After not NEARLY enough commercials to give my hands respite, Emerson is back at the Pie Hole, and back to his old, secret-keeping self. He doesn't want to give Ned and Chuck too many details about Lila or his daughter because "it's complicated." Chuck insists, however, that if Lila did come back to town to steal that Dam Ruby, and if she is a suspect in Stingwell's murder, they've just been hired to find her. "I've spent the last seven years, tracking down her and my kid," Emerson grimaces. (Three times I typed "Emerson grimersons." Three times.) "Lila is a wiley genius. A man-eating, shape-shifting grafter who knows how to get in and get out and vanish like heat off a blacktop." Ned and Chuck look at him with sympathy. "At least we could try," Ned says. "We need to try." Emerson sighs anew. Maybe he could give it one more shot. "I don't know your daughter's name," Chuck says, smiling a little. "Penny," Emerson says. "My daughter's name is Penny." And, before I can start tearing up from the inherent Rescuers associations, Jim Dale gives us the facts. Nine years ago, Rollie Stingwell hired a bearded (!) Emerson to tail his fiancée, Emily, who he suspected of having an affair. Ah, but she wasn't having an affair -- she was merely going off alone to the forest on furtive trips to seek solitude and ornithology. "But hiding from a birdwatcher in a Lincoln Continental is not easy," JD says of Emerson's attempts at surveillance, "and so Emily and Emerson began sharing her hours of solitude over soup and sandwiches in the woods. With each passing day, Emerson grew more blind to the fact that he was approaching "the thin line between stake-out and make-out." Hee, Jim Dale. He and Emily fall in love, despite the wrongness and despite Emily's revelation that she is, in fact, not Emily but Lila, a grifter who came to town to steal Rollie's Ruby. Emerson returned the money to Stingwell, of course, but what he could not return was his client's fiancée, or the new life growing inside her. Furious, Stingwell swears that if Lila ever grifts again, it will be her last, and she swears to stay straight. Meanwhile, Rollie builds Papen County Water & Power into a juggernaut of wealth.
The facts having been presented, Emerson takes Chuck and Ned to the Water & Power company (complete with a circa-19th century historical photo of dam workers, into which Fred Williamson has been Photoshopped), where they are met by Taylor Philbean, who introduces himself as their Dam Guide. "When there's a bigger group," he deadpans, "this is where I wait for the laugh to die down." And that was his one joke. He is cute, but why did they bother giving him a name? While they wait for Taylor to lead them to the inner sanctum of the dam company, Emerson explains to Chuck and Ned that Lila was unable to leave behind her life of crime. "People's nature is like a river," he says. "You can only keep it dammed up for so long." Apparently, one day Lila packed up the baby and went to Stingwell's looking for the ruby. When she couldn't find it, she stole $50k in cash and took off. As Emerson is admitting he was blinded by love, he is really blinded by Taylor, who sets off a big flash with the security camera. Emerson wants to know if it records every visitor to the dam. "Yes, should you be planning to blow up the dam and flood the valley," Taylor says, "one copy is kept on file and another is available for sale as a keepsake on the way out." Hee. This is both amusing and handy -- they find a photo in the files taken of Lila the day Stingwell was killed. Stingwell's secretary remembers seeing Lila, who had a private meeting with Rollie. She goes on to say that the police have already been there, asking questions about the multi-million dollar contract Rollie had been negotiating to replace all the pipes used to bring water to the city. The secretary thinks his death has nothing to do with Lila OR the pipe deal. Her theory centers around a local company she caught dumping chemicals into the dam reservoir. "And you blew the whistle?" Ned asks, impressed. "You go, girl!" The secretary, responsible citizen though she may be, is still a bit kooky, as you'd expect. "One drop of certain mind-altering drugs," she twitters, "and we'll all be zombies under the control of those secret signals on FM radio." The two guys standing there with a dead and re-alive girl look at her like she's crazy.