Last week, we ended with Jack Hoskins, under the sway of the entity (aka The Green Hoodie Man aka El Cuco), trapping Holly Gibney in the car for a fatal road trip.
This week, we get to see if Holly can escape Jack’s captivity and if Ralph can escape his doubts about the supernatural element that’s clearly involved in the Frankie Peterson case.
Have a Seat
The episode opens with Andy leaving town to go see Holly, which means this recap opens up with me dry heaving.
Back in Georgia, Glory Maitland has decided to return to her job as a real estate agent. Howie wants her to sue the crap out of everyone involved with her husband’s death, but she’s just not ready to go down that road yet. Unfortunately, it becomes apparent during her first home showing that the “buyers” are only there to gawk at the wife of Terry Maitland, which results in them receiving a glorious verbal beatdown from Glory.
Over at the Anderson home, Jeannie has decided to toss out the chair that El Cuco forced her to sit in, much to the annoyance of Ralph. Before he can get too worked up about it, however, he first wants to know where Holly is. Jeannie doesn’t know, but we certainly do.
As they travel along the highway, Jack Hoskins struggles to hide the pain he is feeling from the blisters on the back of his neck. When Holly Gibney asks how far away the barn is, he responds with a soliloquy about how he never used to believe in anything supernatural, but now he does–and it’s worse than he could have imagined. Jack also reveals that he knows whatever is happening to him is the same thing that happened to Tracey (the guy who got gunned down by the police two episodes ago) and that his own situation is pretty much guaranteed to end horribly.
Later in the drive, Jack asks Holly why the entity chose him. She responds by explaining her theory that it is drawn to pain, which Jack easily accepts since his life is basically one big toxic buffet of suffering. When both their phones ring, Jack silently makes it clear that neither of them should answer. Holly asks why Jack–and the entity–would let her tell the investigative team everything she did, especially since Jack was the only one who stood up for her during the meeting. Her question is met with more silence.
Back at the Anderson house, Ralph tries to call Holly and Jack, but is unable to reach them. He tries Alec next, who doesn’t know where Holly is, but does point out that Jack was only person who stood up for her at the meeting yesterday…and now neither one of them are answering their phones.
Ralph and Alec meet up and head to Jack’s apartment, which they find covered in blood and destruction from Jack’s ass kicking by entity the night before. Ralph immediately deduces that Holly has been kidnapped (which of course is true despite the evidence in Jack’s apartment not being related to her disappearance) and calls it in.
Following the Crease
Back at the Peach Crease, Claude Bolton bids a fond farewell to the owner, explaining that he “hasn’t been feeling like himself lately” and needs to take off.
Meanwhile, Ralph visits Tamika Collins and shares his belief that Jack abducted Holly. When he asks if she’s noticed anything strange about Jack’s behavior, however, she says no–even when he asks about how she confronted him outside at her party a few episodes back. Ralph can tell Tamika is holding out on him, but is completely unaware that what she’s hiding is her nightmare visit from El Cuco.
Later, Ralph and Alec visit the Peach Crease to see if Claude can give them anymore info about Jack. After learning that Claude quit, Ralph is notified that Holly and Jack’s cell phones have both been pinged and are right next to each other.
Holly tells Jack she needs to go to the bathroom. Jack tries to say no, but she insists. After they pull over, Holly claims that she’s having her period and will need to take her bag inside…which just so happens to have a spare car key inside of it.
Once Holly is inside the bathroom, she manages to knock out the glass on a back window with the toilet cover, drawing Jack—who’d exited the car to check on her—around to the back of the building. Holly uses the opening to burst out the bathroom door and sprint to her car. After she gets in, Jack approaches the vehicle and holds up the keys, unaware that Holly has a spare. As she drives off, he draws his firearm and gets off a few shots, but Holly still manages to escape.
Meanwhile, Ralph and Alec race toward the location where Jack and Holly’s cell phones were pinged. Along the way, Alex shares a story about getting lost in the woods as a little boy. Before anyone found him, he heard someone–or something–call his name out twice. Ralph predictably dismisses this as something he imagined, but Alec insists that the moment was real and scared the hell out of him.
Before we can hear any more random/unrelated scary stories from Alec’s childhood, they arrive at the gas station. Both Jack and Holly’s phones are destroyed with no sign of either one of them except for some tire tracks and the clerk saying he saw a car peel out.
Despite how good it felt to chew out her fake clients, Glory’s boss tells her that they are suing for emotional distress. She also suggests that Glory should maybe sell her house and try to find somewhere new to live. As you might imagine, this steels her resolve even more to stay in the home where she and Terry raised her children.
After her boss leaves, Glory calls Howie and tells him she’s ready to sue everyone who was involved her husband’s death…except maybe for a few individuals.
Elsewhere, Jack escapes into the woods and tries to shoot himself, but can’t bring himself to do it. He then hitchhikes on a semi truck to…um…I’m not sure where.
Meanwhile, Ralph comes home to find the entire investigative team in his living room…including Holly. She tells them what happened while also explaining her theory that the entity didn’t try to kill her–or any other adults–because it can only prey on children. Instead, it inflicts a pain-filled target with the neck blisters we’ve seen before and forces them to do its bidding. As you probably guessed, Ralph blithely dismisses this theory.
Yunis decides to show Claude’s mugshot to Holly, but she doesn’t recognize him…but something about seeing his name and face scratches part of her brain. Before she can figure out what it is, Andy shows up (UGH) and wraps Holly up in an awkward embrace.
Ralph and Yunis go outside to talk. Turns out that the barn Jack was supposedly taking Holley to was two hours in the opposite direction of where they found them. When Ralph fails to deduce a motive for Jack’s action, Yunis counters by saying that Holly gave them one; he’s just refusing to listen to it.
Later, Andy asks to speak to Ralph outside, where he explains that he’s been doing his own research based on Holly’s case notes and would like to join their team (UGGGGGHHHHH!) Before Ralph can give an answer, Holly angrily calls him inside. She’s made the connection between Claude Bolton and the doppelgänger of Terry Maitland–and she wants to know why Ralph didn’t tell her about it first. Jeannie backs Holly up, explaining that it’s time for Ralph to accept that despite how crazy it is, the most rational explanation for the case is staring them right in the face. It’s time that he either accepts that or gets out of the way.
That night, Ralph calls his therapist for an emergency session where he tries to explain his anxiety over having to accept the unacceptable without giving away any details. After unsuccessfully attempting to get Jack to tell him more, the therapist ends their session by declaring that for everything we understand about the world, there is a hell of a lot more we don’t.
The episode ends with Holly having a nightmare about Jack successfully killing her.
This episode is almost the complete opposite of last week’s with regard to plot, momentum and execution.
As far as the narrative is concerned, ‘In the Pines, In the Pines’ does a fantastic job of confronting Ralph’s skepticism to solid evidence of the supernatural. The only major misstep was Alec’s story about hearing a voice in the woods as a child. I get that it was supposed to reinforce how there is so much about this world we don’t know, but it ends up feeling unrelated and haphazardly shoehorned into an otherwise brilliant set up.
We get to see Holly’s theory finally catch up with what we know as an audience while simultaneously moving ahead to a point that brings the rest of the investigative team (sans Ralph) in line with her thinking. Even Ralph’s doubt is used as a means to convince the audience that the supernatural elements we’re seeing are terrifyingly logical.
Unfortunately, this episode just wasn’t that exciting. Even the great scenes between Jack and Holly in the car (and Glory’s epic takedown of her fake real estate clients) weren’t enough to keep this one from feeling a bit slow compared to the last couple chapters. And don’t even get me started on Andy. It’s frustrating enough that he somehow got Ralph’s address and managed to show up there right after Holly escaped from Jack, but you just know he’s going to end up having some sort of ridiculous insight that will help the investigation at the most contrived possible moment.
All that being said, though, ‘In the Pines, In the Pines’ was still a solid slow burn episode. It also finally sets things up so that the plot can shift from convincing the key players about what they’re up against to all hunting it together. It also continues the trend of making Jack Hoskin’s story far more sympathetic and compelling than it was in The Outsider novel. It should be all types of interesting to see how things play out now that his cover as El Cuco’s lackey has been officially blown.