CSI: New York--'The Dove Commission'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at March 24, 2005 - 10:05 PM GMT

See Also: 'The Dove Commission' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

An attractive couple whirls on the dance floor while a woman in a red dress looks on. A news reporter stands at the edge of the room, filming a segment on the scene: the Dove Commission, a group formed to investigate corruption in the NYPD, has finished its report and will be releasing it the following day. The couple--Commissioner Dan Stanwyk and Charlotte DuBois dance as others look on. Suddenly, shots ring out and the couple falls.

Detective Flack leads Mac and Stella to the grim scene. He tells them that Stanwyk was heading up the Dove Commission, meaning the case will be a big one. He dismisses the woman Stanwyk was dancing with as collateral damage. When Flack catches Morty Sherman, the reporter, trying to film the scene, he chases the man away. Mac asks Grace Walderson, Charlotte's friend, about Charlotte, and she tells him that Charlotte was a friend visiting from Kentucky and that she hadn't met Stanwyk before that evening. Stella organizes the team, telling them to collect the shattered glass from the windows while she retrieves the bullets. She notes that they're looking for a rifle, not a handgun.

Aiden and Danny are in Washington Heights at the scene of a brutal murder. Fernando Reyes lies dead in his cab, his throat slashed, but Danny is none too sympathetic. He tells Aiden he has "issues" with gypsy cab drivers. The CSIs question Paul Baxter, the transit worker who discovered Reyes's body and called the police. He tells them he didn't notice anyone running from the scene or hopping the turnstile at the subway station he works at.

At the morgue, Dr. Hawkes has removed Stanwyk's brain and put it in water so that he can dissect it when the time comes. He informs Mac that both Stanwyk and DuBois were shot twice, and one bullet passed through both of them. That bullet lodged in the commissioner and he removes it and hands it to Mac. Mac heads down to the police station and is able to finagle a copy of the Dove Commission report out of Donna, one of the secretaries at the station. He reads the report. Meanwhile, Hawkes finds blood under Reyes's nails and shows Danny and Aiden all the defensive wounds on the mans body. Reyes died from the wound to his neck.

At the station, Mac confronts Chief Vince Robinson, whose men have been implicated in drug trafficking and police brutality in the Dove Commission's report. Mac informs a hostile Robinson that he's number one on the Dove Commission's list. He insists on testing Robinson for GSR though Robinson counters that he's just returned from the shooting range. Back at the lab, Dr. Giles tells Danny and Aiden that the blood under Reyes's nails has female DNA. Constance Briell in the ballistics lab also has some surprising news for Stella: she's compared two of the bullets from the shooting and determined that they come from two different rifles. Looking at the glass from the windows reveals that the bullets came from outside the room, not in it. To make matters worse, Inspector Markoni from IAB pays Mac a visit to put pressure on him to find the shooter. He encourages Mac to pursue the Robinson lead.

Danny and Aiden process Reyes's cab. Danny finds a picture of Reyes and his son, while Aiden discovers a business card with gum in it in the backseat of the cab. The pair goes to Reyes's residence, where they inform his teenaged son, Antonio, of his father's death. Aiden asks if his mother is around, but Danny starts off interrogating the young man, insulting his father for not being a legal cab driver and asking if he was seeing someone on the side. Antonio bristles, ready for a confrontation with the CSI, but Aiden diffuses the situation and asks Danny what his problem is as Antonio storms off.

Chad Willingham tells Mac that Robinson tested positive for GSR, but the GSR had traces of tin in it from the shooting range. Robinson was telling the truth. Mac sends Flack to get the footage from Morty Sherman, the newsman who was filming that night, but Morty, angry at Flack dismissing him earlier, refuses to turn it over. Flack promises to return with a subpoena.

Danny freezes the gum in the business card and removes it revealing a name: Gavin Arnold. Danny goes to Arnold's office and questions him about his whereabouts. Arnold denies being in the cab, but when Danny presses, he admits he gave his card to a stripper named Savannah at a strip club called Lifestyles the night Reyes was murdered.

Constance tells Stella that the bullets from the hotel are specific to the Tactical Assistance Response Unit (TARU). Mac and Stella track down Officer Jasper, who is the only person authorized to fly TAG--a small helicopter equipped with two rifles and video surveillance equipment. Jasper tells them the helicopter is designed for assault in inaccessible or dangerous places. He was on duty starting at 2am, four hours after Stanwyk and DuBois were killed. Stella takes the helicopter and the remote. Stella tests the bullets and find they are a match for the chopper's rifles. The prints on the remote match Jasper's, and Mac decides to track the man's movements using the "Pass-N-Go" pass that police officers get to use for free.

Danny and Aiden find Savannah, also known as Jamie Banks, at Lifestyles. When Danny asks if Reyes assaulted her, she tells him that wasn't what happened. Reyes dropped her off at her apartment and when a man attacked her in the doorway, he jumped out of his cab and fought the guy, allowing Jamie to run off. She didn't call the police figuring they wouldn't take her seriously. She gives them her clothes from that night, which the CSIs go over. They find a substance that turns out to be steel scrapings on her clothes and hair.

Mac informs Inspector Markoni that Jasper couldn't be the killer: he was headed in the opposite direction on the Triborough bridge fifteen minutes before the shootings. Markoni presses Mac to find the killer, but Mac is beginning to question his own assumptions. No longer certain it's about the Dove Commission report, he and Stella go back to the evidence and start going over Stanwyk and DuBois's clothes. Stella finds lipstick on Stanwyk's collar. Flack brings them the footage from Morty's camera courtesy of a subpoena, and the CSIs compare it to TAG's video footage. They see TAG take down Stanwyk with two shots and then change targets to fire at DuBois. DuBois wasn't collateral damage--she was a secondary target. Mac and Stella interrogate Grace Walderson, asking her if Charlotte knew the commissioner. Stella tells the woman that the lipstick on Stanwyk's collar wasn't from Charlotte and asks if Grace was the one who was with Stanwyk. Both Grace and Charlotte were wearing red dresses, and Stella puts it together: Grace, not Charlotte, was the target. Distressed and clearly frightened, Grace runs off, but not before leaving behind a tissue she used to wipe her eyes.

Dr. Giles tells Danny and Aiden that the hair from Jamie's clothes has female DNA, but notes that it's possible that the killer has a genetic mutation that is causing his Y chromosome to read as an X. When Giles tells them there's steel dust from the transit station on the hair as well, Danny and Aiden realize their culprit is Paul Baxter, the transit worker who found Reyes's body. Paul waited to Jamie to come home and attacked her, but then was pulled off her by Reyes. When Paul says the "gypsy cabdriver scumbag" shouldn't have interferred, Danny turns his rage on him before Aiden pulls him away.

Mac goes back to the TAG helicopter and tests its battery for prints. He gets a hit: Inspector Bill Markoni. Mac and Stella interrogate the IAB officer, who had access to TAG five years ago when he worked for TARU. Mac calls it a crime of passion, and Markoni confesses that he used to be with Grace Walderson, but then Stanwyk stole her away. Mac is angry that he tried to pin the crime on two innocent men, but Markoni is unrepentent and insists it was worth it.

Danny tracks down Antonio Reyes and apologizes for his behavior. He tells Antonio that when he was ten years old, he and his father were beaten up by a gypsy cab driver. He also lets Antonio know that Fernando was a good man and died saving a woman. He also gives the boy the picture of him and his father that he found in the cab.

Analysis:

The conclusion of "The Dove Commission" reminded me of the ending of a thriller I read a few years ago. The book (which I won't name or describe in identifiable detail, so as not to spoil it for anyone who might want to read it*) had a great set up: a kidnapping conspiracy of massive proportions that ties back to a murder from several years before, which changed one of the heroes' lives. It had all the hallmarks of a fantastic conspiracy which made for breathless reading, but when the resolution came...it turned out to be all over love gone wrong. I liked the thriller overall and the conclusion was still exciting, but I couldn't help but feel a tad let down by the ending.

I was left with a similar feeling when the A-plot of "The Dove Commission" wrapped up. I loved that the IAB guy turned out to be the killer. It was an unexpected twist despite his persistence with Mac. After all, we've seen Mac get hounded before--it seems like he's always under pressure to solve high profile cases. Markoni just seemed to be another politician in the parade of big wigs who line up to turn the screws on Mac. I certainly didn't suspect him.

But I can't help but wish a better motive had been attributed to him. After all of the various conspiracy possibilities dangled in front of the audience, it's a little disappointing to end up with so mundane a conclusion. His girlfriend left him for Stanwyk so he goes out, gets a super-sophisticated device, shoots and kills two people and then thinks it was worth it? How did this guy pass a psych exam? I assume IAB officers have to take them.

I suppose I was hoping for a conclusion related to the Dove Commission report after all the build up. I understand why the writers chose not to go in that direction, since it was the one the audience (and Mac) clearly suspected. But the least obvious conclusion isn't always the best one, and while I applaud the writers for trying to avoid an expected solution, I can't say I think they went with the right one. Ultimately I think something directly related to the Dove Commission's report would have been more satisfying.

The mystery itself was quite gripping. From the moment Stella realizes the shots came from outside the room, it's clear the case will be anything but ordinary. The baffling discovery of the shell casings fifteen stories below increases the puzzlement. Enter the TARU mini-helicopter, possibly one of the most creative murder weapons ever featured in a CSI show. Once again, a CSI show is on the cutting edge of technology: the mini-helicopter is the wave of the future for military and civilian defense.

The attempt to insert baffling clues in the B-case works slightly less well, since the explanation for the seemingly-female DNA under the Reyes's fingernails feels rushed and somewhat random. I do like that in both cases the assumptions made early on turn out to be erroneous; it's a nice parallel that works to tie the two together in a subtle way. In this case, it's Danny's assumption of some sort of wrong-doing on the part of the victim, and it comes from his own prejudice, not any sort of evidence in the case.

Getting back to those psych exams, I starting to wondering how Danny passed his. This isn't the first time we've seen him get emotional over a case, or follow his heart rather than the evidence. Is this guy really cut out to be a CSI? What happened to him as a child was without a doubt tragic and scarring, but for him to take that out on a teenager who's just learned his father has died was completely out of line. Aiden should have had him pulled from the case after that stunt, which was both unprofessional and unkind. Aiden clearly isn't sure what's gotten into him, or quite what to do with him. Vanessa Ferlito's reactions are perfect: she emanates a mixture of concern and bafflement every time Danny loses it.

There's no denying that Danny's hysterics make for good drama and spices up what otherwise might have been a routine case. He somewhat redeems himself in the end when he apologizes to Antonio and tells the boy what happened to him as a child. Though it's no excuse for his behavior, it does help make up for some of the vitriol he spewed while investigating the case. Carmine Giovinazzo expresses Danny's anger well, and manages to make him somewhat sympathetic in the end despite his unpleasant behavior through most of the episode.

There's nice character work throughout this episode. Mac lightens up and Gary Sinise gets a chance to turn on the charm when he convinces Donna to give him the Dove Commission's report. Stella's eagerness to play the "bad cop" and the gusto with which she tears into the mini-helicopter underscore her no-nonsense attitude. Per usual, Flack gets the laugh-out-loud lines in his dealings with the smarmy reporter and when he brings Mac and Stella the news footage courtesy of "Subpoenas-R-Us." Even Hawkes gets a memorable moment when he gleefully tells Mac his favorite game as a child was Operation just before he removes the bullet from Stanwyk's body. His fascination borders on the ghoulish, but his enthusiasm for his profession makes him an interesting character.

I have to give a nod to whoever chose the Michael Bublé song from the teaser. I think it was "Feeling Good" from his new album, This Time. Bublé is an amazing talent and the song was a good choice to set the scene for the upscale party. Despite a few flaws, there's no doubt that "The Dove Commission" is one of the more engaging New York entries, with two compelling cases and some interesting character work as well.

*Anyone dying to know the name of the thriller in question is welcome to send me an e-mail.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.