Season 4 Episode 14

Playing with Matches

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Feb 06, 2008 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
179 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

The team must figure out how a self-cleaning restroom leads to a drowning. The team also investigates the death of a man who was set on fire and flew into a fire truck.

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  • Once again CSI: NY starts off with two separate, and very peculiar, deaths. The first is a human fireball that literally flew into a speeding FDNY truck. The second is a woman who drowned in a public self-cleaning toilet. An interesting start.moreless

    Having this episode start the way it did is certainly a very good way to grab the viewer's attention (It certainly grabbed mine). That attention never wavered in this very clever and well written episode. The viewer certainly would not have been able to see where the story involving the death in a public toilet would end up but it worked because its conclusion was very plausible. The same can be said for the human fireball. Both stories are a little far fetched, but their conclusions help those stories remain believable. CSI: NY is a show definitely worth your time.moreless
  • ok episode...

    I thought the cases in this episode were just too weird. First, a guy was on fire and came out of no where and hit a truck. The other case was a lady drowning in a portable toilet. That was just weird. It was pretty obvious who messed with the toilets. They just went in a complete circle to figure out who killed her. Anyways, the other case was basically about racing and it was just an accident. Just weird. Both of the cases... There wasn't much character development in this episode. Overall, just not a very good episode of CSI:NY.moreless
  • This was one of the best episodes of the season.

    The episode in my opinion was a great way to go off before the writers strike. The bathroom was something i never would of expected. Also i liked to see a story about the drag racing somewhat like CSI but NY style. In my opinion it was one of the best additions to the CSI episodes yet. Then again all of season 4 was. This episode also was kind of more of a down to earth with something people don't usually think about. So that was really cool to see. I think they should show more episodes just like this one.moreless
  • More high quality drama

    I really like the polished way the show is going. The crime stories in this episode were lacking action but interesting conceptually.

    This will keep you watching to learn more about whodunnit, even if the endings are a disappointing compared to the setup - but thats probably true of most shows.

    The toilet drowning is the more interesting of the two, but the flying fireball is one of the most spectacular starts to a show I can remember!

    We seem to be seeing alot less of Stella - this is a plus for me, I cant stand her character and youll probably feel the same way as I if you agree.

    Good strong stories, good acting and decent dialogue. Poor endings though.

    Still compared to alot of shows, very good!moreless
  • Could have been better

    This episode was...okay. It wasn't shocking enough for CSI NY. I wasn't really intrigued by either of the cases. A woman drowning in a self-cleaning toilet is odd enough, I guess. But it just wasn't interesting enough to me when compared with some of the other cases we've been presented with.

    The guy who had been set on fire was a little more interesting...until we learn that he did it while street racing. I was disappointed in that turn. Don't get me wrong; I know that all the cases can't be gruesome murders. But in a strike-ridden season, they need to pull out all the punches. Long before the strike, there had been talk that a strike might happen. They should have tried harder to make sure that the fans would be impressed with the slim offering of episodes.moreless
Anna Belknap

Anna Belknap

Lindsay Monroe

Carmine Giovinazzo

Carmine Giovinazzo

Danny Messer

Gary Sinise

Gary Sinise

Detective Mack "Mac" Taylor

Melina Kanakaredes

Melina Kanakaredes

Detective Stella Bonasera

Eddie Cahill

Eddie Cahill

Detective Donald "Don" Flack, Jr.

Hill Harper

Hill Harper

Dr. Sheldon Hawkes

Jason Chambers

Jason Chambers


Guest Star

Nicole Marie Lenz

Nicole Marie Lenz

Concrete Cowgirl/Sandra

Guest Star

Reid Scott

Reid Scott

Seth Riggin

Guest Star

Emmanuelle Vaugier

Emmanuelle Vaugier

Det. Jessica Angell

Recurring Role

Bess Wohl

Bess Wohl

Kendall Novak

Recurring Role

A.J. Buckley

A.J. Buckley

Adam Ross

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • When the team uses the velocity of the street luge victim to calculate where he came from, the mathematical expressions that are seen on the computer they're using are real physics formulae -- but they have nothing to do with trajectories, speed, friction, or impacts, as is stated. In fact, they are actually (parts of) Maxwell's equations, which describe the properties and behaviour of electromagnetic fields.

    • Goof: When we first see the girl on the autopsy table, the cut near her elbow is perpendicular to the two on her forearm. But when we see her inflicting the wounds in flashback, all cuts are parallel.

    • Kendall bores easily.

    • Going out on a Public Toilet is pretty low on Flack's list.

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Kendall: Usually you drive with the knuckle draggers. Makeshift board, skull cap, denim pants.
      Lindsay: Steel balls. (Looks at Danny and smiles)

    • (At the crime scene)
      Danny: What are you finding?
      Lindsay: Mostly charred wood and plastic.
      Danny: Flimsy ride for a guy that came from another galaxy. (Looks at Lindsay and she smiles)

    • (During the experiment with the motorcycle)
      Lindsay: Danny!
      Danny: Wa... wait. Just keep spraying. Trust me.

    • Angell: Fire department was on route to a structure fire on 49th when this thing...
      Danny: 'Thing'?
      Angell: That's what they called it. Came flying at them like some flaming meteorite. Slammed right into the wind shield.
      Danny: Fire came to the firemen. That's gotta be a first.

    • Sid: ...And based on the degree of trauma to the bones, I'd say your human comet's rate of speed was at least 80mph at the time of impact.
      Danny: 80?! What was he doing to be moving that fast? (shakes head in disbelief)
      Sid: Now keep in mind that I'm simply a pathologist, but the injuries to this victim, well frankly, they appear consistent . . . with him re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. Now, until you come up with some evidence that says otherwise, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    • Mac: Maybe the killer flooded the bathroom hoping to get rid of any evidence.
      Stella: Let's hope he was wrong.

    • (After interrogating suspect and "solving" the case)
      Flack: No one's going to believe the paperwork on this one. Woman dies trying to spring one dirtbag from prison...
      Mac: ...and instead puts another one in.

    • Mr. Szabo: Come on, do you really think I'm going to kill someone over a city contract?
      Flack: Worth close to five million dollars? Yeah, I do.
      Mac: So will a jury.
      Mr. Szabo: I've been a dedicated city employee for twelve years. You'd think when I try to branch out a little, start my own company, those years would count for something. You know what? It didn't count for squat. City went with low bid like they always do... is that fair?
      Mac: A woman lost her life inside that bathroom because of your reckless abandon and your greed. You want to talk about fair? Go talk to her family.

    • Flack: Let me put it to you this way: if a dishwasher and a port-a-potty ever mixed it up, this would be it's offspring.

    • Vinnie: I wish I hadn't met Vanessa. She cost me my job.
      Flack: You tellin' us she made you steal a bottle of Port?

    • Mercury: ...Then he was screaming towards uncharted waters.
      Angell: On fire.
      Mercury: Excuse me?
      Danny: How "hot" did it get between you two?

    • (Speaking of Seth Riggin's case)
      Stella: Are you sure you got the right guy?
      Mac: (Scowls) Of course.

    • Danny: Meat thermometer? Who stabs somebody with a meat thermometer?
      Sid: Cannibal?

  • NOTES (5)

    • Aaron Behr, who plays Vinnie Parson, also appears in the CSI: Miami episode Wolfe in Sheep's Clothing.

      Christopher Bello, who plays John Szabo, also appears in the CSI: Miami episode Caged.

    • Spanish episode title Jugando con Fuego, meaning Playing with fire.
      French episode title: Toilettes Funèbres, meaning Gloomy Toilets.

    • Music Featured:
      Burn My Shadow by U.N.K.L.E. feat. Ian Astbury.
      Sugar (playgroup mix) by Ladytron.
      Milk Lizard by The Dillinger Escape Plan.

    • Original International Air dates:
      UK: April 12, 2008 on Ch5.
      Denmark: May 5, 2008 on Kanal 5.
      Venezuela: May 15, 2008 on AXN.
      Turkey: June 2, 2008 on CNBC-e.
      Spain: June 3, 2008 on AXN.
      Australia: June 16, 2008 on Network 9.
      Sweden: July 14, 2008 on Kanal 5.
      New Zealand: July 22, 2008 on TV3.
      Norway: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 on TVNorge.
      Greece: December 17, 2008 on SKAI.
      Finland: June 17, 2009 on MTV3.

    • This was the last episode completed before the WGA strike that started on November 5, 2007.

      Non union writers had to finish the episode.


    • Sid: That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

      There is a song out called That's my story and I'm stickin' to it done by Collin Raye.

    • Danny: He's become the human torch.

      This is an allusion to the marvel comic, Fantastic Four super hero, Johnny Storm, who can turn into The Human Torch at will.

    • Mac: Houston, we have a problem.

      This is the famous tagline from the 1995 movie Apollo 13. Astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) says it to Mission Control after an oxygen tank explosion on the Apollo 13 spacecraft. Gary Sinise also starred in this film as astronaut Ken Mattingly.

      This is actually a misquote of the words used on the actual mission. The actual NASA transcript shows the following dialogue:

      SWIGERT (LMP): Okay, Houston--
      LOVELL (CDR): I believe we've had a problem here.
      CAPCOM (CC): This is Houston. Say again, please.
      LOVELL: Houston, we've had a problem.

      However, the version of the quote used in the movie and this episode has appeared so often that few people are aware of what the original words were.

    • The mission patch the first victim has in his hand is from Alan Shepard's Mercury 3 flight, named Freedom 7. This was a 15-minute sub-orbital flight that took place on May 5, 1961. Shepard was the first American in space. He was also the only Mercury astronaut to walk on the moon (as commander of Apollo 14).

      However, the Project Mercury missions did not have official mission patches at the time they were flown. The astronauts' suits had only simple square black patches embroidered with the name of the space capsule. In Shepard's case, it read "Freedom 7" in simple block lettering. Unlike on the rectangular patch shown in this episode, Shepard's name was not included.

      Multicolored patches with designs representing each mission's objective became the norm for the Gemini flights, which began in 1965. Similar retrospective designs for the Mercury missions were then created as souvenirs.