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 H O M  E :: p:tl episode guide :: season two :: episode description

27. Transference

Season: 2
First Air Date: 04 April 1997 (Showtime)
Alternate Title(s): Toedliche Therapie (German)
MGM/Showtime Photos: see Season Two photos page
Rachel's former patient stalks her from beyond the grave.


Derek de Lint

"Dr. Derek Rayne, Ph D"

Helen Shaver "Dr. Rachel Corrigan, MD"
Martin Cummins "Nick Boyle"
Robbi Chong "Alexandra (Alex) Moreau"
Guest Actors


Kim Coates "Stephen Romero" (patient)
Tim Butler "Frank Carmack" (cop)
Andre Benjamin "Orderly"
Nathaniel De Veaux "Dr. Arnold"
Ben Eberhard Gardener
Ellie Harvie "Mary Pastor/Jones" (Librarian)
Patrick Keating "the guard?"
Allan Zinyk "Seth Peterson/Gunderson"


Co-Executive Producer -
Co-Executive Producer -
Producer Robert Petrovicz
Writer James "Jay" Cappe
Director Brad Turner
This description by: Valery aka "Merano" (1997) One of the oddities of this episode: a couple of characters are called different names in the credits than they were in the broadcast episode! Therefore in the synopsis I’ve called them by the names they were called by in the episode, and followed the name in the credits with one used in the broadcast. P.S. I got Frank’s last name from the closed captions in "Repentance," since he was only called "Frank" in this episode.


The story opens with the camera panning around occult drawings pinned to a wall. A rather good-looking, dark-haired man pulls coins from a bag; the coins have strange symbols on them. As an orderly wheels a meal cart down the hall outside, amidst the echoing sound of voices, moaning or crying or yelling, it becomes obvious that this is some kind of mental institution. Taking a key, the orderly opens the cell door of the man with the bag of coins, telling the inmate, Romero, to place his hands on the table so he can bring in his supper. Romero rises from the table, cryptically telling the orderly that "It’s harvest time." All life springs from death, he says, and "all the answers are in this book." The orderly obviously doesn’t care, and as he puts down the tray Romero picks up the heavy book and hits him, knocking him unconscious.

At the barred door at the end of the hall Romero takes the guard from behind through the bars, pulling the hapless man up hard against them. Using the guard’s own nightstick, Romeo politely breaks his neck, looking into his eyes the whole time and demanding, "Show me." He’s excited by this, we can see it in his face as he pushes the dead guard off the bars.

In a phone booth in San Francisco on a rainy night, Romero looks up a number and dials. We hear Rachel’s voice on the other end of the line, and Romero hangs up without saying anything, a slight smile on his lips.

Rachel is having a session with a patient when she is distracted by a red envelope on her desk. As the patient drones on, she hesitantly picks it up and slowly opens it. She is shocked to find a Valentine card with hearts cut out of it. Alarmed, she flashes back: a rainy day, policemen and dogs, a man smoking, a sign warning people in a park to leash their dogs, a woman’s body zipped into a body bag, being wheeled away, Romero being led away in handcuffs by the police, turning to look right at her.

Quickly she ends the session. After ushering the patient out the door she returns to her desk to gaze, worriedly, at the card.

At a university library, Romero sits at a microfilm reader, looking up articles about Rachel. The librarian helping him asks if he knows the doctor personally, and he admits to being a really big fan. Suddenly, he apologizes for taking up so much of her time and paying her a few compliments, asks to take her to lunch, and she shyly agrees. After she leaves he turns back to his search, looking at articles about Rachel’s husband and child’s deaths, about her working with the Luna Foundation, concentrating hard on her picture.

Derek is driving Rachel through a rainy night. When she thanks him, he assures her that he wasn’t about to let her make the drive by herself in the dark, and it wasn’t the first time Legacy business had kept them up all night. Showing him the cut-up Valentine, Rachel explains to him about Stephen Romero, a former patient. After a year as her patient the police arrested him on 5 counts of murder. His lawyer saved him from the gas chamber with an insanity plea, and he was committed to a mental institution for life. Certain he sent it because they were his trademark, she explains she’s received them in the past. When Derek remarks that it sounds like a case of obsession, she explains it is the most severe case of transference she’d ever seen. She was, and obviously still is, the object of his obsessive love.

At the Headlands Correctional Medical Facility, Dr. Arnold, apparently the administrator of the facility, leads Derek and Rachel through corridors, explaining he has little time to give them that morning. Romero’s escape has caused him a lot of disruption. Asking them to wait in the corridor, he goes on ahead. Derek remarks to Rachel that he hadn’t realized such places still existed, and Rachel tells him that it’s actually one of the better of its kind. Suddenly the inmate in the cell they’re standing next to plasters his face to the small window of his door, startling the two Legacy members, and cries out, "It’s you! It’s you! It’s you!" They hurry away as Dr. Arnold beckons them on.

In Romero’s cell, they observe books and papers on death and burial rituals, and occult designs all over the wall. The doctor explains that Romero was a model prisoner for seven years, never aggressive or violent until the day before. Indicating the books and papers, he says that death was Romero’s hobby. His profession, Derek corrects. To show why he had called Rachel, the doctor tells them to look under the desk drawer. Pasted to it are clippings and pictures - all of Rachel. Derek asks if Romero had been close to any of the other inmates; yes, Dr. Arnold answers, Seth Gunderson. But he warns them to be careful: "Gunderson is...devoid of social skills."

In Gunderson’s cell (it was he at the door shouting earlier) the inmate sits chained to a chair, facing Rachel. Derek stands by protectively. Gunderson tells Rachel that Steven was his mentor, who taught him to see the glory of death and not have any fear of it. He taught him to search the eyes of others at the moment of death and watch their souls depart. "You’re her," he says to Rachel, excited. "You’re the one, the one who showed him." Lunging up from his chair at Rachel, he’s stopped by Derek and by the chains restraining him. He yells, "You showed him the way! He’s looking for you right now!"

With a joy that is orgasmic, Romero holds the now dead librarian in his arms and thanks her. "That was really, really wonderful." Placing her body on a platform within a pattern of stones and crystals, he intones a strange ritual: "I beseech you: Insure my return from the dead." Stepping back, he sets the platform on fire, chanting as it burns, "Show me the way!" Sparks fly from the fire and swirl around him, and he cries out, "Rachel, Rachel, Rachel!" and his eyes flash with an arcane light.

One of our questions about how the Legacy operates seemingly without official interference is answered in this episode. Frank Carmack, a police detective, had been saved by Derek several years before from "something with fangs and claws that we don’t have a police code for." In repayment for that favor he alerts Derek to certain events he thinks the Luna Foundation might be interested in, and helps out occasionally. At the police station, he is showing Derek and Rachel the file and photos on Mary Jones, a 41-year-old librarian from the University Central branch whose body was found on the beach at dawn. She had been seen with Romero. Derek remarks that it looks like a human sacrifice - fire, a makeshift altar, the stones in the same pattern found on Romero’s wall. When Frank offers Rachel police protection, she thanks him but says - to Derek’s pleased surprise - that in this case she thinks she’s in better hands.

Back at the Legacy House, Rachel is telling Nick about Steven Romero. He was one of her first patients, she reveals. He was abnormally frightened of death, the result of witnessing his father die of a heart attack in front of him when he was six. She’d been using systematic desensitization therapy, including getting him to know hospice patients to become more comfortable with death. He "took" to it, becoming fascinated when observing a patient die - he wanted to watch it over and over. He murdered three people while he was her patient.

Derek and Alex are studying the human sacrifice pattern Romeo used, Alex discovering it is similar to a Celtic ritual but with significant differences, as if he were making it up, cobbling bits and pieces together as he needed them. It doesn’t matter so long as he believes it, Derek points out, as that that is what magic really is: belief.

Rachel shows Nick the "Valentines" Romero had sent to her, a kind of "case book study" of his illness. They finally caught him when he murdered Carla, Rachel’s best friend from AA, in Golden Gate Park. (This is the first actual indication we’ve been given that Rachel had once had a drinking problem.) When Rachel got to the murder scene they were taking him away. She’s torn up that she misdiagnosed him and people died because of it. Nick comforts her by assuring her that she can’t blame herself for someone else’s psychotic behavior, that Romero had never told her the truth. An intruder alarm goes off, and they see on the monitors that it’s Romero and he’s inside the fence.

Nick and Derek confront him outside, and he’s flippant until Rachel arrives. Then his demeanor undergoes a profound change and he addresses her as a lover might. He’s brought her a card, he says, holding it out to her. He tells her rapturously that she fills him with so much love, that he "did" Carla for her, to show her his commitment. He wants to show her The Way, and urges her closer; he wants her to watch him closely the whole way. Then he deliberately backs into the electrified fence and electrocutes himself. The three Legacy members stand there in shock and horror.

When Rachel goes the next day to pick Kat up at school, she’s nervous, seeing Romero in every man she encounters. Kat notices her behavior; Rachel puts a reassuring face on it, saying she’s tired from being up so late last night. "With Derek and the others? I wish we had a more normal life," Kat grumbles.

At her home Rachel opens the door in relief to allow Nick to come in. The house is spooking her, she says, and Nick reassures her. Kat comes down to get a hug from Nick, and he urges Rachel to relax while he takes Kat back upstairs to read to her and tuck her in.

As Rachel showers, someone - Romero - is stalking through the house. He chants, "the time is now; as planting is to harvest...from death to rebirth. I’ve come for you, my beloved Rachel." He observes Nick and Kat fast asleep, and enters Rachel’s bedroom, whispering her name. When she comes hesitantly out to investigate, he appears to her. He wants her to join him, to see what he does, he explains - and holds a knife to her throat. She cries out for Nick. Offering the knife to her, Romero tells her to do it herself; that to join him she must truly want it. "So much for privacy," he remarks as Nick bursts in, and when Rachel slashes at him with the knife he disappears. "You saw him?" she cries, as Nick holds her. "Yeah," Nick replies, "I saw him."

At the police station once again, Frank brings out boxes of evidence from the original Romero cases, as well as the current murder of the librarian. He’s not supposed to do so, but as he states it, "Seeing as I’m the guy who pulled Romero’s charred corpse off of your back fence the other night I’m gonna go out on a little bit a limb for you." Derek (being Derek!) asks him to go out on a bigger limb and let him take the evidence - including the crystals used in the latest ritual murder - back to the Legacy House. Frank reluctantly agrees.

Back at the Legacy House, with Kat asleep and Nick guarding her, Derek, Alex and Rachel go through Romero’s things. "The life of a serial killer," Alex remarks. "A dead serial killer," Derek replies, "turned corporeal ghost." When Rachel remarks that that’s quite a contradiction in terms, Derek tells her that, "judging by your last encounter with him I don’t think Mr. Romero is of a mind to clarify his situation for the benefit of the Legacy."

They need to figure out why he came back. The most common reason for a haunting, that a person died with unresolved issues, doesn’t apply. "He’s very resolved about being dead," Rachel observes. "In fact, he likes it so much he’d like me to join the party." Derek points out that he used an occult ritual to insure returning in corporeal form; maybe they can decipher it and use it against him. But where and when?

Rachel pulls Romero’s father’s watch out of the pile of his things. Perhaps they can use it in some way...

When Rachel comes out of the control room for a break, she is shocked to find a bottle of Scotch on the table. Romero appears, taunting her about killing herself slowly with alcohol. When asked if she’s thought about his proposition, she angrily tells him to go to Hell. "I don’t have the directions," he replies. He threatens to kill others if she doesn’t join him. When he threatens to take Kat, believing that it’s because she’d miss the her child too much that keeps Rachel from coming to him, Rachel rushes upstairs - to find a cut-out Valentine on Kat’s bed.

Everyone gathers in the control room, including Kat and Nick. He’s capable to taking Rachel - or any of them - whenever he wants. But he’s obsessed, only interested in Rachel at this moment. Derek points out the stone pattern Romero used was akin to a pre-Celtic legend of the coming of summer, the season of birth; he suggests there must be one for winter, the season of death. They can use that against him, but they’ll need a sacrifice (which can be symbolic, so long as it is meaningful). The question is where? Rachel points out he had mentioned Carla in the library, and the Valentine he left is the same one he sent before Carla was killed. He was telling her something. Carla’s death was most meaningful to Rachel. She figures it out: he’s telling her where he wants her to die, where Carla was killed - Golden Gate Park.

At night in the park, Rachel meets Romero. Our special place, he calls it. Only special in his mind, Rachel counters. This is where he killed Carla. He made the 911 call himself, then came back there and waited for the police. But this is where Rachel faced death for the first time, he counters. "How’d that make you feel? Responsible," he answers himself as Rachel turns away in pain.

He offers her a cyanide capsule - quick, clean, pure, all that pain in her life will disappear. He knows she’s thought about death many times. But, she tells him, she prefers life. Maybe she doesn’t want the pain to go away. She’d tried to teach him that pain is a part of life.

She created him, he argues, and she denies it. There’s no future, she says, "only the past, and a little boy so scared to watch his daddy die he never came to terms with it." He urges her to take the cyanide - or he’ll kill her. "You’re not my patient any more...This is over," she says resolutely, and walks away through the trees.

Romero is incredulous over her attitude, and follows her - right into the center of the stone spiral. Alex and Derek are waiting with Rachel just outside it. Rachel tosses his father’s watch - a meaningful sacrifice - to him, to force him to face his father’s death. She hammers it home to him, how his father collapsed on the floor in convulsions, breaking his watch. Derek informs him that "summer is over, Romero!" As the ghost faces the events of his father’s death, and watches the hands on the watch run backwards, the swirling lights rise up and take him away; only one word lingers in the air. "Rachel!"

Rachel’s Journal Entry:

"The moment of death is something every living being must face. Some believe it represents a new beginning. Some people can’t face the prospect that it’s the end of everything. And some, like Steven Romero, would make it their very reason for living. Thank God for the Legacy." - quote from the episode. Copyright of MGM/UA

Description last revised: December 1997