CSI: New York--'The Party's Over'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 19, 2009 - 10:23 AM GMT

See Also: 'The Party's Over' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

The blue flu sweeps the NYPD following a pay dispute for officers, resulting in 40% of the force calling in sick. Mac Taylor, on his way to a charity function for the Manhattan Museum Restoration, notes the lack of cops on the street and at the precinct when he stops a shooter himself. Stella is at the function with fireman Brendon Walsh as her date. The two watch wealthy newspaper publisher Robert Dunbrook unveil a million dollar donation to Deputy Mayor Stuart Kaplan's charity, but when he calls for Kaplan to accept the check, the man doesn't appear. The reason is quickly revealed: a multitude of balloons are released from above, and with them falls the body of the deputy mayor. Hawkes and Danny arrive at the scene, but Danny quickly pleads illness and, despite Hawkes' scorn and skepticism, leaves the scene. Stella finds a circular trace pattern of blood on the floor and thinks that the origin of it might lie with Brendon, who rushed to help Kaplan after his body landed. She goes off to collect his clothes, leaving Hawkes and Adam to process the scene. Neal Weston, Kaplan's brother-in-law comes looking for Kaplan's thirteen-year-old son, Jake. Adam searches for the boy and finds him hiding in a cabinet. He's able to draw him out with the offer of a soda and the use of his iPod. Stella tracks Brendon down and retrieves his clothes. At the morgue, Sid determines Kaplan was strangled, noting an odd bruise pattern on the side of his neck, possibly made by the murder weapon. The team gets a lead when Hawkes finds a broken off part of an NYPD badge belonging to a detective named Stan Miller at the scene. Mac questions Miller, who admits to confronting the deputy mayor over the pay cuts and confesses they got into physical fight, but insists he left Kaplan alive.

Hawkes is irritated when he gets a call to fill in for Danny on a court case and expresses his frustration to Lindsay, who defends Danny. Stella recovers a small bloody wood chip from Brendon's clothes, while Lindsay discovers several hairs on his body came from a horse. Deputy Inspector Gillian Whitford pays Mac a visit: someone left a copy of The Ledger, Dunbrook's paper, on her windshield after the gala with the words "Follow the money" written over Kaplan's picture on the front page. Gillian is determined to get her hands on Kaplan's financial records, and Mac points out that before being named Deputy Mayor, Kaplan was the Commissioner for Construction and Renovation. Adam matches eyelashes on the balloons Kaplan fell with to his son, Jake, and he and Stella posit that the boy is likely OCD. Because the transfer occurred right around the time of death, Stella wonders if Jake killed his father. Despite Adam's skepticism, Stella notes that the boy could have strangled his father by applying pressure to the right places. Lindsay offers up another lead: the horse hairs on Kaplan's body belong to a thoroughbred owned by Robert Dunbrook. Mac questions the man, but Dunbrook tells the CSI that he ran into Kaplan in the bathroom and urged the man to put their differences aside, patting him on the shoulder as they walked out. Mac is skeptical; Kaplan was a roadblock for the powerful Dunbrook. Lindsay IDs the wood from the chip as balsa wood, but she and Stella are interrupted when a chagrined Hawkes calls and tells Stella that the case Danny was supposed to testify at was thrown out because Hawkes was railroaded by the defense. An angry Stella goes to confront Danny at home, but when she gets to his apartment, she has calmed down and can understand his point of view--even if she doesn't choose to make the same stand.

Gillian brings evidence against Kaplan to Mac: the deputy mayor was running fraudulent charities. Mac points out that the person who left the newspaper on her car left it two hours before it was published, leading him to suspect it could have been Dunbrook. Adam finds trace on his iPod and is surprised when it matches trace found on Kaplan's neck, linking Jake to the murder. Stella is finally able to identify the bruise on Kaplan's neck as one made by a clip on tie. Stella and Flack go to Weston's house to find Jake, and Stella spots a board game with pieces like the one found on Kaplan's body. Flack recognizes the boy as the same one who he saw sitting in the precinct earlier, waiting for Adam. Stella and Mac try questioning Jake to no avail, so they turn the boy over to Adam. Adam recognizes OCD traits in Jake, and draws the boy out. Jake tells Adam that his father found him hiding during the party and snatched away the game piece he was holding. Jake lost control and attacked his father in order to get it back, accidentally killing him in the process. Jake tells Adam that even though his dad was mean sometimes, he really loved him. Adam leaves the precinct upset, followed by Stella, who is concerned about him. Mac gets a call to meet Dunbrook and is surprised when the man opts to end the union stand off by handing Mac a check for twenty million dollars for the NYPD. Though Mac has qualms about taking the check, Gillian does not. Danny returns to work, and immediately offers to help Hawkes with his workload.

Analysis:

CSI: New York can be very, very unsubtle at times, not only making its points, but driving them home with a heavy mallet. With the constant snippets of radio and news commentary about the blue flu and the chaos in the city, and Mac and Stella, our two leads, showing up to work but sympathizing with the officers staying home, there's nothing delicate about the way the issue is addressed. Oh, I sympathize with the plight of the underpaid officers, but Danny--the one member of the team who does decide to play hooky--looks like a louse for going home while his pregnant girlfriend slaves away over wood chips and horse hair. Danny, while certainly a champ at making "unpopular decisions" as he himself points out, has never been one to let down his team, so for him to leave everyone in the lurch--and even jeopardize a court case--feels out of character. The way the story was set-up necessitated someone from the team taking a personal stand on the issue, but it might have been wiser to see Mac angrily take up the point with someone in power or Stella get incensed on the job about the serious consequences of being understaffed.

Since when does Danny come from a "family of cops"? While this has been something well established in Flack's background, it's never been mentioned at all in Danny's. Most of what we know about Danny's family comes through his brother Louie, who belonged to the Tanglewood gang--hardly a law-abiding type. This seems to be another instance of the lines being blurred between Danny and Carmine Giovinazzo, the actor who plays him, who himself does come from a family of cops. Like Giovinazzo, Danny is from Staten Island, used to play baseball, used to play guitar and rides a motorcycle. On CSI shows the actors' personal lives and interests sometimes inform their characters and storylines--such as the way Eva La Rue's sister's plight was the basis for the CSI: Miami episode "Darkroom" or how Julia Ormond's involvement in the effort to stop human trafficking inspired last week's New York entry "She's Not There", but the lines between Giovinazzo and his character have gotten increasingly thinner. Danny even answers the door wearing a t-shirt for Giovinazzo's band, Ceesau! That little plug at least is understandable, but revealing in an off-hand way that Danny comes from a family of cops when this background info doesn't really fit the character, feels false--a way to further explain Danny's out-of-character desertion of his team.

I don't think there was a better choice than Danny on the team to represent the blue flu contingent: Mac and Stella are out, it's not really a cause I could see Lindsay taking up and Flack--who has always represented the NYPD legacy until this left-field pronouncement from Danny that he comes from "a family of cops"--is just too darn proud and ethical to participate in a walk out, no matter how worthy the cause. So it falls to Danny, who isn't really a good fit either. Danny is earnest to a fault, incapable of lying effectively and so eager to please those he works with and for that it just doesn't seem a Danny move, no matter how much he might sympathize and agree with those making a stand, to dump his work on his teammates and go home--and jeopardize a court case in the process. Danny has always been someone to take his work very seriously, and the plight of the victims affected by the crimes he investigates. Just because he's the hothead on the team doesn't mean he should always be the one to make the bad decision. And despite the fact that both Mac and Stella make sympathetic comments about the officers staying home, it's clear that Danny's decision is a bad one.

I found myself taking Hawkes' part the whole way through, from when he narrowed his eyes and scrutinized Danny after Danny's pronouncement that he wasn't feeling good to when he took on Lindsay over the issue. I actually sympathized with both Hawkes and Lindsay's perspectives during their debate, though it was Hawkes I agreed with. Danny was being selfish, if for no other reason that he risked his job with a baby on the way and what's more, left his pregnant girlfriend to do all the work! It's made abundantly clear that Lindsay doesn't mind--she defends Danny, and Danny mentions to Stella that she's been calling him every other hour--and it's a nice turn of events to see Lindsay taking Danny's part for once rather than criticizing him. But the fact of the matter is, Hawkes is right; Danny isn't being particularly responsible when it comes to what should be the most important thing in his life right now--his child.

The bright spot in this episode is definitely Adam, who reaches out to young Jake first to get him to come out of the cabinet where he's hiding and then later to get him to confess to the murder of his father. The scene between Adam and Stella after Adam got Jake to tell him what happened reminded me of Grissom's comment in this season's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "Say Uncle" after he discovered the young boy in the case was responsible for shooting his own mother. "I wish we hadn't solved this," Grissom lamented, and Adam's demeanor after he gets Jake to confess conveys this as well. AJ Buckley brings out all of Adam's insecurities in this scene, even as Adam does exactly what's asked of him. He's quietly nervous, anxious, honest and clearly chagrined. After Jake asks Adam what's going to happen to him, a single tear slides down Adam's face, indicating what the sad cadence of his voice has already told us: this is taking a big toll on Adam.

As we know from "Some Buried Bones", Adam's own father was a "bully," so he immediately sympathizes with the young, scared boy cowering in the cabinet. Amid the tough New Yorkers, Adam is a sensitive soul, one who reacts to the emotions of the people around him, and yet, he's stronger than he thinks. His role in the interrogation room is a delicate one--and a new one for Adam. While he clearly has formed a bond with Jake, he also has to get the boy to confess to murder. It's an awkward position for even the most seasoned detective to be in, and as we know, Adam is no seasoned detective. Adam is the good-hearted Everyman--the character easiest for the audience to relate to. He's not a larger-than-life hero like Mac, a hothead like Danny, a genius like Hawkes or a witty, wisecracking detective like Flack. He's just a nerdy guy who likes science and this episode--like "Snow Day" did--puts him in the hot seat.

The episode hints at the fact that Adam might suffer from OCD, but doesn't directly answer the question. When Jake asks Adam how he knows so much about OCD, Adam tells the boy it's because he's a scientist, and while that might be enough to convince a thirteen-year-old boy, the audience is less certain. We know Adam has a similar background to Jake, at least insofar as they both had bullies for fathers. I could easily see insecure Adam needing rituals to make him feel centered and safe, and that's not something we'd necessarily see come out at work. Whether or not the issue will ever be addressed again is anyone's guess, but it could be an intriguing addition to Adam's already complex, interesting character.

Stella once again takes the lead in this episode, and I'm reminded how much I like her take-charge attitude every time she does. I don't expect Mac to go anywhere anytime soon, but I'm happy to see Stella front and center. Stella's way of dealing with things is even more direct than Mac's: when she hears from Hawkes that the court case Danny was supposed to testify in was thrown out, she storms across town to Danny's apartment to confront him directly. She's honest enough to admit to him when she gets there that her feelings about the matter are conflicted. Melina Kanakaredes does a particularly nice job in this scene, expressing both Stella's frustration with and compassion for her stubborn colleague. I'm less sold on Stella's romance with nice (hopefully genuinely so after Stella's bad run of luck with men) but bland fireman love interest; I'd be more curious to see what was behind the way she turned and almost followed Adam after he walked away, claiming his blues were "nothing a slice and Guitar Hero won't solve."

Craig T. Nelson makes his first guest appearance as Julia Ormond makes her last (slated) one. I'll miss Ormond as no-nonsense Gillian Whitford; she brought a very different voice to the NYPD chain-of-command, in contrast to the more political-minded Stanton Gerrard and Brigham Sinclair. Nothing ever came of that sexual tension played up in "My Name Is Mac Taylor" and I can't help but feel bad that Mac never got a chance to act on that attraction he so obviously felt for her. Nelson, on the other hand, is settling in for his arc as a powerful newspaper publisher, and he makes an impression here. Unlike Gillian, it's clear that Nelson's Robert Dunbrook is very political, and I have a feeling that twenty million he donated to bail out the NYPD doesn't come without strings attached. Mac was plenty concerned when Dunbrook handed him the check, and in this case, I definitely trust Mac's instincts. Time will no doubt tell what the cost of that bail out will be.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.