“Double Blind,” this week’s Lie To Me addresses some of the fallout from Lightman’s decision last week to allow his feelings for Wallowsky to influence his professionalism and to force Gillian to compromise her own ethics in order to support him. I’m glad the writers don’t intend to drop the implications and I enjoyed the games within games that drive this episode. Guest star Tricia Helfer is excellent. However, the actual plot was a little too close in tone and subject matter to last week’s for comfort.
There’s only so much flirty Cal disrupting cases we should see at a time, before it—and he—become a bit irritating. Roth’s Lightman is already a character pushing at the edges. The payoff for this type of unique character is huge, as audiences tend to embrace eccentricity. But Lightman has to remain relatable as well, and I wouldn’t want to see him go any further along this path of getting involved with shady women who compromise his skills, his integrity and his other relationships. Not only does it make me question Cal’s abilities, it makes me question why Gillian allows him to behave with her as he does.
Despite these misgivings, the episode is still strong. The central premise, very similar to last week’s, is laid out by Gillian when she says to Cal, “Never mind. I see you’re busy . . . with her legs. Or with the case.” There are two layers to Foster’s irritation: one is Cal’s focus on a pretty woman and the other is she can’t tell whether that focus is professional, personal or a mix of the two. The tension between the two partners shows Gillian still has not forgiven Cal for pushing her to lie to save his girlfriend and is watching him with a jaundiced eye.
Cal appears to need that watchful eye as he tries to figure out where the attractive woman, Naomi, fits into a botched art heist at the museum which hired Torres to vet the staff to prevent such a robbery. Torres is reeling from her failure to detect any liars on the staff and there are some nice moments with her boss, as he teaches her how to handle disgruntled feelings from her clients and from within. His advice, besides accepting everyone makes mistakes, is to become a poisonous butterfly and make anyone who bites her regret it.
Torres is delighted to spot that her boss is capable of making mistakes, too and Naomi may be playing him as much as he is playing her. After last week’s episode, Foster is much less delighted, because she’s not sure Cal is in control of his feelings and therefore of what’s happening. Naomi appears to be a beautiful damsel in distress, hiding from her violent ex-boyfriend in Cal’s willing arms. Cal quickly realises appearances are deceiving—he knows Naomi was somehow involved in the failed art heist and she intends to complete the job. He just doesn’t know how. The show incorporates some nice flashbacks to illustrate exactly what Cal notices and when, showing the science without slowing down the action of a sequence as it unfolds.
Lightman spends the episode being alternately flirty with Naomi and Foster. Naomi welcomes every advance, while always throwing something back at Cal which keeps the balance of power shifting between them. He can’t read her as well as he’d like and she reads him better than he’d like. With Foster, the dynamic is much tarter, as she both allows Cal to create intimate moments with her at times and pushes him away at other points. Cal has his hands full trying to discern how each woman feels about him. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him, because I feel like I just watched him lose control of himself with Wallowsky. My sympathy is with Foster, who has good reason to doubt both Cal’s ethics and the basis of his constant flirtiness with her, given that he’s giving equal time to flirting with Naomi and enjoying every moment.
The game with Naomi gets more complex when Cal invites her to the museum gala, as she hoped he would. Cal knows Naomi intends to steal one of the museum’s key pieces on display and Naomi knows he knows. But he doesn’t know how and Naomi knows that, too. The two play cat and mouse with each other, only to have Lightman fall into Naomi’s trap as she is only a decoy. She successfully diverts everyone’s attention as her partner somehow steals an Indian emerald from its case.
We never find out exactly how, as the writers instead focus on Cal’s chagrin at not realising he was chasing a decoy. His chagrin is laced with respect and real attraction as he talks to Naomi about what he missed about her motivations. It turns out she has no interest in selling the emerald and instead views herself as righting a wrong in giving the emerald back to India, where her partner is headed. She was able to fool Lightman by not so much lying as withholding key information. She hopes Cal will forgive her and invites him to lunch. Lightman declines, though he does let her go.
Despite the complexity of the game between Lightman and Naomi, the real double blind experiment is between Foster and Lightman. Cal returns to the office to face Gillian, who is angry that he let Naomi go because she was, in the end, a thief who stole an emerald. Her partner defends himself by saying Naomi did not in fact steal the emerald—he had the curator make up a fake for her to steal. The plan shows Cal was never really in any danger of being played by his feelings for Naomi, but it also shows he was withholding information from his partner, as she points out.
Cal finally brings the trust and forgiveness issue out in the open as he admits he kept Foster in the dark because he’s not sure she trusts him enough to go along with his methods. He says, “You tell me we’re O.K. You know I’ve always had more trouble reading you than anyone else.” The episode ends with Foster simply looking at Cal until he walks away. Cal isn’t going to get his answer that easily.
“Double Blind” is a good example of a season three episode, highlighting the way Cal’s feelings and failings impact his science in cases where he has a personal investment. I love the set up of the tension between Lightman and Foster and can’t wait to see how they redefine their relationship, now that Cal’s actions have thrown them off balance.