Stalker “Salvation” Review Season 1 Episode 16

Stalker Salvation Episode 16 02

On the latest episode of “Stalker,” it was creepy cult time, as the lovely Isabelle (Sara Paxton, “The Last House on the Left”) was stalked by a guy who claimed to be there on behalf of her ex, Oscar (JD Pardo, “Revolution”), in “Salvation.” Only once the team brought Oscar in, he claimed to have no knowledge of the man in question. Indeed, he claimed to have cleaned himself up and gotten sober since the days he dated Isabelle, some three months ago, and hadn’t had any contact with her since she filed a restraining order against him. So who was this mystery man?

Discovering that Isabelle had inherited a considerable trust fund- some $5 million dollars- the team suspects that the money might be the real reason she was targeted. After trying to scare Oscar away from Isabelle just to be on the safe side, she’s confronted again when she’s out and about, this time by a whole host of people, including creepy guy, who make like “The Walking Dead” and follow her en masse to her car and surround her, scaring her silly and causing her to tear out of there like a shot, understandably.

The incident was caught by security cameras, leading the team to identify the lead creeper as Clark Jennings (Craig Gellis, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”). Upon arriving at his last-known address, they discover the unexpected: a sprawling mansion populated by metaphorically starry-eyed young people who believe in free love and peace and astronomy, when they’re not day trading! Known as the “Celestial Fellowship,” they claim to not know Clark, but confirm that Oscar used to live there and was kicked out for excessive drug use.

Larsen suspects that leader Abraham (former Jimmy Olsen from “”Lois & Clark,” Michael Landes) is trying to scare Isabelle into joining in order to get his hands on her money, using various cult members in his evil plot. However, this turns out to be not the case, as Isabelle’s friend Lucy (Samaire Armstrong, “Resurrection”), her neighbor and a member of the cult who sets out to recruit her discovers the hard way when she brings Isabelle to the mansion and Abraham drugs her, then knocks Lucy out cold.

Instead, it turns out that Abraham lived back in Illinois with Isabelle and had a long-standing obsession with her that stemmed from when she was just a child. After he behaved inappropriately towards her, he was sent to a mental institution, only to emerge as a cult leader under a different name. The team manages to track them down at a riverside property, where Abraham was seeking to “baptize” her and initiate her into the cult as his “celestial sphere” and redub her “Zenith” once she was properly made part of the group- or possibly drown her trying to.

As the cops swarm the property, the cult scatters, but Larsen punches Abraham and apprehends him for the FBI to arrest just in time to save Isabelle. Eventually, Beth goes to Isabelle’s house for a sleepover (which might have been a cute in-joke, considering Paxton was also in this film), the same way the team has been doing for her since the word of Perry and Ray teaming up was brought to her attention. I really liked the symmetry of that moment, as Beth paid her team’s goodwill forward for this poor young woman with literally no family or friends left to turn to after all she went through- Beth can certainly relate.

I can also relate to wanting to give Sara Paxton a hug- and I mean that in the best possible way. If you’ve followed her career like I have, you know that she’s repeatedly been in one alarmingly precarious scenario after another as of late- since her child-acting days, at least- from the aforementioned “The Last House on the Left” (not for the faint of heart, to be sure) to “The Innkeepers” to “Shark Night” to “Static” and “Enter Nowhere”- this poor girl is eternally being stalked by something! (Except in the rare case she’s doing the stalking: witness the true-crime tale “The Blue-Eyed Butcher.”)

Indeed, for a hot minute, I thought maybe they were playing on that knowledge and that Paxton’s character was going to turn out to be crazy and all the stalking was in her head- it sure seemed that way after that nutty scene with the cult surrounding her at the market or whatever that was. Until it actually showed the confrontation was largely caught on tape, I thought she might be imagining things, as it seemed so far out. But leave it to a cult to make nightmares a reality.

That said, as original-and chilling- as that scene was, the show has gone to the best-friend-being-complicit-in-the-main-crime well one too many times, if you ask me, so it might be time to change it up. At least if it had turned out to be all in Isabelle’s head, it would have been a little different from what we’ve seen before, you know what I mean? (Not that, as a loyal “Resurrection” watcher, I didn’t appreciate seeing that show’s Armstrong amongst the cast, mind you.)

Meanwhile, on the Perry and Ray front, Ray is getting more and more antsier to take action by the minute, which is clearly putting Perry on edge- and he’s already pretty jittery as it is. In this episode, Ray got a hold of a gun somehow, and then decided to target Larsen, despite Perry wanting to target Janice after what she’d done to him a few episodes back. At first, I worried that Ray might either kidnap or hurt his son, who was allowed to spend the night with him for the first time this episode, after Jack began the show decidedly on Amanda’s bad side. Instead, Ray knocked out Amanda, though we don’t know if it ended there, or if he ultimately kidnapped her instead.

On the plus side, it was obvious from the preview of next week’s episode that we don’t have much longer to wait, as the whole Ray & Perry onslaught seems like it will be front-and-center on that episode, finally. With only two more episodes to go this season, as far as I know, I imagine it will be the focus of both of the remaining episodes, which I’m very excited to see after the slow-burn the plotline has been given for much of the season thus far. Now’s the time for the big pay-off, so hopefully, the show will deliver the goods.

In the meantime, this was a decent enough episode, bolstered by the strong casting and some nice moments with each of the individual team members. I also liked that, contrary to my predictions, Ray didn’t go for Ben, but the Alpha-male of the group, Larsen, quite correctly seeing him as the main threat that needed to be eliminated sooner than later. Good call. I certainly didn’t predict him attacking Amanda, though, so way to keep things unpredictable. Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong, you know?

What did you think of the latest “Stalker”? Are you also a fan of Paxton? Or Armstrong, for that matter? (She has her fans as well, from solid roles on “The O.C.” and “Entourage.”) Did you like that Beth paid back the solidarity shown her by being there for Isabelle? What do you think Ray and Perry will get up to next? Or is the matter completely out of Perry’s hands at this point? Sound off below and see you next time!