Harper's Island Recap: Week 8

As the episode opens everyone is preparing to get the hell off of the island as quickly as possible. Which I really appreciate. There’s just no reason to stick around in this situation. Which means the killer needs to manufacture one. Hence the luring away of Madison at the end of the last episode. While everyone scuttles about loading their luggage onto the courtesy carts Shae scurries everywhere, desperately searching for her daughter.

In a panic, she asks other people to help her look. Despite the brutal murders, Henry is able to convince everyone else to come along with him to scour the island, assuring them that the boat will wait until the arrive at the dock. There’s a nod in here to Fat Frat’s disappearance, when Douchey and Black Frat discuss where he could have gotten to, without ever addressing the bigger question: Why did you leave him alone in the first place?

The characters split into three groups (Henry, Abby, Katherine – Shae, Trish, Cal, Chloe – Beth and the Frats) and go looking. Meanwhile back in town the sheriff is interrogating JD! Naturally he protests his innocence, but once again the key element of the cell phone doesn’t come up. The sheriff doesn’t ask for an explanation, and JD doesn’t offer, even though that’s the only piece of evidence against him. JD does tell the sheriff where the Trapster is staying so that he can go out there and find out what he knows about Fakefield. Or Wakefield. I’m really not sure at this point.

After the sheriff leaves JD is tossed back into a jail cell right next to Shane. They barely have a moment to fight with one another before all the lights go off and the deptuy (not the fat one we’ve already met, another one) is murdered with a shotgun blast! But who’s the shooter? He leaves before we get a chance to see. There’s another blast a moment later, destroying the short-wave radio, and the quiet.

Luckily the deputy’s keys landed next to JD’s cell, so he’s able to unlock himself. He doesn’t unlock Shane though, or take the deputy’s gun. And then he runs off. I’m not sure why, though. Shane, who, up until this point has been a complete ass, points out that running will just make him look guilty. Which would be true, if you, Shane, weren’t an eyewitness to the fact that he’s not the killer. Whether he runs or not, you can tell people he didn’t do it. I mean, yeah, he shouldn’t be running, obviously, but no one’s going to think he’s the killer if you mention the whole ‘we were locked up together when the murder happened’ thing.

Seriously, though – why is JD running off? There had better be a damn good explanation later on. ‘Cause there’s absolutely no reason he could possibly want to leave at this point. He’s safe in the place with all the guns that’s completely defensible. Running off makes no sense whatsoever.

They search the hotel quickly, finding the room that Richard didn’t sleep in the night before. So where is Richard, anyway? Oh, he’s dead. Right. They just don’t know it yet. So they think he’s run off with Madison. That makes a little bit of sense.

The sheriff heads deep into the woods looking for the Trapster and winds up, you guessed it, trapped!

Ouch, right? Wait, it hit him in the leg? You know what? Maybe they should have cut the previous shot a little earlier – here they’re aimed at chest level, and the spikes are nowhere near him.

Anyhow, it turns out not to be so bad. Even though he takes the punji stick out of his leg without first using his belt as a tourniquet. Moron. The trapster shows up and drags him back to the cabin, where Lucy’s dog has also been hanging out! Isn’t that cute? He’s already replaced the dog Thomas murdered. That’s a man who knows how to bounce back.

Down in the basement of the hotel Team Cal make an unsettling discovery. A bloody handprint on the door of the incinerator!

Oh, and yeah, it turned out that the hotel has a garbage incinerator. Is that a normal thing for a building to have? I guess it’s an island thing. Anyhow, when did that handprint get there? Last week Fat Frat died with his hand on the edge with the door open. After killing Fat Frat, did the killer shove his severed hand against the door for the artistic opportunity? Anyhow, Cal opens the door and digs through the ashes until he finds this:

Luckily Cal is a doctor, so he’s able to announce that it’s a fully-grown man’s skull, as opposed to a child’s. They really don’t give enough thought to who’s skull it might be before moving on. More importantly, where was all the blood in the room? The killer chopped Fat Frat to pieces with the head spade before tossing him into the fire. That was like two hours ago. Shouldn’t there be blood everywhere? Did the killer bring a bucket and a lot of bleach to the crime scene?

Also, would a skull burn clean that quickly? How hot was the fire?

Team Frat doesn’t find anything, except for a butchered hog, of course.

Were they planning a wedding luau? If so, it should have been mentioned earlier.

Team Henry does a much better job. They wind up at the shore of one of the island’s coves or lakes or rivers or whatever. Henry turns up a rope, and follows it to an unsettling discovery.

Bang! Yikes, how did the killer get him up there? Check out this side view.

That harpoon was stuck in on a downward angle. And it goes in at like eight feet in the air. If the killer doesn’t turn out to be Jason, I’ll be very surprised. Well, now everyone officially knows that JD can’t be the killer, so it’s time for a pow-wow. But first Abby gets a phone call!

It’s Madison! She tells Abby that she’ll be killed if anyone (especially Abby, duh) leaves the island! Abby tries to call for help, but all of the cell phones are down! Which suggests that the killer has damaged the local tower. The hotel phones are down as well. All that’s left to do is figure out a plan.

The three teams get together and go over the facts – JD’s not the killer, people are all incurious about who was in the incinerator. Basically everyone but Madison’s immediate family wants to leave the island straight away. Douchey Frat champions the point, explaining that Madison’s life isn’t more important than anyone else’s. For having this viewpoint, he winds up slapped by Trish. Seriously, though, he’s completely right. Obviously the killer wants them to stay on the island so that he can kill more of them. Here’s the bare minimum that Shae can expect: for people to stay until one more person is killed. At that point, the math just doesn’t work any more. Madison’s life might be worth one other person’s, but clearly not two people’s.

Then they make a list of everyone missing, and people finally figure out that Ben and Lucy are dead. Black Frat tries say that all of the murders may not be related, but Chloe, showing a little common sense, points out that he’s an idiot for thinking so. For some reason all of this listmaking is going on in the lounge at the hotel. What possible reason is there for staying? Shouldn’t they have all gone down to the police station in a group? If you can’t call the police, then you go to where they are. They could have used the electric trams that were established as being outside the hotel even after the other groups left.

As they debate things the lights in the inn all shut off, leading people to go looking for guns, which Maggie is nice enough to unlock for them. Cal points out that it’s not safe to be running around with shotguns, and Douchey Frat makes fun of him for being a wuss. Ah, Cal – you’re really the only likable one, aren’t you? Henry and Black Frat head outside to turn on the generator. Alone. Why aren’t they doing everything as a big group at this point? It’s not like they’re waiting for someone. Although Jimmy does pick just then to turn up. With the news that the boat left! So does that mean that Madison’s dead? Gosh, I hope so.

Douchey Frat points out that they’re free to leave now – since people have left the island, the rules have already been broken. Henry suggests that they still have to find Madison before leaving. This is kind of on the idiotic side. She’s somewhere on a big island and there’s a killer running around. Who’s going to have a better chance of finding her – a bunch of untrained people running around in the dark, or trained professional mainland law enforcement officers who you can obtain after boating to Seattle?

Over in the trapster’s cabin, sheriff and trapster have a conversation about Wakefield. It seems that the trapster has Wakefield’s journal! He suggests that anyone who’d read it could have used the information inside to help fake this new series of crimes. Or they could have just read the police files. Or any one of the dozens of true-crime books that have been written on the subject by now. Or the TV-movie. I wonder who played Abby in that, anyways?

While everyone else is at the inn, Abby and Jimmy head over to the sheriff’s office to check on the radio, which you’ll remember was destroyed earlier. Again, why isn’t everyone going down there together? Even if the killer had sabotaged the trams, it’s not that far a walk from the hotel to the main town, and they’d be pretty safe in a big group. They find Shane locked up and let him go as long as he promises to tell them where the sheriff went. Well, at least they now know that JD’s not the killer for sure.

Over at the inn Henry and Black Frat return from generating, they find Trish, Shae, and Katherine alone in the kitchen. Everyone else has headed for the docks. Like geniuses. Henry announces that he’s going after them. Alone.


Give me one damn reason why they can’t all go down to the docks together. Just goddamn one.

Back in the trapster’s cabin, the trapster reveals that JD has been helping him track the killer. How exactly he’s been doing that we’re left to wonder. He agrees to get the sheriff help from town, but then winds up being shot with a crossbow bolt because he didn’t listen to the little dog’s warning. The killer pointedly doesn’t head inside to finish off the sheriff, possibly because a dropped lantern has set the cabin on fire, and they figure it will do the job.

The fire doesn’t get a chance to, though, since Abby and Jimmy run into the cabin moments later, rescuing both the sheriff and the journal. In an odd note, the sheriff explains that it’s more important that he gets to the marina than to the doctor’s office… but why?

Down at the dock Douchey, Beth, Cal and Chloe prepare to steal a boat to escape. Cal has a crisis of conscience at the last moment, announcing that he couldn’t live with himself if he left and Madison was hurt. Before Douchey and Beth can leave Cal spots JD running off between a couple of boats, and they go to look for him.

Those are some great eyes on Cal. I can barely find JD in that frame.

Sheriff, Abby, and Jimmy arrive at the dock. His plan? To get Jimmy and Abby onto a boat. Just then Douchey Frat bangs on the window and announces that JD’s escaped, and runs off, presumably to look for him with the shotgun. You know, you might have yelled that JD’s innocent before the guy accidentally gets shot.

Oh, too late.

To be fair though, he wasn’t shot, he seems to have been stabbed. He neglects to mention just who stabbed him, using his last breath to tell Abby that ‘it’s all about you’. Which is less help than a name, but thanks for playing.

Just then Henry walks up behind Abby, crying and covered in blood. Which pretty much confirms that he didn’t do it. And that’s the episode, folks.

It’s Alibi time, and with a three-murder week, there’s a lot of work to be done.

Week 8:

Murder 1 (Deputy shot in police station)

Henry, the Frats, Abby, Cal and Chloe, Beth, the remaining Wellingtons (all gathered at the inn)
Sheriff (in a car headed out to the trapster’s place)
JD (in jail, witnessing the murder)

Remember how last week I mentioned that the only characters to have never had an alibi for a murder were Maggie, Jimmy, and Katherine? Well for this murder we’re down to just Maggie and Jimmy – the only characters to not have an alibi for this murder.

Murder 2 (The Trapster! Who was shot with crossbow bolts)

Abby and Jimmy (on their way to the trapster’s place)
Douchey Frat, Cal and Chloe, Beth (on their way to the docks)
Remaining Wellingtons, Black Frat (in the hotel kitchen)
Sheriff (witnessing the murder from in the cabin)

Two interesting things about this murder: First, this makes two weeks in a row that there’s been a murder that Henry didn’t have an alibi for, which is kind of a first for him. Also, Jimmy finally had an alibi! So there goes my theory about the crime. Oh well. Now we’re down to just one character who’s never had an alibi: Maggie, who disappeared right after showing them all the guns. Where’d she go? Who knows. It’s never mentioned.

Murder 3 (JD stabbed on the dock)

Sheriff, Jimmy, Abby (all arrive at the dock after the stabbing)
Remaining Wellingtons, Black Frat (still in the kitchen, as far as we know)

That’s two alibis for Jimmy in one week! It’s almost as if they’re trying to make me look bad. Still no alibi for Maggie, though. Does this mean she’s the killer? Probably. More on that next.

Final Thoughts:

Is Wakefield the killer? Was he not the killer the first time? At this point, unless someone’s cheating, every single character has had an alibi for at least one of the murders except for Maggie, but given how little a role she’s played in the show so far, I’d find it really hard to believe they’ll manage to come up with a convincing ending where her motive is revealed. I’ve seen crazier things accomplished, though, so who knows?

Really, I’ll take any ending where they don’t cheat at this point. More importantly, though, my pick about the victim was completely wrong. My methodology was correct, but my application of that methodology was all wrong. After all, my whole theory was that the main character with the least value to the plot would die - and who has less value than JD once people know he's not the killer? Katherine, on the other hand, still has to reveal what Thomas meant when he said that their marriage was based on something more complicated than just 'love'.

Still not sure why Beth's kicking around, though.

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