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In the first of two Instinct episodes, televised on CBS Sunday, 11 August 2019, we found Yale Psychology Professor and NYPD consultant Dr Dylan Reinhart (Alan Cumming) and NYPD Det Lizzie Needham (Bojana Novakovic) “go undercover in New York’s erotic underworld when they investigate the murder of a high-powered public relations rep. Also, a glamorous love from Julian’s [past] comes back into his life with a proposal he can’t resist.”
Even though Dylan and Det Ryan Stock (Travis Van Winkle) were hoping to control the narrative, in the previous episode the public was made aware the Sleeping Beauty killer exists when a popular podcast producer blows the lid of the case. Dennis Walker (Drew Gehling), the host of a true-crime podcast, made promises to the police that he wouldn’t speak of the Sleeping Beauty killer on his production.
While the Sleeping Beauty killer’s telephone call initially seems to have been broadcast live as it was happening, it is later revealed the call was a voice mail message left for the podcaster earlier in the day. The podcaster merely edited the message into an episode of his production to make it appear he was speaking live with the killer.
Dylan was hoping to control the narrative. Even though the police were dealing with a copycat killer during this episode, the Yale psychology professor sought to regain control of the narrative. Dylan talks Lt Jasmine Gooden (Sharon Leal) into allowing Ryan to make a guest appearance on Dennis’ podcast so that they can regain control of the narrative and goat the killer into calling Ryan directly.
Meanwhile, as Ryan and Det Anthony Fucci (Danny Mastrogiorgio) focus their collective efforts on the Sleeping Beauty case, Dylan and Lizzie still have the copycat case to resolve.
The psychology professor saw this latest kill for what it was because the scene wasn’t left as clean as the authentic Sleeping Beauty killer leaves his crime scenes. A gunshot wound to the chest rather than a bludgeon is not indicative of how the Sleeping Beauty killer leaves his victims.
With this latest kill, the killer had shot the victim before covering the body. No thought went into planning this killing. Because it was sloppy and disorganised, it’s almost as if the killer was in a panic when the death occurred.
The victim’s attire suggests that she was enjoying a night on the town when the incident happened. There was no evidence suggesting the victim was posed. It was not until Ryan takes a closer look at the body that anyone realised the victim was wearing a wig.
In the victim’s pocket, there was found a hotel key card. Julian Cousins (Naveen Andrews) had previously stayed at the New York hotel and was familiar with the establishment. Subsequently, after Julian tells Dylan and Lizzie about the hotel and its clientele, they have a starting point for their investigation.
The scene with the hotel concierge, Gemma (Molly Griggs), and the irate guest is accurate. People do speak with hotel employees with such disrespect on a regular basis. The more high-class the establishment is, the less respect guests afford hotel employees. People like this hotel guest feel that, simply because they have money, they are better than everyone else. That’s not the case. Money doesn’t make one better than someone else, it just makes them wealthier.
Dylan asks Gemma if the name Sasha (Myles Clohessy) means anything to her, but it didn’t. Who is Sasha and what is his connection to Vivian?
When at the hotel, Dylan and Lizzie discover the victim’s name was Vivian. Vivian’s ID, an image of the one the hotel had on file, shows that she was a resident of Dallas, Texas. With the hotel being what it is, it goes without saying that Vivian was a rich guest with significant means at her disposal.
While there was a strong possibility Vivian was a madame, such a conclusion doesn’t explain the presence on her arm of a night club stamp which can only be seen under ultraviolet light. With no leads as to where Vivian might have gotten the tattoo, Dylan and Lizzie return to the hotel to speak with the concierge. If there is anyone at the hotel that knows anything about the tattoo, it’s the hotel’s concierge because this is typically the go-to-person for everything under the sun.
Gemma tells Dylan and Lizzie that she got Vivian access to an exclusive club for people which caters to people with a certain proclivity. Elysium Underground, an erotic lifestyle club, is an incredibly expensive, selective, and exclusive establishment.
Even though a lot of a concierge’s job requires the person to secure restaurant reservations and theatre tickets, there will always be guests that will want something extra. Because Dylan and Lizzie needed access to the club, Gemma was able to secure reservations for them.
Considering the exclusivity of the establishment, it meant both Dylan and Lizzie were required to dress appropriately for the occasion. With Dylan going undercover, there was a minor spat between the psychology professor and his husband Andrew "Andy" Wilson (Daniel Ings). Julian’s presence gave Andy the wrong impression. It reminded him of the days when Dylan worked for the CIA. Realising Dylan was working on an NYPD undercover operation, Andy only calmed down when he saw Lizzie and the way she was dressed. Lizzie hit all the right notes for the occasion.
Julian provided both Dylan and Lizzie with some seriously nice undercover surveillance tech which is not typically available to the NYPD. Did you see that necklace Julian got for Lizzie to wear? There is no way the NYPD could afford the tech in this piece of jewellery.
While Lizzie was ready to go undercover, this didn’t prevent Julian from being concerned as to the detective’s safety. Julian’s concern for the detective only intensified when he lost contact with Lizzie via the tech she was wearing.
Once Lizzie had found the elusive Sasha, Dylan having rescued the detective from a sticky predicament, there determined they no longer needed to remain at the club.
After leaving the club, Dylan and Lizzie waited nearby to see Sasha exit. Sasha, because there had been a spate of muggings in the area, almost attacked Dylan and Lizzie. They were following him. What was Sasha supposed to think? It’s not as if they were carrying a copy of The Watchtower, not that that would have been just as bad as being mugged. Could Vivian’s death have been the result of a mugging gone wrong?
Elsewhere, as Dylan and Lizzie continue to investigate their case, Ryan was live on Dennis’ podcast to discuss recent happenings in the Sleeping Beauty case. Because of Dylan’s understanding of the case, Ryan does everything the psychology professor suggested.
With Ryan having made an appearance on the true-crime podcast, the real Sleeping Beauty killer calls Ryan. From the way the killer spoke with Ryan, it suggests he feels it’s just a game. Despite Ryan not being completely convinced the person calling him was the real killer, with certain details not revealed to the public, the killer establishes his identity.
Ryan doesn’t feel there was anything meaningful in the call that they could use, but Dylan was quick to observe certain salient details which both Ryan and Anthony missed. Dylan noticed the killer demonstrated a familiarity with Ryan which suggests he knows the detective personally.
Meanwhile, as Dylan works with Ryan, Lizzie continues to investigate the copycat killing. Lizzie found on the floor of an alley close to the hotel chipped nail polish which points to the concierge. Gemma, being in a lot of debt, found it difficult to make ends meet.
The hotel management expects its employees to dress a certain way but pays them next to nothing to keep that standard. Gemma, sick of wealthy self-absorbed people that hardly ever tipped, mugged them because of her growing resentment.