“It’s a psycho and his greatest hits.”
Abandoning any pretence at procedural drama this week, Stalker goes full-on generic horror movie, moving the action to a “remote” cabin (is there any other kind?) in “the woods” (colour me flabbergasted) where Ray the Lunatic, having dispensed with the unfortunate tenant using the old “my car’s broken down, can I use your phone?” trick (straight-faced horror movie bingo, from the creator of Scream – hmm), has taken Lt Beth.
Tied up like his own personal doll, he feeds her egg white omelette and talks about forever as Beth and the audience try not to gag, neither the omelette nor the love talk being particularly appetising. The trussed-up, traumatised Beth pretends (not very hard) to play along, but Ray’s a lunatic not an idiot, so he’s ready both for a number of escape attempts and a visit from hapless “Hazel from down the road” whose mama never taught her to keep her cookies to herself, there are all sorts of bad men out there.
While Ray plays house, a turf war so halfhearted it’s more a turf minor scuffle breaks out back at TAU HQ; an “FBI task force” (do the FBI do everything in “task forces?” No “teams?” Or “units?”) arrives to take over the hunt for Beth since, on the strength of no evidence whatsoever, it’s been decided, by no one even remotely involved in the investigation thus far, that Ray has probably taken Beth back to Seattle. The increasingly peevish (and stupid) Jack is obliged by tv law to have a little rant about this sudden injection of manpower, resources and fresh, uncompromised eyes into the investigation, but it’s clear almost immediately that he needn’t have bothered; while the “task force” concentrate on their day jobs dealing with super-criminals and shadowy global conspiracies or whatever, Jack and Janice are left to carry on investigating as usual, the only difference being they’re a lot more worked up about it. After all, they actually like this week’s victim.
Of course, it’s Former Stalker Jack who eventually spots the crucial clue, so, after a quick search on the NSA retrieval engine (“it’s the most comprehensive,” you know), off to cabin country the pair of them go, purporting to give Vicky Gregg the slip by hurtling maniacally past her entirely transparent, glass-walled office as she sits right there watching them. Yes, clearly, Vicky Gregg has no idea what you’re up to, guys.
No matter. After a brief pit stop in order to terrify a group of the world’s best-behaved students – because no episode of Stalker would be complete without someone from TAU being gratuitously rude to some blameless member of the public – unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity, Jack and Janice are obliged to make the basic horror movie mistake of splitting up, so that one of them can find the now-escaped-but-shot Beth, and the other can be found by the now-stabbed-but-still-shooting Ray the Lunatic. The only question is which one will do what.
Surprise! Because of the writers’ inexplicable fondness for Jack, he gets to embrace Beth in the darkness, while Janice gets a gun to the head from a Lunatic who’s very pleased to see her, till everyone is reunited at yet another cabin and Beth can be tied up yet again. Worst. Vacation. Ever.
The astonishingly competent (for Stalker, that is) Vicky Gregg, however, is en route, and thanks to her dual membership of the FBI and the LAPD, she’s bringing the task force, HRT and SWAT with her – Oh, and a helicopter because somebody decided this was the week to blow most of the season’s budget – so even Ray the Lunatic knows the jig’s up.
Still, it obviously wouldn’t be Stalker without someone trying to burn someone else to death, so Ray decides to repeat his previous trick and set fire to the cabin and, just in case she or we didn’t work it out for ourselves, helpfully reminds Beth and the rest of the class just “how full-circle this is for you. And how thematic.”
Thank you, Ray. I bet you aced Higher English.
Stalker Jack has no truck with themes and motifs, however – he was too busy following the cheerleaders round his school in the dark to bother with any actual reading – and is in no mood to succumb to anyone’s “narcissistic personality disorder” but his own. (Let me pause for a moment to note that this is the third week someone on Stalker has been diagnosed as having “narcissistic personality disorder” – is the show sponsored by Psychotherapists’R’Us?) So he busies Ray the Lunatic with some manly fighting, while Beth unties herself and gets her lady friend the hell out of No. 1 Inferno Road, before the task force finally gets its moment in the
sun firelight, and pulls Jack out too.
But what of Ray the Lunatic? Well, Vicky Gregg, who has clearly seen a horror movie or two in her time, is taking no chances: “Secure the perimeter!” she shouts. “Cover the back, the sides, make sure he does not get away!” Ah, Vicky Gregg. Your faith in secure perimeters is touching, but I recommend you try watching a season or two of 24 alongside your Scream box set. Beth and Desk Cop Ben – hey, welcome back buddy! – may think “it’s over” but, without a body, I very much doubt it. I’ve seen a few horror movies, myself, y’know.