Talk about ripped from the headlines. As the debate rages over enhanced interrogation techniques, the season finale of “Lie to Me” offers up a — fictional — scenario about what we stand for and how we stand for it. At it leaves little room for debate about where the creators come down on the issue.
It’s not “24,” but there’s a tick-tock plotline straight ahead…
Suicide bombers in the United States are pretty much everyone’s nightmare scenario, and we start with a bus explosion. Al Qaeda takes the credit, and promises that more American-born young men will follow suit. The bomber is 19, attends a mosque, and has no family. The FBI brings his Somali-born soccer coach for questioning, and the female agent (I don’t remember her name but it doesn’t matter; she’s so one-note it’s clear she’s a point being made) who questions him for four hours and gets nothing tells Cal she wants to turn him over to the CIA to let them get something out of him. This is after Cal offers his opinion about the way she’s questioning the suspect, and how it will only result in fear, not the truth. “The road to tyranny is always paved with claims of necessity, right?” he says.
Gillian and Ria head to the mosque to try to get a read on the kid, and Ria shows a flash of Lightman-like brilliance by taking off her headscarf to gauge the reaction of the men in the room. The flashes of anger and disgust in the 11 groups they speak to gives them something to work with, at least.
Another bomb goes off, at a mall in Virginia, bringing the body count to 40. Al Qaeda again claims responsibility. The bomber, it turns out, was at the mosque just a couple of hours before, and Ria beats herself up for missing it. Cal offers a brilliant pep talk about how he missed a shooter in Belfast — sometimes it just happens, he says. “I need you focused, luv,” he tells her — the first time he’s used that endearment with Ria. Is she a member of the club now?
FBI special agent Reynolds (Mekhi Phifer) and Eli check out the mall — it was a small device that would’ve done more damage had it gone off in the food court. Then we learn that Ria’s boyfriend, Secret Service agent Dupree (Sean Patrick Thomas) was called to the mall and is missing. Cal decides, despite Gillian’s protests, not to tell Ria until they know something more — he needs her working and focused. So he lets her think she’s responsible for the deaths of 13 people.
Ria and Gillian interview the second bomber’s family, and learn that nothing about the kid fits the profile of a suicide bomber. After watching video of the two bombers shortly before the detonation, they realize there weren’t signs because these kids were victims too — the bombs were planted on them and detonated with remote devices. Back at the mosque, the imam tells Cal and Reynolds that he volunteered to help the FBI after 9/11, and an FBI agent named Squire repaid him by bugging the place. Cal and Reynolds run a nice number on Squire and get his illegally obtained tapes — after listening to Squires rail against the Obama administration dismantling security operations in a rant that sounds like someone…
Anyway, they recognize a voice from an argument on the tapes — the second bomber’s father. And after Reynolds figures out that the bombs had been placed in collection canisters that any mosque member would have, Cal learns from the father that his nephew is the culprit. The look on the father’s face — desperate, disbelieving, and so sad — is just heartbreaking. But Reynolds gets to the nephew just in time — just as he’s tracking several more would-be bombs, and before he detonates one in the backpack of a kid standing in front of the White House. One clean shot, right in the head — and lives are saved.
Meanwhile, Ria’s at the hospital with Dupree. Cal found out he’s alive but unconscious, and she bolted to be with him. She’s livid, furious at the way Cal decides who gets what information. But she has a gift, he explains, and it comes with a sacrifice — because of what she can do, it no longer belongs to just her. Great ending — satisfying solution to the case, fantastic interaction among the principals, and the best part: we get to see more next season.
- I could barely contain myself when I saw Jennifer Beals’ name in the credits. Awesome — I love her chemistry with Tim Roth, and if the way Emily busted them is any indication, I hope we get to see more of her.
- Speaking of Cal and Zoe’s daugher, Emily — she’s wonderful, and the fear in her eyes as she watches news reports about a bomb in a mall she goes to is genuine. She’s also just a great kid, and her worry to Gillian over the state of her parents’ relationship is totally believable.
- While it’s not really surprising that Gillian’s marriage is dissolving, it’s nonetheless really sad. Gillian struggles throughout the episode — she’s got a lot going on, and it’s tough to keep a lid on it all. Cal’s genuine affection for her, and their dynamic as friends and partners, only gets more interesting. But is Emily seeing something everyone else is ignoring?
What did you think? Do you think Cal’s technique is the right one when the clock is ticking? What are you looking forward to seeing next season?