This week’s episode starts with the discovery of a man’s dead body beneath a compost heap of animal carcasses, lending the episode its title. Unfortunately, it’s a fitting one, as this plot feels a bit dead in the water….or, well, buried under some rotting deer, anyway. The convoluted mystery takes a lot of unnecessary twists and turns. At first, the crime seems to be a random death by your average neighborhood crazy woman, who is the one busy collecting all the roadkill. Walt, with his always infallible instincts (even in the face of logic and circumstantial evidence) seems convinced she’s innocent, however. The Southwest Scooby Gang soon discovers that the woman does have a past with the victim, but someone else has done the evil deed….
There’re some unavoidable spoilers in this next part, so look away if you haven’t yet watched.
The killer turns out to be the son that resulted when the woman we first met collecting deer carcasses was raped by the murder victim. An attempt to get to know the man who was his father ends in tragedy as the son sees the father rape again, then be a grossly misogynistic braggart about it. The reveal can’t help but feel a little familiar despite its bendy-straw setup though. We saw the whole kids-lash-out-against-betrayal-by-their-no-good-parents at least a couple times in season one already. It’s an attempt to parallel the subplot of the episode, which finds Walt and Branch trying in different ways to locate the missing-in-action Cady (who ran off after Walt’s betrayal in the finale). But with so much overwrought angsting by the guest stars taking center stage, there just isn’t much for our favorites to really do this week.
That being said, there are some fun and compelling moments in the details, which is where this show often shines: some good comic relief and fun one-liners for Vic and Henry that center around a Turducken burger and a randy rest stop; a fine moment for the Ferg who rightfully points out that Walt’s refusal to entertain the crazy lady as a suspect despite them finding the body on her land is at odds with both logic and procedure; a particularly nice bit of continuity where Branch tells Walt he came to a conclusion because “I read your book” and then tosses back the copy of Sherlock Holmes that Walt chastised him with in the pilot episode.
There’s a lot of running and tackling arrests in this episode, but ironically, the most exciting scene is also the calmest. In the final moments, Cady simply walks into a Chicago PD station and asks to see Detective Failes (the impressive Charles S. Dutton). Dutton brings a different flavor and rhythm with his Northern big city cop that contrasts nicely with the general laconic tone of the show. It’ll be an interesting change of pace to watch Cady seek answers from him about her mother’s death in the Windy City.
There are so many compelling ongoing character storylines that episodes like this one, which rests so very heavily on the procedural, can’t help but feel a bit like filler. The promo for next week shows a familiar face, as Jacob Nighthorse returns to play a pivotal role in the election subplot. In fact, if so much of the episode time is going to be given over to guest stars, I’d definitely rather see it be these semi-regular ones we’ve already met, like Branch’s dad Barten or his uncle Lucien, and Walt’s lady friend Lizzie. Better yet, it’d be nice to see Henry or Ferg, or especially Ruby, get a bit more screen time with some plots of their own.
Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and Internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.