Monday, April 06, 2009

TV Review: CSI:NY "Point Of No Return"


"Oh how the mighty have fallen!" That would be one way to describe the latest episode of CSI:NY, but it falls far from the true definition of just how powerful the episode is. In part, the intricacies are fairly simple. After all, the formula for a crime show is standard. Have crime, solve case. Easy, right? Well, almost. The complications in this case come from who is behind the lawbreaking and how the baddie committed it.

Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) has been a cop long enough to know nothing can be taken for granted. Through the better part of five seasons he has been trying to impart wisdom to those whom he works with most. Wait on evidence before any suspect gets arrested, just in case the person is not actually guilty. Most importantly though, never, ever, think someone cannot possibly have done something wrong. Crime is not hard, the trick is not to get caught. Most people are, which deters others not one whit.

After a woman is found dead in a hotel room, the shocker is her relationship to the department. She is Anabel Pino (Holly Lynch), wife of Marty Pino (Jonah Lotan). Marty was first seen back in season two when Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) left the Medical Examiner's office and joined the crime lab. Before Sid Hammerback (Robert Joy) got hired as the new department head, a couple of folks filled the gap. The writers got creative and decided to make an episode about a character long gone from regular appearances, but who still lives in memory.

Det. Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) tells Marty the bad news, and sees if clues come up in conversation to help solve Anabel's messy death. It doesn't help Marty's case, since the young doctor was fired for unprofessional conduct. His grief though is palpable, which Hawkes, watching from the hallway, picks up on. I have to hand it to Cahill and Harper for the ensuing conversation. Harper shows just how much his character cares for a person going through the worst pain imaginable. Cahill, on the other hand, takes on the role of a cop not willing to put aside the possibility of wrongdoing on the basis of a friendship alone.

Flack, of all people, knows better. A while back, he had to watch Mac arrest a fellow officer, Dean Truby, for homicide. That was bad enough. To make matters worse, Truby stole narcotics from the scene of a drug raid ("Consequences"). Did he take Mac's word for it? Not a chance! He found out for himself after a jailhouse interview with the guy they arrested. He reminds Hawkes about getting proof, but Marty has to remain a suspect until the truth comes.

The reality, such as it is, is a shocker. Anabel has died as a result of what Marty got himself into. Suffice to say, he takes a coward's way out. While his actions are inexcusable, there is no denying that he needs serious help. Jonah Lotan gets serious kudos for his portrayal of a troubled soul. I could feel his desperation through every scene. The entire episode has a plot which viewers are going to think over for a long time. Did Marty do wrong? Of course. Then again, what he did was different from most criminals. The ethics of human life are not always black and white.

Robert Joy has a tough role to play in this episode as well. He faces the enormous burden of seeing a young man he respects show off a darker side. Marty must be held accountable for what he does, but the pain left behind is far greater. I would have been interested to see this storyline play out more. Lotan does not have to return, but other cast members could mention Marty from time to time. Considering that there are six shows left in the season, this is not entirely unreasonable.

Another storyline rears its head this week. Det. Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes) has not stepped aside from her Greek coin case, despite being ordered to by Mac. She and Jessica Angell (Emmanuelle Vaugier) decide it is time to get answers, like where the guy is who attacked Stella in a subway tunnel ("The Cost of Living"). Forget the fact that the nogoodnik has diplomatic immunity, Stella intends to make him pay. As fate would have it, somebody else gets to him first. Mac takes over after the Major Crimes Department asks for help, but he has yet to realize Stella went behind his back.

I would have thought Mac might have figured things out by the time he calls Stella into his office. Apparently not, but somehow I doubt writers are stupid enough to have her tip off someone about a death she is not supposed to be anywhere near. She's smarter than that. Then again, she pulls Angell into the fray. Let's see, who will be more annoyed, Mac or Flack?

Season Five appears to be relying on a few storylines to get through its season. Lindsay (Anna Belknap) is now on maternity leave, which puts her in Montana for what should be several more episodes. What should have been the end of Stella's sub story will go on for more weeks down the road. Adam Ross (AJ Buckley) is still on the payroll, but who knows for how long? I'm not suggesting anybody fire Adam, but the status of New York's quirkiest lab tech is in the air. He has proven his worth though, which just might keep him employed.

Speaking of future episodes, there is already talk about what could be happening in the finale. It seems the Big Apple crime lab may lose another family member. Speculation as to who is all over the map, so I am not going to guess. However, I would caution any reader to expand the definition of family by including characters who have made any sort of impact on the show. Those already deceased can probably be left out though.

Previously published on Blogcritics.