Uh, let's see...given that it took me 3 full hours to start calming down Wednesday night, and I've been intermittently writing this post about 2 paragraphs at a time since then, it should hardly be surprising that this is the longest review I've ever written of a single episode of any TV show. Ever.
[Regarding the length: it's only a bit over 3 pages!
I mean, in size 10. Single spaced. With tab-indented paragraphs. You won't let that stop you, will you?]
This outstrips last year's finale by a mile. As much as I loved last year's (once I finally watched it in mid-July, anyway), "Charge of this Post" starts to falter for me with Mac's incessant flashbacks, and the final confrontation between him and the deranged wannabe-Marine is a conversation that drags on forever and didn't bear watching once, never mind repeating. "Snow Day," however, not only had me riveted from start to finish, I’ve gone through it several times since. It's utterly addictive.
There is love from the first minute, with Flack a) in a...can I say yummy?...black sweater, b) wearing Kevlar, c) with badge on a chain around his neck (I don't know why, but I love that look), and d) holding a pump shotgun. I like to think that I don't get particularly hot and bothered by guys carrying guns, but apparently under certain circumstances I do. The whole takedown scene(s) is magnificent. I could have done without the slow-mo closeup on his mouth screaming "DROP IT NOW!" (and the bad guy apparently hoping that repeatedly yelling back "RAR!" would scare him off), but I'll forgive that for the prize of his morose look and decidedly subdued manner while standing over the body later. He's no Horatio - one death on his hands, even someone who would have shot him, doesn't sit well. This carries over into his answer to Mac when asked if he's all right, and even at the press conference later, when asked if there were any causalities, he hesitates before admitting that one suspect was killed. Several solid reminders of exactly why this is my favorite character.
Flack is just ON all episode, shifting to a whole new level the moment he picks up Danny's call and hears "Don." Oh, sidebar, speaking of that scene - does someone with shiny HD want to tell me what's written in his calendar there? If necessary I'll squint and stare until I decipher it the way I did with Marisol's day planner, but it'd be less murder on my eyes if somebody else could fill me in. I'm sure the information therein is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but these are the kind of tidbits I love to know.
As for the hostage situation, I'm going to do something shocking and admit that I didn't hate Adam in this episode. I don't know if I'll go so far as to say I liked him, but even my cold, cold heart of stone felt little twinges of pain at seeing him so brutalized. Now, it does irk that Adam was at the scene at all, never MIND processing it, and never MIND processing it alone. Isn't the entire point of a CSI's work to collect evidence at the scene and process it later, while a lab technician's job is to run specific tests on collected evidence? I thought you needed training, a certain amount of qualification, to work in the field. Stupid lab rat. I just can't let that go. It bugs, it bugs! Anyway. *lets it go*
As you may or may not remember, I initially had no sympathy to hear about Adam’s mean old abusive daddy. That still stands. However, in hindsight I realize that if they were dead-set on having a lab rat in a hostage situation, then it was absolutely necessary in order to set up his emotional state for this episode. Poor, poor, brave baby lab rat, huddled up quivering in pain and fear, thoroughly bloodied and sporting some truly horrific cigarette burns on his palms – and all he can focus on is apologizing for letting the criminals have the code. Even though he didn’t exactly offer it up out of his own free will, he withstood torture before he cracked, he’s placing the blame on himself. Never before (and probably never will again) have I wanted to hug Adam, but he was so pitiable – and occasionally heroic – that I couldn’t help it. I was almost more impressed by him than I was by Danny. He dug into some deep reserves first to grab something from his kit, and later when he frantically identifies the disguised cops before they're shot by fellow officers.
Not that I didn’t do a fair amount of squeaking on Danny’s behalf. The poor thing takes at least half a dozen serious blows over the course of the episode, starting with one to the back of head, then the horrible hand-smashing incident that was so vicious I actually jumped and covered my eyes. It was almost as hard to watch him grit his teeth and force his broken fingers to straighten out, barely refraining from screaming in the process…and then offering himself up for additional beating as a diversionary tactic. Which is cringe-worthy, of course, but it’s also the kind of scene that I always secretly want to see. Cookies to anyone who can articulate why, since I can’t, but I know I’m not the only person who enjoys seeing beloved characters injured. (provided they’re not subsequently killed and/or written off the show, of course). Usually these scenarios are confined to brief flashes of daydreams, but on the rare occasion it can get worked into an episode storyline, I’m all over it.
The situation at the lab...oh, my God. Team Mac/Stella versus about 10 hardcore gang members is more exciting than any action movie, and when Hawkes later joins their ranks, they are like an unstoppable team of ninjas. It's nothing short of thrilling. Everything was so high stakes that even the evidence-processing montages, which I normally hate with a fiery burning passion, kept my attention (although I think more suspension of disbelief than usual was required regarding the speed with which they got results...). I giggled out loud when I saw Hawkes had managed to reach them via the interoffice messaging system, because it was just that cool, although as Mac was taking the time to write "Where are you?", I couldn't help thinking if ever there was a time to use chatspeak...
Ninja activities included, but were not limited to: using dead bodies as messengers and transporting them via elevator (the writing on the guy's forehead was a bit grotesque, but also ingenius), holding guys captive with bone saws to the throat, then locking them in body drawers (Hawkes kicks ass), clubbing guys on the head to knock them out and then tying them to chairs beside improvised pipe bombs and locking them behind laser walls (Mac? Marry me), and other assorted moments of wickedly skillful trickery.Re: Hawkes, I normally think his character is fairly boring - I don't know why; he's attractive and intelligent and everything, but ever since he became a CSI, no matter how much they try to flesh out his character I just feel very 'meh' towards him - but along with his mad skillz tonight, the smoldering fury in his eyes when he noticed Adam's bloodstained ID was a beautiful thing. I may have to re-evaluate his 8th place position on the totem pole of favorite characters.
There was a wonderful "AH-HAH!" revelation when the bullet matches a case from the shooting at the end of "Sweet Sixteen." I did a little cheer when I heard that, because I know I didn't pay much attention to that aspect of the episode, but I do remember my review: Who was that FBI woman he kept talking to, and why did she seem like she should be important in a recurring kind of way? HEE! Guess I know why now. Next season, maybe, yes?
Dripping wet Mac...as with gun-toting Flack, I didn't think I would care about this, either. I was sorely mistaken. Dripping wet Mac induces purring. (why hello, new age-inappropriate crush!) As for the bomb going off...wow, was not expecting that. My first thought: "Where do you think Mac will be next year when he narrowly avoids an explosion?" All right, switching gears now over to the 'ships, though I'm saving the final scene for the end of this review.
My Peyton love continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and I am pretty sure that as of this point in time, Mac/Peyton are, if not my OTP, then at least in the top three on my ever-shifting list of 'ships. I loved his "Oh, crap" look at finding her waiting in his office and assuming he's missed a date. And I also loved her being bold enough to try and get him not only to come on vacation with her, but to go on vacation for twice as long as his vacation-taking history to date. "I just thought with everything that's been going on with you, and because you adore me, and you DO adore me..." Okay, that was me letting out a squee heard 'round the world. "Adore" is quite possibly the best verb I could come up with to describe the way he looks at her sometimes.
Dear PTB: Extend Claire Forlani's contract immediately if not sooner. I hesitate to make her a main character, because much as I would love to oust Sid forever, the more screentime she gets the faster we'd probably be headed to a breakup. But her relationship with Mac is absolutely beautiful, and I see no reason this couldn't continue for at least a couple of years. Her role as it is now, popping up every so often for Mac-heavy episodes, is downright incredible, and I want this trend to continue. Rule of thumb: where there is Mac angst - and there always is, in spades - we need Peyton to balance it out. Because Stella can only do so much.
Speaking of Sid, can his role always be like this? Miniscule, friendly/charming/personable, and lacking any creepy TMI dialogue? If he was like this all the time, I'd love him even more than Doc Robbins.
Danny/Lindsay. The details of their night together were probably best left to the promo pics. The ones of them playing pool are really wonderful, and it's kind of fun to pick out all the details of the room and put stories to them. Plus, the pictures lack weird, awkward dialogue. The flashback itself was extremely disappointing and everything I didn't want it to be. It felt cheap and meaningless; I don't care how much romance they bookended it with. It was born out of alcohol (I’m convinced the tequila was largely to blame) and trashy as all get out. I really don't want to think of Lindsay as the pushy girl who tears the guy's clothes off. This is not how romance on my crime dramas is supposed to work, damn it! This is like every other drama I hate! Let me put it this way…an excerpt of my transcripts goes like so:
"Lindsay meanders over to the table, where there’s a daisy in a glass of water. (sidebar: what’s with guys named Danny leaving single daisies? Without a Trace finale, anyone?) She picks it up to smell it, wearing a little smile that seems rather oddly romanticized given that she’s now flashing back to her NIGHT OF DRUNKEN DRUNKEN SEX THAT I REFUSE TO RECAP UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
It was completely unnecessary. I mean, I already got that they spent the night together, thanks. With the snuggly morning scene, I'd even have bought that it was romantic and could be accurately described as making love. The flashback ruined all notions of romance, which leads me to think you're setting this up to backfire in a hideous mess for season 4. HOWEVER. I will set aside my grouchiness and revel in the fact that the morning scene, though reminiscent of many an ep of ER, was still cute. I loved him pushing on her nose to wake her up; it's so...affectionately playful, which is just how they are. And I cannot lie; this is pretty much down to the letter exactly how I pictured a morning-after going with them, right down to Lindsay's sleepy smile and the nestling back down on his chest. My version, however, didn't have a clunky "I'm glad this happened" line in it. It always annoys me when people act like sex is something that randomly snuck up from behind and smacked them on the head. It requires a lot of steps to go from "talking" to "sleeping naked in bed." You have to make some conscious decisions in there, right? I'm pretty sure that removing your clothes requires more thought than, say, breathing.
Oh, and my version also maybe wouldn't have lines like "I dreamed you were gone...you left a note," because while such sentiment is a nice detail in fic, out loud it sounds a little needy/clingy. That line's forgiven, however, for her poking him in the chin when he teases "Where would I go? This is my place." And then for additional squee, there's not only a forehead kiss, but a chest kiss. The latter is not normally criteria for my Checklist of Cute, but for this scenario I'm considering making it an honorary one.
Back to the flashback scenes, or rather Lindsay waking up alone...I'm ashamed to admit that I was on my third rewatch before I started looking at where she was and going, "Huh...that is the weirdest looking bed I've ever seen. It looks so flat. And really high." Then I noticed what appeared to be a bed in the background. And then it was "...WHAT. Did they - is that - did they sleep on the pool table? OMG WTF WEIRD." Even with pillows and blankets, I have to think that would be very uncomfortable. I mean, I shouldn't talk since I've been known to sleep on my desk at school (yes ON the desk), but when I do that it's when I only have about 3 hours before class and I want to make sure that when the alarm goes off, I have zero temptation to curl up and go back to sleep. And THANKS; up until that point of realization, I had been carefully avoiding thinking about them having sex on said pool table, because...ew. At least sheets can be easily tossed in the washing machine.
There are good things about this middle bit, though. For example, I really did like the detail of the single flower, and I will not argue with the message on the chalkboard. (Though I will question why Danny has a giant chalkboard in his apartment at all). It was cute, voiceover and all, and a nice parallel to the card she left him in 3.14. These two are all about the parallels today, aren't they?
However, my one tiny complaint is that we’re cheated out of seeing Flack’s reaction to Danny’s injuries; he does at least get to approach, but not only is he brushed aside by Lindsay, the camera stays behind him and by the time it circles around, his face is cut out of the top of the frame. -.- I know it’s natural for her to want to help Danny walk out, but couldn't she have left that to the considerably stronger Flack, at least until they got him to an ambulance? Then she’s welcome to send him away and make her apologies. I really did like that line, because it’s certainly easy to see why she’d be feeling guilty that he’s hurt instead of her. Just don’t follow this up by continuing to agonize over this fact and make it all about you, Lindsay. Because it’s not.
I know a lot of people are disappointed that as they walk offscreen that's the last we see of them in this episode, and don't really get closure on the extent of his injuries. I'm not among them. Danny & Lindsay got 3 considerably meaty scenes - we didn't need anything further. Heck, I wasn't even sure we'd get to see them reunite at the end, so I'm more than placated with what we got. But more importantly, it was logical to conclude their part of the plotline there in order to flow into a stunningly beautiful ending back at the lab.
And it was beautiful.
The silence and slow motion after the bomb goes off is pure artistry, and I am in love with whoever pitched that idea. I don't know if the pulsating music used there is an actual song or just part of the score, but it's powerful and I want it oh so very much. And this is where my squee factor kicks into overdrive as Stella rushes up to hug him, along with his nods at Hawkes and Flack. As much as I love team dynamics, by this point it was like 9:58, and I was suddenly terrified that it was going to end on this stupid team reunion and I wasn't going to get closure on Mac and Peyton and London. You must understand that I'd been bouncing up and down for half an hour anticipating such a moment. I was already cooking up imaginary canon with which to placate myself when Mac's attention is caught by something in the distance, and oh hey, now we're in business.
Cut to Peyton breaking through the crowds and running for him full tilt. Cue her throwing her arms around his neck.
Disappointingly, my TV reception decided to be schizo at the end, switching to black and white from the moment the bomb went off until just after Stella asks Mac where he's going. I'm in for a severe jolt the first time this episode reruns... On the plus side, that made the Mac/Peyton reunion even more artistic. And convinced me that I really, really want an icon of them at the end, in b/w.
Anyway. Loved Mac/Hawkes/Stella all grinning at one another after Mac walks off with his arm around Peyton, and I get one more mini glee fit out of how close their faces are before it fades into the credits and I fall back on the bed, exhausted.
Rewind and repeat the whole process.
Big, fat A+ for the best episode of the series to date.
And pat yourself on the back if you read all the way through that.
I made myself go to bed last night, but sleep is not going to happen tonight since I am a) newly keyed up from talking about this show, b) sulking about Lost, and c) sulking about CSI. Hm, whatever shall I do with all this energy...