In the Big Apple, an elite group of first responders exists. The "Boys in Blue", or NYPD, is well known as being one of the best in law enforcement. On the other hand, FDNY has produced some high quality blaze battlers, including Steve Buscemi, famous for such films as Reservoir Dogs. Yoo-hoo casting directors! Talk about a guest star....
During a race to a call, Engine 3 learns about people possibly trapped. This is nothing they haven't prepared for through hours of training. What they don't expect is the body which smacks up against the windshield. The impact is so great, a spider's web of damage covers most.
It takes no time at all for Det. Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise), head of the evidence roundup team, to be called in by Det. Jessica Angell (Emanuelle Vaugier) for help. He is wise enough not to tackle this on his own, so Det. Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) comes along for the ride. Soon, Det. Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap) arrives too.
When a patch is discovered nearby, the case takes a strange twist. The design resembles one worn by Alan Shepard on Mercury 3. Mac is quick to quote, "Houston, we have a problem". I have to hand it to the writers to have Gary Sinise utter a sly salute to Apollo 13. The victim is wearing a suit of sorts, leading the detectives to consider the role of outer space.
Back at the lab, Dr. Sid Hammerback (Robert Joy) tells Mac his victim died of smoke inhalation when toxic fumes filled his helmet, A meat thermometer was also discovered during autopsy, which accounted for the stab wound. Since rate of impact was approximately eighty miles per hour, Sid surmises a re-entry to the earth's atmosphere has something to do with the case. When Mac just looks at him, Sid mildly says he is not a forensic expert.
Kendall Novak (Bess Wohl), an in-house lab technician, helps by suggesting a more reasonable explanation. She thinks the victim might have been street luging, which is exactly what it sounds like. Accelerant increased the rate of speed so homemade sleds on wheels flew down a hill. When Messer and Angell attend a competition, they find "Mercury" (Jason Chambers Human Weapon). He admits to the stabbing, but claims innocence as to the death.
A luge professional, Sandra 'Concrete Cowgirl' Polk (Nicole Marie Lenz), owns of the suit. She wanted to help the victim take a step further in his career, since he seemed to have a talent. Eventually, she is cleared of wrongdoing. The death is determined to be accidental.
Meanwhile, Det. Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes) and Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) are asked by Det. Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) for an assistafter Vanessa Matlin's corpse floats out of an automatic toilet. Needless to say, this will be one for office annals! Although water hinders processing, Stella gets a lead from CODIS, the DNA database. She tells Mac she has an even bigger bombshell. There is a match, but the suspect is incarcerated.
Mac remembers Seth Riggin (Reid Scott My Boys) was found guilty of another's death, yet he has always proclaimed his innocence. Chances of a wrongful conviction are not high, but Stella mentions two people could have the same DNA. Mac is irked, but knows she has a point. The next order of business is chatting with Seth.
As Stella checks out Seth's cell, Mac talks to him. Seth is planning to appeal his conviction. Mac is confronted with evidence opening the door to reasonable doubt. Soon afterwards, he revisits Seth and says evidence will soon prove he played a part of Vanessa's death, albeit a small one. The original sentence is another matter altogether.
This episode was the last filmed before writers went on strike. I have to admit, this was a good place to stop. Gary Sinise got to experience perhaps not being right about nabbing a bad guy. As Seth said, the jury can look at the same stuff and see a completely different conclusion. Melina held her ground well, not letting Stella be intimidated by her boss and friend. Of all team members, she is the one he should be listening to most.
Sid's deadpan delivery of "I'm just a pathologist" was icing on the cake. He was quick to let Mac know the bizarre is sometimes the right conclusion. After the 'fairy on her shoulder' led to Peter Pan and an arrest("Happily Never After"), Mac can only raise an eyebrow. Robert Joy is to be commended for his acting prowess.
Kendall was, for once, on her own without Adam. It worked much better. Having Bess Wohl and AJ Buckley compete gets tiresome to watch.