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American Gothic - Nighthawks - Review: "Certain Skeletons"

Can you fix a person? It's the question asked by Alison near the end of tonight's episode, "Nighthawks". She is expressing frustration with Cam's addiction and her opponent's underhanded strategy. She's asking it for the wrong reasons - Cam actually wasn't breaking into the psychiatrist's office to steal drugs - but the point still stands as the story takes a bit of a breather to explore some of the peripheral characters in the Hawthornes' world.

It's strange that an episode that featured a gruesome death, a raccoon bludgeoning, and a puppet with teeth would be a breather episode, but here we are. "Nighthawks" takes the time to show the lives of the siblings' romantic partners, both past and present.

Garrett's adventures this week are the most tantamount in the ongoing search for the Silver Bells Killer. His story is also the most intriguing in how it highlights the agency of different characters. At first, I was tempted to write it off as, "Garrett stalks his ex", just another in the long list of creepy things he does to keep the audience wondering if he's the serial killer. He's first seen in the episode outside a diner, writing down notes about a woman, emphatically underlining the point that she's alone. When he just happens to run into his long lost love, Molly, inside, it's easy to assume she's the target. But here is where the story defies assumptions. It turns out that Molly was the one stalking Garrett, going to the diner three days in a row hoping to see him. Before this moment, it's tempting to see the show as about solely the Hawthorne family and to view anything that happens to other characters as ripples spreading outward from their actions, but Molly asserts her agency in this episode. She has her own desire for closure and through her, we see that the Boston that surrounds the Hawthornes might be almost as messed up as they are. Almost. It is Madeline who suggests Molly go to the diner in the first place, after all.

And Garrett is stalking someone, it's just not his ex. Instead, he orchestrates an accident to get close to the daughter of one of the Silver Bell victims. Why is he seeking her out? For atonement? And if so, is it for himself or is it for someone else in the family?

Just like Molly storming out after Garrett snaps at her for asking too many questions, Brady is also shown the door (I'm sure not permanently - he's still a main character) after he tests Tessa's DNA against that found on the belt. When the test comes back negative, it's great news for the family, but bad news for Brady. It may have excluded all the Hawthornes as suspects, but Tessa can't believe he wouldn't trust her, conveniently ignoring the fact that she wasn't going to tell him anything about her father's potential involvement.

The third Hawthorne sibling to have a fight with a significant other is Alison. I've been expecting her husband, Tom, to step into the story for a while. Actor Dylan Bruce is slightly too recognizable to have been consigned to the role of silent, supportive husband. He asserts his agency in a big way when he buys Hawthorne Concrete through a Russian shell company and makes it clear that he's not going to stay silent any longer. Alison's having a hard day already. She's been forced to give up a coveted Stephen Gostkowski endorsement (Patriots fans, please tell me in the comments why everyone cares so much about the Stephen Gostkowski endorsement) to Mayor Conley in exchange for his silence about Cam's break-in. Alison goes off on Cam for endangering her political career and seeks solace in the arms of Naomi, who at least tells her she did the noble thing in saving her brother.

Cam's estranged wife Sophie is the only other supportive partner. Maybe too supportive. After Jack tries to trap his cousin in a cage, the two finally take him to see Cam's old psychiatrist. When Cam learns that his own sessions as a teenager were taped, he freaks out. Sophie gives him the combination to the delivery entrance to break in and steal the records and as a reward for her support, Cam and Jack move back in with her. Her unquestioning loyalty, however, might not be the help Cam needs. Unlike Molly, who questions Garrett's scars, Tom, who questions Alison's allegiances, and Brady, who questions Tessa's lies, Sophie doesn't spend much time trying to confront Cam about the tapes. She doesn't address his past trauma at all, instead eager to exploit it to get her family back together.

At least Jack seems happier at her loft. He's comfortable enough to proudly show his dad his homemade puppet, complete with stolen dentures.

But amazing as that puppet was, and it was amazing, it still isn't the biggest shock of the episode. That comes from the final, haunting scene of poor Gunther's body swaying in the breeze inside the shed. To Madeline, it must seem like a miracle. Just as she is throwing Gunther under the bus and telling everyone from her children to the police that he might be the Silver Bells Killer, a convenient suicide, complete with an "I'm Sorry" note, is just what she needs. But did Gunther really just hang himself to spite her, or did she help him along?

Meanwhile... this week in Brady: In addition to potentially clearing the Hawthornes' good name and getting into a fight with his wife, Brady gets a sidekick in the delightful Dana. Do I want Dana in every episode, giving oddly specific legal advice to whoever might need it? Let's just say I don't not want that.

Top Suspects of the Week:

Mayor Conley: I know I joked a couple of weeks ago about Alison's political opponent being the one behind it all, but someone played by Enrico Colantoni is definitely going straight to the top of the list. I watched Person of Interest, show.

Cam: Cam's up here for the second week in a row. His cryptic rambling about a body during his psychiatric sessions is definitely coming back to haunt him.

Stephen Gostkowski: Seriously, who is this guy?

Caramel Watch: Caramel is wisely staying away from the Hawthorne House with all the cousin-trapping and raccoon-murder. He did show up to lure Jack into Phyllis's house and didn't even bother alerting her that the kid was stealing her dentures. Just goes to show that cats are fickle friends.

Let me know your top suspect in the comments below!

About the Author - Laurel Weibezahn
Laurel Weibezahn is a freelance writer. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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