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Take Two - Shadows of the Past - Review: "So Old School"

"We did like 20 serial killer episodes on my show."
-Samantha Swift, star of long-running TV procedural Hot Suspect

Once is chance, twice is coincidence, but the third time is a pattern. That's the cardinal truth of serial killers, stalkers, and under-cooked burgers at McDonalds. Samantha and Eddie's latest case comes courtesy of Detective Rollins. One of their clients has turned up dead, apparently the latest victim in a line of killings. Oddly, however, the killer has primarily targeted women. Maybe there's a tie to the case the victim Ken Hopkins wanted them to solve: the disappearance of his wife Alison. Ken may be dead, but Eddie and Sam aren't going to fail him. No matter how many disapproving glares Detective Elder gives them, because Eddie blew the whistle on his corrupt brother. Will they find Alison and the killer? How will this new case affect the future of Eddie and Sam as partners? If you're reading this and haven't watched the episode, you're going to find out.

Take Two has done a lovely job establishing Sam and Eddie's professional relationship and friendship before doing anything else. (Not that it's taken "anything else" off the table. A butterfly fluttered somewhere when Eddie suggested that maybe he should stay overnight for Sam's peace of mind.) In this episode, Sam is particularly tuned in to her pal's emotional discomfort working closely with the police investigation. She shares with Eddie that she can see what a good cop he must have been, because of the careful attention he gives all his cases. The door to rejoin the force opens a crack for Eddie. But it doesn't seem to be what he wants anymore. Fortunately (that may be an unfortunate choice of words), the insidious crime of the week gives Eddie time to contemplate.

Now back to that serial killer! The team quickly notices that Alison bears a resemblance to the other two women that were killed. It's time to roster up some suspects and figure out why the killer went after a man. Suspect #1 is Tim, Alison's tech mogul brother who talks about what a rough childhood Alison had with their abusive stepdad and absent mother. It's notable that he only talks about Alison having a hard time growing up, using "she" and "her" instead of "we" and "our". A second body shows up, and the team finds a connection between this man and the Hopkins: they all served at a soup kitchen together. Suspect #2 is the nice soup kitchen owner. (Just barely) The most suspect thing the kindhearted owner does is give them their next suspect, a man who wrote Alison poems of infatuation but nothing that crossed the line. This man, Suspect #3, Philip Neal, has a criminal record.

Suspect #4 is turned up by Monica. A professor of hers works at a Sunshine Hills mental clinic where Neal was a patient and acts very shady when Monica makes inquiries. But she ultimately directs her to someone who knew Neal well enough to identify his vehicle. Sam and Eddie promptly find Neal dead by apparent suicide in his RV, with trophies from his victims nearby. The trophies include Alison's earrings. Sam is disappointed. Eddie says it was all too easy. Which of course it was. Whether you've seen 20 episodes of Hot Suspect-ish serial killers or not, it's never that tidy.

Friendly precinct coroner Mick uncovers more: previous injuries meant Neal could not have used the murder weapon of choice (a garrote), and there were fresh skin cells on Alison's "trophy" earrings. One photo of Alison and Tim's mom later, and the team realizes the women originally killed looked very similar to their mother who abandoned them to be abused by their stepfather. Definite psychological motive. But no actual proof. And, on top of that, the killer, "as close as you can get to pure evil” is sitting in their office. Tim thanks them for finding the serial killer and offers them six figure jobs. They turn those down. And Sam carries a bat to bed that night, declaring herself obviously just his type of victim. Berto, though, is able to trace Alison's last known location and finds video showing she left with her brother. They realize he must be keeping her alive. A prescription Alison has to take provides the last clues, leading them back to Shady Acres, er, Sunshine Hills. With some handy voice acting, Sam hops in bed to trap Tim. They can only charge him with kidnapping and doping his sister, though, unless Alison can tell them more. She is able to help them identify where he did the killings: their childhood home. The last heartbreaking piece of the puzzle is a video a social worker took of Tim and Alison as children. They developed their own language of symbols. The one for bad man/their abusive stepfather Tim drew on the eyelids of his victims. 

"You're not getting out of here, not in two hours, not ever." Eddie says to Tim. The killer is not phased. One can't help but wonder Eddie has made a second very rich and powerful enemy. The fallout of the case is Eddie receiving the police chief's gratitude for not exposing that they incorrectly named the killer to the press. He doesn't even take any credit. What he'll do with the police chief's favor we'll find out on a rainy day. Even Detective Elder admits that Eddie did a great job. But going back wouldn't feel right to Eddie. He continues an early conversation that he and Sam had, that the most helpful way to combat the darkness they see in their line of work is a partner that has their back. Eddie makes a beautiful gesture by extending a St. Michael's medallion to Sam, relating that all his partners have always carried one. Rachel Bilson and Eddie Cibrian have truly hit their groove with these characters. Look at these two having each other's backs.

The show is on break this week until it returns August 30th with "Family Ties". How many times will the fox chase the rabbit around the tree, and will the rabbit get away? Check back to find out. But I'm doubly excited, because the formidably fantastic Christine will be front and center of the story. Until then, I'll be waiting, and I'll be.......

Hungry For Justice

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