This week's Lie To Me, "React To Contact," has so much going for it, I feel almost guilty pointing out the flaws. The highlight of the episode is the very strong guest performance from Enver Gjokaj. I'd read some glowing descriptions of this actor from his time on Dollhouse, but hadn't seen him myself in that show. He delivers an outstanding performance on Lie To Me and is clearly an actor on the rise who deserves a lot more exposure. Hayley McFarland, as Cal's daughter Emily, is another delight and overall the performances overcome the sometimes convoluted plotting and over-reliance on gadgetry.
The case involves the military calling Cal in to find out why Sgt. Jeff Turley, six months back from Iraq and about to get the Silver Star, is convinced someone is trying to kill him, to the point he almost shot his nine-year-old son while scouring his house for the enemy. It's an odd case for The Lightman Group, as it's more a psychological excavation of Turley's psyche than hunting for a lie and therefore more in Foster's court than Lightman's. It's nice to see the writers expanding the scope for interesting cases, but Cal's lack of reason to be centrally involved does end up being an issue.
The team use an fMRI to determine Jeff has PTSD, and the reason given as to why it takes Cal to do this is the military system is bogged down with potential PTSD cases, so Jeff hasn't been looked at yet. I would have thought Jeff's breakdown, which involved the unlawful use of a fireman and the near killing of a child, would have expedited his case—which I suppose it did, but why right to Cal? Even if it made it to The Lightman Group, Gillian seems the best choice to handle Jeff's case, since the issue is the man's mental health. It's a bit odd to see Cal diagnosing PTSD and at least the script does have Cal questioning why he's been brought the case.
The issue of Cal's importance to figuring out Jeff shows up again when the team decide the only way to help Turley integrate his buried memories from Iraq is to hook him up to Foster's experimental virtual reality system. The system is cool and Gjokaj is simply superb at making the scenarios he's describing seem real and tense. But Cal is reduced to sitting beside him and reacting to Turley's fear. The focus is on the equipment and with a guest star of Gjokaj's calibre, that is a shame. I would have liked the two men to face off against each other, with Cal using all his skills to extract what happened behind the red door. The video game lacks the emotional centre the men would have provided if more of the information had been uncovered by Cal.