opposing interests in a key case. Those feelings carry over into this case: Flack is impatient with Mac's assertions of Jesse's innocence. Flack has always been a pretty black and white kind of guy: the evidence tells him Jesse looks like their prime suspect, and he's understandably irritated when Mac lets him get away. For once, Mac acts on a hunch and finds the science to prove himself right.

Anna Belknap's pregnancy has lightened Lindsay's screen time significantly, and this time around, the writers have found a reason to explain Lindsay's absence from the episode: she gets bitten by a snake and is rushed to the hospital. Might I suggest an elevator shaft? It worked so well for Rosalind Shays on L.A. Law (and she was at least a character people loved to hate). This time around Lindsay irks by complaining that she "only" got a Pinto on her 16th birthday. Leave it to the franchise's least likable character to envy a girl whose father has just been found dead in her birthday gift.

The guest cast in this episode is impressive. Dawson Leery's kindly father John Wesley Shipp might be a little too inherantly likable to pull off the evil abusive stepfather role, but he manages a convincing amount of anger when he rails against his stepson in the final interrogation scene. Also in fine form is the excellent Stacy Haiduk, who is so good as the unhinged Deborah that she makes what would otherwise be a weak motive completely believable. Stella's reaction mirrors the audience's, and the look on Melina Kanakaredes' face when Deborah finishes her tirade is priceless.

It was also gratifying to see Kyle Gallner return as Reed Garrett. First seen in "Consequences," Claire's son was neither overly surly nor too good to be true, and it's nice to see Mac reach out to him after Stella suggests he make another attempt. Sinise and Gallner build on the rapport they established in "Consequences," and it tugs at the heartstrings more than a little to see the look of pure joy on Reed's face when Mac offers him pictures of Claire. I was as disappointed as Reed probably was when Mac got called away to a crime scene.

And what does that final twist mean? The murder of an FBI agent is no small thing, and coming at the end of the episode, suggests the possibility of a major storyline in the works. Seeley's death turned out to have nothing to do with the case that got him into the witness protection program, but Candace's murder definitely indicates this case isn't closed. Given how well New York is handling continuity this year, I can't wait to see what unfolds.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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