This review encompasses both this episode and the following episode "Crawl Space". Since this is a two parter, it seems to make the most sense to review them as one.
Creepy, sinister, and intriguing are all words to describe this two parter.
The Division takes a new approach to storytelling here. At the beginning of this episode, the first thing we see is that Raina comes to trapped inside a dark box and clearly has no idea how she got there. Something bad has happened to her and it seems she has been kidnapped, in all probability due to a case.
Raina flashes back in time, I guess as a means of her trying to figure out for herself how she got there, and the story goes back to the beginning as to catch up the viewer to the present time.
Yes, this is a gimmick to hook viewers, but it is one that works. From the opening scene of a trapped Raina, it is imperative that one must watch to see how she wound up in such a dire situation. Raina's actual capture does not happen until the end of the first part.
Kudos must go to the writers and performers in that I fully expected to not enjoy the handful of Jinny-less episodes we've gotten this fourth season. While I like all the characters, Jinny tends to be the character and journey in which I'm personally most invested--though I can't speak for other viewers. However, the writers have done an excellent job in her absence with the exception of all but one less than stellar installment. I could have done without the stretched out Regan subplot, but fortunately she's already gone by these episodes.
Kudos must also be given to Taraji Henson for her excellent performance in these episodes. She plays the defiant strong willed captive (mostly in the second part) perfectly. Often she's playing opposite only herself, but she is believable as the scared yet quick thinking spunky inspector we have come to know.
The case is really sort of simplistic in the sense that it is pretty straightforward. Cheryl Madison, a young blonde woman, has gone missing but the M.O. of the case matches a few prior cases of similar looking blonde women who have gone missing and turned up dead tortured and starved.
After interviewing Cheryl's therapist, a connection is made between Cheryl and a few of the paroled convicts she also sees on a professional basis. Dr. Annabelle Meade, the therapist, tries to help the inspectors but is torn due to doctor/patient confidentiality.
There is no need to go into the whole story, but while one of the convicts is responsible for the abduction of the blondes, it is actually Dr. Meade herself as the other half of the torture operation, and the one who has abducted Raina in an attempt to trade her for the release of her "partner".
The fact that Dr. Meade is reponsible isn't really surprising since honestly, the episodes didn't introduce us to any other characters, so the suspect list was rather short. However, that doesn't mean that the plot device wasn't effective when the reveal was finally made that it was Dr. Meade behind the torture controls trying to break Raina (and the weak Cheryl who has been confined for six days). Plus of course the reveal of Raina realizing just how much she and the other inspectors had been barking up the wrong tree.
Other things of course come into play with Kate and company digging into Dr. Meade's past to find out she had been confined as a child in a similar way, however the actual plot does still have loopholes. As creepy and intriguing as the story is, the final act doesn't really wrap up all the reasons as to why. I guess at that point it's more about the rescue of Raina and Cheryl than the how and why.
A few other things worth mentioning are the developments in the Raina/Johny department. In the first half, Raina is starting to question how she feels about Johnny. In the second half, Johnny is torn up about Raina having gone missing and offers up a $100,000 reward on her behalf. The love and caring is there, but this relationship lacks chemistry and steam.
I have yet to see the last few episodes of the season so I don't know if there is a Raina/Johnny break up on the horizon, but that's where it seems to be heading. Then again, this version of Johnny (Mel Jackson) has always seemed to lack steam with Raina. James Lesure filled the Johnny role last season and with him there was a palpable chemistry between him and Taraji. There was a sexiness to their relationship and James filled the charming cocky baseball player role perfectly. Mel is fine, but comes across as very blah.
But regardless, even so the reunion between Raina and Johnny seems forced. Raina has just been rescued and reunited with Johnny and nothing. We get a hug and there is an obvious affection there, but they don't act like two people very much in love. I don't even think there was a kiss. The whole time I was picturing the other inspectors and their loved ones in the same role. What if it had been Jinny/Hank, Magda/Gabe or even Kate/Louis? Heck, Hank showed more passion and concern for Jinny when she just lightly bumped her head in a routine arrest.
Then again, I did enjoy that we saw Nate's obvious concern over his partner's welfare. Here he was downright big brother protective, right down to almost getting in a brawl with Johnny when he confronted him about his whereabouts and as to whether he played a part in Raina's disappearance.
Nate is starting to realize that his partnership with Raina might be different than the one he shared with CD, but the bond between partners is there and growing in a different way. Nate seems very much the protective big brother to Raina's teasing little sister role. They might not be as tight as Nate/CD or Magda/Jinny, but they are working on it.
Great episodes. Though I admit I'm very much looking forward to Jinny's return.