Tonight's fun game: count the overt homages to Die Hard! I noted at least four or five.
The finale is an adrenaline-fuelled action movie that also manages not to skimp on the character development and relationships, and sets up several potential storylines for next season that, if handled well and followed through on, could lead to lots of new and interesting (if likely painful) advances for the various characters.
In a nice bit of continuity -- and yet another example of the way the show does, often, set things up in advance without calling overt attention to it -- we learn that these IRA-connected drug runners are, in turn, connected to Candace Broadbent, Mac's FBI agent friend who was found dead at the end of "Sweet Sixteen," and who, if you'll recall, was murdered shortly after she called him and asked him to meet her for coffee, explaining that she had something to tell him. This moment, coming at the very end of the episode, might have seemed tacked on there if it hadn't so clearly been planting a seed for them to use later on.
Now, in terms of the regular characters:
First, and foremost in terms of setting up plots for next season, there's Danny and what he went through during the hostage situation, and -- most significantly -- his injured hand. This is a kind of trauma we haven't seen him go through in awhile, and what's more, in this case, it's a physical trauma as opposed to a mental and emotional one. He's going to have to work through whatever post-traumatic stress and shock he's going to be suffering as a result of this; what's more, he's going to have to do it while also dealing with what looks like a very badly injured hand. His hand looked crushed, and for someone whose career is based on working with his hands and being able to do very fiddly, detail-oriented fine work, this could end up being very bad.
There's also a potentially nasty bit of irony here: recall that, in S1's "The Closer," Danny told Aiden that his baseball career ended when he broke his wrist. He's already got one significant, and career-ending, hand injury in his past; now he may be facing another.
Flack has what's clearly a deeply-felt moment of guilt after he shoots down one of the drug runners in the warehouse at the very beginning. This is, subtly, yet another nod to the ongoing idea of guilt and responsibility and personal agency that we've been seeing all year. More to the point, it's also something that, hopefully, we'll see him struggling with later on. Situations in which one has to fire a weapon are generally relatively rare in an officer's career, and those who have had to do it often speak of the internal struggles they go through afterward, even when it was, as in Flack's case, unequivocally a situation in which they were left with no other choice. Like Danny, this has the potential to be very interesting, and a vehicle for further character development.
In another bit of full-circle development, and another nod to the guilt and personal agency themes, Lindsay expresses very frank guilt to Danny when she apologizes to him at the end, noting that she should have been at the warehouse. We can connect this to the survivor's guilt she would have suffered after her friends were murdered when she was a teenager, and it leads her back to the same old question: why is she the one who gets away? Why does she get to live, or at least not suffer? Why do others have to go in her place? These aren't rational questions, of course, because there's no way that either situation could rationally, or even possibly, have been her fault -- in this case, it wasn't even her decision to trade shifts -- but emotions aren't rational. As with what Flack is likely to be going through, that may not matter: guilt, especially, is very rarely rational.
On a big-picture note for Lindsay, as we go into next season, I wish for her the same thing I've been saying all along: regardless of whatever may happen between her and Danny, I really, really want her to emerge as her own character, and to experience this kind of emotional growth (or even just emotional challenges) independent of that relationship. Seeing her grow and blossom and be awesome, as she really can be if they trust the writing and the acting and the character, and give her room to grow as her own person, in addition to her romantic relationships and independent of them, would be the greatest gift she could get.
Mac is still struggling with the balance between work and personal life. As I noted a couple of reviews prior to this one, I didn't really expect that they'd be able to return to the storylines with Claire and Reed this season, or even to the one with Peyton in any significant way. However, touching upon this in the finale does remind us that those issues still exist, and leaves the door very nicely open for them to return to these storylines once S4 picks up. Mac -- yes, god, the man needs a vacation. Where he and Peyton will be able to go from there will be largely dependent on how they're both able to handle things in the long run, and how well they function together when they're not in a crisis situation. Which is similar to what I've previously noted about Mac's relationship with Danny, specifically in the wake of S2's "Run Silent, Run Deep": being there for each other in a crisis situation is great, but it's the day-to-day that will really make or break a relationship.
I think the balance in the very final scene was slightly off: the emotional reunion between Mac and Peyton works well, and is nicely low-key -- as their relationship generally has been all along -- but I felt that his reunion with the others was, slightly, given short shrift in favor of that. Even just a few seconds more of him standing with Flack and Stella and Hawkes would have tipped the balance back the right way, a little more acknowledgment that, hey, we got through this and we did it together. Don't get me wrong: it's not terribly far off, and they hit all the right notes; but some of those notes maybe should have been held a little longer.
However, speaking of teamwork: Mac and Stella and Hawkes fighting to take back the lab. They all work wonderfully well together, and it really is teamwork, like it has been in almost all of the show's major storylines, that saves all of them. Of particular note is Mac and Stella's nearly wordless, instinctive communication, and here's something else that they got beautifully, perfectly right: Mac, at no time, ever treats Stella like someone who needs to be saved, or someone who he needs to protect. She is, without question, his equal and a person he trusts utterly, and that's all there is to it. It's not even emphasized or turned into a plot point, because it doesn't need to be; it just is, and so the show doesn't feel the need to make a point of it, any more than it would ever occur to either Mac or Stella to do so. They're partners, they're soldiers, and this exact vibe between them is why their relationship has always hit me as hard as it does. It's thoughtful and complex, and a true rarity.
Adam may also be suffering some guilt and trauma of his own. as he's taken hostage along with Danny. He comes through beautifully; the way he's able to force himself to be brave in the face of his own clear terror is genuinely moving, and it's a great moment when he flings himself in between Flack and the other cops who have been taken hostage. Also of note (and yet another tie back to things that have previously been established) is that Adam, who's admitted that his father was "a bully," suffers cigarette burns on his hands and is very badly beaten, and his immediate reaction when Danny shows up is to apologize for letting them get his ID card and the parking garage code.
All of the action sequences in the lab kicked fucking ass. Stella dropping through the ceiling of the elevator clutching an AK-47, Mac building a pipe bomb, Hawkes taking a drug runner down with a bone saw to the throat and then locking him in one of the morgue drawers, all of the shootouts, Mac sending the body down in the elevator so Hawkes could extract the bullet, Mac fighting with the leader and then the bomb going off...
Fucking kickass! Sorry, I lost all coherency over pretty much all of that.
Oh, and Die Hard homages: Mac under the table while the bad guys are talking right in front of him, the body in the elevator with the note written on it, Mac taunting the drug runners over the intercom system, Stella dropping through the elevator ceiling. I'm sure there's a couple I'm not thinking of -- and I really need to watch the movie now. It's been a while.
Mac, as previously noted, is bad at having a personal life. He's taken exactly five and a half days off (it was the "and a half" part that cracked me up) since he joined the NYPD, and he's currently got seven weeks of vacation accrued.
Another nice touch was the silence after the bomb went off once we were in Mac's POV, and how that part of the scene plays out with nothing but the incidental music.
Mac starts off in a black suit with a light blue shirt. He loses the jacket later, but wears the blue shirt for most of the episode -- at least until the sprinklers go off, at which point he decides to strip down to the
Stella wears, at the beginning, her black fitted leather blazer-cut jacket, and then she's in a lime-green short-sleeved v-neck with black pants for the rest of the episode.
Hawkes wears a gray shirt with black, rust, and white stripes, and black pants. Although he's also standing there when the sprinklers go off, he does not choose to strip down to his undershirt.
Flack wears a navy Kevlar vest over a navy thermal crewneck sweater. Have I mentioned that I really, really like Kevlar? And Flack needs to wear sweaters more often. I do love his general rejection of pret-a-porter, but damn if the man can't work a sweater just as well as a suit. Later, he wears a camel-colored striped shirt along with a brown tie with a gold-and-white pattern.
Danny wears an untucked white shirt over a white wifebeater, and jeans.
No good looks at Lindsay's clothes, but her boots were really, really cute.
I don't usually write about the recurring characters' clothes, but...oh dear sweet lord, Sid's tweed hat. Sid's tweed hat is love and joy.
...And, with that, we come to the end of S3. It's been a wild ride, and a lot of fun. I truly enjoy doing these reviews, and, while I'm pretty sure I'm ready for a break now, I'm also looking forward to whatever will happen next year. Thanks to everyone who's read any of these reviews, and thank you for chatting with me about character and plot developments; I love this show, and all of it makes me happy. And thanks, as always, to afteriwake for offering me the gig as reviewer for the csi_ny community.
(I'll be doing meta and fic over the summer, I'm sure.)
See you in September for S4!