They say that marriage — and divorce — often comes down to a battle of wills. But tonight's "Lie to Me" also threw in in unresolved feelings, a tense relationship with a business partner, and an arson investigation — and boy did that dynamic get interesting.
I don't want to remarry you, but here are some spoilers anyway…
After the Ambrose family's house burns to the ground, injuring daughter Maggie and killing her grandmother, Cal's ex-wife, Zoe (Jennifer Beals), an Assistant U.S. Attorney, hires The Lightman Group to help investigate what went down. Which gives her all kinds of time to needle Cal and drive Gillian crazy. Zoe's mere presence makes everyone tense and offers an amazing window to Cal — he's obviously still hurting and still loves her, and like two people who know each other very well, they can push each other's buttons like nobody's business.
The main suspect in the fire is Jack Garcia, a local TV reporter who 5-year-old A.J. Ambrose says he saw running from the house. Cal gives the kid the business pretty good, but he seems to be telling the truth — and upon further examination, Gillian concludes that A.J. believes a planted memory that someone told him, like (spoiler alert) Santa Claus. Garcia and A.J.'s dad, Frank, used to be close friends. But they grew apart, Frank lost his job and borrowed some money from Garcia, and it's all gone bad. But what Frank doesn't know is that his wife had an affair with Garcia and was on the verge of leaving her family for him, before she broke it off.
But Maggie knew. And after a good bit of back-and-forth, suspecting Frank of torching his house to get the insurance money and get out of debt, his wife of torching the house because she hated her life (even though the fire killed her mother) and Garcia of torching the house in response to the affair ending. Then they wonder if Maggie, who's lying in the hospital, had something to do with it. She cops to telling A.J. to lie about seeing Garcia so he would get sent away, but she didn't set fire to her house to keep her family together.
Then, another house burns — and the FBI suspects a serial arsonist. Cal and Zoe interview the homeowners, and begin to suspect the husband, until they learn that the marriage was over and the fire will allow them to go their separate ways (in this market, they couldn't afford to sell). Turns out this second wife was also playing slap-and-tickle with Garcia — and Garcia's wife had had enough, setting fire to the second house too. Fellas, let this be a lesson to you: an angry wife is not something to be messed with.
The most interesting thing is that at times the investigation seems almost an afterthought as Cal and Zoe work through their complicated feelings for one another. It's more personal revelation than we've seen about Cal yet, and Tim Roth deliciously wears his heart on his sleeve — he's practically climbing the walls. Turns out Zoe's boyfriend has proposed, and in the end Cal seems to give his blessing. But there seems to be — pardon the bad pun — some heat left in the embers, because the last scene has a disheveled Zoe getting dressed in her bedroom while a rumpled Cal lies tangled in the sheets.
The B story involves a drive-by shooting of a guy connected to two feuding rappers — and it's Ria's first solo investigation. A mixer named Dante Edwards, who was leaving the entourage of Little Sid to go and work for rival rapper Kayden, was killed. Dante and Kayden were childhood friends, and Dante seems genuinely sad about his death. Photo shoot with women in bikinis notwithstanding. Watching some video of Little Sid and his crew at a CD release party — in which Kayden pulled a gun on him — Eli and Ria can tell that the rivalry is all a put-on. They can also spot that Dante's gay (not sure I guy the notion that it's that easy to tell someone's sexuality by just looking at his face).
Little Sid, whom Ria confronts at a nightclub, says pretty credibly that even though his music's hugely homophobic, if Dante's lifestyle's on the down-low he dosn't care. He wasn't happy about Dante leaving him for Kayden, but that doesn't make him a killer — guns are just part of his rapper image. She goes back to Kayden, where she figures out that he and Dante were a couple — and that Kayden's cousin and manager brought about Dante's demise, saying it wasn't good for business. Kayden's reaction really is pretty heartbreaking, and it's all but impossible not to feel something for this guy who's lost the love of his life.
Some other thoughts:
- Eli's all but non-existent in this episode. In the over/under on his fate, I'm betting there's some resolution — or at least advancement — of his storyline in the next two episodes.
- More Beals, please. Her scenes with Tim Roth crackle — I found it utterly believeable that they knew each other so well and that their feelings for each other were still so complicated. Zoe's presence also brought out more of Gillian's protective feelings toward Cal, and gave more depth to their relationship. Also, Jennifer Beals just looks amazing. I want to go and cut the neck out of a T-shirt just to pay homage.
What did you think? Did you see it coming that Garcia's wife was responsible? How do you think Ria did on her first solo outing? And do you, like me, want to know where Jennifer Beals buys her moisturizer?