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Commentary Review: Stalker (S1/E3)

The 3rd installment of CBS's newbie STALKER was cool, and I'm hoping there's many more episodes as the show becomes more interesting.

COLD OPEN: I can’t explain why I don’t have a 2nd episode review. But I’ve liked Stalker so far. Yeah, the first episode was creepy, but it calmed itself down to a regular psychology procedural. Trust me, the show’s pretty good.

ACT ONE: This is a stalking show, so I was a little surprised when they kicked the episode off with a built-up scene. You see, a built-up scene is what I call “something really bad is about to happen” and you feel it like goosebumps around your body. Girl walks down the aisle. Other girl at the end of that aisle (yep, it’s a gay wedding, y’all). Smiles all around. You feel it, I feel it, and *BOOM* wedding girl goes down, shot in the head. When that happened, I was like, “wait, this is about stalking, not murder”. But oh, how I’d be so wrong. So the father of the bride: a LAPD captain, and the dying bride had a ex-boyfriend for a stalker. Surprise, surprise: he was clean. Which always happens because the first suspect is usually never the actual suspect. TV Procedural 101.

STALKER is killing it, with Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott doing quite the fair job (Source: CBS).

But I will say, one of Stalker‘s fun elements is listening to the agents figure out the crime scene or the mystery itself, a dialogue matched only by Castle (ABC), in my opinion. It’s refreshing to hear different terms than the cliché police procedural. But my real favorite part is when Jack Larsen (Dylan McDermott) breaks a scene down, taking the evidence and piecing facts together to create a psychological analysis determining behaviors. Like stating a resentful stalker wouldn’t turn to violence; or an ex-militant took the complex kill shot, not an average Joe. It’s really cool. Well, to me.

ACT TWO: So the ex didn’t do it, so we’re back to square one. Almost. They find out the wedding gunshot matched a gunshot earlier (off-screen) involving a murder. The seemingly unrelated incidents come together when the man shot was an informant for, yep, the police captain. So the married daughter wasn’t the stalker victim at all; it was actually the captain (hey, 3 eps in and we have a male stalkee). The captain is distraught and goes to his office to give the team files of death-threats he’d receive. Then Jack figures something out: while sitting down, he sees 3 different pictures of the captain, with 3 different people: his informant, his daughter, and his police partner. Jack connects the dots: his stalker had to have sat in this chair, so it had to be a LAPD officer. And who’s a LAPD officer who’d have beef with the captain and be ex-military? A fired one. And who’d be next on his list of destroying the captain’s life? Let’s just say two down, the partner to go.

I wouldn’t say “what a twist!” in this situation, but it was cool how they were able to come up with that scenario. Oh yeah, and Jack finds out that there were 300 applicants for his job, so his transfer was more like a favor than a qualification. Which I think we all had a resounding “duh” with that information.

ACT THREE: So insert creepiness here. Scenes of a kid playing with his toys while the stalker slowly enters the house, flawlessly avoiding the moving housewife, patiently waiting in the closet to make his move. Of course, Jack and Beth Davis (Maggie Q) get there before anything really bad happens, but there’s a mini-fight Jack loses and the stalker gets away. They find out the stalker was let go when he killed a teenager who reportedly had a gun, but the gun was never found, making the teen unarmed. This led the stalker to lose the only thing he had: the police force, explaining the stalker’s revenge on the captain. Fast-fowarding, the stalker did kidnap The Captain somehow, tried to make the captain admit to creating a conspiracy, and Jack found the stalker in time. Jack shots him, turns his back to the body, calls for back-up, and yeah, you know what happens: the stalker wakes up! There’s a struggle, a 2nd shot, and this time, the stalker doesn’t get up.

It may be CBS’s lowest-rated Wednesday show. But STALKER’s good, and deserves to stay in the lineup based on quality alone (Source: CBS).

The ending was slightly lame, but the tension was necessary after an episode like this. Oh happy day! The Captain’s fine, his shot daughter’s fine, the partner’s fine, the team is all accounted for, and Jack has two weeks to leave LA or his ex-wife will make him pay. A pure CBS procedural.

THE CONCLUSION: I like this show. I know there’s this whole “girl’s getting victimized” issue among viewers, but that’s no better than anything on SVU. Plus, this episode really was a great way to set the tone for the series, with Jack stalking his son, and Beth’s overbearing worry of being stalked and earning a new stalker (from the first 2 episodes). I like it. But what do you guys think? Are you fans of Stalker, or do you want to be as far away from this show as possible?

Things That I Noticed:

  • In a contest for the most attractive women of all the new series, Mariana Klaveno (playing Janice Lawrence) must be in the top 3.
  • I’ve never been much of a Dylan McDermott fan, but now I’m cool with him for his portrayal here.
  • I understand Jack wants to be with his son, but stalking him is getting incredibly weird. But I guess that’s the point: liking what he does in the field, don’t liking what he does outside of it. Sort of like House (FOX), huh?
  • The girl who got shot in the head surviving was a bit unrealistic. I know it could happen, but it’s a television fiction rule: you get shot in the head, you’re dead.
  • CBS scheduled this show perfectly. Stalker doesn’t have great ratings, being in last for CBS Wednesdays. But the ratings are higher than ABC’s Nashville and NBC’s Chicago PD at the same time.

Previously: Pilot Episode Review

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