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September 1, 2014

Lie to Me: The Core of It (season premiere)

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Sep 28th 2009 10:02PM

Erika Christensen, Hayley McFarland, and Tim Roth in the season two premiere of Lie to Me.
(S02E01) "Oh, your husband likes unprotected sex with hookers, so it might be a good time to get yourself tested for, you know, everything really." - Cal

Lies! Lies! Lies! Or are they? With the return of Lie to Me comes a whole new batch of poker faces for The Lightman Group to interpret and fortunately for us, the overall vibe of the show is a lot more believable than it used to be. If I'm going to watch a show where the lynch-pin of every episode rests on the ability of Tim Roth's Dr. Cal Lightman to negotiate all the little twists a suspect's face makes, then I better not be able to figure it out myself in the first five minutes. When I recently spoke with Roth, he said the show was a lot better now. He wasn't lying.

Based on just this episode, Lie to Me feels much less like the procedural from last season and has far more in common with a more serialized-ish sorta cop show. Think NYPD Blue or any of the CSI shows. The case of the week still takes forefront, but the behind the scenes character development has increased ten fold. Cal Lightman is a lot more interesting when we know more about him than just his job.

Case of the Week
Let's get this out of the way - I had forgotten Erika Christensen even existed. After her amazing turn in Traffic, she hasn't done much other than the cult hit Swimfan or her part in the forgettable ABC drama Six Degrees. However, she was phenomenal here. Playing the part of Sophie - the core personality of a girl with disassociative identity disorder - she nailed every different persona in her character's head. Jessie the hooker, Trisha the law student, and RJ the mute protector were all brought to life extremely vividly thanks to Christensen. I don't know that it's an Emmy worthy guest turn (though I bet it gets submitted during awards season next year) but it certainly qualifies Christensen to start getting some more higher profile work.

As for the way Cal and the team handled it? Well, at first it certainly didn't seem like the type of case we would have expected them take. But I get the feeling we need to get used to that type of storytelling with Shawn Ryan at the helm now. Seeing Cal react so passionately to a murder that he really didn't need to get involved in was refreshing.

The Characters
Like I said, there was just more of this and in a good way. Cal's interactions with Zoe (Jennifer Beals) and their argument about what's best for their daughter Emily was arguably the most personal conversation we've seen Cal engage in yet. The only other moment that comes close to it was when he told Torres about his mother last season.

And speaking of Torres, she exhibited a lot of promise here too, handling that case with the Supreme Court nominee all by herself. My only wish would be to see her handle something even bigger. This still felt too easy for her at times.

As for Foster, the new bubbly "I love being divorced" attitude suits her much better. For most of season one, Foster was a depressed shell of who she clearly wanted to be and now we get to see it. I don't think we knew that her specialty was psychology either.

As for Loker and Reynolds, neither of them were featured too much. I'm guessing Loker is still being punished for misdeeds last season, but there's no excuse for Mekhi Phifer's character to have so little involvement. He felt more like a clone of Frank Tripp from CSI: Miami than the headstrong FBI agent we met last season.

A few more thoughts...

  • There was no mention about Cal and Zoe sleeping together last season. Since she was willing to re-locate to Chicago, I'm assuming that went nowhere?
  • Anyone else catch who played Christensen's brother? It was Michael Raymond-James, better known as Rene from season one of True Blood. Weird to hear him speak without that Louisiana drawl...
  • I never would have pegged Cal as the type to write a book about his findings. Seems sort of below him.
  • The look on Sophie's face when she worried that one of her alters might take over for good was chilling. I know I already said this, but again - Erika Christensen really nailed this role.

The episode closed with a rather interesting threat from Cal - that he could go to Vegas should the money he gave to Zoe (when he bought her out) become needed. He could win it all back. Foster seemed worried and with good reason - Lightman is banned from every casino in Vegas for obvious reasons. At least that's what Tim Roth said. Fortunately for us, looks like he's going anyway in a future ep this season. Something tells me he won't need to count cards.

[Check out full episodes and clips of Lie to Me, as well as other shows, at SlashControl.]

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Pamela

I LOVE this show! LOVE Tim Roth!

September 30 2009 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
J-Sim

What are the obvious reasons that Lightman is banned from every casino in Vegas? The one truth to a casino is that the house always has an edge. Poker is one game that depends on some deception but casinos make money off of poker regardless of who wins. Poker players may hate him but casinos have no reason to fear him.

September 29 2009 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
J Sim

What are the obvious reasons that Lightman is banned from every casino in Vegas? The one truth to a casino is that the house always has an edge. Poker is one game that depends on some deception but casinos make money off of poker regardless of who wins. Poker players may hate him but casinos have no reason to fear him.

September 29 2009 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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