We have 100 characters to keep up with and we're only on Day 4
When it was revealed in the final moments of last week’s episode that Casey the Assistant — a.k.a. Catherine Collins the Alibi — was responsible for Lil’ Lake’s disappearance, I just assumed Casey was your run-of-the-mill greedy sociopath. She has all the fake cheeriness for it, and only an insane person would put their hair in such intricate braids and buns every day. I thought that with this Sunday’s followup, Casey would reveal herself to be a secretly sneering creep who’s been plotting against at least Jane, and possibly Pete as well, in the name of getting ransom and revenge.
But in fact, Kidnappin’ Casey is closer to the naive, doe-eyed dumb-dumb she’d appeared to be all along. After watching this week’s episode, Casey doesn’t even seem to be particularly pathologically obsessed with Jane or Pete. Y’know, other than kidnapping their kid. But that was just part of a truly bad plan to expose Jane as an unfit mother and get Pete sole custody of Lake so the three of them could live happily ever after as a family built on an unbreakable foundation: obsessive love and secret kidnapping. No, it’s Casey’s sister we never knew we needed to be worried about. Because her eyes may be just as lovely and large as her sister’s, but Lynn…Lynn is no dumb-dumb. Lynn is stone-cold crazy.
Not only does every character we’ve ever met get their very own storyline in “Below the Line,” but we’re also introduced to entirely new characters, all in one overwhelming hour. I get that something sinister is probably up with Ali’s husband and they need to slowly plant those seeds, but shoehorning in wine lunches with old friends who could maybe get him a journalism job or whatever is perhaps not the most subtle way of sowing said seeds. Playing popcorn with storylines might be a little much, but at least it keeps the story moving. Here we are on Day Four, and one main character is dead, the defining question of the season — who kidnapped Lake Sadler-Greene — has been answered in full, and we’re off on a brand new, perhaps more frightening adventure.
The episode opens with Casey talking to who we now know to be her pregnant sister, Lynn. She knows she needs to get out of the house before Lake sees her, but, “I can’t help it, she’s beautiful.” Lock it up, Casey, if you’re going to do something insane, at least do it well! Lynn asks Casey if she’s sure Jane won’t get Lake back, and Casey explains her foolproof plan: “The cops know what kind of person she is now; Pete will get custody and we’ll take care of Lake.” Yes, Casey, and I’m sure the in-recovery addict who’s selling everything he owns for cash right now will be a very solid parenting option in the eyes of the law.
Casey tells her sister to make sure to text before she takes Lake to the fire station because she wants to “be with Pete when he gets the call.” (Yikes.) That’s when Lynn and her boyfriend Russ exchange a look, and you know everything’s about to go sideways. “We were wondering if we could have some more money,” says Lynn. She goes on to elaborate that she wasn’t so much wondering as demanding that Casey get them $30,000 so their baby can live the glamorous life of private schools and tutors that Lake’s told them so much about. And if not? “Maybe I tell [the police] you lied to us,” Lynn says sweetly to her sister. “So far, me and Russ, we’re just taking care of your boss’ kid.” (Double yikes.)
Something must be in the water, because Jane is acting a little…rashly too. At the top of the episode we saw her buy pills from PJ — who the cops know is her drug dealer, so, cool decision, Jane — and now she’s sitting inside Pete’s apartment when he walks through the door. At first she seems to almost be trying to bond with him over their shared parental terror, but when she ever-so-casually brings up the red sweatshirt that she now knows Pete took Lake home in, we know she’s been putting on an act. What I didn’t know, is that Jane would have drugged the water in Pete’s tea kettle with whatever she bought from PJ earlier, so that he would pass out mid-sentence and she could rummage through his apartment.
Jane quickly finds that Pete is selling every valuable thing he owns, and soon after, she finds out why: On Pete’s cell phone, Jane finds the text message from the unsaved number that reads, “wheres my money?” What we hadn’t seen before is the message is a response to Pete’s, just above it: “Did you do this?”
Jane texts the number back: “I have your money.”
At the police station, Bird’s team has tracked down PJ the Drug Dealer. PJ tells Detective Bilson that he was selling drugs because “writers need experience,” and she responds, “Four years in Folsom, you’ll be the next Hemingway.” Love her. Pete helps them identify the car he saw as an older, boxy BMW, and Bird tries to get information about Jane out of him since, as Bird says, “dealers are like people’s priests.” But for now, PJ just explains that Jane gets people: “She reads them, she tells their story … The truth is just another story. And a good story’s got to be told right.” Sounds like PJ’s been learning from the best.
Casey’s stories could use a little work though. She does well enough getting into Jane’s house and casually asking Ali where Jane keeps her bank receipts. But when Ali mentions that Jane is currently at Pete’s house, things get a little shaky. Casey says Pete would never do this to Lake and Ali tells her, “He’s lost the woman he loves, he probably thinks a crisis would bring them back together.” Uh-oh. Ali tells Casey that Pete is obsessed with Jane, that’s why he creates so much drama: “He needs something to cling to and without that, he’s just a messed up little boy.” But, hey, Casey, I’m sure with you it’s real — kidnapping his child to create a scenario where you could be a happy family was a totally reasonable thing to do. Totally…
Luckily, Jane is very close to getting to the bottom of this. Pete has come to and is screaming at Jane, “You could have killed me!” But Jane doesn’t have time for whining (or, y’know, laws). She gets Pete to admit that Lake might be missing because of his debt, and then it’s a cake walk exposing his affair with Casey once Jane finds her water bottle in the fridge. “You’re sleeping with my assistant?” she screams. “You lazy bastard — what, did Bea and Ali turn you down first?” Need a tea bag for that burn, Pete?
Jane tells Pete he’s a piece of work, and Sheldon agrees—SHELDON! Of course PJ’s boss is the person behind the unsaved number that Pete owes so much money. “Pete you finally win back the missus?” Sheldon asks. “Mazel Tov, bitch.” Jane tells Sheldon she’ll pay him whatever he wants, and when he tells her interest brings the total to $70,000, it’s as simple as that. She heads to the bank, comes back, delivers the cash, and — Sheldon never said he had Lake. And of course, we know that Sheldon never had Lake…
Because Casey has Lake. Or rather, Casey’s scary sister has Lake, and she’s not handing her over until she gets her money. The thing is, liquid assets are running a little thin in the Sadler-Greene family right now. Casey finally has Jane’s bank information, passes through all her security questions, requests to withdraw $30,000 and is promptly informed, “You have insufficient funds after your last withdrawal.” Lynn won’t like that — but maybe Russ will listen to reason.
Casey goes back to her sister’s house and begs Russ to give Lake back: “I can’t get the money. Everything is messed up now, I can’t fix this!” Russ tells Casey that Lynn won’t have their baby in prison, and she knows how her sister gets once she has an idea in her head. No, he has a different idea than handing Lake back over: “We pretend it never happened.” The camera shifts to Casey cradling poor Lake. Casey says that Lynn would never do anything to hurt a child, but Russ doesn’t seem so sure. They sit and wait for Lynn to return.
At Pete’s house, Pete is telling Jane that if it’s any consolation (for what Pete??? for her paying your drug debt and not getting her daughter back???), Casey will definitely leave him now: “I think she thought I’d swan her and Lake off to some castle if I ever got custody.” And that’s when it clicks for Jane: Casey lied for Pete’s alibi because he was meeting with Sheldon during the time of Lake’s abduction, but where was Casey? Casey was the only one who knew PJ would come to Jane’s house that night: “I’m the monster, you get Lake, and she gets my life.”
Jane picks up her phone: “Bird, it’s me — I know who has her.” Then of course Pete picks up his phone the second Jane leaves because Pete is The Wooooorst. He calls Casey and tells her Jane thinks she took Lake. Hey, Pete, real quick: THAT’S BECAUSE SHE TOOK LAKE!
But at least Bird knows how now. Between traffic cameras and process of elimination, they determine that the BMW near Jane’s house must have belonged to Russel Howell, who has no prior arrests but is flagged for a “domestic” after he brought his girlfriend to the hospital when she attempted to commit suicide recently. That girlfriend: Lynn Collins.
They get an address, and Bird and Jane are on their way. At Lynn’s house, Bird tells Jane if she gets out of the car, he will arrest her for obstruction. And in a truly terrifying scene, Bird gets out of the car and heads into the house with a SWAT team. But, like Jane, we can’t see anything that’s going on inside, only still, tense moments until Bird comes over the radio: “This is Detective Bird: We’re going to need forensics and a coroner.” Jane explodes out of the car and runs into the house to find…
Casey and Russ laying on the floor, dead. With no Lake — or Lynn — in sight.
The Cutting Room Floor
This episode really had so much going on, so let’s log a few things in our detective notebooks that may not seem important, but are definitely important because, y’know, they told them to us, and “the truth is just another story,” or whatever it is Jane and PJ are always prattling on about…
- In the process of pulling Lake’s medical records to check for any signs of abuse, Bird found that Lake’s blood type is B, and Jane and Pete’s are both A. “He’s not the father, is he?” he asks Jane on the way to Lynn’s house. “We’re not talking about this,” she snaps back.
- Gus now knows that Bird knows about his relationship with Jane, both personal and professional, and the next thing we see him do after finding out is buy an unregistered, untraceable gun.
- Another random character we check in with is Henry the Director who’s having a conflict with Matt the Writer because Jane wrote a pivotal scene in their show to be at a “casita” — a converted house-casino — and Henry changed it to a strip club. Matt reminds him that this is based on a reveal event, and “Jane wants a casita, and last I heard this was still her show.”
- If there’s any room in your brain for more side characters with specific side stories, don’t forget: Ali and her husband are spending a lot of money on hormone injections to try and have a baby, and since Tom lost his newspaper job awhile back, Ali meets with her wine-swilling pal who describes herself as “the Elon Musk of online journalism” to see if she’ll think about hiring him.
- And now, a note: A few commenters suggested that Casey’s name might actually be “K.C.,” standing for Katherine Collins, which is a smart theory that I love. But since IMDb says “Casey,” I stuck with that for continuity.
- Now can someone please explain to me why Lil’ Lake seemed so not scared about being taken from her mom by strangers if she didn’t know about Casey’s connection to Lynn and Russ the entire time she was with them? And what’s coming next?!