The Thin White Line
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Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Edited by Stephen Mark
Frank enters a hospital emergency room looking for Catherine, who is working the night shift in child counseling. Suddenly, paramedics rush in with a bloodied woman on a gurney. Frank is inexplicably drawn to the stranger, and as he moves closer, notices a curved slash on her palm. He raises his own right hand, revealing a thin white scar which matches exactly the slash on the victim’s hand. The woman dies from her injuries.
Frank asks Bletcher for any information pertaining to the victim. Bletcher reveals the woman was Anne Rothenburg, whose husband found her body when he returned home from work. It’s believed the woman surprised a burglar and was then attacked. A short time later, the same man who killed Mrs. Rothenburg shoots a liquor store clerk. Frank and Bletcher examine a security video of the murder. Frank notices the killer tossing something on the floor. When Frank searches the store, he discovers a torn playing card, half of the Jack of Spades, on the floor. A search of the Rothenburg home turns up the second matching half.
Frank tells Bletcher that, twenty years earlier, a man named Richard Alan Hance, was discharged from the service after serving two tours in Vietnam. That same year, a woman was found dead inside her home. Half a "death card," used by soldiers to designate their kills, was found at the scene. Three days later, the other half of the playing card was found beside the body of a jogger. A week after the first two murders, another pair of bodies was found. The FBI then received an anonymous tip indicating the killer was living inside an abandoned building. Frank and three of his fellow agents searched the structure for clues. Hance murdered two of the agents, dropping a playing card piece near each victim and cutting their hand with a knife. Hance then cornered Frank, scarring his hand just before moving in for the kill. But the fourth FBI agent interceded. Hance turned his gun on the agent and opened fire, killing him. During the commotion, Frank grabbed his gun and took Hance into custody.
Frank realizes that Hance’s former cellmate, Jacob Tyler, is responsible for the current murders, calling him the "living reincarnation" of Richard Alan Hance. Shortly thereafter, two more bodies are discovered in a remote area.
Despite a great deal of trepidation, Frank meets with Hance at the prison. During their discussion, Hance admits he enjoyed killing the FBI agents, as "the hunters became the hunted." Frank then realizes it was Hance who placed the anonymous tip that drew the FBI to the abandoned building twenty years earlier. And he also realizes that Jacob Tyler intends to follow the same pattern.
Tyler phones police with an anonymous tip, claiming the man who killed the liquor store owner is living inside an abandoned building. Frank and a SWAT team set up a perimeter around the structure. Suddenly, several officers are hit by sniper fire from a nearby building. Frank and Bletcher, guns drawn, rush inside. Tyler smashes Frank from behind, sending him to the ground. Thinking quickly, Frank plays to Tyler’s delusion. He shows him the thin white scar already etched in his palm. Seizing the moment, Frank knocks Tyler’s gun away from his face. Frank retrieves the weapon, but not before Tyler pulls out another handgun and opens fire, emptying the chamber. But Tyler proves a poor shot, and Frank avoids being injured. Frank then attempts to reason with Tyler in an attempt to convince him his personality has been altered. Suddenly, Bletcher arrives at the scene. Tyler raises his gun, tightening his finger on the trigger. Frank attempts to avert disaster, but Bletcher instinctively opens fire, killing Tyler.