CSI: New York--'Three Generations Are Enough'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at November 26, 2004 - 8:48 PM GMT

See Also: 'Three Generations Are Enough' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

When an unidentified briefcase is found on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the building is evacuated and Mac Taylor and the bomb squad are called in. Mac uses a robot to get a print off the briefcase: the robot covers the case with a glass hood, emits a gas which reveals a print, which the robot takes a photograph of. The robot backs off and aims a laser at the case, causing it to explode. Among the debris, Mac finds a note with three bloody fingerprints on it that reads, "In case something happens to me."

Mac sends Danny Messer to analyze a DNA sample from the note. Aiden Burn already has a suspect: a commodities trader named Luke Sutton arrived for work that day but is now the only person unaccounted for. When Aiden tells Mac that Luke's apartment was ransacked, the two CSIs head over to the building to check it out. At the apartment, Mac notes that it looks like Luke was forcibly taken out of his apartment--a possible abduction. He finds metal shavings on the floor, and Aiden finds a magnetic device that erases electronic data, and notices that the computer's hard drive is missing.

Stella Bonasera and Don Flack are called to the site of an apparent suicide. Trina Ralston is found beside the church where she worked as a counselor. The two examine the roof where she fell from, but they can't find any signs of a struggle. But Stella notes that suicides often make a statement, and the fact that Trina left no note and was found by the side of the church rather than in the front indicates that no such statement was being made by her death.

Danny has a lead on the Sutton case: he found traces of cocaine in Luke's suitcase, as well as papers indicating he was investigating a colleague, Nick Lawson, on suspicion of illegal trading. Letters in Luke's briefcase reference a man named Charles, whom Luke was apparently reporting to. Danny goes to Lawson to get a DNA sample from him, but Lawson is uncooperative. He tells Danny that he doesn't know Charles's last name--he assumed he was a lawyer of some sort. Even when Danny tells him that he'll put in a good word for him if he cooperates, Lawson refuses to give Danny a blood sample.

Father Tim Murphy tells Stella that Trina was well-liked and dedicated to her job. She worked long hours with the kids she counseled, and didn't have a family of her own. When Stella goes to Dr. Sheldon Hawkes to get the results of Trina's autopsy, he has some startling news for her: Trina was pregnant. He also tells Stella that Trina fell on her side, indicating that she was already unconscious or dead when she took the plunge off the roof. He's also found a hematoma on her head that's far too specific for a fall. Stella goes back to the church, where she finds a bloody candlestick under a pew, and a love letter in one of the prayer books, which happens to belong to Father Tim Murphy.

Lab technician Jane Parsons has a DNA analysis ready for Mac: the blood from the note in Luke's briefcase matches the blood found in Luke's apartment. It's a fairly safe guess to assume both samples are from Luke. The mystery of the man's whereabouts is cleared up when Aiden calls Mac from a deserted street. Luke Sutton's burned car has been found with a charred body inside. Aiden finds a gas canister in the backseat of the car.

Dr. Hawkes confirms that the body is indeed Luke Sutton. Someone poured an accelerant over his head before igniting him. There's also a bullet in his side, indicating he was shot before he was burned. Mac is puzzled as to why the assailant didn't just shoot Luke again. Someone really wanted the man dead. Aiden and Danny find the charred hard drive from Luke's computer and a gun in the burned car. Stella and Mac discuss their respective cases with each other; Mac is frustrated because he still doesn't have a last name for Charles.

Stella matches the prints from the candlestick to the prints from the prayer book. When she questions Father Tim Murphy about the matching prints, he claims he fixed the candlestick the week before after noticing it was broken. He says he's never seen the letter before; he assumed Trina's only love was her work. Stella tells him that Trina was pregnant, indicating she may have had another love.

Aiden works to rebuild the serial number from the gun, which was scraped off, and gets a name off the registration: Emily Dent. Emily is an ex-girlfriend of Luke's, and she tells the CSIs that their relationship ended a few months ago. Luke was the one who made her get the gun, and she assumes he took it from her. He was afraid of Charles; he told her that Charles was watching him. Emily doesn't know who Charles is. She says she ended her relationship with Luke after he started doing cocaine.

DNA on a cigarette found next to Trina's body matches the DNA of the father of her child and leads Stella to a workman named Paul Stryzewski. Paul admits to finding Trina after she died, and kissing her on the lips. Flack is suspicious as to why he didn't call the police. When Stella shows Paul the love letter found in the prayer book, Paul throws the table over in a rage and tries to run.

Mac, Aiden and Danny swap ideas on the Sutton case. Mac thinks Charles may have been Luke's drug dealer. Aiden thinks Nick Lawson is a dead end: he was already under investigation before Luke started hounding him, and Luke was the least of his problems. Mac hopes the answer lies in the hard drive, and begins measures to recover the data. Aiden and Danny go back to the evidence from the car. Aiden identifies two different accelerants: unleaded gasoline and petroleum. Danny finds a parking ticket.

Mac finally decodes some of the hard drive files. He keeps coming across the phrase "Three generations are enough," but he bypasses it when he finds what he's looking for: Charles's last name, Langdon. An instant message indicates Charles and Luke were going to meet the night before Luke died on Ridgeway, and the parking ticket Danny found matches the location.

The three CSIs head to the location, which appears to be an abandoned office building. No one is there, but they do find three stacks of money spread around the main room as well as a half-full can of soda pop. Aiden finds several casings, and Mac finds gun powder.

Back in the lab, Stella goes back over the candlestick and also Paul Stryzewski's clothes. She finds a white powder on them, which turns out to be an anti-psychotic medicine. Paul is a schizophrenic. A print from Father Tim Murphy is found in the superglue on the candlestick, backing up his story that he did indeed fix the candlestick, but Stella also finds a partial print that has some commonality with Paul's print. It's not a complete match, though.

Jane Paulson drops a big bomb on Mac and Stella when she tells them their cases are connected: the sample from the soda pop can Mac found matches Paul's DNA. Mac and Stella both question Paul, but he's agitated and won't answer. He takes especial exception to Mac's presence, and begins talking to someone the pair can't see.

The CSIs meet to discuss the case. Mac thinks the answer lies with Luke's hard drive. He goes back to the computer files, and this time he takes note of the phrase "Three generations are enough." It sticks with Mac--he's seen it before. He grabs a box of folders from Luke's apartment and digs out the source: a copy of a Supreme Court opinion in the Buck vs. Bell case, in which Justice Holmes upheld a sterilization order for a young woman in a mental institution, whose mother was likewise afflicted. "Three generations of imbeciles are enough," the justice stated.

Mac realizes what was going on. Luke Sutton himself was a schizophrenic and had a break with reality. Charles Langdon only existed in Luke's mind--a voice that egged him on to harm himself. Luke and Paul were brothers--third generation schizophrenics. When Luke learned of Trina's pregnancy, it triggered a break and led him to kill her. After he did, he trashed his apartment, scraped off the serial number on the gun, left his briefcase at work--all in an attempt to escape Charles. But it didn't work, and Luke set himself, and his hard drive, aflame in his car.

Paul tells Mac and Stella that he went to Luke for advice about Trina's pregnancy. The CSIs tell him what happened to Luke, noting that Luke wasn't strong enough to overcome the voices he was hearing, but Paul clearly was.

Analysis:

A stylish episode in which the two separate cases merge together, "Three Generations Are Enough" is one of CSI: New York's more exciting entries. The opening is certainly one of the more thrilling CSI teasers, with the Merc being evacuated and Mac racing against the clock to get crucial evidence before the bomb squad insists on detonating the case. The robot Mac uses to get a fingerprint off the briefcase is just the kind of cutting edge technology that makes CSI shows so much fun.

The Buck v. Bell case was a real case from 1927, and the quote that gives the episode its title a genuine quote from Justice Holmes's opinion. It makes for a bit of disturbing, antiquated reading, and it's eerie enough to understand how it could lodge in Luke Sutton's brain. The repetition on the computer mirrors how the phrase haunted Luke.

The biggest nitpick I have about the episode is that it comes together awfully quickly at the end. Suddenly, Luke and Paul are brothers--ones who don't share the same last name, something that is never explained by the episode. Couldn't they have been made half-brothers, so that that never would have needed to be explained? It's a minor nitpick, though.

Mac's freakishly good memory also caused me to raise an eyebrow here. He remembered the "three generations" phrase from a folder in a huge box of Luke's things? He sure is one thorough CSI. Again, it's a minor nitpick. Mac was certainly proved right this week in regards to his "everything is connected" catchphrase. That's never been more true than in this episode, where the two cases are not only connected but completely intertwined.

I'm still trying to decide which CSI show catchphrase I like the best. They all fit the shows they're associated with perfectly. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation's "concentrate on what cannot lie--the evidence" is indicative of Grissom's complete and utter devotion to forensics. Miami's "we never close" embodies Horatio's obsession with solving each and every case and bringing justice to the victims and their familys. And I'm beginning to believe that New York's "everything is connected" represents the way Mac views forensic science: the evidence represents pieces of a jigsaw puzzle; put it together, and you'll have a picture of the crime that will lead to the person responsible.

Ultimately, "Three Generations Are Enough" is driven along by the strong story. There is no character development to speak of here--the story is everything. And because it's an engaging episode, I didn't mind that we didn't learn anything new about the characters this week. I'd still like to get to know these characters a lot better, but given the choice between an involving story like "Three Generations Are Enough" and "A Man a Mile," which featured a fair amount of insight into Mac and Danny but two very routine cases, I imagine most folks would prefer to watch the former.

One thing I have noticed about CSI: New York is that it seems to be even gorier than its predecessors. New York has already featured quite a few severely decomposed or damaged bodies, and the camera seems to linger on them, especially in the autopsy scenes. I don't think it's being done gratuitiously; rather, I get the sense that CSI: NY is trying to involve its audience even more in that aspect of the science than its predecessors. No show can mimic the smells or exact feel of witnessing an autopsy, but CSI: NY is daring its audience to take a genuine close look at death and not in a glamorous or cheap way. It's a good countermeasure against the accusations of slickness often leveled at the shows.

Next week: A cop is killed, leaving crucial evidence--the fatal bullet--inside the horse he was riding.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.