In the previous episode of Joe Pickett, Joe made a hasty decision without fully considering the consequences that he and his entire town would face. Determined to put an end to the reign of terror caused by the “Hunter-Killer” of Saddlestring, Joe found himself facing an unexpected obstacle. The hunters’ group, introduced in Episode 6, consisted of the notorious Scarlet brothers, Randy Pope, Frank, Wally, and two other members who had already been discovered dead.
Seeking information about this hunters’ group, Joe turned to Vern Dunnegan, another notorious individual in Saddlestring, who had knowledge of the conflicts the hunters were involved in. Joe’s decision to break Vern out of prison in order to get answers seemed extreme and raised ethical concerns about his authority.
What Did Vern Dunnegan Want?
Episode 7 opened with Joe finally coming face to face with his nemesis, Vern Dunnegan, the major antagonist of season 1. Vern was the person responsible for the lingering trauma that Joe and his family were living with. Nevertheless, Vern held vital information regarding the conflict that had rendered this group of hunters targets of murder. Joe sought answers from Vern about the ongoing killings, but Vern insisted on a favor in exchange for the information. He demanded his release from prison, wanting to feel the fresh sunlight before revealing the story behind the murdered hunters. Joe initially refused, determined to uncover the truth on his own.
Meanwhile, Missy, Marybeth’s mother, was grappling with internal struggles. She had to decide whether to be with Derek, who was financially unstable or dump him. Joe arrived and discussed the situation with Marybeth, who believed that Vern’s release was necessary to solve the murder case in Saddlestring. Vern, the malicious businessman and orchestrator of Joe and Marybeth’s previous assassination attempts, was set free solely to share a scandalous tale involving the hunters, which seemed to be an odd turn for the storyline to take. While other avenues existed to uncover the story, this particular development seemed designed to pave the way for more crime in Saddlestring, paving the road for more installments to the show.
Finally, Vern walked out of prison, and his demands began escalating rapidly. From fancy leather boots to indulging in ice cream and even leering at women, Vern remained unchanged. As Joe’s anger boiled over, Vern finally divulged the story behind the hunters’ killings.
A few years ago, during a dinner meeting between Vern and a deputy to discuss some land, a traumatized girl burst into the restaurant seeking help. She accused a group of hunters of drugging and sexually assaulting her. However, all the targeted hunters, who held respected positions in the community and had families of their own, vehemently denied the allegations. The authorities conducted a cursory investigation due to their standing, dismissing the young woman’s claims. The hunters had accused her of partying with them and coming on to them that night, effectively muddying the case. Vern revealed that the girl’s name was Shenandoah, a former student at Blue Sky High School, where Sheridan attended. Vern also mentioned that hunters had been playing a game of “poker” that night. This raised the alarm in Joe’s mind because he had discovered poker chips in close proximity to each murder scene, suggesting a significant link between Shenandoah and the series of murders occurring in the town.
Taking Vern along, Joe made his way to Blue Sky High. However, he “cleverly” secured Vern by locking him in the car before entering the school. Joe confronted the teacher, inquiring about Shenandoah, and was stunned to discover that she was Klamath Moore’s wife. Connecting the dots, Joe deduced that as Shenandoah had been a victim of rape and denied justice, Klamath became the one exacting revenge by eliminating the men involved, one by one.
Is Klamath The Killer Joe Was Looking For?
Upon returning to his truck after leaving the high school, Joe discovered that Vern had tampered with the steering and vanished. Joe realized that he was responsible for facilitating an impending disaster. Meanwhile, Missy glanced at a picture of the hunters’ group and called them “weirdos” because they were carrying a pink backpack to their hunting camp. Marybeth initially overlooked it, but upon Missy’s observation, she examined the photo again and recognized the pink backpack as belonging to the missing girl, Marissa. Marybeth quickly contacted Marissa’s father, who had received traced call records from Cricket and Nate and left them anonymously on his doorstep.
Joe stormed into the precinct and confessed to the sheriff that he had lost Vern. Before the sheriff could react or give a lengthy lecture on Joe’s carelessness, Joe asserted that he had solved the case. Joe proposed using either Randy or the Scarlet brothers, the only remaining hunters, as bait to capture Klamath red-handed. They agreed to employ Randy as bait, but Randy initially hesitated, fearing for his life if he set foot in the woods again. The sheriff presented him with two options: assist in apprehending the killer or face the consequences of being targeted by Klamath. Reluctantly, Randy agreed to help, although Joe harbored contempt for him due to his alleged involvement in the sexual assault and his failure to seek justice for the victim, Shenandoah. Randy continually denied any wrongdoing, but his lack of action to support the woman was undeniable. A plan was devised to lure Klamath into a trap in Bull Grove, with Randy used as bait.
Joe insisted on enlisting Nate Romanowski’s assistance, as they needed a skilled marksman in case Klamath became a threat. The sheriff reluctantly agreed to the arrangement, as he held negative opinions about Nate and believed him to be a criminal.
As Klamath learned from a police scanner that Randy was being taken into the woods, he decided to venture there alone, unarmed. This raised suspicions that he might not be the perpetrator Joe was seeking. However, as Klamath arrived in the woods without a weapon, Barnum began following him. When Klamath realized he was being pursued, a misunderstanding ensued, resulting in Barnum fatally shooting him. Barnum believed Klamath was reaching for a gun, but it turned out to be his phone in his pocket. Barnum’s impulsive decision to kill Klamath raised questions, as it appeared to be a deliberate act. Could it imply that Sheriff Barnum was also involved in the scheme?
In the final moments of Episode 7, Shenandoah emerges from the woods and slits Randy’s throat with a knife, proclaiming herself as the “Rapist Killer.” It became evident that Klamath was not the killer; he was likely heading to the woods either to locate Shenandoah or to warn her about the police trap. However, before he could reach his wife, he tragically met his demise at Barnum’s hands. Alongside the revelation of the killer, the whereabouts of Vern Dunnegan added another intriguing twist to the story, which may be unraveled in future episodes of Joe Pickett.