Nothing Personal
S2 episode 8 Aired on February 24, 2018

Despite what its “Nothing Personal” title implies, the eighth episode of Falling Water’s second season raises the stakes and indeed makes things personal when Alex’s loved ones are put in danger and Woody is begrudgingly brought into the fold to take down Taylor Bennett. Catch up on all that and more with this week’s recap below.

Burton comes to terms with his haunted military past

While it didn’t necessarily relate to the main plot of finding Shadowman and taking Bennett down, Burton probably had the greatest emotional journey this week. All season long, he’s been haunted by memories and dreams of his time in Darfur, where he was stationed in his military days to take down the insurgent militia. He’s most exquisitely shaken by his memories of Ronald, a 14-year-old village native who worked as a translator for the military; he is killed by a number of bullets to the abdomen in the middle of a shootout, and Burton is unable to save him.

These dreams often leave Burton calling out in his sleep and waking in a cold sweat. He refuses to talk about this period in his life, despite a budding romantic relationship with Tess – in which she reveals Charlotte isn’t her real mother. Slowly through the episode, we learn of Ronald’s true identity: In a “family dinner” between Tess, Burton, and Clinton and Grace Mirona, it’s revealed that Ronald was actually Clinton’s younger brother, and that he would have been 22 on the day of that dinner. 

Later that night, he’s crying out again in his sleep, and in hopes of helping him, Tess falls into his dream—straight into a combat zone. It’s there that she sees what actually happened: Ronald died by a mistaken round of friendly fire. Burton shot him thinking he was one of the enemy. The dream ends with him crying holding Ronald’s dying body and refusing to leave with the rest of his troop.

When he awakes, Tess is by his side and ready to comfort. She says that he can’t keep carrying this kind of guilt around because it infects everything. She hypothesizes that he’s afraid to get close to anyone for fear of something that disastrous and traumatic happening again. “And you’re not afraid?” “Terrified,” she admits. “Well,” he says, “at least we have that in common.” Slowly but surely, they’re letting each other in and letting themselves get closer to one another. The episode ends with Burton telling Clinton the truth of Ronald’s death while Tess watches on from her balcony. He cries into Clinton’s arms, and it’s clear that everything is going to be alright—were it not for the threat of Shadowman, that is.

Things get personal when Shadowman goes after Alex’s girlfriend, Christy

Now this was some psychological warfare drama that Alex’s girlfriend was not planning on getting caught up in. This episode marks the first time that we really get to know Christy, and it’s clear from the start that she and Alex are very much in love. She’s also a lawyer, so she understands the on-the-job stressors and demands that come with working in law enforcement.

That’s why up until now, she’s let it slide when Alex sleeps in the precinct or at Taka’s. (It helps, too, that she has first-hand knowledge of Taka’s situation; she has a colleague at the District Attorney’s office who’s handling Sabine’s trial.) Alex makes the mistake, though, of continuing to visit Tom Dolan’s (a.k.a. Shadowman’s) estranged family in hopes of finding some answers. She and Taka go back to the Bronx to visit Carol, Tom’s ex-wife, and his daughter, Emily. It turns out that Carol found a pile of burning divorce papers on her front steps at 5 a.m. that morning, which would indicate that Tom was breaking his restraining order by being that closer to their home.

But Emily still stands up for her father while holding her ground and not telling anyone that she’s been in touch with him. Carol doesn’t know where Tom is staying, but it’s clear that her lawyer, Teddy Derrickson, does—otherwise, how would he have delivered those divorce papers. So Taka and Alex go knocking on his office door just to find that Tom had manipulated him to hang himself in the center of the room. When he’s attacking the messenger of his wife’s divorce papers, it’s clear the Shadowman’s killings are getting increasingly personal when not done at the behest of Bennett. But before calling in the suicide, Taka and Alex find Tom’s file, which lists his address, and their off to that third stop. But when they arrive, it’s an empty apartment, and they’re back to square one.

All this running around, however, causes Alex to miss a lunch date with Christy, which is just the most recent of many blown off plans due to this Shadowman case that Christy isn’t allowed to know anything about. All Alex will say is that this killer may have something to do with Kumiko’s death, which of course sounds ludicrous to Christy, who has it on good authority that that case is all but closed. She’s angry with Alex and begins taking it personally that work is such a large priority; she storms off to bed right when Alex gets home for the night.

They don’t see each other again until Alex is in the middle of a late-night call with Taka and Christy, zombie-like, exits the bedroom. Her eyes are glazed over and emotionless, and she wears a slight, eerie grin on her face. It quickly becomes evident that Shadowman is controlling her like he has with his other victims; Christy proceeds to call out things like, “You should never interfere with someone’s family,” while erratically tries to bludgeon Alex with a hammer. “Everyone has a family, detective,” she says. “No one wants to see their family hurt. Isn’t that right?” It’s clear, though, that she won’t be able to overtake Alex. That’s when she takes the butt of the hammer and jams it into her chest. They both fall back on the bed, and when she pulls the hammer out, she flings backwards and onto the glass bedside table. From there, Shadowman has exited her consciousness, but she’s still in critical condition and needs an ambulance. Taka later visits Alex in the hospital as she watches the woman she loves undergo tests and recuperate under medical care. “He thinks he’s unstoppable,” she says. “I’m not going to let her take her away from me. We need to end this, Taka.” And Taka is ready to be there for her: “Look, he wants to make this personal? We’ll make it personal.”

After some missteps and self-loathing, Woody comes around to join forces with Burton and company

Burton and Bill know that if Woody’s allegiances are truly on their side, that he’s one of their best bets to take down Bennett and Shadowman from the inside—but they still don’t trust him. And that amount of distrust (“Nothing Personal” literally opens with Woody enduring an interrogation about his knowledge of Bennett’s dreamer trafficking ring from his new supposed allies) eventually sends Woody on his way out the door. He admits that he wouldn’t be surprised if Bennett was involved in such affairs, but he refuses to incriminate himself for something that he wasn’t directly involved in. Later in the episode, Woody and Bill especially stand off, perhaps because both of them know the other have a few more skeletons in the closet than they’re willing to share. Woody is surprised by Bill’s eagerness to be a “we” kind of team against the wrongdoings of Bennett, when he knows full well the sort of backroom deals with dreamers that speckle his past, but Bill just sees such accusations as him deflecting attention and blame. But Woody still sees Bill in the wrong; he went from buying dreamers to buying a “cause.” “Build all the pods you want, Bill,” he says. “None of it will make you a real boy.”

That confrontation is the final straw; Woody knows when he’s not wanted. But he soon learns that he can’t even adequately run away because his bank accounts are flagged and frozen (likely thanks to Bennett’s far-reaching power). His mounting troubles lead him back to his favorite haunt, Rafferty’s neighborhood Irish pub. Rafferty is just getting ready for his shift and pulling down the bar stools for the afternoon while he admits that two men came in there looking for Woody just the other day. “Those two assholes work for someone I have irrevocably angered…. And there’s no way of talking my way out of this one,” Woody says. But Rafferty still wants to help him. “You’re a goddam idiot,” he insists. “There’s no such thing as out of moves. There’s giving up and then there’s not giving up. My point is that you’re also a selfish prick, and that has stopped working for you. Try something else. You must have some other value than being a prick, so figure it out. Sometimes, by giving up yourself, you end up getting more than you gave.”

It’s just the kind of pep talk that Woody needed, and he’s next shown jumping back in line with Bill—only this time, he approaches Bill in his dream in order to chat at a physical distance. He admits that he has no choice but to turn to Bill for help, but that even though he is out of favor with Bennett, she’d sooner deal with him than any of them. He can help them take her down from the inside. He also promises to provide protection in the dream scape; now that he knows what Shadowman’s gig is, “he’ll never get that close again.” Woody doesn’t know how they’ll take Bennett down, but if they put they’re collective heads together, they’ll figure it out. He also knows he’s walking on thin ice and better not do anything to make them question his loyalty. We’ll have to see how that holds up next week. 

Additional Takeaways:

  • Tess is pretty shaken and heartbroken to learn that Charlotte isn’t her biological mother the way she’s always believed her to be. It’s a brief moment, but Tess actually tries calling Charlotte – before the call goes straight to voicemail. Perhaps we’ll see a return of Charlotte by the end of this season? Stay tuned to find out.