Surprisingly, the play sells out, with the small theatre packed with people. Things get off to a slow start. Adam gives a rambling introduction in which he talks about storytelling’s ability to uncover truth and calls the play “a family tale of love and redemption.” The curtains roll back, and immediately we see the father and son strapped to their chairs, with the father’s leg dripping with blood from a gunshot wound. He calls out to the audience, “Somebody help us,” but the crowd, although initially uneasy, assumes this is part of the play and continues to look on as the human marionettes — their faces now covered with papier-mâché masks — descend from above.
The play begins with abrupt lines delivered by unwilling actors, and Adam flashes back to the traumatic event, where he calls out to the marionettes, “Come on, do something! Do something! Please, Mitch, Steph!” before his father is shot to death. But before Adam’s play can have Mitch and Steph “do something” to save his father, the BAU throws on the lights and stops the show. Chief Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) and Agent David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) convince him to break the cycle of violence and let them take the wounded victims to a hospital before they perish, and the crowd erupts in applause. Mr. Conrad is revealed to be a puppet himself (shocking!), and Adam is escorted down the center aisle, where he thanks viewers here and there. Does the audience still think this is all part of a play?
After Adam is gone, though, the truth is revealed: The audience was nothing but a bunch of props, animated in the mind of Adam, just as the marionettes had been when he was a child. As if the conclusion couldn’t get any more chilling.