CSI: New York--'You Only Die Once'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 11, 2007 - 9:41 AM GMT

See Also: 'You Only Die Once' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Don Flack is making out with his girlfriend Devon in her apartment when he hears a noise. He goes to investigate and is shocked to discover a man in the high-rise apartment, who escapes through the window via a rope. Flack seizes a taxi and gives chase but loses the man and his accomplice when the high tech car he's escaping in emits a blue liquid and lights it on fire, blocking Flack's pursuit. When the CSIs arrive to investigate the robbery, Flack gives a description of the man and also notes that the guy turned the lights on rather than hiding in the dark. The case grows more puzzling when Flack is called to Bond Street and finds Mac standing over the corpse of the thief he saw in Devon's apartment hours ago. Chief Brigham Sinclair, who was also a victim of the same thieves who robbed Devon, chides Flack for using the taxi and puts pressure on Mac to solve the case.

Dr. Hammerback discovers a tuxedo and long underwear under the jumpsuit of the dead robber, James Stanton. He shows Mac the clean cut where part of Stanton's skull has been removed, but notes that the wound is post mortem and that Stanton died of asphyxiation. Butterfly wing scales lead the CSIs to the Manhattan Conservatory, which hosted a benefit the night Devon was robbed. Randall Rodrique, who was in charge of coordinating the event doesn't recall Stanton, but his assistant Maude does, and notes that Stanton was ejected from the part for fighting with another guest. Danny and Lindsay marvel over the car, which had state of the art tires and memory polymer siding, allowing the car to literally repair itself. Another robbery provides the CSIs with a serial number, which they trace to an Elliot Gano, who works at a car dealership. Gano tells the CSIs he loaned the car to James and then got into a fight with the man after James claimed the car was stolen--even though it was sitting right outside the benefit.

Mac confides in Flack about the harassing calls he's been receiving, playing a message the caller left clearly recorded on a flight on a 767 to JFK airport. Flack promises to investigate to see if he can find which flight the caller took. Hawkes sounds the alarm in the lab--the lab's firewall has been breached. Mac orders all the power shut down in the building, but one lab table continues to glow--beneath Stanton's tuxedo. The CSIs open it up and discover microtechnology in its lining. Stanton and his cohort weren't just stealing jewels--they were hacking into people's personal computers and electronics as well, and committing identity theft. Hawkes recovers the stolen info, and shows Mac a damning e-mail accusing Chief Sinclair of sexual harassment. Mac brings the e-mail to Sinclair, who claims it's an extortion attempt and notes that if it got out, it could destroy him. Flack tells Mac that he learned that the caller was on the flight Mac himself took two weeks ago back from London to JFK.

Lindsay discovers the blue fluid from the car was a mix of ethanol and Gilmore 171, the alcohol brand that sponsored the conservatory party, leading the CSIs to suspect Rodrique, the event coordinator. When he gives them an alibi, Stella and Flack decide to check out a big party for the mayor that evening that Rodrique also had a hand in planning. Stella takes photographs looking for signs of "smart water," which the robber was sprayed with in the last apartment that was hit. Stella is surprised to discover it on Maude, Rodrique's assistant. Maude tries to flee in the high tech car, but after eluding several police cars is stopped when Flack has a barricade pop up outside of City Hall--and the brakes on the car fail. Maude denies killing James. Danny and Lindsay pore over the car, discovering the airbag was rigged to kill and the breaks were sabotaged. A substance on the airbag leads the CSIs to Booth Rody, who worked with Elliot at the dealership. Rody was the lookout and got jealous that his cohorts used him and never let him in on the action, so he sabotaged the car to kill them. The case might be closed but Mac's troubles are far from over: someone has leaked the incriminating e-mail, bringing Sinclair's ire down on Mac, and luggage Mac lost on his trip back from London appears in his office, with a bloody t-shirt inside.

Analysis:

Spy movies are great fun, and there were more than a few bright points in "You Only Die Once," but the episode also highlights why the genre is best left to novels, movies or serial dramas (think Alias) as opposed to one hour episodics. The complex story was interesting, but hard to follow at times, and the cool gadgets often overshadowed the plot. There were so many clues and details thrown at the audience that the episode was positively dizzying. Spy thrillers have an intense pace, but this was almost too intense--and then Sinclair's involvement and Mac's 333 caller were thrown in as well. Too much of a good thing can be just too much.

The star of the hour is without a doubt Eddie Cahill. The man deserves his own show, period. A Flack spin-off, anyone? Cahill's range is truly impressive, and here he showcases Flack's debonair side. Who knew the tough-talking detective cleaned up so well? Flack is in full heroic mode, first commandeering a taxi and daringly pursuing the thief, and later donning a tux and going "undercover" at the benefit. Cahill steps into the James Bond role with ease, as smooth and suave as they come.

So how can a guy as cool as Flack have such bad taste in women? Devon is barely in the episode, but the glimpses we see of her aren't promising. She's excited about the robbery? Calling people to gossip about it? The adjective "vapid" comes to mind, and that's being generous. Perhaps the intent was to go for a Bond girl type, but Bond girls are sexy and either sweet and smart or dangerous and cunning (or sometimes a mix of all of the above). Devon was none of those things; she came across as just a pretty face for Flack to make out with. Does smart, funny, witty Flack really go for bimbos?

The reactions to Flack having a girlfriend were priceless. Stella is obviously trying not to laugh while she eavesdrops on Flack talking to Devon at the benefit. The expression on her face as she listens to their exchange reveals her amusement at Flack's taste in women. Danny openly teases Flack, first asking him how long he's been dating Devon and then jokingly expressing his surprise that Flack's girlfriend actually has all her teeth. Their easy banter is always a highlight, and Cahill and Carmine Giovinazzo play off each other perfectly, with Flack feigning annoyance and Danny persisting in order to get his joke in.

Danny gets some cute moments in when he geeks out over the cool car, but the scenes would have worked better with either Hawkes or Adam, who is strangely missing from the show for the second week in a row. Isn't A.J. Buckley supposed to be a regular this season? He would have been perfect for the scene. Who better than Adam to get into a debate about which car is cooler, the Batmobile or the Mach Five? This is just the sort of topic Adam has probably spent hours pondering.

At least Anna Belknap is somewhat better in those scenes than she is when she's supposed to be expressing enthusiasm over identifying the mystery liquid from the car. The lighter material is supposed to be her strength--she did well in second season episodes like "Stuck on You" and "Cool Hunter"--but once again it sounds like she's reading from a script rather than channeling the enthusiasm Lindsay is supposed to be feeling. Then again, it must be hard to deliver a line like "I rock!" when she so obviously doesn't. I'm trying to like the character, but Belknap's awkward delivery and Lindsay's grating mix of self-satisfaction and self-involvement really don't make it easy.

The elements that crowded the story somewhat were also among the most interesting, so I can't say I'm altogether disappointed that they were included. It was great to see Mykelti Williamson reprise his role as Sinclair, who once again proves to be a compelling character. This time, it is he and not Mac who's in the hot seat when the investigation digs up an e-mail implying Sinclair is guilty of sexual harassment. Sinclair easily could have seized the e-mail or tried to demand Mac bury it, but he doesn't, instead handing the e-mail back to Mac, trusting him that it won't get out. It's clear he's relying on Mac's integrity, but does he hand the e-mail back because he trusts Mac or because he knows that Mac wouldn't cover it up if asked? I hope there will be follow up to his ominous threat against Mac at the end of the episode.

Sinclair also lays into Flack, which doesn't quite seem fair. Flack had an opportunity to potentially catch the robber that had been plaguing New York--high-speed car chase or not, wasn't it wise to seize that opportunity? It certainly was a fun opening: Flack seizing a cab to pursue the villain was straight out of a spy film (though of course, Bond would have had to do it sans badge), but the genius of the moment was having the cabbie set the counter and demand Flack pay the fare for the drive. The moment was pure New York, something this show could use a little more of.

Mac's 333 caller ups the ante, actually leaving a message when Mac doesn't pick up. Mac's going to need to be a little sharper if he's going to catch the guy--even I recognized the conversation on the voicemail as the one the stewardess had with Mac on the plane from London in "Can You Hear Me Now?". Did Mac really forget that? And did he really need to ponder what the code for the lock might be when he knows the caller's pattern is to call at 3:33 every day? The audience shouldn't be so obviously ahead of the lead character. And who does that bloody shirt belong to? And how was that blood so fresh? Did the caller douse the shirt in fresh blood five minutes before getting that suitcase up to Mac's office? And how did he get into the lab anyway? So many questions--hopefully satisfying answers will come in time.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.