CSI: NY--'The Triangle'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at December 11, 2008 - 10:05 AM GMT

See Also: 'The Triangle' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

While a wildly frantic man paces the streets of Midtown in front of the Empire State Building, fretting about "the triangle," Danny calls Lindsay to tell her he's late for work. Suddenly, his cell phone dies. Nearby, a High Eye armored vehicle is stopped. The driver turns to see his partner the back of the vehicle, clearly in distress as sparks fly around him. When the CSIs arrive on the scene, the man, Carl Custer, is dead. His partner, Greg Hufheinz, claims he wanted to help but was forbidden by their company to leave the cabin of the vehicle for any reason. Stella and Mac start working the scene, but while processing, Stella is shocked to look up and find Mac gone. Sid and Hawkes go over Carl's body and determine that he was literally microwaved to death: his internal organs heated up and his pacemaker exploded inside his body. The CSIs learn he died at 4:56pm, the same time the surveillance cameras on the street went out. Lindsay, experiencing pregnancy cravings, goes out for a donut and Danny tracks her down, peppering her with questions that end with a big one: a marriage proposal. Lindsay tells him no. Mac, along with Danny and Hawkes, heads to the Empire State Building to test the levels of microwaves and determines they're within safe levels. Flack calls Mac to tell him that no money was missing from the truck.

Mac clears up the mystery of his disappearance from the night before, telling Stella that two FBI agents pulled him aside for questioning about the missing flash drive from the Ann Steele murder case, suspecting him of some involvement. Mac recalls the only person besides Hawkes and himself who handled the drive was property clerk Kevin Cross. Adam finds evidence that a designer lock-disabling device called Satan's Ring was used to disarm the lock. Flack only recalls one bank robber who used the designer lock: Bernie Benton. Flack questions Bernie at his bar, but the ex-con, who is dying of cancer, tells the detective he hasn't resorted to robbery since getting out of jail. Lindsay recovers epithelials from a small pineapple sticker found on Carl's body, but while processing she worries about how the chemicals might affect her baby and asks Stella for advice under the guise of asking for a friend. Danny has finally found the target of the heist: Anderson Savings & Loan. The bank was robbed at 5:01pm, minutes after Carl's death by a man claiming to be Carl. The surveillance footage from the Empire State Building proves useful: on the camera they see the robber climb into a van and lightly hit a pedestrian--the ranting man. Danny and Stella track the man, whose name is Yert, down and learn he reached into the van and pulled off a part of the robber's shirt.

Lindsay and Adam recover scent from the shirt and give it to the canine unit, leading them to the locker of Greg Hufheinz's, Carl's partner. Hufheinz tells Mac and Flack that his spare uniform was stolen from the dry cleaners two days ago, and insists he's innocent. The two believe him, and their focus shifts back to what exactly stopped the armored car. Hawkes has the answer: a high tech company in Manhattan called Sannin Research has an advanced prototype portable microwave gun that could have stopped the truck and caused the power interference. Lindsay has discovered the epithelials on the sticker, which she's identified as coming from a tanning parlor, are a familial match to Bernie Benton: they belong to his daughter. The CSIs surmise that Bernie's daughter must have fired the microwave gun while Bernie robbed the bank, but they can't get a name or photo of her. Flack and Stella go back to Bernie, but he won't give up his daughter. When Bernie throws a glass and tries to run, Flack arrests him and they get his cell phone, which shows several texts to a Jamie Sunderland. Hawkes cross checks the name and learns Jamie works in the marketing department at Sannin. Bernie is taken away, but Jamie escapes on a helicopter--with the money. Mac gets called to another crime scene: property clerk Kevin Cross has been found shot dead. The FBI agents watch Mac from their car. Back at the lab, Danny asks Lindsay why she won't marry him and she says it's not the right time. After the two declare their love for each other, they go to tell Mac about the child they're expecting together.

Analysis:

Though I found Yert, the paranoid, ranting man the episode opens on, to come across as crazy as he's meant to appear, apparently he's on to something: the New York City Bermuda Triangle apparently exists, at least according to the New York Daily News. Cars apparently mysteriously die in the shadow of the Empire State Building, their remote keys rendered useless. It's definitely a cool jumping off point for an episode, and something that draws on New York City lore and local knowledge. I'd never heard of the NYC Bermuda Triangle before tonight, but I suspect many Manhattanites are familiar with the phenomenon. Using it as the cover for a bank heist is a novel, clever idea. I also loved Adam's serious utterance of, "The Triangle strikes again." A.J. Buckley always delivers Adam's lines with just the right mix of enthusiasm and seriousness.

Of course, the theories Yert Yawallac (whose unusual appellation is scribe Trey Callaway's name spelled backwards) spouts are apparently debunked when Mac, Danny and Hawkes go to the top of the Empire State Building and find only normal levels of microwaves at the top. Still, Mac does have some trouble hearing Flack on his cell phone, but then again, can anyone reasonably expect crystal clear reception at the top of the Empire State Building? It was fun to see the three men on top of the building, and I liked the way Hawkes reaches out to Mac for support while Danny frets about possible ill effects from the height.

Sid and Hawkes have some nice interplay in the morgue when Sid determined the victim wasn't shot or burned in the traditional sense, but was literally fried on the inside, his liver microwaved and his pacemaker exploded in his chest. The two science guys are clearly fascinated by the results of Sid's autopsy; he's even gone and microwaved a pig liver for comparison. I like that we've seen Sid and Hawkes collaborating fairly often this season; Robert Joy and Hill Harper have a great rapport, and it's nice to see Hawkes able to continue to use his medical savvy even while he works as a CSI.

The perpetrator of the crime turns out to indeed be Bernie Benton, who appears relatively early in the episode after Flack recognizes his handiwork after being shown the Satan's Ring. I would have dismissed him as a red herring if it hadn't been for the momentary appearance of his daughter; characters don't just happen by and not turn out to be significant in CSI shows. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Flack first pays Bernie a visit at his bar. Eddie Cahill brings a real authenticity to Flack; he always feels like a genuine NYPD detective to me, with his gruff manner and straightforward attitude. Flack, with his sleeves rolled up, seems relatively casual in his questioning of Bernie, but it's clearly a battle of wits. Bernie demurs, telling Flack he's dying of cancer and claiming his bar is his home. Guest star Chris Mulkey holds his own against Cahill; I found him convincingly sympathetic, even if I didn't totally buy his story.

Surprisingly, while Bernie is arrested, his daughter actually gets away with the money. It's a rare episode of a CSI show when someone actually gets away with a crime. The helicopter was a bit much: I realize she got away with a fair amount of cash, but would she really think a helicopter was the best way to get out of town? It was a bit over-the-top in the vein of CSI: Miami; seeing her on a plane to Mexico or some other foreign destination would have been a bit more believable. Still, it was refreshing to see the formula shaken up a bit: though the audience usually enjoys seeing the CSIs get their criminals, it's realistic that now and then one of them would get away. The team is at least allowed a partial victory with the arrest of Bernie. Given that the guy is almost guaranteed to die in jail, it's probably a relief for him to know that his daughter is at least provided for.

After the revelation in "The Box" that Lindsay is pregnant with Danny's child, we get to see her dealing with the repercussions--both professional and personal--of the pregnancy. While working with chemicals in the lab, Lindsay notices a 'toxic' label and visually assesses the number of hazardous materials in the lab. The scene might be more effective if there were any depth to Anna Belknap's acting; rather than registering the fear one would assume she must be feeling for her child, her expression is more or less blank. There's no fear in her expression for her child, no real reaction at all. Belknap doesn't clue us in as to Lindsay's internal thought process; she's just looking at bottles. The labels, not any emotion from Lindsay, are what tell the audience what her concern must be.

Luckily Stella comes in to save the day. After Lindsay asks her in the clunkiest way possible for advice for her "pregnant friend from the New Jersey crime lab," Stella tells Lindsay that there are safety protocols to protect pregnant women, shields and masks to guard against any chemicals harming the baby. Melina Kanakaredes possesses all the subtlety that Belknap lacks; she shows us Stella's realization throughout their conversation that Lindsay isn't just talking about a "friend." It's the way Lindsay talks about "the father"--whom we and no doubt Stella know is Danny--that clues the astute CSI in. Stella warmly reminds Lindsay of how understanding her colleagues are, and that they're there to help. She pauses before exiting the lab, perhaps considering saying something more personal, but leaves it at telling Lindsay to pass along congratulations to her "friend."

Belknap is better in Lindsay's scenes with Danny. Though there's not a lot of chemistry between the pair, this was the first time in a long, long while where I've felt a sense of genuine warmth between them. A lot of the credit for that goes to Carmine Giovinazzo, who injects a very natural nervousness into Danny's behavior in this episode. Danny clearly isn't sure what to do, and, being a decent guy, naturally decides the solution is to propose. The scene in which he does so is hilarious: only Danny could open a discussion that's going to end in a proposal with the question, "Are there any hereditary diseases in your family?" and go on to ask about mental illness and addictive tendencies. His questions soften as he goes on, moving to the delivery and the sex of the child, and finally to, "Will you marry me?" Lindsay puts her hand on his shoulder and not unkindly says, "No," but ruins the moment by, in what we by now know is typical Lindsay fashion, walking away. It's hard to blame her for turning down a marriage proposal that begins with questions about hereditary diseases and mental health, but walking away from a man she claims to love after saying no to his marriage proposal seems a bit cruel, to say the least. Belknap conveys the warmth and depth of Lindsay's feelings for Danny well in this scene, but the writers need to stop constantly having Lindsay walk away from Danny if we're to buy them as a couple with actual affection between them.

The issue is revisited later on, before the two tell Mac about the pregnancy. Naturally--as has become typical for the couple anytime an issue arises--Danny has to ask Lindsay for an explanation of why she won't marry him. She tells him it's the wrong time, which insecure Danny counters with, "The wrong time or the wrong guy?" Given that Lindsay hasn't been with or even been interested in anyone else since she showed up in New York--and indeed, while Stella and Angell get hit on left and right, no one but Danny has even looked twice at Lindsay--only Danny could be insecure enough to wonder if she's thinking he's not good enough or that she could do better. Recognizing he wouldn't be proposing if it weren't for the baby, Lindsay wisely asks, "Wouldn't you rather walk down the aisle than be pushed?" She reassures him that neither of them are going anywhere, and he finally tells her he loves her, prompting her to respond in kind. The whole thing feels a little too neat; the two haven't seemed happy in each other's presence since season four's "Commuted Sentences". Suddenly, an episode after she drops the baby bomb on him, we're supposed to believe that they're in love? The declaration, at least on his side (she said it twice last season) feels rushed. It would have felt much more natural to work up to it gradually.

The pair tell Mac their news in his office, which the audience sees through the glass walls but doesn't hear. Mac, looking surprised for a moment, warmly embraces them both. Gary Sinise can say so much without ever uttering a single word. I love the way he affectionately puts his hand on Danny's head after hugging him. Mac has bigger worries than his underlings' pregnancy though: that pesky flash drive with dirt on the city's elite that disappeared back in "Sex, Lies and Silicone" is the subject of a federal investigation, and the FBI thinks Mac might be behind its disappearance. After he's questioned, Mac goes over the chain of custody with Stella and determines to talk to Kevin Cross, the property clerk he handed the evidence to, but before the episode has concluded, Cross is found murdered, a bullet in his forehead. The FBI agents watch menacingly over the scene as Mac identifies the body. Did they kill him--or do they believe Mac did? I look forward to the follow up.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.