Promotion
S2 episode 5 Aired on February 3, 2018

Alright, folks, we’re officially midway through season two of USA’s Falling Water, and they just threw us quite the curveball this week: We finally learn the real identity of the villainous Shadowman—meanwhile, our heroic trio of Tess, Burton, and Taka are still thrown off his scent. Catch the highlights from episode 205, “Promotion,” below. 

Taka teams up with Alex to narrow their search on the Shadowman

Now that Taka knows the man in the blue cap was the Shadowman and now that Alex is newly-reformed and awakened to the truth of Taka’s and other dreamers’ abilities, the time has come this week for them to finally be one the same page while hunting down the culprit behind this string of suicide and murder. First stop: Find out who the man who shot himself in his underwear was. Turns out his name was Brent Jankowski, and he was an investigative journalist working for an independent newspaper called The Knock out of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. So they have his editor, Miguel Lopez, into the station to ask him some questions. Miguel reveals that Brent was a tireless worker, and that he was on the brink of uncovering something on Phillip Whittaker: a political graft—a HUD kickback scheme, he says. So could it have been Whittaker’s big donor, Taylor Bennett, behind his coerced suicide?

Taka and Alex’s next bit of evidence points them right in Bennett’s direction. They learn after meeting with Lopez that based on Jankowski’s bank statements, he had just opened a storage unit in the last few weeks. But when they go to check it out, it appears to be empty. Taka’s not so sure, and after some snooping around the vacant space, he finds the one thing the late journalist had hidden there: an external hard drive with a digital audio file of a phone call between Jankowski and an apparent source. Back at the precinct, he and Alex play the file to learn that Dr. Leon Ralston, who died from that staged drug overdose earlier this season, had called Jankowski under the guise of a source for his Whittaker investigation to let him know of something even more sinister happening right under his nose: human trafficking. He says that Whittaker is just a puppet to his major donor, the one and only Taylor Bennett, and that he helped them for a time sedating the men and women and boys and girls who were ultimately being trafficked in droves. Before Jankowski can milk more information, though, Ralston jumps off the line, saying that he’ll contact him. (Of course, he never did, and now both the source and the journalist are dead.) All things considered, Taka thinks that Bennett may be the one employing the Shadowman. It clearly goes so much deeper than he or Alex ever imagined. “We’re talking human trafficking here, and the murder of a journalist by a politician to keep it all from getting out,” Alex says. “This isn’t just about Shadowman anymore—this is full-on conspiracy.”

Tess and Burton hunt down Lainie with Bill’s help

Since they last found Lainie within the painting in her grandmother’s house last week, Tess and Burton have been unable to reconnect with her—even with the use of Bill’s dröm pods. But they do know that she’s being held against her will, and Tess has a good idea that she’s outside of Amsterdam, New York near a wind turbine and a red barn. While there’s over a dozen other cities named Amsterdam in North America alone, Bill and Burton follow Tess’ gut and take the drive upstate in hopes of finding their three markers, and with them, Lainie’s captors. Bill is back to playing nice, and, surprisingly, has an explanation for why he was bidding on James in Season 1 along with Hull/Bedford and co. He was simply trying to protect him and ultimately reunite him with Tess; he knows first hand the power of the mysterious dreamer organization that now has Lainie and was close to getting James because they captured his sister (now deceased) when she was just a 16-year-old dreamer. It’s an emotional reveal shared while making their way upstate and counting Amsterdam mile-markers, but it’s interrupted by what they’ve been looking for: a wind turbine and a red barn next to an Amsterdam sign. Only unexpectedly, it’s a billboard for green, sustainable energy that they would have missed were Bill to not look out the window at that very moment.

Bill proceeds to pull up their satellite location on his tablet, and it looks like there’s only one building within a several mile radius, so they set their sights that way. On their way over to what they soon learn is an old barn, they’re nearly plowed down by a speeding charter bus, but they make it in one piece. Inside the barn is a makeshift medical facility with IV drips and straps that appear to hold unwilling patients to the bedposts. It looks like just the hospital bed that Tess and Burton saw Lainie sleeping in in her dream. But before they can investigate further, they’re held up by an intimidating man with a shotgun: “Let me guess: You folks just took a wrong turn,” he says. But Burton quickly disarms him and turns the shotgun on its owner; the man doesn’t know the details behind why he was hired to guard the barn, but he knows that the girl they’re looking for was just rushed off the premises in a charter bus—the very one that almost ran them off the road before. 

Tess, Burton, and Bill are out of the barn like a bat out of hell to catch the bus, and in no time, they coax the bus into pulling over by blocking them in the middle of the road, then they overtake the driver, a guard, and the doctor with their stolen shotgun. Soon enough, Lainie is taken from her hospital bed in the bus’s mobile medical unit and is sleeping soundly (and drugged up) on Burton’s sofa. With their mission accomplished, Tess and Burton breathe easy back in the comfort of their temporary home, but agree that despite Bill’s surge of kindness, that they’ll “try not to need him that often.”

Taka and Burton piece together their respective mysteries

Later that night, Tess is putting James to bed when Taka calls Burton with the news he and Alex have pieced together regarding Taylor Bennett’s involvement in human trafficking out of New York City. Burton confirms that Bennett has connections to Hull/Bedford, as well. Considering the circumstances he and Tess just saved Lainie under, it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination, either, to believe this human trafficking ring exists. Together, they begin connecting the dots to their respective mysteries and devising a plan to take down Bennett, the Shadowman, and to free Sabine.

And that brings us to the Shadowman…A.K.A. Mr. Thomas Dolan

“Promotion” actually opens with the man in the blue cap, whom we’ve come to understand through Taka is the Shadowman in real life. He’s shown entering a sterile, steel holding chamber with a single chair in it. He sits, and a distorted voice comes over a nearby speaker asking, “What do you have for us?” He presents a laptop and a cellphone and notebooks. (We now know those notebooks belong to journalist Brent Jankowski.) Upon his offering, a drawer opens from the wall in front of him with a large sum of money in an envelope within it. It’s clear at this point that the Shadowman is not working alone, but by the employment of some larger anonymous company. Is it Taylor Bennett pulling the strings? Time will tell.

The rest of Tom’s storyline this episode is largely dedicated to flashbacks, where we learn he was unceremoniously laid off one year ago and within six months, his home was being foreclosed on and he was still obsessing over his termination letter while his wife, heartbroken and alone, continued packing their possessions in boxes. She’s begging him to move on, and he lashes out violently, pushing her to the ground and promptly getting himself kicked out of the house. Three months after that, he’s shown living in a homeless shelter or halfway home of some sort where he’s forcefully befriended (read: annoyed) by a man named Franco, who admits to only shutting up when he’s asleep. Later that night, Tom inexplicably finds himself within Franco’s dream while they sleep on cots beside one another; in the dream, Tom realizes he carries a certain power to create and manipulate, and he promptly demands Franco to bite his own tongue off. Tom then wakes up to Franco’s screams in the real world, where he actually has bitten off his own tongue. Tom is dumbfounded, and even speaks with his social worker about his newfound abilities the next day, only to be referred to a psychologist. But instead, as is clear in the present day, Tom has found a way to be gainfully employed by using his dreamer powers for evil.

The episode ends with Tom antsy and waiting for his phone to buzz with a new assignment from his employer, but it never comes. So he instead decides to go to Rikers and infiltrate Samuel Morrison’s dream. Turns out, Samuel Morrison is the employer who laid Tom off so heartlessly just 12 months prior. In the dream, he thanks Samuel for firing him because it woke him up to his dreamer nature in the midst of his desperation—but that doesn’t mean he forgives him. The final frames of “Promotion” end with Tom, disguised as Shadowman, standing over Samuel’s grave as his ex-boss, helpless, succumbs to a flood of cockroaches. The final frame is just Samuel reaching futilely out of the grave and calling for help.

Additional Takeaways:

  • Woody is very clearly shaken by Elizabeth Harding’s ongoing troubles after she was outed last week as having a lovechild prior to become mayor. And somehow, Elizabeth knows that Woody had something to do with the media getting wind of that information and excommunicates him from the campaign. Woody goes to Taylor Bennett and Phil Whittaker to object to the way they handled the information he provided, but Bennett objects, putting Woody on the brink of tears. “Here’s your problem, Woody darling: You are under the assumption that you’re the one in control of things,” she says. “Go home, get some sleep, and wait for your next assignment like a good little boy.”
  • This episode also really highlights the ongoing flirtation between Tess and Burton. Plus, he’s getting along so well with James and he’s proving to be good to and for him as a male figure.