Over the Edge
Nov. 15, 1997
James Whitmore Jr.
Tony Blake & Paul Jackson
Over the Edge
IN SPOKANE, WASHINGTON; Jarod (as Jarod Shatner) has become a part of the local USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) team, an elite group of rescue workers who can enter into areas were local police and emergency personnel would have trouble gaining access, such as the outside of high-rise buildings or over the side of bridges. Jarod is investigating the injury of one USAR crewman named Chris Wellman, who fell -- or jumped -- from a four-foot tower on the USAR Training grounds. Chris didn't die from his fall, but he was left comatose for a while, and then remained in the hospital after regaining consciousness, suffering from post-trauma shock and amnesia. The company's insurance won't pay for his injuries, however, since it was generally accepted that Chris had attempted suicide. He had been "depressed" for a while before his injury, and investigators found a suicide note logged into his personal computer.
Jarod, however, finds that Chris's fall wasn't attempted suicide and wasn't an accident. Jarod hypothesizes that if Chris had, indeed, jumped from the top of the four-story training tower, he should have died instantly upon impact with the ground. The fact that Chris survived the fall suggested he hadn't fallen the full four stories. There was also trauma and bruising to Chris's lower back that couldn't be easily accounted for. Simulating Chris's fall, Jarod determines that Chris had been practicing with life-lines and repel ropes over the side of the training tower; that when he was halfway down the side of the tower, his ropes had been cut by someone, and he had then fallen to the ground back-first, landing on the large rings that had secured him to the lines. The rings accounted for the bruising on his lower back. [If Wellman had taken a suicide jump from the tower, he wouldn't have had his life-saving gear on, Jarod understands.]
Jarod also discovers that Chris's "depression" was caused by the fact that, after the death of his father, he had been unable to locate his estranged mother. Jarod finds the mother, Grace -- a recovering heroin addict -- at a free clinic in Spokane, where she's receiving methadone treatments. Jarod follows Grace to the ramshackle hotel (the Hotel La Salle) where she's staying and encourages her to visit Chris in the hospital, but Grace doesn't want Chris to see her. She's embarrassed by her addiction, and doesn't believe she's ever been a good mother to her son. She tells Jarod -- her voice filled with self-loathing -- “I’ve always been a great addict... but I'm worthless as a mother!" Jarod gives her the gift of some Ogden Root (an organic medicinal herb) to help soothe the latent symptoms that correspond with her recovery from her addiction, and tells reminds her that she had once found the strength inside of herself somewhere to quit heroine; perhaps she can find that same strength again, and use it to help her go to her son.
The dynamic between Chris and his mother, reminds Jarod of his own longing to see and be with his own mother again. "I would give anything to feel her arms around me..." he says. He uses a sensory deprivation tank (a.k.a. "isolation tank") to drift off, in his mind, in search of her. He succeeds in forming mental images of her, and can sometimes hear her voice, but is unable to touch or feel her.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE CENTRE, Mr. Raines has hired a man named Dr. Curtis, a criminal behaviorist, to try to find out who had shot Raines' oxygen tank in Boston (and left Raines burned and dependent on skin grafts). Curtis interviews everyone who had been in Boston at the time of the shooting, including Sydney, Broots, and Miss Parker. Although Curtis is able to aggravate both Broots and Sydney into displaying anger in front of him, he's not prepared for Miss Parker's reaction to his questioning.
Before their discussion even gets off the ground, Miss Parker -- who openly refers to Mr. Raines as "Scar man" -- grabs Dr. Curtis by his necktie, strangles him with it until he drops to his knees, and then finds the mini-video camera tucked inside of his clothes. Miss Parker turns the eye of the camera to her, looks directly into the lens, and says, through her teeth, to Mr. Raines (who is watching the videotaping from the ICU in The Centre): "If I'd shot you, you son of a bitch, you'd be dead. Are...we...clear?"
BACK IN SPOKANE, Jarod discovers the truth about Chris's injury: Another member of the USAR team, Bobby Cain, had been sexually harassing the only female member of the team, Jo Ellen Gillespie, and Chris found out about it. When Bobby's harassment of Jo Ellen had started, she'd tried to laugh it off, thinking it was just a form of intense flirting, but then Bobby's advances became so aggressive that Jo Ellen got scared. She didn't tell her superiors, though, because she believed she'd be ostracized from the group by the other men, labeled a "black sheep" of the squad, or perhaps even lose her job. Bobby also out-ranked her, and she felt his "connections" would protect him from any sort of formal complaint. When Chris found out what Jo Ellen was going through, he'd confronted Bobby, and even wrote up a report detailing the harassment Jo Ellen had had to endure. When Bobby found out, he tried to kill Chris by cutting his repel lines when Chris was training on the tower... but the attempted murder didn't succeed. Chris didn't die from the fall.
Jarod goes to Jo Ellen and tells her she has to file a complaint against Bobby so the truth is known... her claims are supported by the fact that Bobby had done the same thing to another woman in Portland, Oregon; but had intimidated the woman so severely that she dropped her charges against him and quit the corps. If Bobby was going to be stopped, Jo Ellen would have to speak up for herself. Jarod, however, aids her in her cause by setting Bobby up and forcing a confession out of him.
Answering what he believes is a 9-1-1 call, Bobby goes to a multi-story bridge in town where a workman has apparently suffered a heart-attack on his over-the-side-of-the-bridge scaffolding and is unable to move. Jarod goes with Bobby, but doesn't tell him that the call is a fake. The "victim" on the scaffolding is actually a poet-derelict named Spencer, whom Jarod has befriended. (Spencer lived in an abandoned trailer right next door to the USAR training facility, and carried around with him at all times a small hand-held tape recorder into which he'd recite poetic verses as they came to him.)
When Bobby hitches himself to repel ropes and goes over the side of the bridge to rescue the "victim", Jarod sees to it that the winch holding Bobby's lines fails. Bobby drops several dozen feet, before Jarod pulls the brakes on the winch and stops him from falling. When Bobby demands to know if Jarod's fiddling with the winch is some kind of sick joke, Jarod answers him: "This is no joke, Bobby. At least, I'm not laughing."
To demonstrate what will happen to Bobby if he's allowed to fall further, Jarod drops a watermelon off the side of the bridge. It plummets past Bobby and hits the ground, where the force of impact causes it to "explode" into pinkish shreds and pieces. Jarod then threatens to let Bobby follow the watermelon, if Bobby doesn't confess to his crime. Screaming hysterically, and begging Jarod not to kill him, Bobby confesses that he caused Chris's injuries. Spencer gets Bobby's confession on his tape recorder; nevertheless, Jarod still loosens the brake on the winch again and lets Bobby fall (still attached to his ropes) until he's only inches away from the ground. Then Jarod slams the brake on again, and leaves Bobby dangling there until the authorities can be notified.
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS LATER, in the wharf district in San Francisco, Dr. Curtis brings his finding to a warehouse where a figure is waiting for him in the shadows. He tells the figure that he did what the figure asked him to do: he told Mr. Raines that he was unable to determine, exactly, who had done the shooting in Boston. Curtis then hands the figure a black folder in which, he says, are his REAL findings. Apprehensively, Curtis tells the figure, "So... we're even." The figure steps out of the shadows. It is Jarod -- or someone who looks exactly like Jarod. He answers Curtis with a flat, "...For now..." and withdraws into the dark again. Shaking and sweating, Curtis breathes a nervous sigh before leaving the warehouse.
BACK AT THE CLINIC where Chris is hospitalized, Jarod and Jo Ellen are pleased when Chris's mother, Grace, shows up to visit her son. Jarod escorts Grace into Chris's room, and watches as mother and son interact: touching, smiling, crying, kissing one another...
LATER, Jarod returns to his isolation tank and conjures up images of his mother again. She reaches out to him, tells him that she loves him, and takes his hand... Inside the tank, Jarod open his eyes, wraps him arms around himself...
... feeling her hold him...
...and the rolls onto his side in a fetal position...