Harper's Island: Week 5 Recap

Finally we reach the end of Harper’s Island taking its sweet time to get to the point. Not only does this week’s episode not cover the events of an entire day, but by the end of it, everyone knows that there’s a crazed killer stalking the island, bumping people off, one by one. Things are going to amp up over the next eight episodes! Assuming we ever get to see it, of course. More on that later.

The morning after Richard fake-tried to kill her so that he could race to her rescue, Trish is still upset about the whole incident. Quite justifiably, actually. Henry volunteers to take care of the wedding planning for the day, and sends Trish off for a day with her father.

Meanwhile Abby is waking up at Jimmy’s house – apparently she spent the night on the couch, which is less salacious than the end of the previous episode would suggest. Hearing a knock on the door she sees that her father has arrived, and after a brief bit of awkwardness they all go out ot breakfast together. It seems that Jimmy and sheriff have become friends, and regularly meet for meals. Abby also makes plans to drop by her dad’s house to go through her mother’s things later that day.

Out on a bike trip, Thomas and Trish spot Lucy’s dog running off into the woods. They follow it down a narrow path, finally dropping the information that Lucy supposedly went back to Seattle. While riding down the not-too-beaten path, they hit a tripwire, which causes this to happen to a set of stunt people:

Here’s my quesiton – for what purpose was this log trap rigged? It can’t have been meant to hit a person walking down the path – this is two seconds after the trigger wire was struck.

And it hits them pretty square on another second and a half later. So if the wire was set back so far that it had time to hit a cyclist going moderate speed, then there’s no chance that the log was intended to hit a person walking down that path, or even a jogger. More than anything else, it seems like the log is meant to have scared people, rather than kill them. Also, that’s a lot of work to do just to scare someone. Things get even weirder when Thomas and Trish wake up and look around. It seems that, during the indeterminate amount of time they were unconscious, the trapper (who seems to be a different person than the killer) came along and took down the log, then dragged it away.

Why would he do this? I mean, a cursory glance at them would reveal that they’re not dead, so they’ll be able to tell people about the log, whether it’s still hanging around or not. Also, what’s that going on at the left side of the frame?

That’s not a tree – is the trapper standing right there by the bikes, observing them?

Anyhow, instead of heading back up to the bikes and the path that would lead them back the way they came, for some reason Trish and Thomas wander off into the woods. Which are marked off by a ‘no trespassing’ sign!

Over at the hotel Madison and JD have started hanging out, trying to get attention by tossing firecrackers at Henry’s feet as he tries to arrange the wedding. It’s a little odd that they’re getting along so well, but later on JD blows madison off and announces that he doesn’t want to play any more pranks. He’s troubled, you see, what with wanting to take all of his crazy person medication in private. He does let the information slip that he and Henry aren’t very close and don’t like each other much.

Things are going even more poorly for Fat Frat, as he recalls his murder of geek frat the night before. Well, not really murder. He just didn’t try very hard to save the guy. When he awakes it’s to a terrifying sight…

A dirty floor! No, trust me, it’s supposed to be scary. The dirt, plus a shower that’s been left running all night, is supposed to leave us with with one clear implication… that someone was in the woods watching Fat Frat last night, and is now toying with him! Actually, the dirt feel like it's gilding the lily a little. How dirt-encrusted would boots have to be for them to still have mud on them by the time a person had walked all the way through the hotel and into Fat Frat's bedroom? Shouldn't there be dirt footprints leading from the woods all the way there?

Black Frat shows up looking for Geek Frat, but Fat Frat plays dumb about the whole situation. Douchey Frat shows up as well, and the three of them try to get to the bottom of the Geek Frat situation, with Fat Frat suggesting that they all go off into the woods and look for him. A plan with which there could be no problems.

Trish and Thomas are still ambling through the woods, with Trish worrying about Henry and Thomas making passive-aggressive comments. What’s at the heart of Thomas’ problems with Henry? He fundamentally doesn’t trust the guy, and he always goes with his instincts. Trish attempts to prove his instincts wrong by pointing out that Katherine is cheating on him with Richard! Wow, Richard’s plan didn’t work out well at all, did it? After a long awkward silence they come across an abandoned pickup truck but neglect to acknowledge it. Their conversation continues, with Thomas explaining that his relationship with Katherine is more ‘complicated’ than simply loving her, but before we can get any revelations a mysterious man appears on a ridge ahead of them. They call for help, and then he sics a vicious dog on them. Remember that truck they didn’t acknowledge? Well it proves a nifty dog-proof hiding place!

As Henry’s wokringon the seating chart (something you think already would have been taken care of long before wedding eve), Abby walks in, announcing that yes, she’s wearing the same clothes as the night before, but no, it’s not a ‘walk of shame’. It’s a cute thing to say and all, but why would Henry have noticed – you didn’t see each other last night. Also, why are you so concerned about Henry knowing who you are or aren’t sleeping with? She runs the idea of going and picking up her mother’s stuff, which leads Henry to ask if this means she’s ‘Forgiven (her father)’. For what, exactly? Not killing Wakefield before he got mom, or is there something deeper going on? Before we can delve deeper into the family stuff Maggie walks up and announces that the Reverend isn’t answering his phone, and Henry volunteers to check on him.

Henry’s in for a rude awakening, though, as he discovers in the middle of the church not Fain’s body, but rather the corpse of a dead raccoon! He calls the police, who arrive (the sheriff has a deputy? Amazing!) and search for the Rev – but there’s no sign of him, and a few days worth of mail have piled up! The deputy heads in to town to look for a sign of the Rev, while Henry and the sheriff go to way too much trouble to get rid of the raccoon, while discussing the situation. Henry mentions the deer head, and that he thinks it was Shane who did it. The sheriff says that Shane couldn’t have planted the raccoon, since Shane’s been in jail for two days. He announces that he’s planning to keep Shane locked up ‘until after the wedding’. And a long time after, I’d hope, I mean, the guy tried to kill JD twice in the same day. Shouldn’t he be in jail for the next 8-15 years or so?

They talk a little more about the wedding, and sheriff thanks Henry for giving Abby a reason to come back to the island – but Henry points out that things aren’t exactly settled yet, and she’s still got things to get over. Then, when he’s gathering up the tools they used to get rid of the raccoon, what does Henry come across? A firecracker! Oh, he’s not happy about that!

Deep in the woods, Fat Frat visits the shallow grave where he planted Geek Frat. He talks to the corpse a little, saying that he feels like it’s his fault. Really? You think? Then he rationalizes, explaining that he was just following Geek Frat so that he could talk to him privately and convince him to keep the money. Um, if that was true you would have done that. No, what you were doing was following him to see where he buried the money so that you could steal it after he left. But if the lie makes you feel better, great. He also announces that he’s going to continue lying to the guys so that they won’t think he murdered Geek Frat, and that he’s planning to both A: Keep the money, and B: Not let anyone think Geek Frat stole the money. Good luck with that.

Abby gets to her childhood home, and after looking around a little, she heads up to the attic where she makes a terrifying discovery! Or does she? The whole room is plastered with news clippings and police reports about an ongoing investigation. The subject of the investigation? John Wakefield! That’s right, the sheriff doesn’t think he’s dead! The whole scene plays like her discovery is incredibly creepy, but I’m not exactly sure why. Yes, it’s a little obsessive, but based on the newspaper clippings he’s not the only one who thinks that Wakefield may still be out there. There’s even a colour photograph that looks an awful lot like the guy. Still, Abby treats the discovery like she’s come across something incriminating, and gets out of the house as quickly as possible – just as her father arrives home!

Back in the truck, Trish and Thomas are attacked by the dog once more, but manage to escape after Thomas stabs it to death with a broken bottle! After they’ve hobbled off the dog’s owner comes by to check on his dead dog, and reveals that he’s got a horribly burned face!

In one of the fake articles there was a reference to the Wakefield massacre involving an explosion, so he’s almost certainly one of Wakefield’s surviving victims.

Back at the inn the Frat guys are discussing the Geek Frat situation. They think there’s only two options – Geek Frat ran off with the money, or he’s dead. Fat Frat talks them into not going to the cops, despite the fact that their friend could easily be lying in the woods somewhere, weak from blood loss and starvation. These are not great friends to have.

After escorting Trish back to their cabin to clean up (neither she nor Thomas mentions the log trap for some reason), then goes looking for JD. First he checks with Madison, who mentions all of her ‘friends’, but claims to not know about the church situation. Then Henry confronts JD in his room, announcing that he knows about the church, and that they’re ‘through’. JD plays dumb, but then announces that he’s got ‘one more surprise’ waiting, which seems to be an admission that he did, in fact, plant the raccoon.

After getting a call in his home the sheriff heads out to the woods where his deputy has found the Rev’s hearing aid. The sheriff is puzzled, because while the Rev’s house is back one way, the tracks where the hearing aid was found go deeper into the woods.

Yeah, those aren’t tracks. Those are the marks made when you drag a corpse. They’re called ‘drag marks’. Seems like a sheriff ought to know that. He and the deputy head deeper into the woods, following the marks.

Over at the chapel, they’ve decided to go ahead with the rehearsal in reverend absentia. While Douchey Frat is confessing to Henry that he’d hit on Trish while the two of them were broken up (seriously, this is his best man?), Fat Frat and Black Frat agree to make up a ‘family emergency’ story to explain Geek Frat’s absence. Maggie starts off the rehearsal, noticing that a whole bunch of people are missing, including Chloe, whose disappearance is a mystery even to us, the home viewers. Seriously, where are she and Cal this week?

Then it’s back to the sheriff, who’s discovered a heavy (commercial?) fishing line tied to a post at the edge of a small body of water. A suspiciously well-buried fishing line, considering that it’s only been there for two days at most.

How do we know how long the line has been there? It’s quite simple. Once the sheriff gets done reeling it in, here’s what’s on the other end.

Yup, the Rev’s body was cut apart and baited onto steel hooks. It’s almost as if this show is in a race to see who can be more disgusting – it, or CSI. Of course, this being a slasher show, the disgusting makes a little more sense than in a cop show.

With the rehearsal finished, Maggie calls the proceedings to a close and tells Abby to switch off the overhead lights before they all leave the church. This proves to be a poor tactical decision, as someone has attached a contrabulous fabraption to the chandelier, turning it into a crossbow designed to launch the head spade straight down when the switch is flipped.

This proves incredibly fatal to Thomas, as the following picture will attest to:

Yeah, this the absolute last frame before they cut away. Excellent editing, Harper’s Island.

Another trap death this week – don’t the writers know what these traps are doing to my ability to keep track of everyone’s alibis? The key thing here, though, is that this is our second murder that seems to have been a crime of opportunity, rather than a targeted murder. Like Lucy in episode 2, who just happened to wander off and stumble into a trap, this episode’s murder can’t possibly have been planned. Well, obviously it was planned in the sense that someone built a crossbow into a chandelier (who has the time to do all this?), but the specific victim cannot have been intended. By virtue of being activated by the lights turning off, all the killer could have hoped for was a chance at killing a random member of the wedding party during the rehearsal.

Really, all the killer was doing today was announcing his/her presence, with Thomas as a lucky kill.

The other major question raised this week is just what is the identity of the trapper? And is he building all of the traps, or just some? That is to say, is the killer just taking advantage of the trapper’s work, or is he building separate traps?

Who knows when we’ll find out? As I mentioned earlier Harper’s Island was pre-empted this week, so I’m posting this summary at the halfway point between the last episode and (hopefully the new one). Rest assured though, even if we have to watch it on the internet or a buy a DVD, we’re still going to cover Harper’s Island right up until the gritty end!

Or the deeply unsatisfying cheat/ghost/twist. Whatever they end up going with, really.

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