A private jet departs from Dulles. The passenger runs a computer check on the man known as Stingray but comes up with nothing in any database.
In LA, Ray checks his voice mail and listens to a woman saying that she is involved with something that goes all the way to the top. Ray arranges a meeting with the woman and goes to a bar. Inside, the woman Kimberly Simons says that she's a clerical assistant at Aircron and heard some CIA agents saying that they were holding someone at a safehouse. Kimberly doesn't know how far it goes or even what it is, and knows all about Ray's favor arrangement. When the waitress asks for money, Kimberly says that she'll get it... and pulls a gun out of her purse. Ray dives for cover as Kimberly shoots at him, and gets outside. Kimberly goes after him, still shooting. When her gun runs out of ammo, Kimberly steps in front of a passing bus and kills herself.
That night, Ray calls Captain Nelson Riskin and says that he needs his favor. Riskin meets with Ray and tells him the results of the case. Kimberly's real name was Debbie Sylvara and she didn't work at Aircron. Debbie was a psych student at a local college and had a normal life. Riskin says that similar suicides have happened on the campus in the last six months, and Ray asks him to keep it out of the papers for a few days. When Riskin wonders how he's going to do it, Ray reminds him that he warned the favor wasn't going to be easy.
That night at Marshall Hall at the university, student Lanie Harmon discovers that Ray has moved into her room: Debbie was her roommate. He claims that his name is Mark Vaccen and has a housing card confirming his admission, and immediately makes himself at home. Lanie insists that it's a screw-up, but Ray says it's late and the admissions office won't open until the next morning. He says that Debbie took a leave of absence and notices eardrops in the medicine cabinet. Lanie confirms that they're Debbie's, and admits that it's strange.
The next morning, Ray breaks into the university computer room and brings up the names of the students who killed themselves. All of them took an Abnormal Psych class with psychiatric professor Brainard.
In his class, Brainard is giving a lecture on sociopaths and how a part of the brain governs conscience and is connected to the optic nerves. Lanie and Ray are both there, and she waves to him. As the class ends, Brainard reminds them to participate in lab hours. Lanie comes over to Ray and asks is if he went jogging, and Ray points out the cane that he's using as part of his cover. She explains that everyone has to volunteer ten hours to get through Brainard's course, and mentions that Debbie hangs out with Brainard's core group of students. Ray asks her to pull a few strings to get her into the lab despite the fact that it's late in the semester, and Lanie agrees if he buys her lunch.
The private jet touches down at LAX.
Brainard records Ray's EKG and confirms that he's there under the VA bill. The professor subjects him to what he claims is an eye-brain stress test, and gives him eye drops to dilate his pupils. Images of violence flash on the screen while Brainard monitors from the next room and pumps in ultrasound.
The mysterious Spy Master passenger takes a helicopter to the university and joins Brainard. Brainard shows him Ray's EKG patterns and the Spy Master tells the professor that Ray doesn't fit the profile: any profile. He warns that Ray is the one man who could unravel everything Brainard has put together, and was supposed to die that morning. The Spy Master says that he's known Ray for over ten years because he created him.
At the American Historical Archives house, the Spy Master sets up shop and Brainard comes in demanding answers. His superior points out that In return for his money, Brainard provides him with an army of psychopaths. The Spy Master notes that Brainard has no idea who he's dealing with, and if the AMA finds out what he's doing, he'll go to prison. Brainard reports that he has four, maybe five students prepped as assassins. He insists that the suicides were necessary before he perfected the brainwashing process, and could have predicted some of the "subjects" would break under pressure. Brainard insists that Debbie wasn't ready, and the Spy Master says that he decided to send her after Ray. He concedes that Brainard is right about needing more treatments, and decides to bring Jensen back into the country. When Brainard warns against it, the Spy Master makes it clear that he trusts Jensen more than Brainard.
At the dorm room, Lanie shows Ray Debbie's paintings and explains that she became distant and cold. Her artwork changed for the darker and she studied science even though she wasn't particularly interested in the subject, and they hadn't talked much in the last two months. Debbie spent most of her time hanging around with the suicides. She wonders if Ray is a cop because he asks so many questions, but Ray blows it off.
Jensen arrives at the dorm, takes his gun out of his trunk, and breaks into Ray's dorm room.
Lanie points out that the two of them have become the talk of the university because they're sharing a room. They return to the dorm, and Ray suddenly clutches at his ears and gets a shooting pain in his head. Lanie says that Debbie had the same symptoms, and the symptoms disappear. They continue to their room, and Ray hears Jensen inside pulling the trigger. He pulls Lanie out of the way as Jensen shoots out of the door, and then grabs the guy as he comes out. The assassin manages to outfight Ray enough to get away and head for the roof. They fight and Ray manages to get the upper hand. When Jensen throws a flying kick at him, Ray dodges and Jensen goes off the roof and falls to his death.
Ray goes down to the sidewalk below and checks Jensen's body. He finds a bottle of ear drops as Lanie comes down. Sirens sound and Ray tells her that they have to leave. Ray goes to an expensive manor and says that a friend of his lives there and owed him a favor. Lanie wonders who Ray really is, and Ray explains that Debbie tried to kill him and then killed herself. When Lanie demands answers, Ray says that all of the suicides were taking a class with Brainard. He figures that the eye drops let Brainard directly control the brain, turning the students into textbook psychopaths with the earaches as a side effect. Lanie wonders what Brainard plans to do with an army of psychopaths, and Ray figures that there's a big market for hired killers with no history. He tells Lanie to stay there until it blows over, and she should get some sleep while he goes out.
The next day, Ray meets with Riskin. Riskin confirms that Jensen lost touch with his parents 16 months ago, and Ray says that he'll give Riskin whatever he has when he has something. He then asks how long it will take Riskin to put together a unit to save him, and tells the captain that he'll be in touch.
Ray then barges into Brainard's office and makes some vague insinuation. As he talks, Ray secretly puts a tap on Brainard's phone. Ray says that he knows what Brainard is doing and who he works for, and walks out. In the hallway, Ray gets the number that Brainard calls, bluffs and gets the address from the telephone company, and drives to the AHA.
At the manor, Lanie looks through the mail and finds a letter to Phillip Meeker. Two men break in and chloroform her unconscious, and then carry her out.
Ray arrives at the AHA and goes in posing as a data systems technician. The Spy Master comes out and offers Ray a tour, and Ray stares at him in surprise. The man's thugs tape Ray to a chair in the Spy Master's study, and he says that he's on his side. They leave one hand free, and the Spy Master points out that morality has no place in politics. Ray figures that the system would deal with his teacher, and when they didn't he went freelance. The Spy Master offers him a drink and Ray takes the glass. He figures that the cognac is poisoned, and the Spy Master takes out Lanie's bracelet and explains that he treated the glass with a contact drug. He then tells his men to take Ray up in the helicopter and drop him when they're high enough.
Riskin and his unit pull up out front and the Spy Master goes to greet them. He tells Riskin that it's a CIA operation and the captain has no jurisdiction. Meanwhile, one of the officers finds Ray. Ray is awake, and tells the man that he needs a favor.
The Spy Master warns that calls will go out to Riskin's superiors, and he'll get busted if he stays. Riskin orders his men out, and when the thugs return to the study, they discover that the officer is now sitting in his underwear and Ray is gone.
Ray, wearing the officer's uniform, goes outside and removes the plastic covering from his hands. He then tells Riskin that the Spy Master has a friend of his. He admits that the Spy Master might be tied in with the government, and he tried to bust him. Ray calls the manor but gets no answer, and the Spy Master pulls out in his limo. Ray drives to the university with Riskin and his officers following.
When the officers go ahead to Brainard's office, he's meeting with two students who are helping him pack to leave. They draw guns and shoot one of the officers, and Brainard sends the students after the other one. Ray and Riskin arrive as one of the students shoots the remaining officer.
Brainard slips out the back of his office into the library. Ray goes in after him and pursues the professor through the stacks... and one of the students pursues Ray. Ray spots him and knocks him out, and the other student comes in and opens fire. Shooting back, Ray wounds her in the shoulder.
The last student arrives and aims his gun at Ray. Ray screams enough and asks the student what he is and where it ends. He tells the student to think about what he'll be once it's over. Ray says that Brainard did it to the student and a dozen of his mates, and half of them killed themselves. He asks when the boy last talked to anyone, as the boy breaks into tears. Screaming, he prepares to kill himself but Ray yanks the gun away just in time.
Riskin confronts Brainard outside, and Brainard shoots him. Wounded, Riskin shoots and Brainard crashes. Ray runs out and confirms that Riskin will be okay, and his favor is paid in full. He then goes over and threatens to shoot Brainard if he doesn't give up his boss' location.
Ray drives to the airfield and finds the helicopter waiting by the Spy Master's limo. Lanie is in the limo as well and Ray tells his former mentor that Brainard won't be coming. The Spy Master aims a gun at Lanie, insisting that he does what he has to, and Ray draws a gun on him. The helicopter starts up and the Spy Master sets an explosive charge to 45 seconds, puts it in Lanie's shirt pockets, and releases the parking brake. He then runs for the helicopter while Ray goes after the limo. The helicopter flies off as Ray catches up to the limo, removes the explosive, and tosses it away just in time. He then gets Lanie out and hugs her, while the Spy Master watches smiling as he flies off.
Later on campus, Lanie tells her friends to go on and sits down. As she takes out the note with Meeker's name and address, Ray comes over to see how she's doing. Lanie asks if he wants to grab a cup of coffee, and Ray says that he has to go somewhere but he doesn't know where or if he'll ever see her again. She figures that his name isn't Phillip Meeker, and points out that he keeps moving forward and never stops. Lanie tells him that it's hard to follow, and Ray says that he didn't plan it that way. She asks what he's afraid of, but Ray avoids the question. Lanie warns him that he has to see all the ugliness that cops do but he never sees the nice things. When Ray says that he has to go, Lanie gives him one of Debbie's paintings from before she was brainwashed and tells him to look at the other side of things. Ray kisses her and gets in his car, driving off.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 11, 2016