Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lie to Me, "Honey": Dun-dun-dun-Dillahunt

Quick spoilers for last night's "Lie to Me" coming up just as soon as I tell you what I do for a living...

An episode where the main character gets taken hostage is a card every drama gets to play once, at most, so they need to make it a good one or else not bother. "House" muffed it last season, but I thought the "Lie to Me" team did a good job with the old cliche, aided by the always-stellar Garret Dillahunt as the hostage-taker (who took a very thin character and made it compelling) and strong work from Tim Roth and Kelli Williams.

The show is clearly traveling down the road of Unresolved Sexual Tension with Lightman and Foster, and we'll deal with that when it happens, but I'm glad they didn't push it too far here. Gillian would've been just as wigged if she didn't secretly want to jump Cal's bones, and I liked that his request for a sleepover at the end of that lousy day was platonic.

What did everybody else think?

26 comments:

JustJoan said...

Apparently I missed the broadcast email notifying all and sundry -- especially Sundry -- that Garrett Dillahunt must appear at least once on every show. Actually, since I just started watching Season 2 of Deadwood I learned that he can appear twice in each show, provided he does do at least once clean shaven. Not being in the know, therefore, I am constantly delighted to see Mr. Dillahunt pop up in so many prime-time episodes, and may now have to start watching thing like "Glee" and all those "Housewives of Wherever" just to catch his guest shots. The man is amazing, and given his range and talent, I doubt I will ever tire of seeing him. Next up? I believe he's due for an episode of "The Simpsons."

Doug S said...

I don't watch this show, but I do get a Google alert every time Mr. Dillahunt appears in a show. As you can imagine, this leaves me little time for anything else - good thing I can eat in front of the tv.

My wife and I now just call GD "Him." As in, "Oh, it's Him again." And, "Gosh, I hope Him is on this episode of Bored to Death tonight."

Hatfield said...

Wow, this post will soon turn into the Garrett Dillahunt Appreciation Society, but that's quite all right, as he's one of the most underrated actors out there. Francis Wolcott is one of the creepiest villains ever, and on the strength of that alone he deserves work wherever he wants it.

Lie to Me is much better than last season, but it's funny, I can't tell you exactly why. I just feel it when I'm watching.

Oh, and Lightman totally should have taken the prostitute from the episode of House when House and Cuddy are on the plane up on her offer; she's a fox.

amysa said...

I'm a big fan of comment threads that disolve into goopy gushing over Garret Dillahunt.

FYI for those who might know and want to: he's on SVU this week, too.

I would have enjoyed it regardless because of him, but I was pleased that they managed to make a good episode out of a tired premise and Roth and Williams were excellent. This show is best when they stick to one story instead of splitting the team in half for multiple cases, so that was already a point in this one's favor. I was also glad that they knocked some of the smug out of Eli and made Torres a bit more vulnerable in this situation. I watched season one for Tim Roth, but now that it's finding it's groove, I'm enjoying it a lot more. The Cal/Gillian relationship is inevitable, but the strong friendship they've managed to lay out for us makes the prospect not entirely unpleasant.

Jo said...

As much as I agree the whole hostage thing is a cliche in dramas, it seems rather inevitable that the LG wouldn't run into it at some point -- if not more than once -- simply due to the nature of their work. Quite simply, they do a lot of high-profile stuff, which has the potential to alter the lives of people (often bigwigs). Said people will no doubt have reason to be pissed, and vent at the LG.

That said, I think they did a good job with the storyline, as well as the bits of G/C.

JustJoan said...

Just as a matter of curiosity, does anyone think FBI liaison Ben Reynolds adds any value to the proceedings? Other than good looks and a welcome bit of cast diversity, that is? His character postures, but he never seems to do much to help as opposed to hinder the work of the Lightman Group. I'm just saying.

Hatfield said...

Well, he totally saved the day last night, so he's not completely worthless

Oaktown Girl said...

JustJoan - congrats on discovering Deadwood, or finally getting around to it, as the case may be. Enjoy!

OK, I'll go ahead and jump on the GD thread. As a Deadwood fanatic, I almost watched this episode just because of the GD factor. But my time was limited, so instead I caught up with last night's Mad Men via On Demand. Wow.

If Lie to Me good enough for Alan to blog about it, I may have to start checking it out. I certainly am a fan of Tim Roth, and I like that they let him keep his accent. Boy, I'd sure love to see a "House/Lie To Me" crossover episode where Hugh Laurie gets to "mock" Tim Roth's accent. That would be priceless.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And in addition to taking out the bad guy, he's a useful plot device, as his badge gives the Lightman Group access to people and places they couldn't so easily get without him.

One of the things that got left out of the Shawn Ryan interview column was Shawn's desire to not have Reynolds just be Dana Scully for five seasons - that there will be a point, soon, where he starts to appreciate Cal's science for what it is and isn't just in scenes to play the skeptic.

I look forward to that development, when it comes.

Joe C. said...

Not the biggest fan of Reynolds, but he definitely brings some of that outward intensity that's lacking in the other characters. He's somewhat reminiscent of a Shield cop, and his interrogation of the guy in the kitchen was a Vic Mackey-ish moment.

JustJoan said...

Point taken. But I'd leap at the chance to have a Vic Mackey fill the bill, someone who will be there to do the law enforcement access stuff, but in a more, um, flexible way. Because how many times can he ring the chimes on "Okay, but if he/she/they don't come out/in/over/through in the next xx minutes, I'm pulling the plug?"

Ian G said...

Sexual tension between Lichtman and Foster?? Pity there's absolutely no chemistry between the actors at all.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I was disappointed in last night's episode. I'm not ready to say that this show has jumped the shark, but it seems like it's passing through The Dollhouse on it's way to the seashore. First of all, the premise was completely implausible: "Hey, wait, I didn't kill my wife and to prove it, I'll just commit about eight or nine felonies (not to mention risk getting my head blown off at the end of the show) just to prove I'm innocent." Way to build a sympathetic character....it would have been better if he had just showed up on Lightman's doorstep and begged them to help.

Second, they forgot to bring the science. Lightman is supposed to be good because he sees things other people don't, and then shows them using the still photos drawn from tapes (usually with a helpful chorus of disgraced politicians or celebrities to reinforce the point) Last night was all "glances and guesses" which I found unsatisfying.

And really, please for all that is holy can we not have another House/Cuddy cat and mouse relationship that goes on forever? For two supposed experts in seeing behind people's masks, the whole "Can I sleep in your spare room?" crap was just plain weak. I would have been much more satisfied if he had shown up on his ex-wife's doorstep....sexual tension is much more interesting when it exists between two people who know they are bad for each other in the long term but can't get past it in the short term (e.g. maybe Michael and Fi on Burn Notice). I was glad this show got a second chance, but if it's going to go down this road, it won't get a third.....

3rdrocker said...

This was a brilliant episode! Lie To Me just keeps getting better and better! I'll duck before I say this, but I had actually never heard of/seen Dillahunt, but he did a great job of playing a deranged, backwoods crazy guy (who actually was telling the truth). LOVED the end scene with Cal & Gillian...SO much chemistry!!!! And to all the naysayers, there's a HUGE fan base supporting the Lightman/Foster relationship.

amysa said...

>>First of all, the premise was completely implausible: "Hey, wait, I didn't kill my wife and to prove it, I'll just commit about eight or nine felonies (not to mention risk getting my head blown off at the end of the show) just to prove I'm innocent." <<

But, that's kind of missing the point. He had nothing to lose because he'd already lost his wife. I'm not sure that he cared one way or the other about what happened to him, only that he wasn't going to go down for killing her because he didn't. He loved her more than anything and being accused of murdering her was unacceptable even if it meant going to jail for all the many crimes committed in an effort to clear his name of that one. The character could have been better written and they could have gone in any number of directions with him, but I have no problem believing in and accepting the singular desperation of the guy, especially when he's being played so beautifully. Nothing else mattered to him and what did he have to live for anyway?

Kate said...

I agree with @amysa, and I'll also add that I'm not sure we were really supposed to feel sympathetic for the character. To me, he was a man that was losing/had lost grip. There were redeeming things about him, but overall, at least for me, I didn't really feel for him. (That could get back to the way the character was written though, as some have pointed out.)

Overall, I really enjoyed the episode personally. And, I'm another one that thinks Lightman and Foster (Tim and Kelli) have great chemistry. I'm not advocating getting them together anytime soon, but I certainly enjoy watching it. :) And for the record: I'm not a House/Cuddy fan. ;)

I'm also very glad you're watching it Alan, and I hope you keep doing so. I enjoy reading your thoughts... er... okay that came out wrong. But, you know what I mean. :) Thanks for the review.

Anonymous said...

>>>But, that's kind of missing the point. He had nothing to lose because he'd already lost his wife. I'm not sure that he cared one way or the other about what happened to him, only that he wasn't going to go down for killing her because he didn't. He loved her more than anything and being accused of murdering her was unacceptable even if it meant going to jail for all the many crimes committed in an effort to clear his name of that one.<<<<

Not to be argumentative, but this only holds if "loving your wife more than anything" means secretly running up a debt, borrowing money to pay it back from one dicey guy, who, in turn, peddles it to a loan shark, who collects on the debt by coercing sexual favors from the hostage takers wife --yeah that's real love there. Good episodes of good shows require being able to find something good to root for in somebody, even if they're losers. Like I said, if hostage guy would have just shown up on Lightman's doorstep begging for help, I could have bought the premise.

And as far as a Cal/Foster relationship, I'm only against it if they drag it out and make it boring. Give me heat....give me sparks....give me tension. I mean, think back to the way they introduced Jennifer Beals -- "What's the matter Cal, don't like women in masks, anymore? She just exuded hottness... Foster is just too grounded and too maternal for somebody like Lightman. . .

Eldritch said...

Lie to Me is much better than last season, but it's funny, I can't tell you exactly why. I just feel it when I'm watching.

I often feel the same way about shows myself. In this case, I think it's because the new showrunner, Shawn Ryan, has put the on-going characters in jeopardy in each episode.

Last season, Lightman et al came into a situation, read it, gave their report and left. They were objective, personally untouched by the episode's dangers. The only characters in jeopardy were the guest stars, whom we cared little about. "Dollhouse" has suffered from that.

This season Lightman and his staff are finding themselves personally involved or threatened. In this episode, there's a gun to his head. In a previous episode, his investigation into a college rape case has him discover his own daughter may be involved somehow.

That's why I think this season is more compelling, the personal involvement of the characters we care about.

LA said...

I actually liked it a little better last season when the focus was on the science of reading people's micro-expressions. I'm disappointed they've more or less abandoned that basic premise of the series. You can still develop the characters without ditching the cool science.

amysa said...

>>Not to be argumentative, but this only holds if "loving your wife more than anything" means secretly running up a debt, borrowing money to pay it back from one dicey guy, who, in turn, peddles it to a loan shark, who collects on the debt by coercing sexual favors from the hostage takers wife --yeah that's real love there.<<

You said it yourself: the guy was a loser. And while it appeared that he realized he was a loser (even as he tried to pretend at points that he wasn't) and he realized that his wife took care of him, it wasn't clear to me that he knew the full extent of what she was willing to do for him. That said, I don't see why his being a grade A loser means that he couldn't also love his wife. It was pretty clear to me that he wasn't the brightest bulb, nor was he someone I'd lend money to or want to offer a lift to on a dark street, but I didn't really have any doubt that his desire to clear his name was motivated by the fact that he loved her and didn't want to be wrongfully convicted of killing the one person who mattered to him.

That aside, I'm not sure that we were supposed to be rooting for him so much as rooting for Cal, who believed him, to not only find out who really killed the woman, but also get himself, his team and Dillahunt out of the situation safely. Cal was the hero to root for, not the hostage taker. Like has been said, the character was written thin and in a less capable actors hands I might not have enjoyed most of it, but everything lined up. It worked out and after rewatching a few minutes of it on hulu this afternoon I think I like it even more today than last night.

jenn said...

I liked it better last season too when it was more science and less cops & robbers. They're psychologists, not Nancy Drew or even Philip Marlowe. Still, an entertaining enough hour.

Dillahunt gets better as he goes along. He was pretty bad in ER, okay in Life and this was the best yet.

I'm not a fan of hostage taking episodes but this was very well done and showed just how bad House's was last season. And no random SWAT character needed to show up to tell the audience how much Foster loves Lightman, Tim Roth and Kelli Williams sold it on acting alone.

I'm still not happy about a Lightman/Foster hook-up because I think it will distract from the science too much but I'll wait and see.

mjryan said...

I think the show did the only thing it can do to move the concept forward by bringing in more characterization. I love the science, too, but having Cal/Ria/Loker/Foster explain the deeper meaning to every swallow, eye shift and grimace is not the basis for long term success. At least it's not going to keep my interest long term. I welcome the addition of the interpersonal, especially Cal's relationship with his daughter. I also like the Lightman/Foster relationship and disagree that the two actors don't have chemistry.

JustJoan said...

I agree, mjryan. The science was so well explained last season that we have progressed to shorthand now, pretty much. In this case, a rapid succession of head-down real life photos was enough to show us that shame was the identified emotion. What we need in terms of science is not the same old-same old but a new wrinkle, or ideally a new pack of signifying tics, etc. so that we can learn new techniques as we go along. For me, the science in and of itself is not what I look for now that I know what these people do and how they do it. I am looking beyond science to how it affects the Lightman Group's members, professionally and personally, to live with this kind of knowledge in the real world. For example, how is it working for Loker and his self-image now that he has been unmasked? And I'm pleased that Gillian now feels able to wear pink, but has anybody noticed that she is embracing opportunities to be borderline inappropriate sexually? She leaped at the chance to shake her maracas in that bar, yes? I would love to see more private life consequences arising from the skill sets these people use in their workplace.

jenn said...

I agree that explaining the science all the time would get boring but there is a middle group between that and this season in which none of the science or the expressions has been explained.

Lightman looks at the suspect, squints, and says "I can see you're lying". Torres looks piercingly and says "I believe you". Loker checks blood pressure and temperature (which could mean either a lie or stress from another origin) and pronounces. The closest we've got to an explanation of why they think the way they do was last week Gillian pointing out that the lab guy kept looking behind him, which as a whole body movement really had nothing to do with microexpressions.

The explanation of the microexpressions was what made this show different. Otherwise, I might as well be watching The Mentalist.

ghoti said...

Not only did SVU have Dillahunt, it also featured Pryzbylewski and a really excellent performance by Rosie Perez.

Fran said...

I dunno guys, no has mentioned this but what woman leaves her window down and door unlocked going to the house of a relative of a killer on the loose? What woman leaves her window down and door unlocked ANYWHERE? Of course that was the "setup" for getting him in the car but I didn't buy it and thought that was sloppy and lazy writing. And the file in the front seat? What is this - CSI?

So that kind of blew it for me. But the rest of the show was good and the sleep-in-the-spare-bedroom instead of falling into bed together was very refreshing for me.