Welcome back to another recap of Will Trent. Once again, the episode’s title comes from a character quote, one that won’t make sense until the end: “Don’t Let It Happen Again.” This episode also takes Will and Faith away from Atlanta to Lake Lanier, a manmade like over a reservoir that replaced a town called Oscarville, the site of a 1912 lynching that drove away all of the town’s Black residents. This isn’t explained in the episode, but Faith references it several times. Let’s begin.
An old man sobs his apologies on his knees on the edge of Lake Lanier in the middle of the night. A nurse (Lindsey Shope) finds him and tries to escort him back to the care facility. But a crackling sound and a light source makes them both turn around. Sailing towards them on the lake is a boat on fire. “I’M SORRY!”, the old man screams at the burning boat.
In a conference room at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Amanda Wagner (Sonja Sohn) flips through images of the burned body discovered on the boat, showing them to Will Trent (Ramón Rodríguez) and Faith Mitchell (Iantha Richardson). The deceased is a man named Randy who was shot twice in addition to being burned. Faith makes a comment that it could’ve been ghosts, describing Lake Lanier as haunted by a displaced Black community. Amanda gives Will and Faith orders to go to Lake Lanier, adding that she hopes the town’s new sheriff is less racist than the last. Before they hit the road, Will gives Nico (Cora Lu Tran) detailed instructions for Betty’s care. Their conversation is interrupted by a phone call from a woman named Ivy, but we don’t get to hear any of the call beyond the initial greeting.
Faith eats while driving, video calling her son Jeremy (Deion Smith). After the call ends, Will asks Faith why she seems so hectic today, having missed breakfast and throwing out a theory as wild as ghosts. “How can there not be?”, she asks in response to Will’s question about the paranormal. Just then, her yellow MINI Cooper blows a tire. At an auto garage, Will explores and talks to the owner (Pat Dortch) about how he restored his 1973 Targa and would’ve been able to do it faster with his equipment. The conversation shifts to Randy, who the garage owner knew before he was mayor of Lake Lanier. Despite knowing him, the owner seems surprised that Randy won his re-election. When Will asks why, the owner says “He’s one of the lizard people.”
Will and Faith meet Sheriff Josie Miller (McKenzie Chinn) on the mayor’s private dock on Lake Lanier. Knowing that Randy was shot twice, Will and Faith begin to reenact how the struggle leading up to the shot may have occurred, which leads them to a nail on the dock that has blood on it. Will theorizes that the killer tried to run away and didn’t realize they got cut by a nail. They place it in an evidence bag to be sent to forensics.
Randy’s wife Irene (Amy Parrish) cries in Josie’s office as they ask if her husband had any enemies. She doesn’t think so, but she recalls an unusual moment a few weeks ago. A toy car was left on their porch, an orange station wagon. It seemed like such an innocent thing, but Randy was very upset about it. After Irene leaves, Deputy Riley (Avery Bigelow) enters with an evidence bag. She overheard and wanted to show Josie that a car just like it was found on the dead body of a hunter named Kramer. All of this jogs Amanda’s memory and she pulls up information from decades ago, a Black family murdered in an orange station wagon on July 4th. The sheriff at the time didn’t do much investigating. Sheriff Millie says she had never even heard of the event, adding that she recently moved to the area.
Will and Faith are forced to share a motel room for the night, When Faith sees a group of boisterous white men with hunting rifles walk past their room, Will notices how jumpy she seems and teases her about being more afraid of them than ghosts. She gets upset, telling him that bad things happened in Lake Lanier. Will opens up about how he’s dealt with his own childhood trauma, telling her that he learned to compartmentalize stressors. Faith is surprised by Will’s sudden openness and asks him to tell her something else personal. “I have a date,” he announces as he irons his suit. “What about Angie?”, Faith asks. “I didn’t say I was going.” He refers to Angie as a wall he can’t get past, but Faith tells him he should go on the date. As they talk, Faith looks through files from the orange station wagon murder and finds a report from a witness who saw four men in a car that drove away from the scene. He even reported a partial license plate number.
The next morning, Amanda reveals that the partial license plate number matches a vehicle that was registered to Kramer, the deceased hunter. She believes Randy was one of the men in his car and that time is of the essence to find the other two, who are likely targets, but also because she wants them to answer for the murder of this family. Will asks for the contact information of the former sheriff who was in office at the time of the murder. This leads him to an assisted living facility where the old man from the beginning of the episode is revealed to be Sheriff Merrick, the man who chose not to investigate the murder. The old man is rubbing his hands together, repeating “You’re ok, I got you.” Will asks who he’s talking to as the nurse comes in to calm her patient down. Another man enters (Darin Toonder), who turns out to be the man’s son. The nurse kicks them out of the room and they go for a walk. “Pops got messed up over what happened with that family,” the son tells Will when asked about the murder case. Will asks further questions and the man says he was away at college when it happened, but he learned everything from his mother, who has since passed away.
Amanda brings Faith and Josie to the home of her friend Theresa Rothwell (Avis-Marie Barnes), who ran a Black newspaper that covered stories that national news turned a blind eye to. Faith and Josie go through old files and find a folder dated July 4th, 1994, which contains many photos from that day. Among them, there’s one of four men by a Bronco with license plates that match. The two deceased men are recognized and Faith feels like she’s seen one of the others, but can’t place where. They send it to the GBI to have digital age progression applied. When it comes back, she recognizes him as the mechanic from the garage, Otis Granger.
Will, Faith, Amanda, and Josie arrive at Otis’ house, with an animal trap catching Will’s leg as soon as he steps over the property line. Otis comes out of his house with two barking rottweilers, furious that his new customers are GBI and accusing them of popping their tire on purpose to gain access to his garage. They ask about the murder. “I ain’t got nothing to do with that,” he declares. “Go ask Merrick, he’ll tell you.” Armed with his gun, Otis threatens to shoot Faith. Josie acts quickly, shooting Otis in the head.
After recovering from that shocking ordeal, Faith decides she wants to try visiting Merrick with the photo of the men with the Bronco to see if it will jog his memory. Josie asks to join her. As they leave, Deputy Riley accidentally knocks over a bike in the office and when Will asks her about it, she says it’s actually evidence that’s waiting to be taken to off-site storage. It’s then that Will learns that the police department’s off-site storage is the land behind Otis’ garage.
Merrick is able to recite the names of the four men in the photo, referring to the mysterious fourth man as “Chip.” The nurse adds that Chip is Merrick’s nickname for his son and reminds her patient that Chip isn’t coming to visit today. Faith calls Will to tell him what she learned. Will is already at Otis’ garage looking around. He and Amanda find the orange station wagon under a tarp and investigate. There are chew marks on the seat belts. Angie pulls a cassette tape out of the player. When they listen to it, they find that it’s a tape of children’s songs, but the victims of the murder were two adults and a teenager. Will wonders if Merrick’s haunting memory was him trying to console a baby from the gruesome scene. And then he has a moment of realization and makes an urgent call to Faith.
When Faith gets the call, she’s sitting in Josie’s car alone at a gas station. She had just spilled a soda and, while searching for a napkin in the car, she found a toy car of an orange station wagon. As Will announces that he knows who the killer is, Faith comes to the same conclusion. Unfortunately, it came too late. Josie is at the car window with her gun pointed at Faith, ordering her to pass over her phone and gun. “Time to get Chip,” Josie announces.
Shortly after, Faith finds herself handcuffed to Chip standing on a bridge as Josie asks him questions about the night he murdered her parents and brother. He cries as he confesses to doing it and having his father cover it up. Josie grew up without a family and learned what happened to her parents when a health scare caused her to get a DNA test. She got into law enforcement to seek revenge. Faith asks if Josie is going to kill her. “No, sis, why would I do that?”, she asks with genuine concern. “I just had to slow you down.” Josie shoots Chip in the knee, crippling him and making it impossible for Faith to run. Amanda rushes in just in time, announcing that Faith is like family to her and begging Josie to surrender. Instead, Josie backs away and jumps off the bridge.
Faith is understandably shaken by the events, especially having a tough time with Josie’s death after feeling like they had bonded during the search. “The whole thing is just so sad, and now she’s just another ghost,” Faith laments.
While all of this was happening, back in Atlanta, Angie Polaski (Erika Christensen) and her partner Michael Ormewood (Jake McLaughlin) solved a murder case that was committed by one of three identical triplets. Throughout their investigation, Michael kept pressing Angie to come to dinner at his house with his wife and family, which she was reluctant to do. She ultimately agreed when Franklin (Kevin Daniels) reminded her that it’s tradition for the wife of a cop to get to know their partner.
As dinner wraps up, Angie offers to help with the dishes, but Michael’s three kids clear all the plates away. His daughters, Cooper (Jophielle Love) and Janie (Michaela Baham), give Angie a hug at the door as she prepares to leave. And as Michael takes the kids upstairs, Angie is left alone with his wife Gina (Sara Antonio). “I invited you here so I could see who you are, look you in the eye,” Gina tells Angie privately. “And I get it now. You’re that cop who wants to lock up all the bad guys and do the right thing so that no one is looking at you.” Angie is confused about how this complement has taken a sharp turn. “Cop wives talk,” Gina says, revealing that another cop saw her entering Michael’s car late one night. “I don’t know what went on between you two, but don’t let it happen again.” Gina leaves Angie standing at the door alone in shock, rushing out as fast as she can.
Will is at home getting ready for his date when he hears a frantic knocking at the door, opening it to find Angie. She tells him that she slept with Michael a few years ago. “You and I were on a break and I was high,” she explains, adding that it was just one time. “Why are you telling me this now?”, Will asks “I’m sick of secrets,” she replies, adding that she doesn’t want him to see her as ugly. “I can never see you as ugly,” Will says as he moves closer to Angie, embracing her with a kiss. He offers to make them dinner, which brings Angie to tears and she hugs him. “I need to make a phone call,” he says as he steps away.
Will Trent returns next Tuesday, January 24th, with “My Stupid Detective Brain.”
With two dead victims and very few answers, Will and the GBI investigate a call from the state park police alongside the APD. Will, trying to get along with Ormewood for Angie’s sake, makes strides in his partnership with Faith after the two share some personal secrets.