CSI: New York--'The Fall'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at March 7, 2005 - 6:46 AM GMT

See Also: 'The Fall' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Three young Hispanic men enter a wine store in the Bronx and shoot the owner. Mac and Stella arrive and notice footprints in the spilled wine--the owner was running for his life when he was shot. Stella finds a nine millimeter bullet casing. She also finds a lighter one of the men left behind and finds a footprint on it. Mac spots the surveillance camera and hopes the men's images were caught on it. Outside, Detective Flack talks to Gavin Moran, his mentor, and the two trace the route the suspects took. In one of the alleys, Moran discovers an abandoned gun.

Danny and Aiden arrive at the scene of a death in Chelsea, where a large man whom Aiden identifies as movie producer Melvin Heckman, lies dead on a canopy. Dr. Hawkes and Danny go up to the body via a lift where Hawkes estimates Heckman has been dead at least 4 hours. Danny notices a party going on on the third floor of the building and the CSIs decide to start there. Heckman's wife, Chandra, is surprised to hear about his death and said she didn't notice he was gone as he often snuck off on business. Danny asks her if Heckman had any enemies, and she tells him there was a long list.

In the lab, Mac tells Stella that all the blood at the scene was from the victim, while she tells him that there were no prints on the gun. The print on the lighter matches a member of the Crazy Aces gang, Luis Accosta. The CSIs watch the surveillance tape and they hear one of the gang members call out to another named Hector to shoot the owner of the wine shop. Mac surmises that the murder was a gang initiation. Stella notices a soda can left by one of the gang members, but neither he nor Stella saw it at the scene.

At the Heckmans' apartment, Danny spots a fiber on the railing of the balcony. Danny posits that Melvin fell face first, and Aiden spots blood on the ledge. Danny wonders whether Heckman's fall was an accident or a homicide.

Moran, Flack and Mac track the Crazy Aces down at a housing project. Tomas Perez, aka "C-Dog" denies being at the scene, and both he and Accosta deny knowledge of Hector. Mac tests both their hands for GSR, but both are negative. Mac vows Perez will answer for what he did. Back at the office, prosecutor Allen McShane puts pressure on Mac to crack the case. Flack, too, is upset that none of the men were arrested, but Mac reminds him they didn't have enough evidence. Stella is bothered by the can's absence, and since Moran was the first officer on the scene, Flack pays him a visit and asks to see his log book. Moran is defensive but finally turns it over.

Dr. Hawkes tells Danny that Heckman was killed by a blow to the head. Hawkes points out a strong floral scent on Heckman's hand as well as two small bruises on the man's backside. Hawkes ran his stomach contents and found nothing suspicious, but did note that Heckman had a high blood alcohol level. In the lab, Danny identifies the floral scene as a woman's perfume. Aiden finds an oily stain on Heckman's jacket and identifies it as salmon oil. She finds a palm print on the back of his jacket, which indicates he may have been pushed. The CSIs head back to the apartment, where they find the woman wearing the fragrance, an actress named Gwen, who had the lead in a movie but was fired by Melvin, who thought she had gained weight. The palm print matches a screenwriter named Brent. Brent claims he didn't push Melvin; he was imploring Melvin not to open a sure-fire blockbuster Pixar film against his movie. Brent claims after he talked to his agent on his cell phone for three and a half hours.

Flack is disturbed to find an entry crossed out in Moran's log book. He asks Stella to run the entry off the record to see if the inks used are different, and she confirms that they are. She spots "Hector--soda can" under the crossed-out section. Flack returns to the scene, where he discovers the soda can in a nearby trashcan. He brings it back to Mac and Stella, but defends Moran, telling them that Moran wouldn't be on the take. Mac takes the can to Jane Parsons in DNA, who runs it and tells him the prints aren't on record, but the epithelials are from Moran. But she surprises Mac with another piece of information--the DNA from the saliva indicates the person who drank from the can is Moran's son. Mac shares the information with Flack and tells him to check Moran's financial information and find the mother.

In the lab, Aiden studies photos of the victim, specifically the bruises on his backside. She analyzes them and realizes the come from a shoe. She called a cousin who sells shoes for advice, and then IDed the shoes as a woman's size seven. Meanwhile, Mac confronts Moran with the DNA evidence that Hector is his son. Moran tells Mac to call his union lawyer and Mac reminds him he's looking at time. Mac asks for his help in finding the shooter, but Moran continues to stonewall him.

Danny and Aiden learn that Chandra Heckman wears a size seven shoe, so they go back to question her. She say she kicked him because she caught him eating chocolate, which given his weight and health, was practically poison for him. Danny finds a sliver of silver on the wall from one of Melvin's cuff links, which backs up Chandra's story that she kicked him into the wall, and not off the balcony.

Flack finds a history of checks written by Moran to one Blanca Vasquez. Mac and Stella pay Blanca a visit, and she says Hector left her a message telling her to tell his friends that he went down to Atlanta to stay with some cousins if they asked. Mac realizes Hector must have failed the gang initiation, meaning he wasn't the shooter in the wine store. The gang is after him now, though. Mac and Stella listen to the message and based on the background sounds are able to track the boy to a warehouse in Brooklyn, where they corner him and bring him in.

Back at the station, Mac confronts Hector with the evidence and asks for his account. Hector claims he doesn't trust cops but also says that he didn't shoot the wine store owner. He claims Perez was the shooter--Perez tried to get Hector to do it, but when he didn't, Perez did it himself. After the gang members fled, Hector ran in a different direction. When D.A. McShane catches wind of Hector's story, he tells Mac he wants Hector arrested, but Mac reminds him the evidence was compromised and suggests their best bet is getting Hector to turn on the gang.

Hawkes tells Danny he's certain that Heckman wasn't poisoned, but says he did find barely -digested chocolate in his stomach, suggesting he ate it just before his death. Danny and Aiden go back to the Heckmans' balcony, and Danny notices a discarded candy wrapper a floor below. Danny spots a gargoyle just in reach if one stands on the ledge of the balcony. Danny steps up and finds a stash of chocolate. The CSIs put it together: Melvin fell reaching for the chocolate.

Mac and Flack arrest Perez and confiscate a handgun and his jacket. Mac and Stella find glass shards in his jacket from a broken bottle of wine that one of the bullets went through. The CSIs find spatter from white wine on his jacket, confirming that Perez was indeed the shooter. Mac tells Flack that Hector was given a deal and intends to go pick up Moran, but Flack asks if he can do it instead. He goes to the station, where he tells his mentor he's going to be forced into retirement, but he'll still get his pension. Rather than handcuffing him, Flack and Moran walk out of the station as if they were going for a cigarette break. Mac looks on from across the street.

Analysis:

The major merit of "The Fall" is that it finally gives us insight into Flack's character beyond the sarcastic quips he usually supplies in each episode. Flack is by far the funniest character in the show thus far, but the character who gets the wittiest lines is at risk of ending up as the least developed character. Thankfully, it doesn't seem that this will be the case with Flack.

Though his relationship with Gavin Moran could have done with a little more screentime, Eddie Cahill and Jack Gwaltney establish a close, almost familial relationship in their first scene together. Though Flack now outranks Moran, he shows the older man a deference that underscores his respect for him. Even as he gradually begins to suspect that Moran has compromised his position, he doesn't lose that respect for the older man, which says a lot about Flack's loyalty to those he cares about. The last scene, where he helps preserve Moran's dignity, says a lot about Flack's character. He's going to do the right thing, but he's going to do it his way.

It's particularly rewarding to see Cahill get a chance to shine. In his best known role, as Rachel's younger boyfriend, Tag, on the sitcom Friends, he exuded a sweet, almost inadvertently humorous quality, and had a lovable goofiness about him. He's completely different in CSI: NY, with more rough edges and sharp wit. In this episode, though, he gets to show Flack's somber side, as he follows his duty without question but not without regret. Cahill's got a great range; hopefully this won't be his last opportunity to show Flack's serious side.

I also liked how Mac and Stella went out of their way to protect Flack, not from the truth about his mentor but rather from being at risk of being brought down by Moran's attempt to cover up evidence. It was both savvy and compassionate of them, given that being implicated by Moran's actions was probably the last thing on Flack's mind. A nice detail.

The B case presents a nice little twist, with the revelation that the man who many had a reason to kill died in an accident. It might be human nature to be just a little bit disappointed by the cases that turn out to be accidents--after all, crime dramas naturally inspire in the viewer a desire to see a bad guy caught at the end, and justice served. But a sense of irony isn't a bad change of pace now and then--as Danny and Aiden elucidate, poor Melvin died sneaking a bit of chocolate behind the back of his wife, who was really just looking out for him.

Some of the science in this episode felt like a bit of a stretch. What was with that machine that Danny used to identify perfumes? Could it really be so exact? It might have been more realistic--though less sophisticated--if Danny had just used his nose. There were also several convenient twists--Moran disposing of the soda can right across from the crime scene for one. Why not just hide the can and dispose of it elsewhere later? Perez's jacket, with the convenient white wine stain, was another. Even the Tanglewood boys were smart enough to ditch their clothes and shoes after committing murder.

Overall, "The Fall" is Flack's episode and it's nice to see him get one. While I always appreciate his biting, funny remarks, I wouldn't mind seeing more of his serious side, either.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.