'Lie to Me': Suicide, surrogates, and securities fraud
We begin tonight's "Lie to Me" with a mystery that's a whole lot different than The Lightman Group's typical case -- if such a thing exists. Cal and his daughter encounter a road block while on their way to school; a young Indian woman has thrown herself from a bridge -- and Cal can't let it go. And in a B story ripped from the headlines, we've got a major Madoff-style swindle and some populist anger from Eli.
The situation with the young Indian woman has really gotten hold of Cal, and Ria spots him in the office watching a film of a British woman who's clearly been depressed and in a clinical setting, talking about her lessening symptoms. I had this one nailed about 10 seconds in, but I'll keep a lid on it until further down. It turns out that the girl who committed suicide has a sister who committed suicide by jumping off the same bridge just three days before. Both were illegal immigrants, and Cal and Ria head to the department of immigration, and then to their place of employment -- a strip club (The immigration guy knew about the place but was nervous discussing it, since he went there sometimes during work hours. In D.C., we called that "going to the ballet at lunch."). The girls worked there for about six months, and it turns out that their gross boss has been videotaping all of the dancers without their knowledge, putting the videos on a web site. When their family found out, their brother told them they were dead to the family and could never come home. Cal suspects the brother of creating a situation in which they had no choice but to commit suicide, but it turns out they made peace.
Then they get word that another young Indian woman has committed suicide by throwing herself onto the Metro tracks. And while she didn't work with the sisters at the strip club, Cal's convinced there's a connection. He's got the whole firm working on this case, and is barking for Gillian, who's out on another investigation. When she finally gets in, they exchange some tense words in low voices in front of the staff as she tries to find out why he missed a meeting with the mayor. It's like mom and dad are fighting, and everyone's on edge.
There's some wonderful stuff in this episode with Cal and his daughter, Emily (Hayley McFarland), and their relationship feels like a real, close -- and slightly awkward -- relationship between an incredibly observant and nervous father and his precocious teenage daughter. After talking with her, Cal notices on a Metro security tape some discoloration on the face of the third girl -- a side effect of pregnancy. All three young women have had a baby within the last two months -- and no one knows where the babies are. Throw in a little extra drama: the U.S. Attorney who's working the case is a friend of Cal's ex-wife, and she doesn't exactly pull any punches about what she thinks of him or his work.
They track down the third girl's baby, which is caucasian. She was a surrogate, found through a web site offering a cheaper-than-the-market going rate for surrogates. Which leads Cal and the investigators to what I can only describe (crudely) as a baby lab -- with young Indian women as incubators. The conditions are horrible, and after the young women give birth, the owner of the "business" throws them out on the streets. Worse, the "owner" works for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and is preying upon these young women as they go to renew their visas.
It's horrifying, and Cal can barely contain himself. This man left these young women virtually no choice but to kill themselves, Cal argues, and he had to have known that there was a possibility they'd commit suicide. In fact, the third girl called his cell phone minutes before she jumped onto the tracks. The problem is that he's admitting nothing, and they really can't prove he knew she was going to die, so they have to let him go. But a determined Cal, stopping at nothing to prove a point, stages a scene in which a friend posing as the third girl's father allows him to jack up the pressure on the trafficker, who admits he knew the girl was going to jump, and did nothing. He's charged with second-degree murder.
Back at the office, Cal's re-watching the film of the British woman. Eli told Ria that she was a patient of one of Cal's professors, who ended up killing herself after getting a weekend pass from the hospital. It was Cal's research -- slowing the film down -- that allowed them to see the microexpressions on her face proving that she was still struggling with the anguish and agony her words and manner were covering up. Then Cal sets up the projector in Emily's room and shows her the film of her grandmother. Yep -- saw it coming, and it was still affecting.
The Madoff-like case has Gillian and Eli working for the Securities and Exchange Commission, investigating a financier accused of ripping off pensions. His daughter is defensive, and Eli can't hold back his contempt. Gillian and Eli know he's lying, but at this point the crux of the problem is Eli essentially baiting the guy and his daughter in the interview. Then Gillian and Eli go back to the daughter, suspecting that her father's hiding the money for her -- and they realize that she's displaying signs of guilt, likely because her father's taking the blame for her. In the midst of this, though, thehre's a fantastic moment between Ria and Gillian. Ria suspects something's up with Lightman's film, and thinks the woman was Lightman's patient. "Just because you can see everything doesn't mean you understand it," Gillian snaps, telling her to back off. It's a wonderful, almost bared-teeth flash of protectiveness toward Cal, and Kelli Williams makes it believeable.
In fact, she's rather curt throughout the episode -- mostly because Eli's gone renegade on the case. The financier admits to Gillian that he took the blame for his daughter, and he promises Gillian that he'll get his daughter to 'fess up all of the account numbers and names of the shell companies where the money's -- if they make a deal to let him do the time. Gillian agrees, reasoning that the most important thing is recovering the money for the people who've been ripped off. But Eli's sense of justice is deeply offended, and he argues that unless people like the daughter are punished, they'll keep doing what they're doing. Gillian calls the SEC to tell them about the deal, but instead they're taking the daughter into custody and indicting her -- and they won't discuss details.
Furious, she confronts Eli, who convinces her he wasn't the one who dropped the dime -- at least enough to get her to drop it. But Mr. Brutal Honesty can't keep quiet, and he tells Ria that he called the Department of Justice and told them about the daughter -- and lied to Gillian. He took a sedative to relax his face, he tells a shocked and panicked Ria. And we make it to the end of the episode without resolving this one, so we've got some fireworks ahead.
What did you think? Did you find the surrogate storyline as shocking and sad as I did? What do you think will end up happening to Eli? And it was good to see Gillian be the tough one for once, no?