CSI: New York--'On The Job'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at May 5, 2005 - 7:27 PM GMT

See Also: 'On The Job' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Mac and Danny are at the apartment of one very dead Jay Knight. Danny notices high velocity blood spatter on the wall, and Mac sends him to check out the rest of the apartment. Danny does so and hears something coming from behind one of the closet doors. As Danny starts to open the door, a man bursts out of the closet, throwing Danny backwards. Danny recovers and chases the man into the subway, where the man starts to fire at the CSI as people panic. Danny tells them all to get down and moves behind a pillar. After several more shots are fired, Danny returns fire and hits the man firing at him. But when Mac and several other officers arrive at the scene, they roll over the lifeless body of the man who has an NYPD badge. When Mac asks Danny if the dead man was the one he was chasing, Danny thinks so but isn't sure.

Flack tells Mac the dead cop is Rodney Minhas, who was working undercover. The officers at the scene are angry about the shooting, and Danny, who is being treated for a bloody cut on his forehead, yells at them when they make comments about Minhas's death. Mac pulls Danny aside and Danny tells him his version of the story: Minhas fired at him first, and Danny fired the final two rounds. Mac tells Danny to go home and not talk to IAB yet. Aiden approaches Mac: she's found a personal recorder one of the civilians who was wounded was carrying. It's still recording; Mac takes it as evidence. When he goes above ground, he's irritated to see Danny about to talk to Chief Dwight Hilborne from IAB. Mac orders Danny to go to the hospital.

The body of Sandra Lopez, nineteen-year-old nanny, has been discovered in the bathrooms at a nanny park with a bloody head wound. Stella speaks to her two friends, Glenda Wallace and Matrice Singh, who called 911. The women are also nannies--the three would meet in the park. They tell Stella that Sandra worked for the Myersons, big name antique importers. The Myerson's child, Daniela, has been taken by Child Welfare, and Stella goes to examine the child, who appears unharmed.

Dr. Hawkes tells Mac that Minhas was shot twice--he pulled a hollow point bullet out of the man's shoulder, but that wasn't the fatal round. The fatal shot was to the abdomen, which caused Minhas to bleed to death. That bullet is missing, so there's no way to tell who fired the fatal shot. Lab tech Shannon Goodall plays the personal recorder data for Mac. She tells him that because there are three distinct sources of gunshots, she'll be able to identify the shooters' locations. Danny's are the final two shots, and before Danny's two shots are fired, Mac and Shannon distinctly hear Minhos identify himself as an undercover officer.

Dr. Hawkes tells Stella blunt force trauma killed Sandra, and points out granite in the wound. He also makes note of the fact that Sandra's nostrils and throat are singed, but her face isn't burned. Stella returns to the park and collects rocks of the correct shape and size to test. Back in the lab, she discovers one of the rocks has prints on it, but the prints aren't in the system. At the hospital, Danny grows impatient waiting for the doctor to treat the cut on his head and leaves. Stella heads across town to the Myersons' residence, where she is greeted by Randolf Giff, the couple's butler. He says Sandra mostly got along with the Myersons, but says the girl had been erratic of late. He refuses to disclose the Myersons' location, saying they've become private since someone stole one of the prize nesting dolls. The doll was returned soon after, and Stella takes it as evidence. Randolph mentions a bartender boyfriend of Sandra's, and Stella finds him at Lady Demon's Fire Bar, where scantily clad women eat and breathe fire from flaming sticks. Steve Dark, the bartender, admits he hooked up with Sandra but claims it was consensual. She wanted a chance to try out for a position at the bar, but she choked up when she tried to take the flame into her mouth. Stella runs Steve's prints in the lab against those on the rock, but they don't match up.

Danny stops by the subway station to see how the investigation is progressing, but Mac is irritated by his presence and tells him that the evidence doesn't support his story. He gives Danny a lawyer's card and sends him away. Flack and Aiden discover a bullet lodged in a stair, and it's free of blood. They take it to Constance Briell, but she matches it not to Danny's gun but to the bullet that killed Jay Knight. The suspect Danny was chasing fired the round, meaning that the only unaccounted for round--Danny's--must have been the one that killed Minhas. Flack meets an anxious Danny in a diner, where Danny tells him how upset he is and how alone he feels. Flack urges Danny not to take matters into his own hands, but but Danny tells him he feels like he's already been hung and storms out.

Stella decides to run Sandra's prints and comes up with a match to a set of prints matching the theft of a sapphire necklace. When Stella gets to the house where the necklace was stolen from, she discovers Glenda, Sandra's friend, is the nanny at the residence. Glenda claims they were just trying on the necklace and had nothing to do with the theft. Stella takes her prints. In Brooklyn, Flack and Aiden go over Jay Knight's apartment and conclude that because the high velocity blood splatter in the apartment wasn't from Jay or their missing suspect, there must have been a third man in the apartment. They search for the bullet and Aiden spots it across the street in a telephone poll. Hawkes recovers the bullet and it tests positive for blood. In the lab, Stella runs Glenda's prints. They don't match the prints on the rock, but they do come up in connection with another robbery, from the house where Matrice works. She's brought in and printed, but asks for a lawyer.

Mac, Aiden and Constance analyze the bullet and put it together: Minhas was in Jay's apartment, and that's where the fatal bullet was fired. Danny wasn't the shooter. Aiden and Flack go back to the scene where they pick up a blood trail leading toward another subway entrance, and ending at a gray car. Above one of the wheels, they discover a bloody towel, which Minhas used to soak up the blood immediately after getting shot. Meanwhile, Danny has taken matters into his own hands and, against all advice, gone to give a statement to Chief Hilborne. After he gives his account, Hilborne tells him witness accounts contradict his and IAB will be reviewing whether he's fit to be an officer. Dejected, Danny runs into Mac who tells him that they've found evidence that exonerates him of any wrongdoing in the officer's death, but Danny's testimony could render that useless.

Chad and Stella go over the nesting dolls and Stella gets a print off the smallest one. She's able to match them to final nanny: Matrice. The nannies decided to steal from each other's houses, knowing none of their prints were on record, but Sandra got cold feet and took the nesting doll back. When Matrice confronted Sandra about it, Sandra insisted she was out and Matrice, in anger, hit her with the rock and killed her. Matrice seems unremorseful: they were trying to get money to pay for health insurance. Despite the fact that the case is closed, Stella isn't satisfied. The Myersons have still not come back to pick up their child. Mac tells Stella there's nothing she can do to get through to the parents but recommends she go visit the baby.

In an interrogation room, Mac confronts Michael Anderson, the man who fled from Jay's apartment. It was his car Minhas ran to after being shot. Minhas was working undercover, though Anderson clearly had no idea. Mac tells Anderson that Minhas was probably trying to kill him to explain why he was shot. Afterwards, Danny tells Mac that the DA declined to prosecute. Mac swiftly reminds him that this is no victory--IAB simply didn't have enough evidence. Mac also reminds him that his second bullet is unaccounted for. Mac tells Danny two things: he was advised not to hire Danny five years ago and that Danny is now off the promotion grid. Stella spends some quality time with Daniela before her parents come to claim her.

Analysis:

Poor Danny Messer. If ever there was a character who's a victim of both circumstance and his own bad judgment, it's Danny. I find it difficult to fault Danny for his actions in the subway--he was being fired upon and civilians were in danger. He was too far from Minhas to have had any hopes of hearing Minhas yelling that he was an undercover cop. He fired at a person he saw fire at him. As Danny maintains throughout the episode, he went by the book. For all the fuss that's made about Danny's two shots, neither is ever properly accounted for, which is frustrating. One we know is lost, and apparently the CSIs don't think it's especially important to account for it. But what about that first shot? Was that Danny's bullet in Minhas's shoulder? I assume he didn't shoot a civilian, but it would have been nice to know where that first bullet went. Perhaps we're supposed to assume that it was the bullet in Minhas's shoulder as the NYPD does use hollow point bullets, but with no clear answer, the audience can't do much more than guess.

Danny's subsequent mistakes seem to all spring from the same thing: his complete lack of trust in his friends and colleagues and well, pretty much any human being he comes into contact with. He doesn't even believe the nurse who tells him that the doctor is on his way and when the doctor enters the room, Danny lies to him and tells him that "his friend" just went to the bathroom and will be right back. Clearly, Danny has issues with the truth--whether he doesn't trust others because he himself is actually not trustworthy or because he's been betrayed in the past isn't clear at this point.

From one standpoint, I can understand Danny's skepticism. Mac doesn't give him much to go on. Mac is on the offensive from the beginning--understandable, given that IAB is going to be breathing down his neck. But his "tough love" clearly doesn't work on Danny--rather than driving Danny away from the crime scene, it only increases Danny's already heightened sense of paranoia. Mac comes down harder and harder on Danny as the episode goes on, building to his final scathing remarks. But was there a need for Mac to tell Danny that the evidence contradicts his story? Wouldn't it have been better to have given Danny the lawyer's card, but played down the necessity a bit? Mac is a man who insists on not judging any situation until the evidence supports a conclusion, but when things look bad for Danny, he does come down pretty hard on him. I realize he's trying to drive home the gravity of Danny's situation, but I can also see how to Danny this would look like Mac's come to his conclusion already and doesn't believe Danny's account.

Danny truly goes off the deep end when he and Flack meet for a meal to discuss the case. Flack is giving him not only sound advice, but genuine support as well. Given that Flack could have just as easily sided with the officers who were angry at Danny, this says a lot about Flack and Danny's relationship. Clearly the men's friendship runs fairly deep if Flack is making an effort to comfort Danny during this ordeal and if, in turn, he's the one Danny turns to. Both Eddie Cahill and Carmine Giovinazzo are phenomenal in this scene, as Cahill exudes an urgent concern to Giovinazzo's increasing paranoia and irrationality.

The episode really belongs to Giovinazzo, and he runs with it. Danny is by turns fidgety, baleful, angry, almost tearful, and abashed. He's a bundle of nervous energy throughout the episode, and it's impressive that despite Danny's headstrong and at times downright foolish behavior, Giovinazzo still manages to make him sympathetic. In fact, he's at his most sympathetic in the scene where he's directly disobeying Mac's order and talking to Hilborne. There's an earnestness and innocence to Danny that Giovinazzo conveys in this scene: Danny honestly believes that if he just tells his side of his story, if he can just convince Hilborne that he followed protocol, the IAB officer will exonerate him. Hilborne's caustic response underscores the naiviete of this assumption. To make matters worse, Mac is waiting for him when he comes out of the interrogation room. It's unclear whether or not Mac actually watched Danny's testimony from behind the glass, but it's apparent that he knows what Danny said. Though Mac is justified in his anger, it feels like he's twisting the knife in an already gaping wound.

It might Giovinazzo's episode, but every character is given a turn to shine. Writer Timothy J. Lea knows these characters, and he expands upon their personalities while staying true to their core natures. Take Sheldon Hawkes for instance--the quirky coroner finally comes to life in this episode. Before, we've seen tantalizing tidbits but never really got the full picture. In this episode, Hawkes displays a sharp wit and a lighter tone to go along with his fascination with death and forensics. His energy and enthusiasm for his job are finally showcased in the right light in this episode: in his interactions with his colleagues. Cahill gets to show off his character's drive as well as his softer side in his interaction with Danny in the cafe. Vanessa Ferlito showcases her character's youth and enthusiasm for her job while she tries to exonerate her friend.

Gary Sinise gets to show off his sterner side with Danny in this episode. Over the season, Sinise and Giovinazzo have played up the father/son relationship between their characters, with Mac as the stern but occasionally proud father and Danny as the wayward son. Danny's been disappointing Mac for a while now--first in "Tanglewood" when he lied to Mac about his involvement with the Tanglewood gang and then again in "Crime and Misdemeanor" when he disobeyed a direct order Mac gave him. The final scathing scene--in which Mac tells Danny he was advised not to hire him and that he's off the promotion grid--has been a long time coming. It's appropriately devastating for Danny; he tries to defend himself to Mac but Mac's not having any of it. Sinise expresses Mac's disappointment and anger in his unwavering tone and gaze. It's a powerful final scene for both characters.

And Stella? Who predicted tough-as-nails Stella Bonasera had a soft side? It's gratifying to see her laugh as she holds baby Daniela, who is played by the daughter of Anthony Zuiker's assistant Orlin Goodman. The nanny murder case, which could have been an irritating distraction from the much higher stakes A-story, is actually quite clever and serves as a tension breaker. Nannies in New York don't have it quite so easy--check out The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus for a fictional romp through the world of a nanny for a high-powered couple. The idea that three of them would get together and think up a scam defies the stereotype of the long-suffering pretty young nanny. Matrice's motive for murdering Sandra might be a tad thin, but it's a clever B-plot.

That isn't to say that it's a perfect episode--there are few glaring holes in the specifics. For one, how did the bullet Jay Knight fired into Minhas get into a telephone poll when Knight's back was to the window/telephone pole? That would have been one heck of a ricochet. And was Minhas a dirty cop or not? Mac implies that he may have been, given that Mac theorizes he was shooting at Michael Anderson to create an explanation for why he was shot. Was Mac just saying that to get to Anderson? It's not clear. And what did happen to those bullets Danny fired? These murky details distract from what is otherwise a stellar episode.

Episodes that put a main character in some kind of jeopardy are often the most interesting and exciting to watch, but they're risky too, since the forgone conclusion is that the character will be okay in the end. This is partially, but not wholly true. Danny is exonerated of the worst crime--accidentally killing a police officer, but he's not scot free, as Mac underscores in the end. Danny's been headed for a fall for a while, and with his Tanglewood connections still unrevealed, I doubt this will be the end of his woes. So long as he remains one of New York's most interesting and complex characters, that's just fine by me.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.