CSI: New York--'Blood, Sweat & Tears'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 10, 2005 - 11:11 PM GMT

See Also: 'Blood, Sweat & Tears' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

After an early morning dive in the chilly ocean with a group known as the Polar Bears, a man discovers a chest buried in the sand. He uncovers it, but there's no treasure inside--just the contorted body of a teenaged boy in his underwear. Mac and Stella arrive on the scene and determine the box was sent out to sea and washed back in with the tide. Both CSIs are surprised when they remove the chest from the sand and find it's a box and not a larger trunk like they expected. Back at the morgue, Dr. Hawkes and Mac remove the young man from the box and straighten his body out. Rigor has set in, but Hawkes theorizes that the boy could have been for anywhere from 24-48 hours, as the cold could have affected the rigor progress. Mac pulls a copper oval out of his hand with the word 'Cyclone' on it. In the lab, Aiden determines that the twine found on the box is distinctive, and Stella discovers a thick black hair--too thick to be human.

Danny and Detective Flack are at the scene of a crime with no body. There's a huge puddle of blood in Paige Worthy's apartment, but no victim in sight. The neighbors haven't seen her in a week and Danny notices the shower curtain from her bathroom is missing--someone may have carried her out.

Back in the morgue, Hawkes points out the bruises on the victim's arms, wrists and throat to Mac. Mac notices a hickey, but Hawkes surmises it's several days old. The men are surprised when they X-ray the victim and discover his bones are in tact. Hawkes tells Mac the boy died of asphyxiation--not from being smothered but because he literally couldn't breathe in air. Mac surmises he was alive when he was put in the box.

Back at Paige's apartment, Flack notices Paige's refrigerator is full of food, and Danny discovers a brown powder on the floor. When Danny notices gravitational blood drops leading toward the door, he follows the trail to the garbage chute in the hall. Danny barely misses being hit by a falling garbage bag, which lodges in the chute before getting to the bottom. Concluding that the chute is clogged, Danny heads downstairs to the first floor and determines what's causing the clog: a woman's body, wrapped in a shower curtain. But her face doesn't match the picture of Paige that they found in her apartment.

Mac wonders if the victim is an escape artist, but when Aiden tells him the hair found on the box is from an elephant, Mac puts it together: their victim was with the circus. Maxwell Neiman, ne of the contortionists at the circus recognizes the victim as his seventeen-year-old son, Lukas. He last saw Lukas the night before. When one of the trapeze artists, Bernardo Espargosa comes over to offer his condolences, Neiman attacks the man. It turns out there is a deep-seated rivalry between the two. Neiman is a third-generation circus performer and looked down on Brooklyn born Bernardo. Neimen's son and Bernardo's daughter, Anasuya, performed in the circus shows together as Romeo and Juliet. The CSIs talk to Anasuya, who has a similar Cyclone copper oval--a gift from Lukas. She hurt her arm in the previous night's performance so she didn't perform in the evening show. In the elephant enclose, Stella discovers a dolly with traces of scraping from a box and sand. She suspects it was used to move Lukas. The CSIs discover Lukas's costume in a nearby trashcan and wonder how nobody noticed if the boy was stripped and shoved in a box.

Dr. Hawkes tells Danny that the woman from the chute died from exsanguination--her femeral artery was pierced. He points out her wedding ring and then shows Danny her crooked nose and capped teeth. Danny immediately suspects she was a battered spouse.

In the lab, Mac examines Lukas's costume and finds sweat stains as well as some drops he can't identify. Aiden gets prints off the dolly: Jake Lydell, the elephant handler, who has a sizeable rap sheet. Mac and Stella question Lydell, but he denies involvement and offers them his jacket. Sure enough, the fibers from his jacket don't match those on the dolly. Mac turns to some paint he found on the outside of the box--clown face paint. When Mac questions the clown whose face paint design matches the pattern on the box, he tells him Lukas spilled his bubble solution and was sent to 'clown court.' They beat him with a cane, explaining many of the bruises on him, but certainly didn't kill him.

Danny and Flack track Paige Worthy down. She's been staying a hotel. She gives them an ID on their victim: Lita Cartey, a sorority sister of hers from college. Lita was staying with her to escape her abusive husband, but when the stay was extended and the husband kept coming around, Paige checked into a hotel to get some work done. Danny and Flack question Jason Cartey, Lita's husband, who denies beating her. He admits he went to Paige's apartment, but he says that on the day of her murder he knocked for fifteen minutes and went away when no one answered.

In the lab, Mac observes how frustrated Danny is and asks him about the case. Danny is frustrated because the husband's DNA doesn't match that found in the apartment. Talking to Mac brings him back to the brown powder he found on the floor: a Middle Eastern spice, Loomi. Going back to his own case, Mac finds white powder on the dolly, which is used by trapeze artists. His suspicions turn to Bernardo, who has scratches on his arms that he denies are from Lukas. But he relents and admits he hit Lukas when he caught the boy kissing his daughter, Anasuya, five days ago. Mac thinks the bruises are more recent, but Hawkes informs him there's no real way to tell as Lukas had Ehlers Danlos syndrome, which explains how he was able to contort his body. His elastic skin bruised easily, meaning Hawkes can't tell how old the bruises are.

Danny and Flack go back to Paige's apartment and notice that the Loomi Lita had is almost empty. Flack again notes the full refrigerator, and the two men find a delivery receipt. Danny and Flack go to the delivery company and discover a young man with scratches on his face. He's the one who delivered Lita's food, and the one who killed her. He liked her and thought she liked him, but when he made an advance on her and she rejected him, he stabbed her. He didn't leave because her husband was at the door knocking and by the time the man left, Lita was dead. The delivery boy dumped her body and left.

The DNA from the drops on Lukas's uniform are female and they're not blood or sweat. Mac has it figured out. He and Stella return to the circus. The black fibers from the dolly match Anasuya's sweater. The drops on Lukas's suit were her teardrops. She and Lukas were enacting a real-life Romeo & Juliet scenario, and Lukas committed suicide. Anasuya was intending to as well, but at the last minute, she changed her mind, realizing she could fix the things about her life that she didn't like.

Analysis:

If anything typifies New York's attempt to lighten up, it's the sight of Stella marvelling at the elephant while looking for evidence in the animal's enclosure. This episode has several chuckle-inducing moments, including the clown court that Lukas runs afoul of and Mac's interrogation of the clown he suspects. But at the heart of the story is teen suicide, and it's not treated very seriously until the final scene.

We haven't seen much of Dr. Hawkes, but his glee at removing Lukas's body from the box was downright creepy. I appreciate the man's passion for what he does, and in the past have even found his unconventional approach to retrieving evidence rather creative, like when he removed a victim's rib and boiled it in his microwave in "Grand Master", but as odd as finding a contorted body in a box must be, something about that scene was off.

It also seems like it took a while for Hawkes to come to the conclusion that Lukas suffered from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I would have thought that as soon as he saw that Lukas didn't have any broken bones at all, Hawkes would have hit the books or the internet to find out what allowed Lukas's body to bend like it did. The reveal comes late in the show and given that we know that Lukas and his father are both contortionists, it's rather underwhelming.

The last scene however, when Anasuya tells Mac, Stella and her father that she didn't kill herself because she realized she could change the things about her life she didn't like, is particularly moving. Teens often find their problems overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable, so Anasuya's realization that she did indeed have control over her life and could change what she doesn't like was incredibly mature and wise.

The B-story is a decent yarn, and it's fun to see Danny and Flack work together. There are a few funny moments in this plot line as well--when Danny sticks his head down the trash chute and nearly gets clocked by a falling garbage bag and when Paige tries to blow Flack off, thinking he's some guy who has come to hit on her. The resolution is a little rushed--the delivery guy did it? They catch him awfully quickly, too, and he turns out to be one creepy little sociopath.

There's a nice moment between Danny and Mac in the lab when Mac looks over and notices Danny's frustration with his case. Mac is a very intuitive character; he did the same thing with Stella in "Creatures of the Night" and with Aiden after she was intimidated in the pizza parlor in "Officer Blue". Mac is especially good at reading his people, and his solution seems to be to "talk it out." Indeed, when Mac himself has hit a dead end with a case, he's often gone to Stella to do just that. Mac's calm, cool rationale prevails, even with the more fiery-tempered characters like Stella and Danny. Macís cool might make him seem placid and overly-serene at times, but not much escapes him.

Next week: A bride drops dead at her wedding.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.