CSI: New York--'The Thing About Heroes'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 29, 2007 - 10:41 AM GMT

See Also: 'The Thing About Heroes' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

With Mac in Chicago hunting the 333 caller, the rest of the team heads to the subway to investigate the death of train operator Kevin Carmichael, whose body was found slumped in the broken window of his train. The CSIs and Flack are in for a surprise when the doors slam shut and the train springs into action, taking them all for a ride save for Danny, who stepped briefly onto the platform to get his kit. Danny runs to a control box only to find an MP3 player strapped to it, controlling the train. Danny hurls a rock at it and disables it just before the train crashes into a sitting car. When the CSIs get off the train, Flack notices they're at 33rd Street--on the 3 train. Stella realizes it's the work of Mac's stalker. In Chicago, Mac searches the Tribune Building and finds a hanging decomposed body in one of the rooms, along with a hangman puzzle, with the letters of the alphabet above it--save for the letters that spell out "coward." He fills in Chicago PD Detective Brennan on the 333 caller and the clues that led him to Chicago, but she reminds him he has no jurisdiction in the Windy City. While the CSIs work the Carmichael case, Chief Sinclair sends Flack to Chicago to keep an eye on Mac. In the lab, Adam shows Danny how the MP3 player worked, and points out a site on the internet where the saboteur picked up the technical know-how to program the MP3 player to do hijack the train.

In the morgue in Chicago, Brennan tells Mac the dead man was in his mid-twenties and died thirty years ago of a gunshot wound to the stomach. His body was buried and dug up. Mac calls an old friend, Jimmy and meets up with him. He recalls Bobby O'Toole, the man who beat Jimmy's brother Will to death. Mac accuses Jimmy of being the 333 stalker, but Jimmy denies it and tells Mac to stay away from him. After Jimmy leaves, Mac picks up his discarded cigarette butt and Flack arrives. Mac fills him on what happened thirty years ago: sixteen-year-old Will was making deliveries for a mobster, allowing his fourteen-year-old brother Jimmy and his friend--Mac--to tag along. But a delivery to Bobby O'Toole--who lived in apartment 333--went terribly wrong, and Jimmy and Mac witnessed Bobby beating Will to death. Jimmy pulled a gun out of Bobby's drawer but it got knocked out of his hand; Mac picked it up but was unable to shoot Bobby. Mac gets the DNA report on the cigarette from Stella: the blood is a filial match to the blood on the puzzle pieces and the DNA on the MP3 player. Mac recalls Will and Jimmy had a younger brother: Andy. Back at the lab, Stella studies the puzzles, disturbed. Suddenly, she recalls a puzzle piece she found at Drew Bedford's apartment after she brought the first puzzle to him matched not the first puzzle but the second. She puts it together: Drew is the 333 stalker. She confirms it when partial prints off the gifts he's given her match the prints on the MP3 player.

Mac and Flack return to New York and, along with Stella and Danny, prepare to storm Drew's apartment. Sinclair joins them. While Mac scours the wine racks, Drew knocks him unconscious. Mac awakens in a chair surrounded by lasers. Drew tells him if he trips the lasers, a gun will fire at his head, and promises the same will happen to whoever walks through the door to save him. Drew calls him a coward, saying that he could have saved his brother if he'd fired the gun. He shows Mac a newspaper article on his heroics after the drug bust, questioning Mac's status as a "hero." The team works frantically to find Mac, consulting a playlist on the MP3 player, which leads them to a forgotten subway tunnel. Flack pulls an ace out of his sleeve: Jimmy. Jimmy calls Drew and bursts into the room. The shotgun fires into his chest and Drew runs for him. Mac sets off the laser as Drew crosses in front of the gun and it hits Drew. Mac takes him down with a shot to the arm. Jimmy is unharmed because he was wearing a bulletproof vest, and Drew's wound isn't fatal. The family has lost enough, Mac tells Flack.

Analysis:

After ten episodes worth of build up, "The Thing About Heroes" delivers an exciting conclusion to the 333 storyline. Mac journeys to Chicago and finally connects the 333 caller to an incident from his past, Stella puts it together that Drew Bedford is the stalker and Mac finally has his showdown with the guy. We also learn what apparently set Drew off: after Mac took down the Irish mob in "Snow Day", the newspapers picked up on the story and started referring to Mac as a "hero," an assessment Drew clearly doesn't agree with.

It's a rather daring move to label the show's hero a coward, even if it's a brand the audience will ultimately dismiss. Mac's inaction is imminently forgivable because he was a child, but Drew, though deranged, doesn't come off as entirely unsympathetic, either in the eyes of the audience or Mac. Indeed, Mac makes the risky move of shooting to wound rather than kill Drew, saying that Drew and his brother have lost enough. Though Mac might disagree, the move is a heroic one. Gary Sinise acquits himself well during the episode, toning down Mac's persecution complex and showing the CSI finally putting all the pieces together and confronting his past head on.

Drew Bedford may have been an obvious suspect early on--he did show up in Stella's life right around the time the 333 caller starting bothering Mac--but he doesn't disappoint in the final showdown, in large part due to Kerr Smith's impassioned performance. Smith, who up until this point has had little to do but unsuccessfully woo Stella, turns up the intensity and makes us wish we'd seen more of him. He makes Drew's anger both real and sympathetic, and even though he's misguided, it's hard not to feel sorry for the man whose life was shaped by watching his older brother get beaten to death and who has become obsessed with getting revenge on the family friend who, as a child, was unable to fire a gun at the man beating his brother.

Thankfully, Stella is the one to figure out Drew is the 333 caller when she recalls a puzzle piece she found at his apartment matched a puzzle the CSIs recovered after her visit, not before. It's gratifying that Stella never let her guard down with Drew, given that he came on way too strong and given her previous bad experience with perfect-boyfriend-turned-psycho Frankie back in season two. I didn't think much of Stella going to confront Drew alone twice in the last episode, "One Wedding and a Funeral", so it's nice to see her exhibiting sharper thinking here.

It's too bad that the CSIs pretty much walk into Drew's trap and hand him Mac on a platter. I know Drew needed to get a hold of Mac to advance the plot along, but really did it need to be so easy for him? Stella, Flack and Danny are all with him, but none of them see fit to stick by Mac's side. Flack, Mac's confidant throughout the entire 333 saga, follows Danny into some back room rather than sticking with Mac. Flack's protectiveness of Danny is well documented, but this may have been the one case where Flack should have worried more about Mac than Danny. Stella accompanies Mac into the wine cellar, but is (somewhat understandably) sidetracked when she comes across pictures of herself that Drew must have taken. Mac unwisely wanders into the rows of wine racks by himself and unsurprisingly falls into Drew's trap.

I did like Drew's laser set up; it reminded me of the one Mac used in "Snow Day" when he captured one of the mobsters and tied him up in a chair behind lasers rigged to set off an explosive. I wonder if Drew perhaps read about Mac's laser set up in that newspaper article and decided to mimic it. It was cool, even if it was a tad elaborate. But, then, hasn't that been Drew's thing all along? His whole ploy with the calls and romancing Stella was long and involved. I'm still not sure we needed all of the build up; I can't help but wonder if the storyline would have unfolded in a more interesting way if Drew had just approached Stella and then Mac had been drawn in with the puzzles. The whole "calling at 3:33am" thing got a little out of hand, and I loved Lindsay's reaction to it when she said, "No woman would make anonymous calls at 3:33 in the morning."

It was fun to see Mac revisit his old Chicago stomping grounds, and watching him go through the Tribune Building while the frustrated cop tried to halt his progress earned a laugh. I wish the Chicago detective he worked with hadn't been so downright insufferable; Brennan's every other word was essentially to remind Mac that he didn't have jurisdiction in Chicago. She was so irritatingly obnoxious that I was hoping she'd cop the attitude in front of Flack so he could put her in her place. Mac might have a commanding presence, but some situations require a sharp tongue, and Flack's got that in spades.

The opening scene with the out-of-control train was quite exciting, allowing the episode to begin on a note as thrilling as the one it ends up closing with. Perennial "damsel in distress" Danny actually gets to save someone else for the second time this season (after he rescued Hawkes in "The Deep") when he steps off the train to grab his kit and ends up being the only one of the team not stuck on the runaway train. Danny stops the train by doing what he does best in stressful situations: throwing something. This time, it's not a liquid solution but a rock, which disables the MP3 player controlling the train. Just as in "The Deep," much is made of Danny's heroics: both Stella and Mac feel the need to make note of the fact that the train didn't crash "thanks to Danny." It's rather endearing to see both of Danny's superiors are still aware of his desire for affirmation, and furthers the idea that Danny is in serious need of self-esteem boosting.

And so the 333 saga ends, with Drew Bedford alive and clearly unrepentant. Will Mac come to regret his act of mercy, or have we seen the last of the 333 stalker? Time will tell, but I hope the door is closed on the saga. I'm glad it wasn't stretched out past the midway point in the season; there's only so much ammunition that can be got out of creepy phone calls and elaborate cat-and-mouse games. That being said, the final chapter in the saga certainly did pack a punch.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.