Ben's stalker reveals himself and makes Ben's life a living torture.
With Ben’s car magically shutting down and trapping him inside, the end of last week’s episode felt more like a scene from a horror movie than something that would happen in a real estate office’s parking garage, but surprisingly, no hockey-masked, butcher-knife wielding killer suddenly appeared in Ben’s rear-view mirror. (C’mon, you have to admit you were kind of expecting—and hoping for it—too.) But while Ben was able to escape the car through a broken window, what was in store for him was far more terrifying.
Cornell, who is continuing to be uncharacteristically concerned about Ben because of his stalker, offers police protection, which Ben refuses. Telling Christy that he suspects neighbor Kevin because of his previous military experience (the stalker is highly intelligent and knows things only military people know, apparently), she suggests he talk to him first, before he “ruins any more dinner parties.” Touché.
As Ben heads down the street the next day to find Kevin, he notices the press is clearing out. Tom’s murder has been trumped by a teenage kidnapping. Thank goodness. Kevin’s wife, Elaine, tells Ben that his pointless investigating of the neighbors needs to stop, and chastises him for suddenly trying to be a concerned father. “You’re destroying everyone’s lives in the process,” she says. “I’m not destroying people, their secrets are,” Ben spits back. (Can’t you just imagine the high fives in the writer’s room when someone thought of that line?) Suddenly, Kevin appears from out of nowhere behind Ben (sans hockey mask and butcher knife). “I know it was you,” they both tell each other. No love lost there.
As if that encounter wasn’t unsettling enough, Ben later receives a text from himself. If that sounds confusing, it’s because it is. The text is a night vision video of Ben sleeping on the couch with audio of Ben telling Dave how he has the bloody flashlight. Dave is freaked and wants to tell Cornell, but they can’t, because flashlight. However, after trying to find the surveillance equipment themselves—and failing—they bring in the police, who find a microscopic camera hidden in the draperies. Ben allows Cornell to search the entire house as well as accepts her offer of police protection for Christy and the girls, but takes his wrapped flashlight (secretively, of course) and heads to Dave’s new place.
Once there, Dave ponders where he’d get rid of a murder weapon—if he had to, of course. Pointing out the 20 miles of woods between them and Michael’s house (Christy’s brother, another person Ben has lost no love with), he tells Ben that it’s the perfect place. Important to the story? Not sure, but it’s another one of those random pieces of information that I’m holding onto for the future.
When their talk turns to Christy—or as Dave calls her, “she who shall not be named”—Dave wonders when she turned so evil (so to speak). Ben comes clean about the abortion Christy had six years before (the abortion he wasn’t in favor of). “Did you get over it?” Dave asks. Funny you should ask. Insert wavy flashback lines here. We suddenly see Ben, six years earlier, at the neighborhood Fourth of July party, moments after Christy and the girls left for her brother’s house after Ben found out about her abortion. We see him make pleasant conversation with Kevin. We see him chat up Jess, whose husband is still in Afghanistan.
Speak of the devil, and she instantly appears. Ben’s trip down memory lane is abruptly interrupted by Jess, who shows up at Dave’s to see Ben, obviously misinterpreting him being at Dave’s house as Christy throwing him out. (The bottle of wine she brings is from a vineyard called “Hopeful,” I believe.) Ben shuts her down, apologizing for not being able to deal with her twisted feelings with everything else he has going on, and she abruptly leaves. Feeling badly, he follows her outside, but she’s gone. While walking back to Dave’s door, a man suddenly appears behind him. Hockey mask? Butcher knife? Nope, but a loaded gun pointed at Ben’s head with the instructions to get in the trunk is just as frightening. It’s neighbor Kevin, and he’s not being very neighborly.
NEXT: Ben gets a drink
In a deserted factory, Ben is belted and handcuffed to a furniture hand-truck, wearing a dark hood and earphones that are blasting garbled, horrid music. It’s classic government torture. (Full disclosure, my experiences of government torture are limited to Homeland and The Blacklist, so I may be way off in that call, but I’m still sticking with it.) Kevin is sitting calmly, calculating his next move. He’s obviously done this before. Ripping off his hood, he begins spraying Ben with icy water until he begs him to stop. Ripping Ben’s wet shirt off with his knife (which makes Kevin my new favorite character, BTW), he wraps it around a ball and tells Ben, “I ask, you answer. You lie, I punish.” And then hits him in the head with the ball. Not cool.
The Q&A session continues with Kevin asking Ben basic questions, and the torture quickly escalates into waterboarding when Ben insists on his innocence in Tom’s murder. However, Kevin’s motives in his game become clear when he forces Ben to—once again—take a trip back to that fateful Fourth of July night six years ago and discloses that he saw Ben having sex with Jess, a woman whose husband was off defending Ben’s freedom. “How many times did you screw the soldier’s wife?” he yells. “Just once!” Ben screams, and Kevin pushes him down on the concrete floor. Practically spitting in his face, he tells Ben that he doesn’t blame Elaine, she was alone and scared. Um, excuse me? Did you say “Elaine?”
Ben turns the tables on Kevin and wonders aloud if Elaine cheated on him when he was in Kuwait. Oh, boy. Not something you want to say to someone who’s holding a (very literal) loaded gun. Kevin marches Ben outside at gunpoint and asks him if he killed Tom. When Ben denies it (again), Kevin tells him to dig. Ben begins digging in the grass with his hands (at least I think that’s what he’s digging with, I was distracted by his flexed biceps). “How many other guys did you torture because they reminded you of the other guy your wife screwed?” Ben yells. Ben, Ben, Ben. Clearly you’re all brawn. Sigh.
In a sudden burst of energy, Ben punches Kevin and runs away, trying to call 9-1-1. Not getting a signal, Ben climbs some stairs, but just as the operator picks up, Kevin catches him and takes him back to his shallow grave, where he gives him one last chance to confess to killing Tom. “I’d rather be shot than admit I killed my own son,” Ben tells him, at the very moment Cornell shows up and saves the day (because apparently she’s the only one who works for the police department). Looks like we can add Kevin Richardson to the list of people whose secrets have destroyed them.
Later that night, after Ben is discharged from the hospital and rejects his family’s offer of pizza (I’d prefer a $30 steak after a day of waterboarding, but that’s just me), he checks his email to discover a file from Arthur Fenton. Opening it to find an article attacking Christy and the girls, Ben flies to Fenton’s house and punches him in the face by way of greeting. (Hey, the guy’s had a rough day.) Fenton tells him the article is fake; he only sent it to get Ben’s attention. What he really wants is for Ben to help him get Cornell, who—judging by the wall covered with newspaper articles about the acerbic detective—Fenton obviously has it out for.
Secrets that are being kept from us (but not really):
Each week, the ABC announcer tells us to check in with “Cornell: Confidential” after each episode. Be honest, how many of you are doing this? Well, you should be. Because each two-minute video clip gives us juicy hints of what’s to come, as well as whet our whistles with some mysterious morsels of information that I’m assuming will make more sense as we wind down in the coming weeks.
For example, we learned that Fenton and Cornell have a history and that he knows her family (she apparently has a husband). She warned him not to screw with her again or she’d make the last time “look like a cakewalk.” I’m guessing we’ll learn more about that in the next episode.
We also learned that Dave is actually a genius, but no one knows it. Will we need to know this? Not sure.
The Colonel who gave Cornell classified files on Kevin (at least I’m assuming it was Kevin) is Cornell’s sister, and when she mentioned that Cornell should take their mom’s calls, Cornell responded with, “All she wants to do is talk about Jennifer.” JENNIFER? WHO’S JENNIFER?
Are these clues? Random pieces of information we’ll need? Or just things to throw us off the trail of the real killer?
As always, comments and discussion are always encouraged, but please, if you’ve watched the Australian series, keep the spoilers to yourself! Believe it or not, some of us enjoy trying to do Cornell’s job, with or without the spiteful expression.