The discovery of nine human skulls leads Lilly back to George Marks, the serial killer she was unable to incriminate months earlier, and who walked away a free man. As the detectives reinvestigate his mother's murder from 1972, George is forced to emerge from hiding to face Rush again. This time, their very lives are at stake in their final showdown.
The episode begins with the flashback to 1972 (John Denver ”Sunshine on my Shoulders”). A 12-year old George is sitting alone in the attic of the red barn-like home being his weird little self. We see an array of dolls on the floor with their eyes cut out. When George’s mother comes up to ask him to go to the store he gives her all the eyes. This little stunt prompts mom to call social services. She wants him in foster care and out of her house. His mother’s a real winner by the way, refers to George as ”The Darkness.” We then flash to the mother’s body, shot to death and clad only in her underwear.
Back to the present — we’re at the same house with Lilly and Scotty. First, as they approach, Scotty says to Lilly that he just wants to appologize about Chris. He knows that she tried to warn him about her and he didn’t listen. Lilly smiles like it’s all over now and says she’s just sorry she came between them. Anyway, on with the episode...Apparently the new owner of the freaky red house has asked for a property inspection. It turned up 9 skulls in the yard, all facing the attic window and with deer eyes in their eye sockets. Well, guess who Lilly and Scotty remember was missing 9 skulls and had a fondness for deer eyes? The on-scene detective (a newbie) then happens to mention that this new owner is the first since the place was the scene of a homicide in 1972 — George’s mother. It later turns out that the new owner is actually George, trying to draw them back into his twisted little world.
They decide the best way to find George (who has now dropped off the map) is to reopen his mother’s case. They start with the social worker who took George into custody the night of his mother’s murder. He mentioned that George was flashing a flashlight out his window and a light was being flashed back in from the house across the street. Somehow they track down this neighbour flashlight-kid who remembers going over to the house the night of the murder to see why George’s flashlight messages suddenly stopped. He remembers looking in the window and being surprised to see George’s mom looking out at him oddly. She seemed to be staring right through him, but she didn’t say anything to him. Then he saw a couple of thugs in masks approach and start jimmying one of the windows. At this point he high-tailed it for home. Around this time, Lilly figures out that George’s mom was blind, based on the kid’s account and the fact that the stairs to George’s attic had notches for the number of steps cut into the top and bottom of the staircase (George’s mom had grumbled about this while the social worker was there but George had said it was to help her). Prints taken from the windowsill at the time of the murder match a current inmate whom they go to interview.
He claims to be a rapist, not a murderer. He also says that he left when the woman recognized the voice of his partner in crime (a guy he met at the racetrack just days before) as the man who had come to take George to foster care earlier that day. He assumes this guy killed her after he left. Hence, the social worker is brought back in for questioning. He finally admits to being there and cornering the mother after she recognized his voice but says he left when the freaky music started playing from up in the attic (George’s trademark). In the flashback George’s mother looks up in horror and says, ”The darkness always comes back.” So... Now the working theory is that George snuck back to the house that night and killed his mother. They’re discussing this at the office when George calls for Lilly. The key information George dishes out in this call is that he wasn’t the only one who ’went back’ that night and that sometimes we see even though we cannot (or something cryptic like that). They trace the call and find that it was made from a pay phone at the park where the bodies of his other victims were all found. Assuming this is a trap, the boys all take off, with Stillman giving orders for Lil to stay put. Not very happy to stay put, Lil does some investigating on her own. She arrives at the house and sneaks upstairs. Something twigs her interest about the wallpaper and she rips a piece off, soon ripping more and more. She discovers an entire forest of trees drawn on the walls underneath leading her to the realization that these were George’s woods. This was the room he was locked in most of his life, hence his life-long affinity for the woods. Just as this revelation hits her we hear whistling from behind and its you-know-who. ”I told you one day we would hunt together.”
Meanwhile at the park the boys have discovered another body — the girl refered to as Atalanta (Dee Dee - the one that got away in Mind Hunters). On the way back the try Lil’s cell phone and get bounced to voice mail again and again. This starts to disturb Scotty, especially once the check the office and discover she’s not there either. Eventually George answers her cell and after taunting both of the guys with info about their personal lives (Scotty’s fiance and Stillman’s daughter) he tells them that if he sees a single cop outside his house he’ll put a bullet in Lilly’s head. FYI: This taunting about Alyssa was where the line in the promo about the ”river doing terrible things to a young woman’s skin” came from.
Meanwhile back at the freaky house the game of who can out-psychoanalyze who has begun. We learn that it was the incarcerated rapist who came back to the house that night, and at first we think George came out and shot his mother after she was raped. The mother had gone up to George’s attic to investigate the music and that’s when the rapist appeared. George was hiding in the closet. What set him off was that he heard her say, ”Not in the woods, not in the woods,” to her attacker. She couldn’t have known their were trees on the walls if she couldn’t see. George realizes she has been lying to him and blaming him for her blindness (the reason she calls him ”The Darkness”) so he shoots her. Then he starts on Lil. We learn that at 10 she had been sent to the store to get liquor for her mother and got jumped by a guy trying to steal her money. He chased her after she gave it to him though and beat her quite badly — broke some teeth even. We see minimal flashbacks of this, really just a long-haired blond girl with some blood on her face recoiling and screaming from an unknown foe. Giving this info up is not easy for Lilly but by the end she has a little epiphany, she realizes she and George are alike in that they are both fighters. Also, she has understood the significance of the woods but not why he makes his victims run. When she tries to dig into this, he gets distinctly unsettled. Astutely, she digs deeper and we get the flashback of what really happened the night his mother died.
Meanwhile, Stillman has parked somewhere nearby and, wants to go in after her. Scotty claims George will kill Lilly if he does but Stillman says he’s going to do that anyway and he’s not going to lose her too (this is in reference to his inability to save his daugher from the rapist). Back to the flashback: It turns out that George’s mom was indeed able to see but perhaps only regained her sight during such a traumatic incident since what she had was hysterical blindness (it definitely seemed earlier in the episode that she could NOT see — i.e. when the two guys broke in to her bedroom). Anyway, we see her on the floor in the attic, saying, ”Not in the woods.” And then she notices George watching from the closet and tells the rapist to take him instead. So he does. Chases him all through the house... like an animal... And now we begin to understand the building blocks of George’s personality. At this point George seems to have an epiphany of his own. He realizes they both had mothers who sold them out. Lilly had a mom who sent a 10-year old out for booze in the middle of the night and his mother gave him up to a rapist. At this point he drops a gun in the centre of the floor and walks away.
Lilly orders him to get down but he doesn’t. They’re in a mini-standoff for a couple seconds and you sense that finally George has found someone he deems worthy of killing him. An equal, someone who has suffered the same indignities. Anyway, George was taunting her with how she was going to become just like him in the end. Now we didn’t see how the gunplay actually went down. Stillman was right at the door ready to burst in, and my assumption was the George fired first because the last thing we heard him say was ”Wanna Bet?” after Lilly says, ”I’m never going to be like you.” This makes me think he fired the first shot, or at least tried to and then we know she nails him with three in the chest.
The closing has them taking down all the women’s photos and the ghosts are of young George and his mother, which I guess is fitting since he was as much a victim as she was. Also cool is that we see Lilly before and after as she’s getting ready to walk away with the boys.
- Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush
- Danny Pino as Scotty Valens
- John Finn as John Stillman
- Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera
- Thom Barry as Will Jeffries
- John Billingsley as George Marks
- Karina Logue as Simone Marks
- Sal Landi as Jacob Leonardo (2005)
- Sonya Leslie as Det. Lennie Desalle
- Vic Polizos as Lee (2005)
- Hugh Scott as Lee (1972)
- Ash Christian as Jacob Leonardo (1972)
- Nick Price as George Marks (1972)
- Christina Cellner as Young Lilly Rush
- Chet Grissom as Evan (2005)
- Unknown child actor as Evan (1972)
- This episode is based on serial killer Robert Hansen.
- During one of the flashback scenes a young George plays a 45 of John Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulders", however this is an anachronism, as the scenes were set in November 1972, and the song would not be released until late 1973.
- This episode was chosen as "The Worst TV Show of the Week" and "the most psychologically disturbing" by The Parents Television Council because of its themes of familial dysfunction, rape, and murder.
- DeeDee Cooper is mentioned and appears dead in this episode.
- The shots of John Finn and Jeremy Ratchford in the opening later made for Season 3 onward are from this episode.
- The song "Riders on the Storm" was also heard in the episode "Metamorphosis".
- As Jeffries and Vera saw at the gun store in Mind Hunters, George Marks may see himself as Orion the hunter. One of the versions of the myth of Orion says that he was the lover of Artemis, the Greek goddess of moon and that he once tried to rape her. Outraged goddess killed him. That's more or less what happens between George and Lilly: he brings her to the "woods" and assaults her not physically, but mentally, (making her relive her terrible childhood memory) which ends in her shooting him in self-defence.
- John Denver "Sunshine On My Shoulders"
- The Doors "Riders On The Storm"
- Jethro Tull "Aqualung"
- The Eagles "Witchy Woman"
- America "Sandman"
- Michael A. Levine "Rush & George"
- Closing Song: The Who "Behind Blue Eyes"