This week’s Lie To Me focused on the price we pay for lies, and as part of the exploration, we also got a good look at how difficult it may be to define truth or lies, especially as oppositional terms. The episode was solid, if perhaps a bit heavy handed, and we learned a little more about Cal and Foster’s relationship.
"Life Is Priceless" opens on a shot of Lightman’s face as blue and red light washes over him. The lights are revealed to be from emergency vehicles, as Cal walks across a construction site enveloped in panic, eventually ending up at a group of people shouting accusations and defenses at each other. This rather surrealistic opening is a wonderful contrast to the gritty nature of the story itself, which concerns three men trapped underground when a building under construction exploded. The missing men cannot be located, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has called in Cal to figure out who may be lying about what happened. Everyone involved, of course, is horrified at the idea he or she may not want the men rescued. Cal and later Foster as well have to try to identify what each of the key players really wants, and their case is not helped by the fact that it seems everyone really does want the men rescued.
Lightman and Foster sift through the evidence as they build possible scenarios on who may not want a successful rescue. They find a worker who lied about when he last saw the men because he had left to sneakily take drugs. This revelation leads to the location of the trapped men, but the co-worker clearly has no ill will to the men and didn’t cause the explosion. Once the trapped men are located and can be talked to via a camera, Lightman realizes one of the them is frightened of being rescued. He suspects the man (Blunt) may be frightened of being found to be the cause of the blast, and sure enough, further investigation reveals that Blunt’s wife had an affair with the company owner. But the episode never allows a simple equation of guilt to stand.
Blunt does indeed feel guilt about causing the blast, as he dropped his blowtorch due to tremors from the Multiple Sclerosis he has been hiding from the company. He is certain the torch caused a tank to blow up and is wracked with guilt. Lightman notes, however, that the city engineer seems less certain about the cause of the blast. It turns out the man is hiding not what he knows, but rather what he does not know. He did not do a safety survey of the site as he should have because an unknown person paid him not to. Foster forces him to admit that he has a suspicion why: the site used to be a landfill and there’s a good chance there is trapped methane gas. If so, the dropped torch set off the methane gas, and the drill bit digging through debris to find the trapped men may do the same.