This week’s “CSI: NY” at least tried to do something new in the episode entitled “Civilized Lies.” As well it probably should after recycling a plotline used on its sister show not too long ago in last week’s episode about the “printable” gun. I’m happy to say the gambit mostly paid off, with the results much more original than many shows can muster this late in the game. Sure, they’ve done variations of it on the likes of “The Closer,” but I liked the approach to it here.
Basically, the entire episode focused in on one specific case: the murder of an off-duty cop moonlighting as a security guard. Now one pet peeve of mine is when they introduce a character out of the blue and drive home how awesome that person is right before they take them out, after which they are typically martyred into the greatest thing since sliced bread. It works a little bit better if it’s a relative of a known character, but that was not the case here, so that aspect of the story suffered a little bit because of the tired plot element, which I’m gonna go on and refer to as the “red shirt” issue, as in that guy on “Star Trek” that you always knew was gonna buy the farm because he wasn’t a cast regular. “Lost” was also guilty of this throughout their run, with their version of it being members of the “Others” or rogue castaways that we somehow missed before they made their presence known on the show because the script dictated it out of nowhere and then were swiftly dispatched.
So, forgiving that, as we must for the episode to work, things did get cleverer as the episode progressed. A suspect turned up at the hospital the aforementioned cop ended up at, and, after seeing to his relatively superficial wounds, it was time to interrogate him to find out his two co-conspirators’ identities, including the cop-killer. Cue another cliché, the “good cop/bad cop” routine, but at least the script acknowledged it was a cliché in the dialogue, with the suspect laughing it off right away.
However, it was around this point that things started to go a little sideways and in a good way, not in that whole “let’s invent a sideways world where we can change the rules and can play off doing what we said we weren’t going to do”-sort of way. (Okay, the “Lost” thing still stings a bit, sorry about that…) Fairly typical stuff kept happening, but it seemed at little…off, somehow. For good reason, as it turned out.
It seemed that our “CSI” peeps had put together a vaguely loony plan to trip up the suspect and subsequently, one of his accomplices to boot. To wit, they dressed Adam up like one of the people involved, as seen in the security camera images that they couldn’t get a real idea of the identities of the suspects from, as they were wearing masks. Making a show of hauling the “suspect” (aka Adam in disguise) in, with a wound in his leg where it should be, they fooled their suspect into thinking that said accomplice had been caught and it was only a matter of time before he squealed. Then, just to drive it home, they intentionally showed the suspect just enough of the guy’s taped “confession” to convince him he was done for if he didn’t give up the third man and fast.
If that wasn’t loopy enough for you, then they showed later how Adam basically photo-shopped himself out of the picture and they replaced his head with the accomplice they’d identified, animating him efficiently enough that, from a distance at least, it looked pretty convincing. I have no idea if they can do such a thing and it kind of reeks of entrapment but then again, it also totally worked, as the guy subsequently squealed like a pig and gave up the leader of the gang.
Said leader was not a happy camper when reunited with the suspect in side-by-side jail cells, especially when he told him why he’d done what he did. Much to his shock, understandably, he was more than a little taken aback when the ringleader told him the third man had bled out right after the shoot-out and died practically at the scene shortly thereafter, and thus, couldn’t have made the confession he spoke of. Admonishing him in no uncertain terms, and confessing as he did so to his own crimes, the ringleader looked up to see that he had, in fact, likewise been duped when they put the two of them in the same area together, only to sit back, cameras rolling, as the ringleader dug his own grave and sealed man number one’s right along with it. Whoops!
Pretty neat stuff, and if it maybe seems a bit dubious on further reflection, well, so does “The Usual Suspects” and it doesn’t make it any less awesome. As such, I’m not mad at “CSI: NY”- quite the opposite. Instead, I’m gonna go ahead and call it as the most clever plotline this season thus far, although I did really enjoy the one with the speakeasy murder (“The Real McCoy”). True, the nature of the set-up meant that we had to put the more character-driven aspect of this season on hold for a week, but if I’m not mistaken, they just cycled through the entire cast as of last week, so it was probably time for a breather anyway. I imagine it will be back to square one, likely in a different order, beginning next week.
What did you think? Did “CSI: NY” pull off the twisty plotline? Did you get fooled by the unexpected developments, or were you onto it all along? (I, for one, suspected something was amiss, but the confession definitely got me, too.) Did you miss the character-centric approach this week? Do you, too, hate it when they introduce new characters that you just know are about to bite it sooner than later? Let me know in the comments!