[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Tracker series premiere “Klamath Falls.”]
“You’re going to survive.” Those are the first words we hear from Colter Shaw (Justin Hartley), a lone-wolf reward seeker who goes around helping solve mysteries, including finding missing people, in the Tracker series premiere (which scored the post-Super Bowl slot). And sure, he cares about finding these people and doesn’t collect his fee until the job is a success, but he does make sure to get that reward.
His first investigation, courtesy of his handlers Velma (Abby McEnany) and Teddi (Robin Weigert), a couple who may or may not have too many dogs (depending who you ask): 14-year-old Gil, whose mother thinks he ran off with his birth father (who has a past with drugs). But as Colter sees on a surveillance camera from a local burger joint, the man who took him isn’t his father. He sends the footage to tech genius Bobby (Eric Graise) just before he’s arrested to breaking into the restaurant’s security room, and that’s how we meet lawyer Reenie (Fiona Rene), whom Velma and Teddi call to help.
Colter and Reenie have an awkward past; they had dinner, wine … and then he snuck out of her room “like a guilty frat boy.” He tries to explain that a woman had been abducted, but she doesn’t want to hear it. (Well, they need to have some place to grow from, plus then he’s free to hook up with a local officer who warms up to him.) She gets him out of jail, and Bobby informs Colter that Gil’s birth father died six months ago. It turns out that another ex-con impersonated him because he bragged about having money buried from a drug deal and hid it where he’d taken his son camping. Colter tracks them down and, after getting shot, nearly gets the kidnapper to let him leave with Gil and chance his own escape, but then the state police move early. As a result, Colter ends up having to convince Gil to fall off a cliff into the waters below so he can swim them to safety. Both make it, and Colter gets paid.
Meanwhile, throughout the premiere are flashbacks to Colter’s life as a kid and with his father (Lee Tergesen), who was the one to teach him how to survive, including by taking him and his siblings out in the forest near a cabin to learn skills such as rock climbing and tracking. “My childhood was unusual,” he tells a local officer. His parents were both professors at Berkeley, then after some sort of incident, his dad took them to live off the grid in the cabin. “It was an adventure. My dad started to talk about these people that were out to get him, about how we all had to be prepared. Taught us how to track, how to hunt. Taught us to free-climb at this place he called Devil’s Notch,” he shares.
One night when he was 15, his brother Russell was 18, and his sister Dory was 9, their mother was out and their father told them they had to go because someone was coming. When Dory wanted to wait for their mother, their father grabbed her and Russell intervened. Their father pulled a knife, then realized what he’d done and left on his own. Russell went after him, and when neither had returned when their mother returned, Colter went searching. He found his father, dead. Up on top of Devil’s Notch, he saw Russell. “What did you do?” he called up. Russell walked away.
In the present day, someone’s trying to get a hold of Colter, even reaching out to Velma and Teddi. And Colter has multiple missed calls, plus then texts from the same number that he ignores: “Come on, Colter. Call me back. We gotta talk.” “Don’t ignore me, Colter. There is something you need to know…” “I’m not going away. you need to hear what I have to say.”
Colter then returns to the cabin, where there’s a grave marker for his father. His mom joins him, and he tells her Russell called and wonders if there’s something she knows about his brother or father that he should know. She tells him to block the number and ignore him. She’s asked very little of him over the years, but what she wants now is for him to leave it be, for everyone’s sake.
So what do you think Colter’s mom is hiding? What’s going on with Russell? What did you think of Hartley’s new show? Take our poll below, then head down to the comments section to let us know your thoughts.
Tracker, Sundays, 9/8c, CBS
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