The episode opens with Carl in an alleyway papered with political posters, providing his usual opening.
July 21. Springfield, IL. Eric Berringer, a major political contributor to incumbent Senator James Talbot, is killed in a car explosion.
August 7, Lake Michigan. Dennis DeSilva, former advertising genius and now speechwriter for incumbent Senator Talbot, is aboard the family schooner, The Shooting Star. As Carl notes, "Never was a boat so aptly named." It explodes.
August 14. Carl is rushing to Senatorial candidate Robert Palmer's headquarters, and waits for an elevator. In Palmer's 40th floor headquarters, manager Steven Wald, is arguing with his candidate. Wald tells Palmer that he has checked in the candidate's hometown of Dantonville, and found evidence of bribery and voter fraud. He threatens not only to quit, but to go public with what he knows. Palmer is unperturbed, getting into the elevator with Wald. As he does so, a secretary comes racing up with a briefcase. In the elevator, Palmer waves his hand across the panel and the elevator plummets downward. Carl hears the elevator hurtling by. He rushes down to the basement as two maintenance men pry open the door and Wald, dead, falls out. There is a dog atop the pile of corpses as Carl snaps photos. The dog leaps out, attacking him. In the scuffle, Carl grabs the dog's tag, bearing a strange star, before it runs off.
Carl finishes getting photos as the ambulance and fire trucks arrive. As he leaves, unable to contact Palmer, the dog follows Kolchak at a distance. Carl goes into a bar run by his friend Louie. Carl persuades him to switch the TV to the televised debate. The incumbent, Senator Talbot, is present but Palmer is missing.
At INS, Carl is developing his photos. He takes the photo with the dog to Vincenzo. Carl is suspicious of the elevator "accident": Wald was killed, and he suspects there might be a connection to the deaths of Berringer and DeSilva. Vincenzo dismisses his suspicions, since the deaths are occurring among both parties. Then he realizes that Carl wrote down his suspicions in the story he just sent over the wires, and rushes out. As they leave Vincenzo's office, the dog fades from the photo.
Vincenzo and Carl are greeted by Miss Emily, arriving back from vacation. She has brought gifts for the office staff: artichoke pasta for Vincenzo, and a new hat for Carl. Carl is less then enthused. Besides gifts for the rest of the staff, Miss Emily has a bottle of holy water blessed by Pope Paul VI for herself. The two return to Vincenzo's office, still arguing over Carl's story. Kolchak notices that the dog has vanished from the photo. Tony assumes Carl made an error in the developing, and calls his friend Henry DeWitt, editor of the Dantonville Herald. He has DeWitt send a package of background information on Palmer to Carl.
Driving to the Palmer Estate, Carl is met at the door by Lorraine Palmer, the candidate's wife. She doesn't know where her husband is, but seems unconcerned. Carl tries to interview her, with little success. As Carl leaves, the dog from the elevator attacks him, ripping open his pocket and taking the tag. Carl returns to the house, only to be greeted by Palmer himself.
Back at INS, Carl relates to Vincenzo how Palmer turned down his request for an interview.
August 16, 8:30 a.m. Palmer goes to a secluded spot in Lincoln Park to meet with Susan Driscoll. She was Wald's secretary, and was romantically involved with Palmer at one time. She isn't pleased at having been discarded once her usefulness to Palmer was over. She was bringing Wald's briefcase to him when he stepped into the elevator with Palmer. She tells Palmer she went through the briefcase and found a sealed envelope. She knows everything about his shady past. She turns to see that Palmer has vanished, and the dog has taken his place. It attacks her. Witnesses summon two policeman, who shoot at the dog. It stands there for a moment, then runs off, unscathed. Driscoll is still alive, and taken to the hospital.
Kolchak goes to the hospital after hearing the police radio report. He talks with one of the policemen and tries to get a description of what happened. The officer is vague, but when pressed admits off the record that he fired six shots point-blank, to no effect. Later, Palmer shows up in Driscoll's hospital room. She is unconscious. He grasps the IV bottle and causes it to bubble wildly. Driscoll's monitor flatlines.
Speaking with the attending physician, Dr. Kline, Carl is unable to find out anything useful. The doctor feels that Kolchak, a layman, wouldn't understand the technical details. He threatens to get her in trouble by writing that Driscoll died under mysterious circumstances. The doctor asks what is mysterious: Carl responds by saying she's a not a crime reporter, and wouldn't understand the technical details. Suitably nettled, Dr. Kline reveals Driscoll died of a cerebral vascular blockage--a stroke.
Back at INS, Carl is going through a book on dogs. The truly puzzling fact is that the dog has five toes. Ron notes only wild dogs have this feature. Tony sends Carl to the Talbot press conference. At his headquarters, Talbot is being interviewed, and dismisses his low poll rating. He is driving up to Lake Hollow for time off with his family. Carl just misses Talbot as he leaves.
Cut to that night, with Talbot on the road. An oncoming car drives directly at him. There is a huge crash, and a dog crawls out of the wreckage of the other car.
Arriving at an impound yard, the policeman reports that the other car was stolen. There is no sign of the driver, and the only skidmarks were from Talbot's car. There is no blood, and apparently no way anyone could get out of the car.
Back at INS, Tony comes back from lunch. Carl is staring off into space. He and Vincenzo discuss Palmer's chances--he'll undoubtedly defeat Talbot's governor-appointed interim replacement. Even Tony feels the deaths have the potential for a good scandal story. The package from Tony's friend at the Dantonville Herald arrives, postage due. Carl sticks Tony with the postage. Going through the PR material, Carl sees a photo of a bare-chested Palmer by a pool, wearing a small medallion. In the INS darkroom, Kolchak blows up the image several times, revealing an amulet with a pentagram matching the one the dog had.
Sometime later, Miss Emily huffs and puffs into the office with a load of books, giving them to Carl. Kolchak is thumbing through books on witchcraft and devil worship and finally notices the book he is reading has a pentagram on the cover, matching the one on Palmer's chest. Vincenzo returns. He, Emily, and Carl launch into a disjointed three-way conversation. While Carl goes on about devil worship, Miss Emily is complaining about the broken elevator and the possibility of someone dying of a heart attack. Tony, still recovering from lunch at Manny's, is nervously checking his pulse. Eventually, a disgusted Carl storms away, griping about how no one cares anymore. He snarls at a puzzled Updyke, then steals Emily's bottle of holy water.
Carl returns to Palmer's estate. Looking for the "press entrance," Carl makes his own. He listens in on a conversation between Lorraine Palmer and her husband. Lorraine tries to convince her husband to back out of his deal. Robert Palmer has no intention of calling it off: he's happy with how things are going.
Carl sneaks down to the wine cellar, knocking over a bottle. Palmer, hearing the noise, goes down for a refill and Kolchak hides. He blows dust off a fresh bottle (nearly causing Carl to sneeze), then walks through a door. Carl follows, only to find an empty closet. Following a side corridor, Carl comes to a chamber with an altar. Palmer is performing a ritual, chanting an invocation from within a five-pointed star (not a pentagram) inscribed on the floor. Upon its completion, he calls out for Kolchak to come in. He expresses admiration for the reporter, and offers him a job as his press secretary - the soon-to-be Senator will need powerful friends in the press.
Carl appears tempted, but would like to think about the offer. Palmer informs him the offer expires almost immediately. If Kolchak doesn't agree, he becomes Palmer's next sacrifice. Carl tells Palmer he'd like to talk to his attorney, then makes a break for a nearby door. It's bricked over. A knife-wielding Palmer comes at him, but Kolchak manages to throw him off and make his way back to the wine cellar. Palmer, transformed into his dog form, comes after him. Carl shoves a wine rack on him, then throws the bottle of holy water. The bottle misses and shatters open in a corner of the cellar. The dog attacks Carl, but he manages to rip off the amulet and throw it into the puddle of holy water. It dissolves with a crack of thunder. The hellbeast calms down, turning into a normal dog.
We return to Carl in the alley. In the wake of Palmer's disappearance, speculation had it he was kidnapped and possibly killed by radicals. Lorraine Palmer disappeared. Carl concludes by saying, "Wherever she is, I hope she has a dog to keep her company . . . and fetch her slippers . . . and lick her hand."
Written by Gadfly on Dec 7, 2015