CSI: New York--'What Schemes May Come'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 12, 2007 - 8:05 AM GMT

See Also: 'What Schemes May Come' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

A man dressed as a knight is found dead in Central Park, while blocks away a man, bound to a bed, is discovered dead in a penthouse suite. When Sid Hammerback discovers fingerprints on both men's eyelids left by the same person, the CSIs realize the cases are connected. The prints are from a woman not in CODIS, leaving the CSIs to wonder why the same woman plunged an ice pick into Bobby Smith's neck and drove a lance through Derek Kirson's chest. Sid discovers another connection: both men were terminally ill, Bob with leukemia and Derek with an inoperable brain tumor. Hawkes analyzes a blonde hair found on Bob's body and determines it was bleached and the woman it belongs to was using marijuana. Calls placed to Bob's hotel room lead the CSIs to Isabella Cooksey, but she claims she was simply selling Bob's condo for him and refuses to give up her DNA.

Mac rushes to Peyton Driscoll's side after a man in a silver Mercedes SUV shoves her and steals a body from the ME's truck. Danny is able to get a license plate imprint off a dumpster the SUV hit while fleeing the scene, and the CSIs bring in the owner, Christopher Beaufield, the son of a city councilman. He denies stealing the body, and during the interrogation Mac and Peyton receive a page: the body has turned up in the Hudson river. They go to retrieve it and are shocked when the man's eyes pop open. He's rushed to the hospital where he's declared brain dead. A silk hair from a goat that Danny discovers leads him and Mac to Dr. Quinn Brookman, who runs a genetic testing lab. He IDs their victim as Court Peterson, one of his lab techs. Quinn denies knowing anything about Court's odd fate.

Peyton and Mac test Court's blood and discover an odd amalgamation of chemicals in it. The pair realize Court was put into a hibernative state, which mimicked death. They arrest Quinn and Christopher, who together with Court were trying to find a way to induce hibernation in humans. An unusual flower found on Derek's body leads the CSIs to a greenhouse owned by Dr. Henry Croft. Croft recognizes both victims: they were in a support group for terminally ill young people. He tells them Isabella is part of the group as well, and when they spot medical marijuana in his greenhouse, he tells them of a fourth member: Jenny Parker. The CSIs race to her apartment, but it's too late: Jenny, dressed as Marilyn Monroe, is dead in her bed. Isabella tells the sad story: the four made a pact to die together. Jenny killed the two men before killing herself, but Isabella couldn't go through with it. Stella returns to the lab and tells Mac she wants to take a PCR DNA test to determine her HIV status quicker.

Analysis:

There's a really nice symmetry between the two cases in "What Schemes May Come" which isn't easy to achieve but when executed well, as it is here, seems effortless. One case involves an attempt to extend life, the other to cut an already abbreviated life short. There's a clear message, which Stella sums up at the end when she tells Mac she's prepared for the results of her HIV test: live every moment to the fullest in the present.

After all, what benefit do the schemers really reap? In the case of Court Peterson, he tries to accelerate the already risky research he's doing and ends up brain dead. Quinn and Christopher, who are trying to profit from the research, seeking fame and glory if not a tidy profit, both end up behind bars. And in the case of the terminally ill Bob, Derek and Jenny, all three end up dead, losing months they might have had to keep living, together.

Literary themes abound in the episode, far beyond its clever title, which is a play on a line from Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be" soliloquy. Looking at the results of Quinn's scientific experiments reminded me of any number of cautionary tales about man taking on nature and in the process wreaking havoc. Quinn is a Dr. Frankenstein character who lacks the gravitas to recognize how his experiment has gone terribly awry. In a more modern context, the hibernation experiment reminded me of the movie Flatliners in which a group of med students took turns "killing" each other for a few minutes in order to learn what lies beyond death's door.

The foursome with the suicide pact are a much more sympathetic lot. After all, they were dying and Isabella makes a strong case for why they chose the deaths they did: they wanted to go out on their own terms. Isabella, who planned to die as Juliet from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" backed out at the last minute and like Juliet (albeit briefly), she's left alone.

Stella doesn't tell Isabella she can relate to her plight, though when Isabella scoffs at her attempts to comfort her it's clear that Stella is thinking of her own situation. While HIV is more manageable than it was say, ten years ago, it's still a serious diagnosis and ultimately a terminal condition. Stella's resolution at the end of the episode is to take a PCR DNA test, which will yield faster results than the standard test she took initially. I only wonder why, as a professional with cutting edge technology at her fingertips, she didn't choose to take the test early, save for the fact that it wouldn't have played out as well dramatically.

Mac is sympathetic but not overly effusive when Stella tells him she wants the PCR DNA test. Stella is not a character who requires a soft touch; even when she told Mac about cutting herself with the glass in "The Ride In", she didn't break down so much as have a brief moment of vulnerability. Mac, also not one prone to being overly emotional, seems to instinctively know what Stella needs and responds accordingly. Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakaredes play off each other well.

Mac isn't so restrained when it comes to comforting Peyton. The scene at the beginning of the episode when Mac is literally racing through the building to get to her is especially effective because it's unusual for the character. Peyton, though no shrinking violet by any means, certainly seems grateful to have him there. She bounces back quickly, more perturbed by the fact that she may have made an error when she declared Court dead than she is by getting shoved during a body theft. She's a consummate professional, and it's easy to see what draws Mac to her.

The humor in the episode is somewhat uneven. Anna Belknap falls flat with Lindsay's lines about the flower, which are meant to create a light moment, but without any warmth are merely awkward. There's no joy or zest in her performance and it shows. Danny's lines about the mouse aren't quite as funny as they could be, though it's delightfully in character for him to make a fuss about it. Per usual, Eddie Cahill saves the day. Flack telling JJ the carriage driver that he is convinced JJ is involved somehow and that he must prove to Flack that he's not is classic Flack snark and Cahill delivers the lines with zest. But we get to see a softer side to Flack when he prods Croft about the medical marijuana he's growing in order to get a suspect's name but makes no move to arrest him. For all of his tough guy bluster, Flack does indeed have a heart.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.