Gary Sinise Gary Sinise

On Friday's CSI: NY premiere (9/8c, CBS), which pays tribute to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it's clear that Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) will never forget that fateful day. Via flashbacks, the somber hour introduces audiences to Mac's wife, Claire (Jaime Ray Newman), who died in the aftermath of the Twin Towers' collapse.

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Executive producer Zach Reiter tells he hopes that seeing Mac with the love of his life will be a treat for the show's fans. "We would love the audience to see, right from the get-go, a little bit of a different side of Mac," he says. "They are going to see a little bit of a smile, a little bit of a twinkle — who Mac Taylor was before 9/11."

And even though he'll never forget, Reiter says the plan for Mac in Season 8 is to finally move on. "At the end of the episode, he reaches a bit of closure," Reiter says. "He does have a moment where it seems like he can move on from this emotionally. We're hoping by the end of Season 8 to show that he can maybe recapture that [love] with another woman."

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The episode, which also flashes back to other characters' memories of the tragedy, culminates with Mac speaking at the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance, a memorial to the first responders that died on 9/11, which Sinise helped fund when the project stalled during construction.

"Whenever we go to New York to shoot, we like to shoot things that are specific to New York and show iconic things, but also to reveal some new things," Sinise says of the wall's inclusion in the episode. "It's not something that a lot of people know about. This is a very important memorial to the thousands of family members who lost a first-responder loved one on that day. I'm very proud to have participated in raising money to build it."

As for the other team members, Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) and Flack (Eddie Cahill) meet for the first time as they drag people from the rubble. And Jo (Sela Ward), who was working for the FBI in Washington D.C. at the time, brings in the point of view of the attacks on the Pentagon.

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Beyond the premiere, however, Jo's past in D.C. will resurface in a major way. "We definitely intend to explore the history of why she left D.C. and came to New York," Reiter says. "We hinted last season at the fact that she was involved in a case where she brought to light some new information that resulted in a rapist going free. We're hoping to revisit those issues, and kind of continuing the theme, we're hoping to ... find her a bit of closure as well."

Meanwhile, Danny's promotion to sergeant has him back on the streets — away from his wife Lindsay (Anna Belknap)."Danny has a gritty personality, so putting him back on the street was exciting for us," Reiter says. "It does cause a little bit of a divide between him and Lindsay. They're like ships passing in the night, and ... we're just going to show how that creates a little bit of frustration. [There won't be] blowout arguments or anything like that. It just kind of plays with their relationship a little bit."

The most surprising reveal, however, may be that Mac isn't working at the crime lab when the season begins. Season 7 ended with Mac weighing retirement, and when the show resumes, he is working at a DNA lab trying to identify the remains of unknown 9/11 victims. But inevitably, he'll be back. "I know a lot of great public servants," Sinise says. "They think they want to retire and then they rethink it because it's just in their blood. That's the kind of character Mac Taylor is. Serving a just cause is in his blood."

CSI: NY premieres Friday at 9/8c.