My feelings on this week's Lie To Me episode, "Beyond Belief," are mixed. On one hand, the character building moments among the cast are excellent, the dialogue is snappy and funny and the guest star is believable. On the other hand, after watching the show twice, I'm still not sure what the point of the case is. I guess that averages out to a B episode, despite the many goodies the show delivered.
After the first viewing left me vaguely unsatisfied despite chuckling at Cal's zingers, cheering Emily's defense of her boyfriend, and raising my eyebrows at Foster's willingness to wade into office politics, I watched again with an eye to pinning down what didn't work for me. It wasn't an easy task, because so much did. The self help Scientific Repatterning movement is appropriately cultish, with a charismatic front man (played by David Sutcliffe) promising relief from the world's ills. The teaser nicely juxtaposes John Stafford's sweeping promises of happiness against a woman setting the stage for suicide, including a plaintive call to her daughter apologising for past hurts. Clearly, all is not well in the land of Scientific Repatterning.
The woman, Carol, does not succeed in her suicide bid, and her daughter, Danielle, enlists Cal's help to get her mother to leave the cult. Cal jumps on the case, despite knowing the daughter is not disclosing her full motivation, and Gillian points out the reason for us: Danielle had him at "suicide." The death of his mother at her own hands still haunts Lightman and he springs at the chance to prevent another mother from killing herself.
The problem is, Carol has already returned to the Repatterning institute. In the first unsatisfying plot development, Torres and Loker track down her doctor and get him to admit he released her before the standard three days were up. It's clear the doctor has ties to Stafford's group and his involvement seems pretty sinister—but this is actually the only scene we see him in. This line of investigation stops here and what we learn doesn't really need the weight of a scene dedicated to the doctor's interrogation.
Lightman and Foster head straight to the Scientific RePatterning centre (SRP), where Cal loses no time in giving his opinion that the dogma is "a load of ol' bollocks." Bollocks or not, Stafford poses an unusual challenge for Cal: his face doesn't reveal anything. Lightman cannot see any lies or any truth in the man's expressions, which is a problem, since Carol, accompanied everywhere by a member of SRP, denies being unhappy and refuses to leave. It's a line she sticks to, even when Lightman reads shame in her face.