It’s been six months since the last new episode of Lie to Me aired on television. Thankfully, after all that wait, its triumphant return is upon us. Not only that, but since Fox decided to renew the series for one more season, fans won’t have to watch while being depressed that these are the final moments of the brilliant Tim Roth on American television.
Now that it’s summer time, viewers have to decide whether to spend time outside or handle the onslaught of terrible programming thrown together by networks trying to burn through unaired episodes of canceled television series. Luckily, it appears that Fox is actually putting some effort into their summer programming - taking cues from cable television, no doubt.
So, as the other networks are airing their leftovers, settle in as Fox brings out the big guns… starting with Lie to Me.
“Beat The Devil”
Lightman plays a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with a brilliant, charming psychology graduate student whom Lightman identifies as a psychopath. When nobody believes him, Lightman sets out to prove the doubters wrong and catch the psychopath before he kills again. Complicating matters is Lightman’s former mentor, a renowned psychologist who, also fooled by the charismatic young man, is protecting him for personal and professional reasons. Meanwhile, Loker (Brendan Hines) and Torres (Monica Raymund) travel to a small town to look into a UFO sighting.
This past year, Lie to Me has had to play a “wait and see” type game with Fox. While it’s been over six months since the last new episode aired, many battles were being fought behind the scenes. Not only was Lie to Me one of the many "bubble shows" that could've either be renewed or canceled (it’s been renewed!), but the writers were also working hard to try and knock out some of the best stories the series has ever seen. Happily, I can say that that they succeeded – and then some.
Not only is the summer return of Lie to Me one of the best episodes of the entire series, but it could easily hold its own against some of primetime’s heavy hitters – including most of their season finales. Tim Roth’s portrayal of Dr. Lightman, as he deconstructs the smallest human response, has always been on par with Hugh Laurie's portrayal of Dr. House. Never has that fact been so apparent than in this episode.
In every great story, the protagonist always has an equally worthy antagonist. So far, we’ve seen episode after episode where criminals, as antagonists, come up against Lightman, but since they were always recognized as someone below Lightman’s intelligence or abilities, it was easy to see that he would ultimately come out on top in the end. While I wouldn’t exactly call the young psychopath in this episode Lightman’s nemesis (especially after seeing what happens in the next episode), he does provide the perfect platform for Roth, as Lightman, to shine.
Not only that, but the simple notion of Lightman having to prove himself and his pseudoscience to everyone around him – even those that already know it - allows the writers to make the series more accessible to viewers who may not have watched the show previously. While it’s not a complete introductory course on what Lie to Me is all about, there is enough simplification and analysis of Lightman’s complicated methodology that new viewers will be able to catch on quickly.
To be fair, the episode as a whole is somewhat uneven. While we do have Lightman battling a serial killer, the rest of his group is off chasing a mythical UFO. It’s not to say that the UFO storyline is entirely bad (although it’s pushing it), but when matched up with such an interesting and complicated central plot, it’s hard not to get frustrated when the focus shifts off of Lightman’s conflict – especially when it’s a matter of life and death.
Still, Lie to Me is one of my favorite series and they have once again delivered. Hopefully, with Fox bringing the series back next year, we won’t have to deal with a four month break between airings and the writers will have ample time to create a truly worthy adversary for Lightman.
The summer return of Lie to Me has been a long time coming. Fortunately the wait was worth it, as the series delivered one of the best episodes to date.
What do you think of Lie to Me? Is this a series that you enjoy? Will you be tuning in?
Lie to Me returns June 7 on Fox