Last week’s episode of Chase spent a lot of time in the Cedars neighborhood of Dallas. Tonight the show’s location scouts were squarely focused on Deep Ellum. NBC’s misleading promos for this latest episode, “The Longest Night,” made it seem like Annie Frost was going to turn for some Silence of the Lambs-type help from an inmate she once busted, in order to track a serial killer.
But what we got instead was an episode that taught us plenty of foolproof ways to avoid becoming victims ourselves. First lesson: beware the stranger bearing pocket change and transcendentalist quotes.
The installment began with a brutal scene in which disabled serial killer Kurt Seaver kills two prison guards after he surprisingly jumps out of the wheelchair in which he’d been confined for several years. He throws their bodies into a Department of Corrections van and escapes. The question for ace U.S. Marshal Annie Frost and her team at the Hall of Justice is whether the former English professor is looking simply to go on the run or is out to hunt for more blood. He has a definite type — brunettes, ages 19 to 23, with freckles. Good thing our beloved Annie Frost is a blonde.
We’re told that Seaver is highly intelligent, and we see his intelligence in action early on. He walks up to a fellow with a “for sale” sign on his van and expresses interest in buying it. But he doesn’t express this interest like a lesser man would — oh no. “That’s a paltry sum to travel back in time,” Seaver says when he hears the asking price. I mean who but a genius would speak so poetically about the purchase of a used automobile? Of course, he lures the guy into the van and kills him, so there’s no need for a prolonged negotiation about the price anyway. (This scene was to have taken place in South Houston, but really it was in a small parking lot at the corner of Hall and Main in Deep Ellum).
Meanwhile, Annie and her team visit the prison where Seaver was being held. The warden shows them a box of fan mail from lonely women that Seaver has collected during his eight years behind bars. Annie decides to turn to another inmate — Mason Boyle, the guy she busted in the pilot episode of Chase — for advice on where to track Seaver. The promos for these scenes that aired last week made it seem as though Boyle was going to share some key insight from his own criminal mind to help Annie understand Seaver, but really it was just an excuse for the writers to bring up Annie’s daddy issues again. So, how many episodes until we see her have to track her own father? I’m guessing now that it’ll be in the season finale.
Boyle didn’t have any useful advice. But back at HQ, a guy who was working on a soon-to-be-self-published book about Seaver stopped by to suggest that Annie and her team try to push Seaver to slip up again by using bait — dressing some female officers up as Seaver’s ideal victim type — or else the killer might just run away and hide forever. Annie thanked him for his suggestion and sent him on his way. Turns out it wouldn’t have been necessary to follow the writer’s plan anyway, because Seaver himself was drawn to a young woman that he saw struggling to find money for a parking meter (outside a building on Main Street in Deep Ellum, in reality about half a block from where they shot the scene of him stealing the van.) He quoted some Thoreau to her. She was smitten, as any woman would be. And then he attacked her with his knife.
Unfortunately for Seaver, his chosen victim is Marshal Jimmy’s kind of woman (Marshal Jimmy says so himself): she carries pepper spray. That’s Annie Frost’s Patented Law Enforcement Tip No. 2 of the show. Carry pepper spray, and you too will be the only victim to ever escape a brilliant serial killer. The woman gets away and tells the marshals what kind of van Seaver was driving. That allows them to put out a warning to the public and receive a tip that the van was spotted in a residential neighborhood. Seaver broke into a home to clean up and grab some clothes there.
How did he choose his targeted house? From the tone of Marshal Jimmy and Annie, the homeowners were just asking to have their property violated. Which brings us to Annie Frost’s Patented Law Enforcement Tip No. 3 of the show: If you’re going out of town on vacation, ask the paper boy not to deliver the news to your house.
Seaver takes off into the nearby woods before the marshals arrive, killing a camper for a jacket and a pair of boots before stumbling upon a hunter who’s kind enough to give him a ride. It’s only after Seaver spends a night terrorizing the hunter and the hunter’s wife in their home that the marshals are again alerted to where he was. But the trail goes cold. Until they return to that pile of fan mail they picked up at the prison.
In the stack they find a a series of letters from a woman in South Houston who wrote Seaver for awhile but abruptly stopped a few months previously. They decide that must have been where the psychopath was heading, to meet her. Because of a tattoo on the arm of the woman who appears in the pictures that accompany these letters, they figure out that she’s a prostitute who’s spent time in jail and that she’s got a different name than the one used in the letters.
Daisy and that other marshal whose name I never seem to care enough to remember from week to week visit the post office box from which the woman’s letters were sent. (It’s a “Postboxes Etc.” store, but actually the Deep Ellum Postal Center. That building’s parking lot was used for the earlier scene where Seaver stole the van.) Meanwhile Annie and Jimmy head to the apartment of the prostitute whose photo appeared with the letters. Turns out, the prostitute doesn’t know anything about any letters written to a serial killer. But she does know a thing or two about interior design, as she’s got one nice apartment.
Evidence at both places leads them to finally connect the dots: the writer who had come to visit the Hall of Justice had paid the prostitute to let him photograph her so that he could use her image in letters that he wrote using a woman’s identity in order to be able to gain insight into the psychology of Seaver for his own dastardly true-crime-writing purposes.
Seaver is smarter than our marshals though, and figures this all out before they do. He gets to the writer’s home angry at having been tricked into thinking he’d been corresponding with a woman. It’s only because of the quick actions of the marshals (including a legitimately badass moment when Annie jumps on the back of a speeding SUV and shoots the tire to stop it, while she’s standing on the rear bumper) that Seaver’s prevented from killing the writer and the writer’s wife. He ends up dead by Annie’s gun, though she doesn’t consider that a “win,” since she wasn’t able to bring him back to prison.
Finally there’s another scene with Mason Boyle, where Annie is clearly channeling her own issues with her father in giving Boyle advice in dealing with his daughter. And there’s a creepy shot of Boyle pulling out a photo of Annie clipped from a newspaper. So, odds are we’re going to see him escape one of these episodes and come after Annie to fulfill some obsession of his.
Did I leave out any more of Annie Frost’s Patented Law Enforcement Tips? Do you like how the show is building up Annie’s daddy issues or do you wish they’d hurry up and get to the big confrontation with Papa that’s inevitably coming? And why did Marshal Jimmy’s feelings get so hurt just because Luke told him one little lie about a congressman? He was way more emotional about that than Daisy was about having bedded Luke last week. Man up, Marshal Jimmy.