Stalker 1×16 ‘Salvation’ : Losing my religion

Because two stalkers teaming up just isn’t enough. This week, we have a whole cult full of crazies, ready to torment their victim. Unfortunately, more bad guys doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality.

This episode was a disappointment all around. First off, the opening was incredibly weak. Remember when we’d start off with someone getting burned alive, or coming home to find their bedroom filled with snakes? That’s jarring stuff, the kind that hooks you. Lately, those openings are losing their punch. A couple weeks ago, we had a man chasing a thief across a pier. Yawn. Here we have a woman confronted by a guy she doesn’t know, told to get back with her ex. Yeah the guy chases her, and were it actually happening to me, I’d be horrified. But there’s nothing particularly special about the sequence. No mask, no explosions, nothing to differentiate it from the eight million Lifetime flicks about stalking. So, no hook.

Now the main premise. A whole group of stalkers, banning together to terrify Isabelle, a naïve girl new to LA. It could’ve been an interesting premise, but nothing was done with it. After the initial attack when she’s chased by the stranger, she goes out and hears a bunch of strangers whispering that she’s in danger, about to die, etcetera. That’s the extent of this combined effort. No one goes after her again, they just whisper stuff. Unnerving, yes. On par with some of the other crazy stuff this show has done? Absolutely not.

Source: CBS

Source: CBS

It turns out this group is a cult. At the risk of sounding weird, I love cults. They fascinate me. I wrote a ten page paper on them, for God’s sake. So this episode should’ve been right up my alley. Again, an appealing premise that goes nowhere. There’s nothing memorable or different about this group of people. Nothing particularly charismatic about their leader, who’s supposed to be powerful enough to brainwash strangers into doing his bidding. Charles Manson was interesting. Scary, nuts as hell, and interesting. This leader, he’s nuts as hell, but that’s it. He’s a boring cult leader, something that in theory shouldn’t even exist.

Show creator Kevin Williamson also wrote The Following, that Fox show where Kevin Bacon battles a cult led by a psychotic but oddly charming novelist. That show held my interest, at least for a while. This episode felt like nothing but a recycling of that idea, with no effort made to flavor the premise up in any way.I’m seeing a trend by the writers to just throw more stalkers in and call it a day. We’ve seen many, many episodes with more than one stalker, and I’m not even counting Ray and Perry. Less than a season in, and already there’s a rut forming. Newsflash. You can’t simply throw in more villains and then throw in the towel. The story still needs to be good. The characters should have personalities. If the ‘just add bad guys’ formula worked, all those superhero films with three villains mashed into the same script would be much less sucky.

Main case was a bust, no doubt. But there were redeeming moments scattered throughout the episode. Jack waking up at Beth’s place was unexpected. Whenever we see these two in the mornings, they’re either at TAU headquarters, or investigating a crime scene. What we got this week was awkward, cutely domestic, a nice change of pace.

Source: CBS

Source: CBS

Also, it’s fun to see Janice and Ben reacting to the changing relationship between Jack and Beth. It adds a new element to the workplace. Though I’m rather confused by Jack’s intentions. He’s flirting with Beth, whether he realizes it or not. But he also seems to be getting closer to Amanda, trying to, anyway. One could argue that he’s doing that for Ethan’s sake, building up the family image, but this feels like something else. Does he want to rekindle things with his ex, who just ended a relationship that failed because of his involvement in her life? Or does he want something with Beth, who’s in an incredibly vulnerable place, much as she tries to hide it? Because pursuing a relationship with her now, when her emotions have to be all over the map? Doesn’t feel right to me. In fairness, Ben addresses that point at the end of the show, so the writing wasn’t total laziness this week. Still, Jack’s sending mixed messages about what and who he wants.

Something I really loved, Beth’s visiting Isabelle after the case ended. She’s done her job; she doesn’t need to be there. And she’s a naturally closed-off person, so for her to offer friendship to a near-stranger, that’s a big deal/ She sees herself in Isabelle, a younger, less hardened version, and it’s very cool of her to go above and beyond with helping this woman.

We get more of Ray and Perry, the latter further realizing that he’s in way over his head with this guy. The last scene plus the preview indicate that we’ll finally, finally get some action on that front next week. God I hope so.

An interesting premise that lacked execution kept this episode from being successful. Hints of character development kept it from being a total failure, but overall, nothing to write home about.

Nicolette Schneider

is a lit geek, a comic geek, and a certified TV fanatic. She often prefers fictional people over real ones. When she does make friends with regular humans, she likes the ones who give her access to their Netflix accounts. She loves words and hopes to one day make money stringing them together. Until then, read those words for free on
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