In the previous episode Olivia d'Abo guest-starred. This time we have Jason Hervey, who played her obnoxious brother on 'The Wonder Years,' in a small part. He's not so obnoxious here-- in fact, he helps provide Rick with a valuable lead when A.J. has disappeared after a beating and brief hospitalization. Since Gerald McRaney is also directing this episode, I would imagine he had a hand in selecting Hervey, and their scene together is nicely done.
The main plot, which focuses on Rick's attempts to track A.J. down and rescue him, gives us substantially more backstory about the Simons than episodes normally do. We quickly learn that A.J. has been beaten to a pulp along a pier because a killer is out of jail and he is determined to make the youngest Simon brother and an ex-girlfriend pay for his lengthy incarceration. Most of this is explained in a very good scene between Rick and Cecilia when she tells Rick about a never-discussed incident that occurred when Rick was in 'Nam.
Meanwhile, A.J.'s ex has married an older, very wealthy industrialist and of course, she doesn't want her spouse to know about her sketchy past. The husband goes off on a business trip which allows A.J. to play hero and protect her (and revisit old feelings) as they wait for the killer to close in. Rick is not far behind, but they do not know it.
While the basic scenario makes sense, I feel there are some implausibilities with the script. First, it is much too easy for A.J. to sneak on to the grounds. We are told the husband has fortified his property with two state-of-the-art electronic security systems. Even if A.J. could obfuscate the security system, how would a man who's been in jail for 15 years know how to get around the modern technology and also gain access to the main house? This part is definitely far-fetched, and so is the fact the childless couple would not at least have dogs around that would start barking when unwanted guests turned up. Not to mention the fact we have already seen horses in a stable which would undoubtedly be spooked by the killer's arrival and make requisite noises, letting A.J. and the woman know they had company.
I did like the surprise twist that A.J. had lied to put the man away-- it is revealed the woman had actually seen the murder and A.J. went to the police on her behalf. Of course, there's an easy "out" since A.J. never formally testified due to a plea bargaining and thus did not ever perjure himself. The twist is sort of overshadowed by a lengthy confrontation inside the house during a stand-off between the killer and the Simons. I sincerely doubt a cold-blooded murderer would care about A.J. confessing his lie to Rick. The guy would hurry up, get his much-desired revenge and get out of there before the cops showed up. This confession is followed by another lengthy scene with the Simons at the beach, where Rick basically tells A.J. to let it all go and get on with the rest of his life. I thought the cinematographer's use of amber lighting in the beach scene was a nice touch, like McRaney was trying to prove he could be an artistic director with a lingering and memorable final shot.
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