The first half of the episode is a wrap-up, with various folks reacting to the deaths of Bullet and (presumably, finally) Kallie: Twitch gives up drugs, Danette is actually pretty cool, Holder goes to Bullet's funeral, Lyric is working at a fast-food joint (but still hooking on the side). Things couldn't be lovelier. Linden and a suddenly separated Skinner spend the night together, planning weekends away; Caroline accepts Stephen's apology for his flip-out with an understanding grace. Everybody is acting like a person, for the most part.
Holder and Linden's next case -- an unidentifiable crispy critter in the (notably enough) backseat of a torched auto -- immediately reopens the whole thing when it turns out to be most likely Angie Gower, the Piper victim that got away, last seen talking to Bullet at that train station. So there is no "next case" for us, because the next case is the old Pied Piper case, which they suddenly remember wasn't actually solved at any point.
Complicating matters is the departmental reshuffling in the wake of Joe Mills's arrest: Reddick is getting a new partner, Linden is fully back on the force with Stephen, and Skinner's Task Force for high-profile cases is becoming a fixture. It's that last one that makes it tricky, because if -- as Stephen's psychic powers are suggesting -- the real Piper is a cop, that's going to double-wreck this ostensibly solved case, the task force, and any hope Sarah has of finding happiness with a guy she's plainly nuts about.
They hit the home of the first reported victim, a young girl who lived next door to... Carl Reddick. Not to be outdone, Sarah's own psychic powers kick in at this point and she realizes that the Pied Piper's burial ground -- which we've always known Adrian could somehow identify, after all -- was visible from the tree house Ray Seward was talking about last week: The Piper wasn't after Trisha at all, but Adrian, who saw him that December and never forgot.
Which explains why both Angie and Trisha didn't fit the MO: They weren't Killings, they were just killings. Coverup killings, rather than the thrillful killings of being a serial killer.
So the hour ends with Holder and Linden, hiding their search from the compromised department, on a race to save Adrian. And, as luck and this show would have it, that's the exact moment somebody (The Killer? Carl Reddick? A cop serial killer we don't know about? Somebody unrelated like his foster parents and this whole thing is a trick on us?) decides to come stalking Adrian down the residential streets.
To make amends for her part in Linden's kidnapping, Bullet tracked down the only surviving victim of the Pied Piper, Angie Gower. But before she could give Holder the killer's identity she was murdered, which led to an attack on Carl Reddick and a bender, which luckily ended in the prison yard during the last hours of Ray Seward's life.
Sarah runs. Her breath is ragged, like it was last night; when she breathed along with Seward and watched him die. Now, with Joe Mills in prison for the Pied Piper killings, it's the only thing she's running from.
She is always finding new places on her island, things she's never seen before.
There's a lone tree, out in a clearing. It doesn't look like a larch, but it does look like a message. She stands underneath its boughs, like a woman in a thunderstorm, and she says goodbye.
Once it was raining, at night. She was running from something, then, and she found a farm full of the dead and dying. One beast was sick, dying. She shot it through the head. She kept running, all the way home.
Sarah was like Adrian, she lived in a house that was always on fire. Sarah was like Mike Sheehan, she wore herself to the bone for children no one loved. Sarah was like Ray Seward, she held herself in silence because the world demands no less. Now she runs.
Now that it's over, Skinner can come to her. Sad, quiet in the morning on her porch.
They can nod and say it's over: She did everything she could for Ray Seward. James was so sympathetic, in the end; it was a surprise, to see him admit that their victory wasn't a victory, that all the accolades and professional success it brought them weren't untainted.
Her house is nearly empty of the things people need: Food, air. She offers him coffee. He notices she's still got the files out, and his head cocks to the side.
"He will remember," she says. "Someday." And then we will know where the monsters are.
"My wife asked me to leave, I think it's really over. She says I keep secrets, that she doesn't know me anymore."
Her heart doesn't leap, exactly. It beats.
"She's right," he admits. "I don't tell her anything. Haven't been able to for years. She doesn't want to know about a kid our daughter's age I pulled from a pond with her... neck sliced open, half-eaten by animals... So I just tell her I'm fine, you know, I'm just moving up the ladder, and... I mean, we talk about retirement. Buying a boat. But I don't want to buy a boat, and I don't want to retire."