Season two, in my opinion, strengthens the change, and shows how the team grows closer, into a family.
We start the season with the theme of changes, and moving on. The CSU moved into a new building - vast spaces, light colours, glass and high tech. Gone is the gothic darkness of the s1 morgue, gone are claustrophobic low ceilings and dark, muted colours. Everything is bright and spacious and full of life.
Hawkes has moved out from the dark basement, too, and ventured into the field, as the new rookie on the team. Changes follow, with a gallore of new MEs (at least three move through this season), new homicide detectives, new lab techs. But also, the departure of Aiden Burns, and the arrival of Lindsay Monroe. Changes.
The cases are a bit different too, a bit more glamourous, flashy, up-scale. A little weirder, too, from the bugs, water guns, matrix-style fights, tigers, etc.
But the most notable change of all is the one in the life of the team. Mac has moved on, in the last season's finale (I've mentioned, in the previous post, of the telling removal of his tie, something that had been mentioned in the first episode, and actually done in the last. And look, this season, there's no tie in sight). He is actually going out on dates (as canonically mentioned in Jamalot). Stella is dating semi-seriously. Danny has a girlfriend, apparently. Lindsay goes to the opera, possibly on a date.
They might still devote most of their time and attention to their work, but Mac's insomnia doesn't get the spotlight so much anymore, and Stella probably doesn't listen to the police scanner while in the shower nowadays.
And even more significantly, the team themselves grow closer. Gone is the antagonism of the first season. They are slowly creating their little family, slowly working towards support and acceptance. At the beginning of the season, Mac fires Aiden straight out for violating the rules guiding preserving of the evidence. Last season, he took Danny of the promotion grid, and seemingly contemplated firing him, for the Minhas shooting.
This season, however, when Danny is a suspect in 'Run Silent, Run Deep', Mac goes beyond the call of duty to exonerate him. And, he truly believes Danny to be innocent, just on the strength of his words. Something that would not happen in season 1.
The season is fun and quirky, and all the characters are evidently having fun, taking shots at each other, cracking puns, establishing the witty repartee and banter. Things are good. And then, the last five episodes. It's a quick bang-bang-bang sequence of angst and hurt. And they see each other through it.
'Run Silent, Run Deep', as mentioned, has Danny involved in an old Tanglewood case. And he has the support of the team throughout it, and Mac's faith in him. If you remember season one: Tanglewood, Crime and Misdemeanor, On the Job? Mac and Danny butted heads on many occasions, and in the latter, Mac had outward told Danny that he had been strongly advised against hiring him, with a hint that he might be regretting that decision. Here? No regret. Strong support. And calm, patient investigation, hoping to find something to clear Danny (the last time he had been emotional towards the case was in 'the Closer' when he had certain hopes for the case's outcome for the first time).
'All Access', has Stella's relationship come to a tragic end, when her boyfriend Frankie turns on her, and she shoots him in self-defence. And again, we see the care of all the team, from Lindsay unable to concentrate on her case as she wants to see Stella, to Mac patiently investigating the evidence (he does find comfort in evidence, doesn't he?), and Flack, seeing Stella through her statement and hospital stay, with gentle care and comfort.
'Stealing Home', Stella back in the lab, and Mac's barely hidden concern, and Lindsay's emotional turmoil pertaining to her case, and her questioning and search for the answers she doesn't get, and, again, Mac's gentle probing and concern.
'Heroes', in which storylines come to a beautiful and heartbreaking conclusion, when a charred body in a burned car turns out to be Aiden. Hawkes' discovery, Mac's barely hidden despair, Stella's 'what ifs', Danny's anger... And the last scene of the episode, which is the team together, remembering Aiden, a group of not just coworkers, but a family. (It's significant, that even though we had heard of the team's group outings since season one - "a bunch of us are meeting at Sullivan's" - we had not seen one until now, until the end of the season where the real bonds were forged.
And finally, 'Charge of this post', with Flack injured in a bombing, and Mac's reaching into his open chest and tying his aorta with a shoelace. And the last scene, the hospital scene, when they all gather, and even though they don't have to stay... they do. Because this is exactly what they do.
Since season one, we had a friendship between Mac and Stella, and a partnership of Aiden and Danny, and hints of some mentoring relationship between Mac and Aiden and Mac and Danny. But all the other relationships had seemed to be rather just those of co-workers, forged only in the workplace and discarded after hours.
The end of season two leaves them all as a family. They have moved through the grief and mourning, through trial and fire, and arrived at a comfortable place, finding their peace.