Saturday, 4 July 2009

Louise Mason?

Sky One's latest TV series "Lie To Me" has intrigued me ever since the first episode was shown. This American TV series with British actor Tim Roth who plays Dr. Cal Lightman, an expert on body language whose firm (The Lightman Group) assist local and federal law enforcement organisations in crime investigations.

In Thursday night's episode "Depraved Heart", viewers were given their first insight into what made Lightman go into this line of work. On taking his daughter to school, they are stalled by a traffic jam which on closer inspection is the scene of a suicide. The police investigator admits that surprisingly this woman of Indian background had a sister who jumped to her death from the same bridge two days earlier, but tells Lightman there is no reason for him to get involve

However Lightman is determined to be involved and when his daughter Emily asks him “Didn’t you used to study suicides?” Lightman replies “Still do”.

We see Lightman
watching an old film tape of a woman telling someone off camera how fine she feels and how much she wants to be able to go home for the weekend to visit her family. It’s clear she’s a patient of some kind talking to her psychiatrist. Lightman’s colleague Ria Torres walks in, she makes a simple remark about the lady on film looking very sad. Lightman’s quiet response of “Yeah”, along with his quick shutting off the projector, alerts her that Lightman’s emotions are involved.

We know that Torres was abused by her father as a child and that's where she started reading faces. She would remember the looks on his face before he hurt her and she learned to expect when he would do it again.

Lightman's reaction to Torres'
natural ability has been a continuing theme since she was hired. He has been mentoring her but also at the same time has shown himself a little touchy about her own natural ability vs. his learnt skills. He pokes at her background trying to understand her natural ability, which has had a side effect that he’s not happy with – Torres is now equally interested in why Lightman studied lie detection. This suicide case raises questions in her mind about the nature of Lightman’s interest, and Loker (Eli Loker, researcher at the Lightman Group) tells her that Lightman has been obsessed with the woman on tape – Louise Mason – for years. Loker thinks that the woman was a patient of Lightman’s professor in his university days and she was the reason Lightman discovered micro-expressions. The woman had passed this interview based on this interview based on this tape but had killed herself over the weekend. Lightman had the idea to slow down the tape and when he did, he noticed the signs of agony everyone had missed.

(Dr. Gillian Foster, psychologist at the Lightman Group) who has been working on a separate case, offers to delay her own case and help Lightman. She is clearly worried about him but he won’t let her in. When Lightman’s daughter comes to have dinner with him and she wants to talk about suicide as someone in her school had committed suicide, he tells her she shouldn’t be thinking of things like that. He seems to be protecting her. Foster tells him that no matter how many times he finds an answer for why someone committed suicide, nothing will change. And it will still not be his fault. Foster is sure he is projecting his own guilt issues on this case, leaving us again to wonder who is Louise Mason?

Torres is certainly wondering, and she speaks to Foster, telling her she saw guilt on Lightman's face and wonders who Louise really was. Foster abruptly blocks her questions telling her "Just because you see everything doesn't mean you understand it". Foster is protecting him, but the question of understanding is taken up by Lightman later on. In Louise's time, no one knew about micro-expressions, so trained researchers had no way to pick up her despair. But Torres is not a trained researcher. Lightman asks her if she can see the agony on Louise's face and she admits she can. She says she's sorry, and Lightman tells her never to be sorry for something she sees. We see that Lightman is aware that a natural would have caught Louise's agony even in her time period. This case helps reveal the source of Lightman's tension over Torres' natural abilities and his own trained skills.

In the case, with a third suicide body found, the three girls are connected as they were all working as surrogates in terrible underground conditions for an immigration official. He is determined to get away with his crime but Lightman is adamant that he will pay for it. Lightman again reveals how far he will go to make a man pay as he pretends a friend of his is one of the dead girl's father who knows that his daughter called the immigration official shortly before she jumped. Lightman pushes the situation and the immigration official cracks and admits she did call him. He is charged with a "depraved heart" crime, which is an American legal term for a callous disregard for human life.

At the end of the episode we see Lightman at home with his daughter, he puts on the Louise Mason film and he remains serious as Emily recognises the woman to be her grandmother, his mother. He decides that keeping the suicide a secret is not actually helping his daughter, and she will come into contact with the issue whether he likes it or not. Of course, it also helps Emily to understand her father, something he is less comfortable with.

So we have more of an insight into Lightman, wonder if we will find out if he and Foster have a past?