Monday, 8 November 2010

Lie To Me 3.3 'Dirty Loyal'


“…It’s called loyalty…” – Cal

I’ve been quite vocally dismissive of Lie To Me for the majority of its run, yet here I am three seasons in still tuning in, so it can’t be all bad… can it!?

The frustrating thing about the show has always been the writing. The premise is solid, the genre will always be popular, the cast, for the most part, are all fine and lead actor Tim Roth in particular chews the scenery for all its worth; but the writing has always largely been nothing short of dire.

There have been no season-long arcs or plotlines, characters quickly seem to forget emotional moments that occur one week and act as though they never happened the following week and we know almost nothing about the majority of the supporting cast.

To be fair to Lie To Me though, season 3 has at least begun to address some of the above issues. We have arcs – Loker’s dissatisfaction at being Cal’s bitch and his hunt for a new job, Gillian’s frustration at Cal’s attitude towards the future of the company and the tensions this is causing and Cal’s ongoing effort to write his second book.

We’ve never had anything like this before, Lie To Me was all about the case of the week and whilst that device may still be the main focal point of the show, we now at least have some fleshing out of the regular characters.

This week’s episode again suffered from what I would call sloppy writing, but it was one of the, if not the, most emotionally satisfying episodes the show has ever produced.

My problem with ‘Dirty Loyal’ was that we were expected to be really invested in Lightman’s relationship with cop Wallowski, who he now would appear to be sleeping with.

We’ve had two episodes to get used to her replacing Reynolds as Cal’s new cop sidekick yet here is an episode revolving almost entirely around her fate – Lightman may care but we certainly don’t, at least not yet anyway.

Wallowski’s partner Farr is being investigated by Internal Affairs on suspicion of being dirty and Cal’s new buddy is caught in the crossfire, and as Cal goes to great lengths to help her, the tensions between Cal and Gillian grow even more.

If we had a reason to care about Wallowski or her relationship with Lightman, beyond the fact that he’s the main character so we feel an obligation to, this would have been a tense, well played out episode.

It still had that element to it but it just didn’t pack the real emotional punch it could have done; compared to some episodes of the show though this was near Emmy-worthy.

I understand the whole ‘partners’ similarity they were drawing on to highlight the growing cracks within The Lightman Group but it just felt too soon for us to be expected to really have any sort of investment in whether Wallowski is cleared or not.

The eventual reveal of fat, balding white-guy Farr being the Latino gang member’s Dad was a little inexplicable but I’ll go with it as my beef is always with the overall writing of the show; they usually nail the case of the week aspect and keep us guessing until the reveal no matter how ridiculous the outcome may be.

If it seems I’m being overly critical of Lie To Me it’s just because I can see how much potential the show has, and it really is frustrating that three seasons in even with the considerable talent involved they still haven’t quite hit their stride.

Things are definitely beginning to look up though.

Brendan Hines’ Loker, who has been criminally underused up until now is finally being given the better storylines of the Lightman Group underlings, with the bland and extremely uninteresting Torres barely getting a look in anymore.

I’m also enjoying seeing the tension between Cal and Gillian play out, I hated how smug the two of them used to be as the King and Queen of The Lightman Group, with them now at each other’s throats it will be interesting to see how far their relationship fractures and what repercussions come of that.

I may object to us being asked to care about Wallowski so early into her tenure on the show but it is good to finally see Cal with a proper love interest beyond his ex-wife or Gillian, there definitely is intrigue there if they explore the idea that Cal’s skills are compromised when Wallowski is around/involved.

All in all, given its impressive roster of showrunners, cast and crew Lie To Me is still disappointing, but it seems to be taking steps in the right direction, even if they are baby steps.

Bullet Points:

- The impressive list of guest stars continued this week as Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad fame cropped up as the Internal Affairs ball-buster investigating Farr and Wallowski.

Gunn was almost unrecognisable from the Skyler I remember from Breaking Bad (keep in mind I’m yet to see season 3) looking a bit more rotund but definitely working the shorter blonde hair.

Her guest appearance comes hot on the heels of Jamie ‘Marlo Stanfield’ Hector in the season three premiere and we have Tricia ‘Battlestar Galactica’ Helfer to look forward to next week.

- There is so much they could do with the Cal-Loker dynamic, it is clearly a Father-Son type bond but they are both just too emotionally stunted to show the other how they really feel. Hopefully this new found focus on Loker will lead to something meaningful and satisfying between him and his mentor.

- I know Wallowski works gangs and is supposed to be a tough girl but did anybody else think she and Cal were ridiculously calm when they were coming under attack from automatic weapons in her own bedroom.

Lie To Me continues Wednesday @ 10pm on Sky1


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