The mystery of Sarah Keaton’s death has seeped its way into every episode of Notorious thus far, and now that it’s over, I already feel somewhat lost. The first six episodes were built around this mystery, and then it just…ends?! I guess that’s how story lines work, but somehow it felt like this arc was going to last forever, as if it was the backbone of the show. Maybe I’m wrong to think this, but I’m fairly confident Notorious is going to be an entirely different show without the mystery of Sarah’s murder hanging over everyone’s heads.
Tonight’s episode begins three days after Jake was arrested live on air, and we see he’s really on his best behavior and ditching ‘county’ arrest while leading cops in an O.J.-style pursuit. I wonder if “Where were you when Jake Gregorian lead the police in a slow-speed chase?” will stick for future generations.
Meanwhile, 48 hours earlier, D.A. Max announces the murder charges against Oscar Keaton have been dropped — you know, because they’ve moved on to Jake. “There’s a special place in hell for a man like you,” Oscar says about his former attorney/Eskimo brother in a public statement.
Of course, Julia’s upset about her dear friend being accused of murder. She firmly believes he’s innocent and even lets him crash on her couch. (Side note: Shout-out to Julia for having nothing but wine in her fridge. That’s my girl). Even though she’s not exactly thrilled Max ambushed her buddy Jake on live TV, the girl has needs and agrees to go out with Max. They flirt, they laugh, and eventually, he drops the bomb that he’s making an exclusive offer to Callie Connors (remember her?) to appear on her show. Without much argument, however, he quickly changes his mind and agrees to come on LHL instead, as long as his forensic psychologist can appear. Not sure why he didn’t just ask Julia to do this in the first place, but what do I know? Maybe he likes playing hard to get.
Meanwhile, Ella and Bradley are on the case since Jake can’t exactly be his own client. I’m not quite sure what happened to the Ella and Ryan thing that was cooking a few weeks ago, but I’m disappointed he’s not there to be the Fred to her Daphne this week. Did he stop calling her after they slept together? Has she been listening nonstop to Adele’s 21 ever since episode 4? These are the important facts I need to know! Less important to me is the fact Ella’s managed to track down a mysterious fellow named Axel who issued Sarah her fake passport. He says he recalls Sarah making a phone call and angrily telling someone named Brian he would never hurt her again. I’m sorry, WHO?
Ella is just as confused, so she and Bradley pay a visit to Donnie, Sarah’s loan shark. Now, you may be wondering why Sarah had a loan shark to whom she was paying $10,000 a month. Luckily, Donnie clears this one up pretty quickly: She was paying off gambling debts belonging to her brother, Alan. Sure, Alan was always a little weird, but this is definitely an unexpected development.
To make matters even more confusing, Ella also discovers that last month, Sarah wired someone named Brian $100,000 through a sham account. Jake does a little Internet stalking and discovers the guy was in the military and went by the name “Bloody Ripper.” (Okay, writers, I’m definitely taking the hint that I’m supposed to think this guy is dangerous.)
Jake, of course, feels the need to track down this Brian fellow (he loved Sarah! He must avenge her!) but he’s stuck with a ticking ankle bracelet that prevents him from leaving the county. And, of course, Brian does not live in the county. But for Sarah, he’ll do anything… Even break the law! Jake sheds his bracelet and heads off to San Diego, where he finds Brian, his wife, and their juice-box-drinking, soccer-playing daughter living happily ever after in a picture-perfect home, complete with a white picket fence. Could Sarah’s killer really have such an ideal family life?
Despite a couple of white lies to get himself in the door, Jake thinks he has Brian fooled — until Brian pulls out a gun and tells him, “I know who you are and what you’re doing here.” To be honest, this to-the-point strategy seems to work out better for Jake, anyway. He asks how Brian knew Sarah, and Brian admits the money Sarah sent wasn’t for him, but for his daughter, Zoey — whom he adopted several years ago from Sarah! But wait, didn’t Alan say Sarah’s biological child had died? Oh Alan, you’re getting shadier by the minute. Brian says Sarah contributed the money for Zoey’s college fund. On his way out, Jake snags the juice box Zoey was drinking from and eventually sends it to Julia for DNA testing, thinking perhaps it was one of their romantic nights in Barcelona that resulted in Zoey.
NEXT: The plot thickens
The DNA test proves to be even more of a kicker. Julia reveals to Jake Maury-style that he’s not the father — but ALAN is! Yep, the same Alan who is Sarah’s brother. Yikes. Julia, being the news-savvy producer she is, digs a little deeper into the story and learns that nine months prior to Zoey’s birth, Sarah was hospitalized with a broken arm and two broken ribs. All signs shockingly point to Alan raping and abusing his own sister. So how can they explain the debts she was paying off for him?
Guess it’s a good thing their date went well, because Julia calls on Max for help tracking down the burner phone Sarah used to make the angry call on the night she got her fake passport from Axel. Sure enough, it was Alan she called — and even more damaging, Max manages to link Alan to the storage unit containing the murder weapon. Alan knew about Zoey’s adoption and Sarah feared he’d tell the family the truth behind her daughter’s conception, so she was paying his gambling bills to keep him quiet.
Max drops the charges against Jake, arrests Max, and all is well… Right?
Well, not quite. Jake feels like there’s got to be more to the story, and, as usual, he’s right. Jake and Oscar meet up in a bar, where Oscar apologizes for bashing Jake in the press. Jake, for the moment, is none too concerned about the defamation of his character, as he’s got bigger fish to fry. Jake quickly begins unraveling the tale of what really happened the night Sarah was murdered. After finding Oscar’s credit-card receipts linking him to the same casino Alan frequented, Jake realized the two had most likely met up there to discuss whatever it is in-laws talk about — and also, you know, murder. When Oscar called Jake the day Sarah was killed, it was only after Alan had called to tell him the deed was done.
Oscar, ever the smug, perfectly coiffed jerk, politely denies Jake’s timeline. “That’s not true, Jake,” he says. “And even if it were, anything you saw or heard while representing me is protected under attorney/client privilege.” I feel the same way watching this scene as I did when I found out O.J. Simpson had written If I Did It. Gotta give props to Kevin Zegers, though: He plays the creepy, psychotic killer to perfection. His menacing smile towards the end almost made me forget he ever befriended a friendly golden retriever in Air Bud!
Jake exacts a little bit of revenge by getting Oscar arrested for cocaine possession (if you’ll recall from the pilot, the cocaine was still in his car), but the conclusion of Sarah Keaton’s murder mystery still feels like it ended so quickly. I like when shows shock me and dole out cliffhangers to keep me coming back, but this whodunit seemed to fizzle out after several episodes and by the end, I was almost already over it. Next week seems to be setting up a whole new mystery, so we’ll just have to wait and see if Notorious can pull off the shock factor I know is bubbling deep down inside.