In small towns like The Family’s Red Pines, labels are a venerated form of social shorthand. They make it easier and more efficient to gossip in the dairy aisle. (“The Warrens, you know, that poor family who lost their son…”) Labels don’t tell the whole story, but neighbors don’t want the whole story. Bobby has practice. Susan has a book report. It’s pasta night.
Like all politicians, Claire is learning that labels are a blessing until they aren’t. The #MamaBear momentum that her candid mid-interview breakdown and proposed micro-chipping policy created is still trucking. Willa’s about to re-wallpaper her room in front-page coverage, and the cocky incumbent governor loses most of his press-conference audience to his “one-trick pony” opponent. Claire is a warrior mother; the jury’s still out on who loves that persona more: her constituents or the press.
Gov. Lang isn’t impressed by her noisy arrival on the scene, so he invites Claire to lunch to scare her away with political trivia and a view of the governor’s mansion gardens. Claire leans into her public image — she’d be stupid if she didn’t — but she expects a fellow lawmaker to remember how the game is played. Lang simpers to Claire that their campaigns should be run on issues, knowing very well that races are really won on the kind of sound bites that are drawing journalists to Claire’s side like moths to a flame. He makes a show of signing a big, bad man-document in front of her and then quizzes Claire on their state’s legislature. Claire smiles a tight smile. If she wasn’t a threat to Lang, she wouldn’t be sitting on his patio. “Don’t you worry, Charlie,” she says, smoothly. “I don’t intend to chip adulterers, just criminals.” Secret Service? We’ve got a sick burn here.
Claire is untouchable at the moment, which is basically what an unnamed lawyer tells Hank Asher when they meet. Hank wants to sue the Warren family for defamation and slander. Not only can part of his wrongful conviction be laid at their feet, but now Claire is using Hank for further political gain. (“She called me a ‘monster’ on national television.”) Say Hank has a case here; the public still doesn’t care about the ins and outs of monster classification. So he didn’t do the worst thing. But he could have. Claire gets all the leeway in this scenario, and Hank should just be happy not to be in prison anymore. “Buy an island,” the lawyer advises. “I don’t want an island,” Hank answers. “What do you want?” “Justice.” Good luck with that.
It’s almost spooky how everything’s coming up Claire Warren so far in this campaign. A copycat of Adam’s abduction? Willa couldn’t have orchestrated a better points-scoring opportunity herself. (Hm.) Detective Meyer and Agent Clements (already one of my favorite television law enforcement duos) are on the case of the disappearance of Brian Daniels, a boy whose resemblance to Adam sets off all the alarms. The cops talk about the shared M.O. of the two kidnappings, though they gloss over one major variation: This abductor attacked the boy’s mother before swiping him. Are Clements and Meyer too eager to draw that line connecting the two?
The Brian Daniels Amber Alert syncs up nicely with Claire’s rising profile. She speaks directly to the kidnapper through the media, and evening news producers everywhere send up a little prayer of thanks. Who would question her motives if her exploitation led to Brian’s recovery?
The cops have one significant detail to go on in this new case. Witnesses at the site of the kidnapping noted the captor’s white van and part of its license plate. A solid tip comes through the static; Clements and Meyer bring the photo to the Warren home. I’m 99.999 percent sure that’s Doug (our Pock-Marked Man) standing in front of the vehicle, though his hat does obscure his face. Adam gives the cops exactly what they came looking for; he goes white as a sheet and drops the iPad. Danny watches from the stairs, his conscience working overtime.
Clements and Meyer follow a new lead on the van to a nondescript motel and split up to case the rooms. Meyer reaches Brian first. The child is tied to the bedframe, unharmed. Gun drawn, Meyer notes the kidnapper’s piece on the dresser closer to her side of the room. None of this feels like Adam’s ordeal, but there’s still a child in danger. The man steps out of the bathroom, unarmed and very much not-Doug. Meyer shoots him in the chest.
NEXT: Sex and a necklace