Harper's Island: Splash!
Harper's Island: Splash!
They didn't get me. Not at all. Not for a moment. I knew it all the time. I was always certain.

Knowing that every episode of Harper's Island so far has ended with a character having a quiet, seemingly private moment only to die in a brutal and expected way the producers laid out the cheese. They lured fans in by having Trish the bride and seemingly one of the safest characters on the show wander into a seemingly inescapable death trap in classic Harper's Island style. Just to make the moment more convincing the producers had refrained from having the killer claim any new victims throughout the episode, and since we know it's an iron clad guarantee that someone will die each week we knew something big was coming.


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Perhaps a bit tipsy, she tripped over her own two feet and fell into the swimming pool, floating around merrily with a blow up doll, when the retractable pool cover began to close. She was trapped underneath, gasping for air, finally passing out and sinking. Just when it seemed like there was no way to misread the fact that Trish had just died the producers snapped the rat trap on the hands of their baited fans. Gotcha. Her husband-to-be happens by just in time to see her struggling and he saves her life.

Technically the network didn't falsely advertise Harper's Island's main premise. This week - like every week - at least one of the 25 characters did die. "One by one." But it had certainly seemed implied by the series' premise that the characters would all be murdered and their deaths would serve as clues to the identity of the killer. That could be the case in the case of Trish's near death but not in Booth's actual shotgun accident, right?

The gun never left Booth's hand, and unless someone snuck in while the bag was lying around on the table and they booby trapped the gun to go off Booth's death was what it appeared to be, an accident. I don't have a great deal of experience holding handguns but from the once or twice I have had the opportunity to handle guns close up - a live stunt show demonstration, my uncle's hunting stash - I've always found the triggers to be very stiff. It strikes me that it would be hard to accidentally pull the trigger all the way, it tragically does happen sometimes, and happens frequently on television. So I think a cigar is just a cigar there, even if it would be interesting to explain why it was actually a pen.

Can the killer be narrowed down to Richard or Henry given that they were the only two seemingly present for Trish's near death, which looked like anything but an accident? Not necessarily. It have been theoretically possible for someone to close the pool with a remote control or by operating the wall-mounted control panel quietly in the shadows. But it's an old truism of theater that a gun introduced in act one must be fired by the end of the show, meaning that the explanation for Trish's brush with death should be there within the episode.

I've thought since the first episode that Henry was one of the killers, and the only thing working against that is the fact that it's becoming so obvious. Whether he's having mysterious conversations with the old flame, or throwing rifling competitions right before someone gets blown away, or turning up to save Trish's life he seems indirectly implicated at every turn. If Henry does turn out to be one of the killers I'll view it as a mark against the show that they tipped their hand from the premiere on.

I'm reminded of a series that had the opposite problem. ABC's The Mole had clues every week as to the identity of the contestant whose mission was to sabotage the game for everyone else. But at the end of the series when a video package showed viewers all of the clues that had been hidden in plain sight I wanted to pop them one. The clues were tiny, trivial things that could have been meaningless as easily as they could have been clues. It was like "There four courses at dinner and The Mole's name has four letters in it!" By that standard anything could have been a clue that anyone was The Mole.

But is there a middle ground between rooting an explanation so thoroughly throughout the story that the only people who will be surprised are the ones who aren't thinking about what they're watching, and making the outcome appear out of nowhere? We'll find out as we continue to watch, especially if Henry isn't one of the killers. It's questionable, though, whether anyone will be watching.

Saturday night CBS also began their new marketing strategy of airing Harper's Island right in the middle of primetime on Saturday night's, late enough everyone's gone out and early enough no one's come back. Young party people certainly don't have the market cornered on Saturday nights - not that there would be anything wrong with picking up the 18-39 demographic. But heck, anyone with a job wants to go out on Saturday evenings. I think my grandmother sometimes had Bible fellowship meetings around that time.

Will you be watching Saturday night at 9pm on CBS when Harper's Island continues?



-Henry Jenkins, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of CBS)

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