by Za’chary Westbrook
4 out of 5
What television has learned in the last decade is that a weak mystery can be livened up by the personal lives of the detectives. Lie To Me is a fairly consistent string of weak mysteries. Stronger than anything on CSI for sure, but borrowing too much from police procedurals to really stand out. It has, however, found a nice cozy spot somewhere between House and Castle; both of which intelligently rely on character relationships and a bit of WTF to keep things rolling. Two things Lie To Me has only recently discovered (new producer Tim Roth being the key?)
In this week’s episode, the team transplants The Social Network into their plot frame. A new social networking tool/site is falling apart behind the scenes with the three geniuses who created it falling out with the unconvincingly socially dysfunctional uber-genius at their core. Nikita‘s mid-season sacrificial lamb, Ashton Holmes, forms the yin to Michael Cera’s yang in the qi of Jesse Eisenberg. Holmes’ faux-Zuckerberg is entirely too good looking and present to pull off what Eisenberg made dynamic and Cera would’ve made ridiculous and flat. “Zack Morstein” is way too charismatic and open for what they were trying to pull off. He does, however, come across as a nigh perfect sociopath.
Facebook-sensationalizing aside, the episode is fittingly strong for a finale. They intelligently avoid techno-babble in the details, but keep enough of it to not sound like NCIS. After a series of fairly good mysteries this season (topping anything House has produced in a couple years), “Killer App” goes for something more obvious to highlight the real hook, which is relationships.
The major relationship under stress is that of Cal and Gillian. I don’t think there’s ever been a point that we really wanted those two to hook-up. What they have is well-balanced with her as the voice of sanity. What makes this episode so cool, in this regard, is how unbalanced Gillian becomes when her former patient is murdered. They don’t do the predictable thing and completely reverse roles, something that never goes well for anyone. However, there’s just enough shift in her to keep things interesting. The fascination of the small shift is the suggestion that this will grow over time. With the sudden switch, guaranteed everything will be business as usual next week/season. The subtle shift, we’re looking at something more profound that the writers want to build up.
What I felt was wasted here was the relationship between Lightman and Lightgirl. Unlike House, LTM has dropped its resident curt Brit into a life full of women who can check him. His business partner, ex-wife and daughter all have enough fortitude and wherewithal to actually stand-up to Cal. The mini-drama over Emily’s boyfriend has been a great way of exploring the father/daughter aspect that was so weak first season. Opening this week with Emily taunting Cal with soft core porn noises while the bf helps her stretch post-run is a great climax to that sub-plot. Unfortunately, it came too soon and was spent before we got satisfaction. This particular technique Emily uses to tease Cal needed more warm-up before nailing us with the big gag.
The interaction with Wallowski could have been much more interesting, as well. We see Cal becoming protective of Gillian in pursuing our anti-social net-jerk with that extra bit of tenacity. While Wallowski and Lightman are more FWB, it would have been interesting to see her getting a bit jealous. The other sub-plot with Key, checking up on ol’ Liam, was a red herring and annoying when there were interesting possibilities elsewhere.
As a finale, it was subtle (which I appreciate) and it sets up a promising shift in Gillian for next season. I’m just praying they at least let Wallowski bow out with dignity before trying to make Cal/Gillian something we care about.