After all the criticism Stalker got the first time they immolated somebody, you’d think they’d be a bit wary of going down that route again. But the writers obviously decided it was too good a trick to only try the once (or maybe the production crew bought too much gasoline and thought, hey, it’ll be fine if we just make it a guy this time), so back we are with another hoodie-clad nutcase with a zippo lighter and the second death by fire I’ve seen attempted on tv this week. (Which is two too many, frankly. Shudder.)
Our poor victim this time around is newly-engaged Dave who sadly doesn’t make it through the night, raising the intriguing, by which I mean boring and clichéd, prospect of a turf war between TAU and Robbery/Homicide, by which I mean Jack and Trent, because there is such a shortage of Detectives in the greater LA area that they had to send the two guys at most risk of starting a staring contest over Deputy DA Amanda Taylor. That game’s already won, though; Trent, presumably in the hope that his reasonableness will impress DDAAT, capitulates to Jack’s demand to run lead but he knows, right from the start, that it’s no use. DDAAT may dress up the pizzas and play dates as being what Ethan wants, but they’re clearly what DDAAT wants too, because who can resist a man who travelled cross-country to stalk you and your son, huh? Swoon. By which I mean FFS, woman. GET. A. CLUE.
Any possible re-kindling of romance with Stalker Jack has to wait, however (thank God) till the team – and Trent! – cycle through an impressive number of suspects and wildly varying motives to try and work out who killed Dave and who is still stalking his poor fiancée Nicole. “It’s personal, definitely revenge,” says Jack. But wait, no, it “implies a romantic obsession,” muses Janice. Or maybe, “This is someone who’s seen Nicole on the job. They might even have been rescued by her,” suggests Beth, who may have some experience in that area herself.
An increasingly desperate Trent cannot be doing with all this TALK, though, so he keeps trying to arrest somebody, anybody, only to keep being reminded “No, Trent. You need EVIDENCE, dude.” But Trent is undeterred. An ex? It’s him! says Trent. The father of a little boy who drowned on Nicole’s watch? “Means, motive and no alibi!” says Trent. The bereaved mother? “That’s almost a confession!” says Trent, almost hysterically by now, since nobody will let him arrest anybody and Deputy DA Amanda Taylor has Jack’s back, instead of his. I mean, “everybody has a threshold.”
Of course, as usual, everybody’s too busy accusing the rest of the guest cast to pay any attention to the person hiring a sky writer to etch “IT’S ME, NUMBSKULLS!” across the sky. It eventually falls to Janice then, to speed things up in the final reel, by the simple expedient of doubling up on the jansplanations. “We’re attracted to heroes because we see them as the embodiment of our undeveloped potential. Freud called it the ego ideal,” she says. Meanwhile, REDACTED has Nicole on a pier (which, somewhat alarmingly, has a knife attached to the barrier for….er…. any stalkers/killers who might be caught short?) and is about to push her off, but no need to hurry yourself, Janice, do go on. “It’s similar to the Florence Nightingale effect where the victim falls in love with the caregiver, only this time…” Er, yes, ok, we get it, perhaps you’d better can the cod-psychology and get to the pier, after all.
Nicole, like everybody else on Stalker, though, ultimately has to be saved by Jack and Beth so poor Trent still doesn’t get to arrest anybody, just look sad from his squad car before dumping Deputy DA Amanda Taylor. Whereupon Jack, his Stalker spidey-senses tingling at the prospect of another female co-worker with a vulnerability (Ker-Ching!) slithers up with his usual offer of “comfort,” clothing optional. When that doesn’t work, however, he tries Plan B(eth) instead; having got both love rival Janice and Desk Cop Ben out of the way by suggesting they respect the boss’s request for alone time, Stalker Jack proceeds to completely ignore it and powers into Lt Beth’s house, trundling over her protests like a sexually predatory steamroller. “Stop all that! I’m here now!” he scolds. “I just wanted some company and I brought food!” And for one joyous moment, it looks like Lt Beth may be about to single-handedly redeem the show by kicking this creep in the nuts. Just for one moment, though. Instead, of course, her eyes soften and she (inexplicably) appears to fall for the Prince of Stalkers as well, which, with Deputy DA Amanda Taylor, Janice, Trent, Perry and Ray the Lunatic all in the mix, leaves us with not so much a love triangle as a freaking nightmare.