Gary Sinise

For shows in danger of being canceled, crafting a season finale can be tricky. Do you end with a cliff-hanger and hope for the best or do you tie things up for the fans?

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In the case of CSI: NY, which airs its Season 7 finale Friday at 9/8c, the producers tried to do both. "We looked at it and said, 'If this should not come back, can we be satisfied with what we left behind?'" executive producer Pam Veasey tells TVGuide.com. "And if it does, does [the finale] provide us with a lot of story to come back to? We believe we found the best scenario for all of that."

The final episode, fittingly titled "Exit Strategy," focuses on Mac (Gary Sinise), who, after suffering a near-death experience, becomes more focused than ever on solving a cold case involving a missing girl. "In the very first season, we mentioned that there's a stack of folders on Mac's desk, [cases] that he was passionate about," Veasey says. "In this last episode, he picks up the very last one."

But if Mac is able to close that last case, then what? Sinise says his character is most certainly at a crossroads. "He's a very steady character, a very solid guy who doesn't really question a lot," Sinise says. "He knows the way he feels about things and knows who he is and what he wants. And I think here, we really get to see him as somebody who's not so sure. He's been doing this a long time. At a certain point, you have seen a lot of death and wonder just how much more you want to deal with that."

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Helping him through the decision is Sela Ward's Jo, who Sinise says has grown close enough to Mac to know when something's eating at him. "She's keying in that something's happened to him, something's going on with him," he says. " It's been fun to watch them get to know each other and learn how to work together. She respects him as a leader, and has tried to look out for him I think."

Adds Veasey: "She comes to the rescue and really is a shoulder for him to lean on, because there's a great deal of satisfaction in pursuing this case, but there is also a question: What's the next step in my life? That's sort of our small cliff-hanger. Mac has completed something in these seven years. So what does he start next?"

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Mac isn't the only character looking at new possibilities. "Danny's [Carmine Giovinazzo] passed the sergeant's test, so what does that mean for him next year?" Veasey says. "For Hawkes [Hill Harper], you see him deeply involved in a relationship. So we wanted to end the season where people could go, 'Wow, that's going to be a different dynamic next year if all these things happen to these people.'"

Until CBS makes an official decision about the show's future next week, both Sinise and Veasey remain optimistic. "I feel that we've got more to do with the show," Sinise says. "We've had a great season this year, and I think the writers and the cast have more in us to give. I hope our audience gets to keep watching."

And if not, Veasey says she's proud of what the show has accomplished. "We got to expand our characters' worlds," she says. "We got to play with a lot of things, and I think we had a really tremendous season emotionally. We told some really great stories and got to learn things about our characters that I feel the audience appreciated. And though we're absolutely, completely optimistic about our return... if it were to end, I think we would be completely satisfied. We'd certainly pat ourselves on the back and say that we did [the show] justice."

CSI: NY's Season 7 finale airs Friday at 9/8c on CBS.  Do you hope it comes back next year?