Stalker “The Woods” Review (Season 1 Episode 18)

Stalker The Woods 2

Philosophers have a thought experiment which, more or less, goes like this: if a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Well, add to that this one: if a show ends on a cliffhanger that wasn’t supposed to really be one in the first place and comes back on the air several months later, will anyone care enough to watch? On Monday’s unexpected return of “Stalker,” CBS sought to find out the answer in, aptly enough, “The Woods.”

Well, first of all, let me say that, despite my initial cynicism there, I did care to watch, and not just because it was my job. However, I’m not going to lie, it was pretty frustrating not knowing what the show’s fate was all this time, and yet knowing that there were still several episodes left in the can. Had they simply let things slide another week and aired this episode when it should have been aired, I could have lived with that, even if we never got to see the other two, save maybe online or on Netflix or Hulu or what have you.

It certainly functions as a season finale and ends the main storyline in an effective enough manner to satisfy longtime viewers and/or binge-watchers alike, which bodes well for its likely online and/or streaming future. However, it’s actually not the season finale, which means there are still two episodes to air, which will likely set up whatever the next season’s main plotline will be (or more likely, would have been), and that’s kind of frustrating. If they’d simply aired this episode and been done with it, I would have been fine with that.

Instead, we’re going to get not-one-but-two more episodes of set-up that will likely never pay off, unless the show is lucky enough to get picked up by another network/streaming service. Unfortunately, for fans of the show, that seems unlikely, given the show’s low ratings and now CBS’ devil-may-care attitude towards the show.

I mean, if you’re going to bring it back in the first place, why put it in an entirely different time slot on an entirely different night, with minimal alert that was going to be the case in the first place? I barely even knew the show was going to be coming back, and wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t happened to see a preview for it by coincidence, and even then, it wouldn’t have occurred to me it’d be on at a different time and night! Pretty shabby doings there, CBS.

The thing is, while I’ll allow the show has its problems, it really does deserve better. Sure, there were some occasional clunkers of episodes- these things happen, least of all with crime procedurals. But there were far more genuinely interesting ones, with neat twists on what one comes to expect from shows like this. Factor in creator Kevin Williamson’s built-in fan-base and a solid cast, and it’s a shame the show didn’t do better with viewers. These things happen, though, and I can live with that. I just wish CBS had handled it better, if only for the fans the show does still have.

Okay, rant over. Getting back to the episode at hand, we basically picked up where we left off, with Ray (Eion Bailey) traveling to who knows where, with a dead Perry (Erik Stocklin) and a very much alive Beth (Maggie Q) in his trunk, as her team frantically tried to track her down. Ben (Victor Rasuk) landed in the hospital after Ray shot him when he nabbed Beth, but eventually pulled out of it after surgery and will be okay. Meanwhile, Vicki (Mira Sorvino) ceded control over the investigation to the FBI, with a new team leader (Dan Thiel) heading it up, much to Beth’s team’s chagrin.

Needless to say, Jack (Dylan McDermott) and Janice (Mariana Klaveno) did not take this lying down, and launched a mini-investigation of their own, which did not go unnoticed by Vicki. Poring over old files of Ray and watching video interviews, the only thing they noticed was Ray’s odd propensity for staring at something on the opposite wall of his doctor’s office. What was it?

It turned out to be a picture of a covered bridge, and when Jack looked into it, he saw that it was in Ojai, California, making this a state case again. What’s more, Ray’s doctor owned property there, making it an ideal hide-out for whatever Ray had planned for Beth.

However, wary of the FBI, and fearing they will botch the job and get Beth killed, Jack and Janice go up there alone, only to find the doctor’s cabin inhabited by his son and some friends. Janice posits that maybe Ray’s still in the area, so they look around a bit, and sure enough, stumble upon the cabin where Ray has been hiding out with Beth. Unfortunately- or fortunately, depending on how you look at it- Beth and Ray aren’t there, as Beth has managed to escape and run for the titular woods, with Ray in hot pursuit.

Jack and Janice give chase and split up to cover more ground, with Jack calling in for back-up to Vicki, now that they have proof Beth and Ray are there, via some blood and handcuffs found on the scene. Jack manages to find Beth first, but Ray finds Janice and they meet up at yet another cabin.

A showdown ensues, with Ray once again starting a fire, but Jack tackles him and a fight ensues while Beth and Janice escape. The cops arrive and manage to get Jack out of there, but not Ray, who, one would assume, dies in the fire. This being the sort of show it is, I halfway expected some sign that maybe Ray had slithered off in the ruckus, but they thankfully didn’t go there.

All in all, it was a satisfying episode. Beth acquitted herself nicely by fighting Ray almost every step of the way, but she has to feel bad about the body count caused by Ray, which included the former tenant (Stefan Marks) of the cabin they squatted in and next-door neighbor Hazel (Patricia Bethune)- not to mention a wounded Ben and Perry, although he essentially brought that upon himself by breaking Ray out in the first place. Factor in her parents and sister, and Ray was one fatal attraction, to say the least. No wonder she doesn’t date anymore, as far as I can tell!

Like I said, this would have been a perfectly suitable and acceptable season finale, and even a series finale, in light of how unlikely the show is to be picked up for another season. But, as aforementioned, this isn’t the last episode, we actually have two more coming, which makes one wonder why they’re even bothering. Why tease fans of the show with a potential second season plotline that may never come to fruition? I guess CBS needed to fill that time slot, otherwise it just doesn’t make sense. Big sigh.

Oh well, at least this episode was strong, and if I’m not thrilled about the remainder, who knows, maybe the show will get picked up by another network/streaming service after all? There’s been rumblings ABC may be interested, so you never know. We shall see. Until then, we’ve always got “The Woods” and I can live with that, I suppose.

What did you think of the latest episode of “Stalker”? Were you happy with the resolution of the main storyline this season? Do you think Ray’s really dead, or are they pulling a fast one, hence the two more episode thing? If the show were to continue, what direction would you like to see it go in? Would you prefer it were on another network/streaming service? Were you also upset by CBS’ mishandling of the show’s return? Sound off- loudly if you like- down below and see you for next week’s episode, whatever that may entail!