With Ray the Lunatic (temporarily, surely?) out of the way, normal service resumes this week on Stalker: a woman parks her car, and walks alone to her house, in the dark.
As usual, this does not end well for the woman – in fact, it ends even less well than usual since, rather than some stalky-type incident that involves her getting away and then being grilled by Janice about her sex life, the woman, one Francine Johnson, is straight-up murdered.
Poor Francine Johnson. It turns out, of course, that she had previously sought the help of TAU with a stalker – is it just me, or does TAU have exceptionally high rates of customer retention? If you go there complaining about one stalker, you’re doomed to return with at least two… – so a very sensible Detective from Homicide brings the case to Vicky Gregg to cast an eye over in case there’s a connection. The hitherto infallible Vicky Gregg, however, is suddenly too busy fretting about her Secret Pain to pay much attention; poor Francine’s file is metaphorically (and literally, I would guess) shoved in a drawer, while Vicky introduces us to her definitely stalky/ quite possibly murderous ex-husband instead and asks Beth to look into whether he may actually have killed his lover five years ago and framed someone else for it.
Obviously, Vicky Gregg having access to the files from an investigation where her ex-husband was a suspect and she was the alibi witness raises certain questions of propriety. And Vicky Gregg visiting Beth on her “I just survived stalking, kidnap and attempted murder and I’m now having an identity crisis” hiatus (let’s just call it “special leave”) to give her work to do has certain, not entirely positive, HR implications. But this is Stalker so nobody cares. It gives Beth an excuse to pop back into the office and engage with Jack in the most uncomfortable “flirting” scene I have ever seen in my life, and it gives Janice a chance to nosy around in a co-worker’s rather than a victim’s business for a change (“Was that your ex-husband that stopped by yesterday?”) so everyone’s, er, “happy.”
Except, of course, the stalkee of the week Pam, who only misses out on taking the trophy for unluckiest person in the world by dint of sharing an episode with Francine Johnson.
Poor Pam is being stalked by two different men at the same time, as well as being attacked by another one (whom nobody realises is OBVIOUSLY responsible for Francine’s murder as well till Janice gets the file out of the drawer at the end of the ep) and Pam is, understandably, NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT.
Inevitably, Pam’s ex is one of her stalkers, so Pam’s entirely reasonable question for the determinedly unhelpful Janice is “Can’t you just ARREST his ass?” No good answer is forthcoming, but the investigation does take the notoriously open-minded Jack and Janice to a Love and Sex Addiction Support Group where the murderer (Hello Henry from Ringer!) pretty much has “IT’S ME, YOU GUYS!” sprayed in glitter across his luxuriant hair, but they’re too busy with jansplanations about Love and Sex Addiction to notice.
“It’s about the rush that comes with sex and love. The effects of dopamine on the brain are similar to cocaine,” Dr Janice says. “You know way too much about this,” Jack points out. “Quite,” I agree. Was the Janice-is-a-recovering-love-and-sex-addict arc originally pencilled in for season 2, then? Fortunate, perhaps, that we will never know.
This entire “Pam’s ex” storyline is worth it however for the hilarious moment when, having discovered Pam’s ex hasn’t been taking his anti-psychotic medication, Janice muses, with an entirely straight face, “Pam said he wasn’t right in the head, but she never mentioned mental illness.” Uh….
After a bit of messing around and some more Pam-terrorising, both Pam’s stalkers are apprehended, but her would-be murderer lives to attack women another week, albeit with a few new Pam-administered cuts and bruises – Team Pam FTW! Now my favourite character in this ridiculous show by some distance, I really hope she makes it through next week. Unlike the Beth/Jack relationship which I’m struggling to muster up more than a shrug about. Normally, I’m all about the shipping, but this week’s mechanical, perfunctory kiss – the culmination of a courtship notable for its creepiness rather than its chemistry – failed to ignite any enthusiasm on my part or any passion on theirs. The answer to the unspoken “Will this do?” in the air? No. No, it won’t.