Monday, January 10th, FOX brought back Lie To Me for two back-to-back episodes, almost completing the third season, as the show, to many fans' dismay, was not given the order for a back nine. "Funhouse" and "Rebound" showcase what's been working for the show and what has not, with "Funhouse" being the stronger episode.
"Funhouse" was obviously meant to be the Christmas offering, as Christmas carols and Christmas trees unobtrusively appear in the background. As a mystery, the writing is strong, but not stellar, as I guessed the guilty party very soon after she was introduced into the story. However, the exploration of Cal's character, picking up on many of the strands weaving their way through this season, was beautifully handled.
The plot centers around the plight of a man in a private mental hospital whose daughter fears he may be getting overmedicated on purpose by the staff to keep him there instead of getting better. Emily brings the case to Cal, because she is friends with Amanda, the man's daughter. That in itself is enough to get Cal's attention, but he's also shown a special interest in helping kids in trouble several times in previous episodes, possibly due to his own troubled past. When Amanda looks at him and says, "I just want my dad back, Dr. Lightman," Cal decides to help the girl.
This scene with Cal, Emily and Amanda illustrates a central theme of "Funhouse": what exactly is being passed down, either through genetics or environment, the Lightman family tree? Emily shows just how much of Cal's ability to manipulate she's picked up, as she gets her friend to talk by making mistakes as she tells her friend's story. Cal points this out to Amanda (and the audience) when he says, "She's slippery like that." Emily shoots right back, "That I get from him"—and the stage is set for the audience to wonder to what traits are being passed down and whether they are positive or negative.
The plot concerning Amanda's father unfolds nicely, as Cal finds himself committed to the hospital for 48 hours observation after he punches an orderly and collapses. Between hallucinations of his mother and father, Cal tries to determine how Wayne and he are being fed hallucinogens, but comes up empty when he searches the head psychiatrist's office for something illicit. Fortunately, a talk with Loker leads him to remember he gobbled a muffin at Amanda's house and it was just after eating the treat that he began to feel ill and unbalanced. Sure enough, Wayne gets the homemade muffins every day, specially made by his daughter.