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TV Review: CSI:NY – “Pay Up”

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Incredible. That, perhaps, is the only word to describe the Season five finale of CSI:NY. Considering how much Internet buzz has been out there regarding the episode "Pay Up,", I am pleasantly surprised that the producers seem to be paying attention. Why? A few things we were expecting have been held in reserve for a later date, timelines switched, and doors opened in a major way.

Okay. Yes, there is a death in the finale. I won't name who since there is a chance some may not have seen the episode, but the death was inevitable.  Honestly though, there is at least one other person who makes sense in the same position. While I am no mind reader, it could easily have to do with the designated status of the actor or actress involved. I'm talking contract terms, not talent.

The biggest shocker? It comes in the final two minutes or so just before closing credits. Let's see, gunfire from a serious weapon, little clue as to the shooter. Seriously. The vehicle which transports said person has the window so far up it is impossible to see in. Here's the kicker — everyone in the opening credits has the potential to suffer consequences. The team Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) heads and others who work closely with them. Having said this, one person is highlighted just before the shot. To be fair, that doesn't mean much. This character is front and center, but anybody else can work with the scene. Cliffhanger? Heavens yes.

I won't rule out Sinise coming out of this as a hurt Taylor, but killing off the lead role does away with the show. So does a switcheroo, as anyone who watches CSI: Crime Scene Investigation knows. Lawrence Fishburne, successful as he is, does not do what William Petersen did. He can't, they're two different people. The title's the same, but show now not what it was. And it won't be again.

Craig T. Nelson returns in the NY finale as Robert Dunbrook, the newspaper magnate who is a clear nemesis for Mac. Not only does this take care of Nelson's contractual obligations, but the storyline focuses on Dunbrook's son Connor (Thad Luckinbill) being kidnapped. Problem is, Connor plans to testify against his father for past misdeeds. Of course, Mac suspects Dunbrook has something to do with the crime in question. I'll let you see for yourself whether or not he does, since Mac must explain something for both Dunbrook and viewers.

The question posed at the end of the episode is whether Dunbrook is in the car. Personally, I doubt it. He's not stupid; and a corrupt deputy mayor got skewered in Dunbrook's paper easily enough ("The Party's Over"). This looks like a revenge thing, where somebody has a problem with the cops and lashes out. Dunbrook will wait to be vindicated in court. If he comes back, that is.

Some rather nice moments occur between characters in the finale as well. Det. Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) reacts to loss by letting the tears flow down his face, he cares about people a lot, although he might not always show it. Cahill is generally given the snarkiest lines, which he delivers with perfect wisecracking humor. Not this time, though. The situation is too serious. On the other hand, Det. Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) punches a wall. Classic moves for both, and absolutely perfect.

Emotions always run high when a crisis is involved, which is dangerous for a cop. Judgment gets affected and cases are compromised. Somebody might just have crossed the line with the latest case. For the record, it's hard to tell if my hypothesis is correct from what is shown. One could assume so, but no evidence or offhand mention backs me up. It's a really scary thought if I turn out to be right, just because it goes against the character's work onscreen. Five seasons, and the same persona is around. Justice not served is another reason I open myself up to other possibilities.

Robert Joy, who plays Dr. Sid Hammerback, the medical examiner, gives a quiet, understated performance which displays his talent. It's not what he says, but how and to who. Should he perform the autopsy? No, he's too close. Somebody else needs to, with him supervising. This is one case where everything needs to be done by the book.

Gary Sinise and Hill Harper have a nice moment during a warehouse raid. Sinise, as Mac, tells Harper, as Hawkes, to wait with the medical crew so he can help tend the wounded. Mac expects casualties, even if nobody ends up dead in the process. This makes good sense. A dead doctor is not useful to anyone.

Even A.J. Buckley, who plays the delightful comic relief Adam Ross, shines when he has to put a GPS in Dunbrook's car. The nerves of potentially being caught by Dunbrook himself bring smiles to viewers' faces. Thank heavens Det. Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes) is there for backup.

Nelly (yes, THAT one) puts in a turn as Terrence the club owner/informant. He opens the case wide with a new lead. This is helpful, but the kidnappers have military training. Why? I have no idea. It's yet to be explained. While I can often infer, clues aren't always available to pick over.

The airport hangar pits Mac, Danny, and Flack against a sniper. I have to smile at the shot accuracy. Yes, the point is not to injure anyone. Nobody gets hurt, though? Yikes.

Danny and Lindsay (Anna Belknap) have a name for their baby! It's Lucy. A future team member perhaps?

Words of constructive criticism are in order. All season long, episodes end and then promos begin. These highlight what is coming the next time. I realize there is an attempt to make sure people watch, which leads to shocking moments being revealed. But, when certain scenes air in promos, a major problem exists. Take for example, Danny and Det. Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap)'s baby. The news of her character's pregnancy was announced before the episode aired! Whoops. Now why in the world would anybody watch later? We already know the score. Think, producers. What goes out to online sources should be carefully considered. Some people have no problem letting the cat out of the bag early, that cannot be helped. The online press and fan sites do a pretty good job of keeping their mouths firmly shut on the big stuff, but not everyone does. People should respect a "we're still in contract negotiations," statement for example. What is sent out via print (or electronically) needs freedom of descriptors which, again, tell major plot points. Take Stella and the smuggling ring. A major confrontation between her and Mac occurred, however by the time the episode aired, the outcome was already known. Oops.

Viewers are smart, but there is no need to make things easy.

Season Six of CSI:NY should start up come this fall after the Emmys. Usually, the premiere is the same week, but scheduling is a little tricky — too many shows crammed into a tight space. There has to be one new episode eventually anyway, since lives are now in jeopardy.

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