Episode Report Card
Sobell: D | Grade It Now!
I Shall Taunt You A Second Time

Tonight's episode is brought to you by the letter A, as in "atmosphere." Boys and girls, "atmosphere" is what you get when you show several dizzying close-ups of Las Vegas casinos at night while a boy soprano and an ominous string recording moan in the background. We zoom into a plush hotel room, where a guy in his mid-forties pours himself a vodka on the rocks and drinks despondently. The boy soprano starts singing again in a language other than English, which is always a dead giveaway that something bad -- be it run-of-the-mill murder or some apocalyptic Schwarzeneggerian interpretation of the Second Coming -- is about to happen. The man and his drink take a trip into the bathroom, where the water's been running. The mirror is steamy, so our unnamed gent wipes it clean with the sleeve of his very nice white dress shirt. We see his face as he stares into the mirror. Oh my God, it's Al Gore! Or at least an actor who looks a lot like him. Al stares in the mirror with a haunted expression; the actor may be trying to convey the whole Thoreau rap on quiet desperation, but all I can think is this guy is probably vexed by dancing images of Florida's electoral college members. Al sighs deeply, then hears a noise behind him. He turns his head and his expression turns from vague malaise to specific dread.

Cut to Gil walking down a hotel corridor lit by cool, blue recessed lights. Brass greets him with, "You're going to love this." As the two men enter the swanky hotel bathroom, Brass continues: "Ring any bells? Rub-a-dub-dub, dead man in a tub, sleeping bag for easy clean-up, open window so the stench alerts the neighbors..." "It's Royce Harmon all over again," Gil says numbly. We flash to a montage of Royce's bloody hand holding a tape recorder. Gil muses, "Whaddya think, suicide note in the same place?" "You tell me, Karnak," Brass replies. Gil leans over the corpse and withdraws another microcassette recorder. Gil presses a button and a garbled message plays. Brass asks what language the message is in, and Gil replies with the obvious: the message was recorded backwards. "Would you excuse me for a minute?" Gil asks, and Brass ushers everyone out. The uniform asks if Gil's okay, and Brass provides a recap of Episode 1 for him. In the bathroom, Gil's jimmying buttons to play the message forward; I wish, for a moment, that this serial killer in the making would display a sense of humor and perhaps leave a message comprised of old Twin Peaks dialogue from the Black Lodge, but we know from Hollywood that most serial killers, in addition to possessing Martha Stewart's knack for time management and handicrafted displays, also have her obvious lack of humor. So the message merely says, "My name is Stuart Rampler. I reside at 818 Boeing Hill Court, Las Vegas Nevada. I'm 43 years of age, and I'm going to kill myself. I just can't do it anymore. I love you, Mom." Gil furrows his brow; this all sounds familiar. I do a quick check of my first recap and confirm what Gil's thinking. This suicide note is the same, word for word. Gil sighs and looks at the mirror. He gives his reflection a menacing gaze and says, "You're back."

As the credits roll, I ponder the likelihood of the serial killer actually being an alternate personality of Gil's. It would be a hell of a plot: Gil being confounded by his own alter-ego at every turn while his colleagues gradually realize what's going on. Unfortunately, the odds of this happening are pretty slim.

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