By Stacey Harrison
Abby was creeped out enough by that newspaper clipping left on her mirror that she slept in the same red dress and has propped the chair against the door to keep it from opening. Later, when she goes for a run in the woods, she is comforted by the sight of a deer at play. Her serenity is interrupted by a bloody hand that covers her mouth and tells her to be quiet. It’s Jimmy, and he’s keeping things hush-hush for his buddy Shane while he prepares to kill the deer with a bow and arrow. Abby breaks free and disrupts Shane’s shot, letting the deer go free. But we’re not spared any deer carnage for long. In fact, this whole episode made me wonder if the Harper’s Island writers really have something against deer.
Shane and Jimmy discover a gutted deer on their truck, with the word “Psycho” written in blood on the windshield. Cut to J.D., who is secretly washing blood off his hands in his room while Henry is telling him to behave, just for this week. So now we are led to suspect J.D. is a deerslayer, while Shane and Jimmy are pretty much convinced.
Trish confronts Hunter and tells him to leave for good, but he doesn’t seem persuaded. You know, ’cause his name’s Hunter. And she’s his prey. Get it? But this encounter makes Trish late for a scavenger hunt she and Henry were putting on for their guests, sending them to various locations throughout the island. One of Henry’s previously nameless friends, the blond frat dude named Sully, dupes Cal into switching teams so he can make a move on Chloe. Cal ends up on a team with Abby, Trish’s friend Lucy and Lucy’s boyfriend Ryan.
One of the locations the groups are supposed to visit is the church where Trish and Henry are to be married. Before anyone gets there, though, we get to see the friendly old pastor, who is hard of hearing, getting the place ready. He goes for a walk in the woods (people in this show should learn to avoid this activity entirely), gets his foot caught in a rope trap and is hanging upside down before he knows what happened. His confusion doesn’t last too long, however, because someone comes and chops his head off. So long, padre.
Abby’s team goes to the local bar where the fight happened the previous night, where Abby meets up with Kelly Seaver, whose mom was also killed in the Wakefield murders. They catch up and Kelly reveals that she still sees Wakefield, and believes he’s alive, even though everyone knows Abby’s dad, the sheriff, shot him dead. Kelly is miserable on the island, and is envious of Abby for having escaped to L.A. But Abby says she didn’t escape. Her father sent her away.
The group convinces Cal to go fight for Chloe, so he heads off through the woods (dude, please!) to go catch up with them. He steps into another one of those rope traps and is hanging upside down, his floppy blond hair I swear almost reaching the ground. His suspicions about Sully prove correct, as he puts the move on Chloe in a most inopportune place. Chloe had wanted to see where Wakefield was buried, and it turns out it is by a small marker outside the actual cemetery grounds. As they’re contemplating the fragility of life, Sully makes a move, but is shot down. Dejected, he heads into the woods only to find Cal still hanging. He tries to get him down, but decides he needs some help — or that he just can’t be bothered — so he leaves him there.
Trish is still bummed about Hunter, so she seeks solace in Lucy, who has quit the scavenger hunt and come back to civilization with her tiny dog, Gigi. Lucy comforts her, telling her she made the right decision dumping Hunter to get back with Henry. So there’s more history there than we thought, eh? Then later Trish walks in on her father conspiring with Hunter, only to mistakenly believe Daddy Dearest was telling him to get lost.
Henry walks into his and Trish’s place and discovers a trail of blood leading to a severed deer head in the tub. Abby comes by and says she thinks she knows who did it and that she’ll go talk to Shane and Jimmy about it. Henry wants none of that, wanting to go down there and settle things himself. He’s also livid that just a short while ago, he had invited his former deckmate workers to attend a bonfire party that night. But Abby calms him down and meets with Jimmy alone. Jimmy professes ignorance, but tells Abby about the “Psycho” incident, and the two write it up as a feud between J.D. and Shane gone to extreme lengths.
Abby also makes a big decision about Kelly, who earlier had mistaken Abby’s encouragement to leave Harper’s Island as an invitation to stay with her in L.A. While she initially balked, Abby has come to Kelly’s place to tell her it was OK. She also, in the background, sees a shirtless J.D. walking around. Kelly squeals with delight, then goes over to celebrate with J.D. by tearing off some more of his clothes. And her own. While we’re all genuinely happy for Kelly, that all changes the next time we see her. She’s hanging by her neck in her house, having suffered the same fate as her mother. J.D. is nowhere to be seen.
Actually, he’s at the bonfire, where there is some other drama going on. Henry gets a text from Uncle Marty’s phone, saying the old horndog had found a hook-up and wouldn’t be back around until the wedding. Then Shane and Jimmy show up, and Henry can’t keep himself from punching Shane out. No fisticuffs ensue, but it gets pretty tense. Chloe wonders where Cal is, which jogs Sully’s memory. They assemble a search party to go recover him, and they find him still hanging, but with no severed limbs or bloodletting to speak of. I’m guessing he has an awful headache, however. Another search party is carried out by Lucy for her beloved dog, who has scampered off into the woods. Lucy falls into a trap, which puts her a few feet into the ground. She calls for help, but only receives a smattering of gasoline poured on her head … followed by a match.
So, two episodes down, and five bodies. And they haven’t been the polite TV hackings we might have expected. If Harper’s Island were a theatrical release, it’d definitely get a PG-13. As for what might be going on, it’s still too early to tell, but the vague implication that it’s Hunter Jennings — who is seen leering at the bonfire from the woods, just as the killer has all his/her victims — doesn’t get me going much. While the killing of the pastor seemed random, Kelly’s death was a genuine surprise, and it packed a dramatic punch. Lucy turning into a crispy critter was also unexpected, but then once you saw that she had that dog, you knew something bad was going to happen to at least one of them.
Lowlights: I’m sad to report that the show has already resorted to the looking-up-in-the-mirror-and-BOO!-there’s-somebody-behind-me gag. And from the looks of the preview, we’re not done. Come on, people. You have severed heads, victims being set on fire … you don’t need the cheap tricks.
Photos: ©2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc.