Third in the line of the popular CSI franchises, CSI: New York had some spectacular episodes that stood out among the rest of the series.
When CSI: Crime Scene Investigation first aired in 2000, it revolutionized the crime show genre. Grittier and more gruesome, the show largely focussed on the science of crime-solving. Two years later came the spinoff CSI: Miami and two years after that CSI: New York. Fans were swept up in the dynamics of each cast and how the teams formed their own little misfit families, experiencing all the highs and lows that come with it.
CSI: NY’s team was led spectacularly by Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakarades, depicting a complex group of people fighting for justice amid the crowded city of New York. The show ran for nine seasons with a respectable IMDb rating of 6.9- a little above CSI: Miami and one point below the original. Each season has at least one episode that showcased the actor’s and writer’s best work and embodied the heart of the show.
What You See Is What You See (Season 1, Episode 23) – 7.9
A simple breakfast stop for Mac becomes deadly when a shootout leaves one man dead and a waitress injured. The team digs into the evidence and the background of all involved a deeper problem is discovered. The shootout was a deal to sell U.S. Treasury paper gone wrong. The boyfriend of the injured waitress was trying to make counterfeit money and Mac walking into the diner made the plan go sideways.
There is a lot of interpersonal tension as the plot moves forward. Danny and Mac are at odds and Mac is not giving many indications about his thoughts, keeping characteristically stoic. He is also facing a choice of moving on from his own past and taking new risks with a woman he met at the diner. The season finale episode exhibits personal growth in the characters, drawing the audience in to invest their attention in the upcoming season.
Charge Of This Post (Season 2, Episode 24) – 8.0
The team is called out to investigate a security guard that doesn’t check-in for duty when they discover a bag with C-4 wired to explode. The team evacuates the building but both Mac and Flack are trapped while trying to assist a civilian. The team investigates the bombing while Flack fights for his life on the operation table. They eventually discover the attacks came from an acquaintance of Stella’s that had gone off his meds.
This episode creates tension through time limits and the unknown. With a bomb ticking down and a teammate teetering between life and death, the pressure to solve the case created a fantastic episode. It was also used as the perfect opportunity to delve further into Mac’s past and give more depth to his character.
Snow Day (Season 3, Episode 24) – 8.8
In the biggest drug bust of NYPD history, Flack seizes a stash of Irish Mobster cocaine. In an attempt to retrieve their drugs, the gang sets up a fake gas leak in the CSI building. Mac, Stella, and Hawke, suspecting a setup, are trapped in the building to take down the infiltration themselves, while Danny and Adam struggle to survive in the hands of the same gang across town.
In the highest-ranking episode of the entire show, the team is once again faced with what seems like insurmountable odds. Danny and Adam get a chance to shine as they face up to their captors and Hawke shows off his brilliance by rounding up most of the gang in the CSI building himself. The spotlight is on other characters besides Mac, making the ensemble feel more realistic and worth investing interest in.
Hostage (Season 4, Episode 21) – 8.2
Mac is summoned to a bank robbery where the frantic thief named Joe is insisting someone prove the dead body in the vault is not his fault. The body turns out to be the bank manager, whose wife is found dead shortly after. Mac and his team suspect an elaborate plan to steal from the vault. Joe pleads for help, saying his family was taken in order to force him to rob the bank. Mac, believing him, pretends to be taken from the building at gunpoint, getting into the car with Joe.
The episode ends with Joe pointing the weapon at Mac for real, leaving the audience unsure what happens next. The brutal cliffhanger made fans wait until the new season started to find out what happened to Mac. The bait and switch of the plot created a well-thought-out episode, leaving the fans wanting more.
Pay Up (Season 5, Episode 25) – 8.6
While protecting a witness who was about to testify against his own father, Angell is shot, dying shortly after in the hospital. The team is greatly shaken as they search for the kidnapped witness and the men who killed their team member. At first, they suspect the father but soon learn it was a setup. Having saved the witness and caught the killer, the team gathers in a bar to honor Angell when someone opens fire from outside.
It’s in episodes like this one where the actors show off their true skills, as they portray the devastation over their teammate and drive to find the killer. Yet another cliffhanger, the audience is left to wonder if more of the team will die before the story has played out.
Death House (Season 6, Episode 10) – 8.6
A mysterious 911 call comes from an old abandoned penthouse, only for the team to discover no one but the mummified remains of a body. The man died in 1923, so the team begins to investigate where the call could have come from. They discover hidden rooms, death traps, and the man who called 911, severely injured.
The mystery and horror elements make the episode different from the usual New York crime show lineup. While the team is usually looking for a recent killer, this time, the man who designed the house, and all its deadly traps, built the place 90 years ago. It became a game of survival, avoiding the dangers while looking for the injured man. Despite the fact that it aired in December, it would have made a great Halloween episode.
Exit Strategy (Season 7, Episode 22) – 8.1
After yet another near-death experience, Mac takes some time to think about where he is going in life. He decides to tackle the cold case file sitting on his desk. While investigating the robbery turned double murder, he discovers evidence of a child that was reported missing shortly after. The girl had witnessed the murders and was kidnapped to keep her quiet. Evidence led the team right to the girl and her kidnapper, who by now she had come to see as a father. After a bloody showdown, she was eventually taken back to her mother.
Despite all the times that Mac has faced death, this time it felt different. It made him stop and think about getting closure and possibly leaving the NYPD. As Mac contemplates retirement, Danny reveals that he passed the Seargent’s test, giving him a chance to move up in the ranks. This season finally gave the air of a turning point in the show, hinting at a shift in the team dynamics.
Indelible (Season 8, Episode 1) – 8.3
A 9/11 tribute, the team thinks back to where they were ten years ago when the twin towers fell. It is revealed that Danny and Flack met that day and Mac’s wife was killed when the second tower went down. In the midst of flashbacks and planning for a memorial, the team must solve the murder of a bouncer at a local bar.
The heavy subject matter of this episode made it a hard-hitting story, especially since most of the audience was alive to watch the real news footage of the 9/11 attack. The writers did well honoring the heroes that died to save others that day.
Today Is Life (Season 9, Episode 17) – 8.4
Rioters break into the NYPD after a police officer allegedly shoots an unarmed Black man. The team must race to solve the case before more chaos can ensue. They encounter the pain and struggle of the man’s family and community, trying to understand their perspective while following the evidence.
As a series finale, it was brave to tackle such a delicate subject matter. The interaction between Mac and the victim’s girlfriend was raw and heartfelt and sent a clear message: love really can cross all distances. Wrapping up the series with little flashes of the team’s life, tied the story off well, giving fans a chance to say goodbye.
1883 seems like the perfect place for Elliott and Sheridan to begin their collaboration, however. The series offers a meaty part to Elliott, who even at the age of 77 has the energy to fuel deeply compelling characters. It’s clear from the actor’s comments that Sheridan’s script drew him in from the beginning, as did Brennan’s emotional story. As 1883 progresses, viewers will have a better sense of the character and whether or not he will be appearing in further seasons. Considering Elliott’s moving performance thus far, hopefully, Brennan will be a part of 1883 for years to come.
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