The fourth installment from season two of USA’s mind-bending thriller Falling Water gets its title from the Swedish word for “dream.” “Dröm” also happens to be the name of the questionably nefarious Bill Boerg’s latest tech venture. Learn what role Boerg plays in Tess, Taka, and Burton’s mission to take down the Shadowman in the below recap.
Taka finds links between Hull/Bedford’s dreamer employ and the mysterious dröm
After being unable to sleep in his new quarters above the Mirona family’s restaurant with Tess, James, and Burton (he’s been plagued with nightmares of his girlfriend-turned-mommy killer, Sabine, and his coma patient-turned-corpse mother, Kumiko), Taka puts his insomniac tendencies to use and builds an investigation board linking everything they know so far.
Dreamers Olivia Watson, the late Dr. Leon Ralston, and the rest of the names on Burton’s list from the firm were receiving payments from an unknown employer via bank routing numbers belonging to a shell corporation situated in the Bahamas, Sycorax Industries Ltd. They were also receiving text messages from a medical research company called dröm. There’s no proof yet, but the three of them are convinced that it links back to Hull/Bedford and that the Shadowman may, in fact, be a “major league dreamer” from the roster of dreamers being employed like Olivia.
Their first step to unlocking these question marks is to visit dröm’s headquarters in New York City’s financial district. But after Taka gets a call that the RV that parked outside of his apartment was spotted in Brooklyn, he heads that way while Burton and Tess split off to visit lower Manhattan. Initially against her better judgment, Tess learns to trust the Mirona family and leave James in their care; she suspects it’s good for him to spend time with Ronnie, a young, normal boy his own age.
Meanwhile, Woody successfully collapses Mayor Elizabeth Harding’s reelection campaign
Coming off his dream with Elizabeth (in which he learned that her daughter, Amelia, may secretly have an extramarital biological father named Greg), Woody begins this episode by doing some digging in Elizabeth’s campaign office, tricking her assistant into looking up all men in her contact registry named Greg. Then with last names and contact information acquired on three Gregs, he’s off to dreaming.
Tracking down the first Greg and dreaming with him, Woody learns that he was just Elizabeth’s financial adviser; the second is dreaming of getting steamy with another man in the shower (so he’s out); but the third and final one, Greg Bachman, proves to be his guy. He’s having a dream of his teeth rotting and falling out over his bathroom sink when Woody appears behind him. He asks him about his thoughts on Elizabeth Harding, and Greg’s face drops. “Liz?” Elizabeth then appears in the mirror behind him, and he screams and punches the mirror out, shattering it with his fist. Clearly if just hearing her name incites an emotional response like that, something’s up.
Woody wakes and does some more digging for details to bring to Taylor Bennet, which he does later that night. Meeting with her, her Rottweiler Brutus, and Elizabeth’s political opponent for mayor, Phillip Whittaker, in the back of Taylor’s limo, Woody reveals that Mayor Harding and Greg Bachman met at a charity event years ago and had a six-month affair until Harding became pregnant. Furthermore, Elizabeth’s husband doesn’t know that Amelia isn’t his biological child.
Not even questioning Woody’s tactics for acquiring this information, Phillip is thrilled and wants to tell the press the career-ending bombshell first thing the next morning, but Woody interjects. He wants to convince Elizabeth to drop out of the race quietly, concerned that a scandal of that magnitude would overshadow any of Phillip’s real campaign efforts. “We don’t need to create a circus, especially if there’s a chance that it could lead back to us.” Against Phillip’s wishes, Taylor agrees with Woody.
The next day, Woody meets with Elizabeth for dinner. She only has a few minutes, but says she “stopped by because you said you had something important to tell me that couldn’t be discussed over the phone.” He breaches the subject by saying that he’s already taken steps to protect her until she decides how she wants to proceed. But before he can properly warn her of the allegations to come, her phone starts blowing up and she spies on the television monitor behind her a familiar face: Greg Buchanan. He’s being hounded by press: “Is it true that Mayor Harding had your love child?” In shock and on the brink of tears, Elizabeth stands, grabs her bag, and leaves Woody at the table.
Tess is reunited with Bill Boerg
While the last we had heard of Bill Boerg was that he’d divested from his company and gone into hiding, it turns out that he’s alive, well, and continuing his tech ventures right in the heart of New York City. Of course, Tess and Burton don’t know that he’s the mind behind dröm … yet.
The two of them walk into the expansive, white-washed lobby of dröm’s FiDi building just to be turned away from the automated receptionist, but Bill, from behind his monitor in back, recognizes Tess right away and comes out to greet them. “You have no idea how happy I am to see you, Tess,” he says. “I thought I’d lost you forever.” While tensions are understandably high upon their reunion, they eventually calm when it’s clear that their cooperation can be mutually beneficial.
The new technology Bill has been working on, which he calls the “neuronet” and allows dreamers to infiltrate others’ dreams from miles and miles away instead of being restricted to 100 meters, could help Tess and Burton find the Shadowman. Bill concedes that the list Burton has of the bank routing numbers belongs to test subjects from his dröm technology.
Bill brings them to the back of his facility to showcase a series of sleep pods that were meant to one day replace the internet modem for an all-new form of connectivity. Thing is, he never quite got it right. Pressed for more information on his test subjects, Bill says that there was one dreamer who was particularly strong named Lainie Whickers. “She had talent,” he says. Bill’s never seen any dreamer with strength the likes of what Burton and Tess are describing with the Shadowman, but he agrees to show them more information on his subjects to see what they can learn. Lainie, for one, has been missing ever since she quit Bill’s tests, so Tess agrees to try to find her by sleeping in one of the pods and seeing what they’re capable of.
Immediately upon sleeping and entering Lainie’s dream from afar, Tess hears singing. She’s on an old, fairy tale-like estate -- Lainie’s grandmother’s home -- and it appears empty except for that angelic voice ringing through the vast, wooden halls. She goes to the home’s second floor but can’t find where the singing is coming from; it appears to be emanating from a singular wall with a giant painting of a wood-nestled castle framed in the center. Confused, she wakes up without finding Lainie.
Bill immediately knows what’s going on though; Lainie was a strong enough dreamer to construct her own dream space and she seems to have found a way to hide inside of that space. Their best bet, he says, is to find a Skater -- someone who can ignore the restrictions of a dreamer’s creation and basically “walk through walls.” (You’ll remember that Burton discovered he has that ability late last season, so he volunteers to join Tess to enter the castle in the painting.)
They fall asleep, enter the estate, find the painting, and together, enter it. “I’m not really sure how it works; it’s just something I discovered I can do,” Burton admits. They come to in the middle of the woods and venture to the front gates of the castle. Inside, they find Lainie singing by herself in a wicker chair, but she doesn’t look like the powerful dreamer they’ve been looking for. She’s frail, and the color’s drained from her face. “Are you real?” she asks, standing upon their entry. But before much conversation can be had, she’s jolted back down into the chair and she cries that “they” won’t let her go. It seems she’s being held there against her will.
And in the real world, we get glimmers of her experience as she struggles to open her eyes. We see her hooked to an IV drip and being restrained by an unknown man. Is she being kept in a medically-induced coma? Tess and Burton also spot a passing road sign: She’s five miles outside of Amsterdam. Before much else can be answered, they both wake up and each have a bloody nose (an apparent side effect to the pod, Bill assures). Without much to go on, one thing seems clear: They have to find out where Lainie is, who’s holding her captive, and why.
Taka gets more than he bargained for in Brooklyn
It’s a wonder why Alex continues to appease Taka’s erratic and somewhat irrational behavior considering she doesn’t know about his dreamer capabilities and believes he’s acting off of “hunches,” but by episode’s end, they’re finally on the same page and she’s brought up to speed.
When they get to Brooklyn to check out the RV, no one is inside, but Taka’s not convinced; he breaks the driver’s seat window and makes his way inside to confirm and -- what do you know? -- no one’s inside.
Even though Alex is maddened by Taka’s acting out (“This doesn’t work without complete trust; I know that from experience.”), she stays by his side through the night to stake out the RV and see if the driver ever returns. He doesn’t. They do get a surprise guest, however, in the form of a middle-aged man in his underwear walking down the middle of the street and singing “This Little Piggy Went to Market.” Alex and Taka exit their patrol car to investigate the situation and get him out of the way for traffic to pass, but that’s when the man unexpectedly pulls a handgun, cocking it and turning it on himself, point blank in the head.
Later, while the police tape goes up and others come in to assess the situation, Taka spots a man coming out of the same brownstone that the man in his underwear came out of. He can’t make out the man’s face; it’s dark and he’s wearing a navy blue baseball cap low on his eyes. But still, Taka has a feeling something’s up and tells him to stop. He doesn’t, and it turns into an all-out chase down the street, hopping fences and all. Alex follows close behind.
The unknown man overtakes Taka, however, once they’re in an alley and he gets his hands on a wooden plank; he knocks Taka across the head and runs off. Alex doesn’t show up until Taka is nearly unconscious on the ground. He tells Alex it was “the RV guy” and is brought into the hospital shortly thereafter. He wakes up to find Alex is at his bedside. “Maybe you can tell me what the hell that was all about,” she says. “He’s the guy who owns the RV, and I’m pretty sure he caused that man in his underwear to blow his brains out,” he responds.
That’s when Taka takes the plunge and cautiously explains everything: He can enter people’s dreams if he sleeps near them. This is the first time Alex is hearing anything about entering others’ dreams, and she doesn’t believe it’s possible, but Taka proves her wrong by entering her dream later that night while she sleeps at his side to make sure “you don’t have a psychotic break or something.”
“Dröm” ends with Alex finally realizing that Taka doesn’t have “hunches” after all, but that he’s actually gathering evidence straight from another person’s subconscious. As she’s coming around to believing him, Taka re-emphasizes that the man in the blue cap infiltrates people’s dreams and makes them do terrible things that they would never normally do. He had a hand in the Morrison murder, in the suicide they just witnessed, and in Kumiko’s death. “I call him the Shadowman,” Taka says, “and I need your help to take him down.” Alex agrees to help but only if they “do this as much by the book as possible” because “intuition cannot be proved in a court of law.”
“Alright,” Alex says. “Let’s get you checked out of here and go find your Shadowman.”