This week’s Lie To Me, “Honey,” is a doozy, with an exciting hostage storyline that sheds light on all the members of the Lightman Group, especially Lightman and Foster. Though the gunman propels the storyline with his threats of violence, in the end the episode is really about how we impact the ones we love. All relationships come with a price and sometimes the cost is far too high.
With the focus on the dark side of love, the episode opens appropriately enough at a singles mixer. Cal is roaming the room, scaring off most women who approach him but flirting a little with a gorgeous, dark-haired woman. She’s not Cal’s target, however — a very nice blond lady is, and we pick up that Cal is on a case as he questions her about fidelity. She claims that despite her ex-husband’s accusations, she was always faithful. With a smile, she tells Cal relationships are about knowing what you are looking for and what you don’t want, setting the scene for an exploration of what people get from their relationships.
Foster phones to tell Cal they have a new case about a relationship gone very wrong indeed. Eric Matheson is wanted for the murder of his wife, Connie, but he can’t be found. The police want The Lightman Group to interview key people in the case to see if anyone is helping to hide him. Torres starts with someone with an understandable motive — his sister, who loves her brother and, it turns out, her sister-in-law, too. Though the sister insists she doesn’t know where Eric is, Torres picks up that she does know something she isn’t telling. The sister throws her out before she can nail down what, and Torres’ bad luck doesn’t stop there.
Somewhat inexplicably to me, Torres didn’t lock her car when she got out. Given that most people in most cities do lock up their vehicles nowadays, I’m really hard pressed to see why streetwise Torres wouldn’t, except to drive the plot. It’s fortunate the hostage drama is so tight and tense, because I had to forgive a few contrivances to go with it. But go with it I did, in no small part due to the marvelous Garret Dillahunt. From his opening scene to his last, he was convincing as a man on the edge of violence.
He certainly convinces Torres, as he forces her at gunpoint to return to The Lightman Group. Cal is equally convinced of the real danger and quickly directs the gunman’s attention to himself, in the first of many scenes that tell us as much about the Lightman team as Matheson. Whatever Cal’s faults may be, and Foster is bringing some of them to his attention when the gunman enters, cowardice and lack of responsibility are not among them.
Cal and Eric soon end up together in Cal’s office, where the two of them square off as they try to manipulate each other, one with the help of a gun and the other with the help of spotting both the truth and a lie when he sees it. The scenes between the two men are the heart of the episode, which really illustrates what the actors bring to the table, because obviously the audience knows the star of the show is not going to die, and yet I was on the edge of my seat for the entire episode. Cal Lightman is afraid of what Eric Matheson may do, so I was afraid, too. Dillahunt is amazing as a driven man on the edge of violence and he keeps the tension so high, I was willing to accept a few plot issues, because he is just that scary.
One of those issues crops up when Foster tells Torres to call FBI agent Ben Reynolds and Loker in without telling them why. Foster is so upset at the danger Cal is in, I can accept she would knowingly drag more people into the fray to save him—her feelings for Cal are so intense, she isn’t even conflicted about involving her fellow team members. I have more difficulty accepting Reynolds going along with the plan to keep the police out of the hostage drama, because he is a law enforcement agent. Still, the scene nicely shows how his personal relationships with the team put him in conflict with his professional duty. And he does at least secure the release of most of the hostages before asking Foster and Torres whether pleasing the gunman is their priority or saving Lightman.
That sense of the personal in conflict with the professional is picked up by Lightman and Matheson as the gunman asks Cal if he is married and Cal asks him if he has a job. Loker expects his boss to be trying to bluff Matheson into believing whatever he needs to believe in order to let Cal go. But despite the threat he’s under, Cal wants to find out the truth of who killed Connie, and he believes Eric is innocent of that particular charge, if not of many other things. And though part of Cal’s interest is driven by his interest in finding the answer, we find out he’s also perhaps identifying just a little with his captor.
As first Foster and Loker and then Foster and Reynolds interview key witnesses to see who’s lying, they find out the biggest liar is Matheson, who neglected to mention he got a $10,000 loan from a friend, Danny, except Danny didn’t really loan the money, a loan shark did. Matheson can’t repay the loan, but he’s sure his friend would never hurt Connie. He refuses to make the connection between his loan and Connie’s death, until Danny tells Foster and Reynolds that not only did Connie come to him to ask him to forgive the loan, she got the name of the loan shark when he said he was only the middle man. As Matheson finally admits the connection must be there, he asks, “How did she find out about the loan?” Torres has no qualms about telling him his friend said Connie always had to clean up his messes.
Cal knows all about messy relationships and he puts the spotlight on his captor as he says, “That’s your guilt, isn’t it? You contaminated her. You didn’t want to drag her into your world. You considered her a pure soul.” Matheson acknowledges the guilt but asks Cal how he could be so accurate. Cal, who hopes to bond with the gunman enough to talk him into putting down the gun, says he feels the same sometimes about a woman he knows. The moment is lost when the police arrive because of a call from one of the hostages (surely Reynolds didn’t really think all of those people would keep their mouth shut about a hostage-taking?), but Loker still wonders whether his boss was actually telling the truth there.
I don’t think the audience wonders, though — at least I didn’t — because we learn a lot about Cal and Gillian this episode. The two have a complicated relationship with a lot of history and some sparks that fly from time to time. With Cal’s life at stake, Gillian’s priority is clear: save Cal. She’ll involve Loker and Reynolds in the situation without telling them, risk Reynolds’ job and her own safety to appease Matheson. When that doesn’t seem enough, she finally breaks down and begs him to let Cal go, as Cal pushes her to leave. Her feelings are so strong, Cal actually believes she would bring the loan shark in so Matheson can kill him, in order to save her partner. I think Cal feels guilty about the way his job and his knowledge impact his ex-wife Zoe and his daughter Emily, but clearly Foster is also a member of his guilt club. She’s usually the positive and upright balance to his cynical, dark outlook and it shocks him to see her willing to cross lines.
Foster shocks Reynolds this episode, as well, as she uses herself as bait to lure the loan shark into their clutches. Mekhi Phifer has a very funny moment when he tells Foster she doesn’t want to know what he thinks and I love seeing Foster taking an active role, but I still have some trouble with this plot point. Surely it compromises the case to strong arm the suspect to the Lightman Group office in order to force a confession? A confession isn’t a strong piece of evidence to begin with and law officer shenanigans aren’t going to help the case. I know Foster’s priority is Cal, but I can’t see the police being very happy with the team nor the loan shark going to jail when all is said and done. At least Reynolds won’t offer his suspect up to be shot in order to release Cal.
Fortunately, Loker steps up to the plate and shows what he is made of. He’s been in the doghouse with Lightman since he blew the whistle on a case because he thought a client’s daughter should get jail time. Last week, he covered for Foster when she compromised her own case due to her beliefs, and this week, Loker decides to pose as the loan shark so Reynolds can get close enough to shoot Matheson. His rather sketchy plan to distract the gunman is to tell him his wife had a message for him. It works, but there are so many reasons it shouldn’t have, Lightman should have put him back on the payroll then and there. At this point, and I give Shawn Ryan the credit for this, Loker’s past indiscretions pale in comparison to what else is going on.
The episode wraps up by focusing on what we’ve learned about Cal and Gillian. Lightman tries to celebrate his escape by going on a date with the beautiful dark-haired woman he met at the mixer. In contrast to the last time, Cal is in a truthful mood, as I suppose escapes from death will tend to provoke in people. The lovely lady makes the mistake of asking Cal what his ideal woman is like, which makes him realise he’s more interested in whether he’s anyone’s ideal man. Well, not just anyone’s. He makes his excuses and runs off to Gillian’s place, and though neither outright addresses the level of concern Gillian had for Cal, both feel the need to connect with a hug and quick kiss — and Gillian’s spare bedroom is where Cal opts to spend the night. While there are many good reasons why he’s not ready to face Zoe or Emily yet, it’s still seems significant that it’s Foster he turns to when he’s vulnerable. I think the show is going to take its time developing this relationship to wherever it’s going, and that’s fine with me, because I’m buying everything the writers are selling, so far. The price is just right.