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'Secrets and Lies' recap: 'The Sister'

Ben discovers the neighbors are hiding some big secrets and, you guessed it, even bigger lies.

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Brownie Harris/ABC

Secrets and Lies

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Ryan Phillippe, Juliette Lewis

We’re only four episodes into the tangled web of secrets and lies, and one thing is becoming clear. Is it that Ryan Phillippe isn’t shirtless enough? Tht Detective Cornell needs an ambush makeover? Good guesses, but no. What’s becoming increasingly evident is the fact that everyone has skeletons in their closet, and before this crime is solved it’s going to look more like Halloween than Christmas in that neighborhood .

The latest episode begins with Ben watching a news report on Tom’s murder while folding laundry—because murder suspect or not, the damn laundry still needs to get done. The FBI profiler being interviewed suggests that Tom left with someone he trusted the night he was killed, and was most likely also abused sexually. Disturbing, certainly, but not really anything we didn’t know or suspect. Let’s not forget, there was no forced entry into Tom’s house that night, which points all kinds of fingers at the neighbors of that quiet, quaint little street.

Natalie still isn’t talking about what happened between her and Dave and also still hasn’t taken the pregnancy test. Christy tells Ben (with satisfaction) that she’s taken away Nat’s laptop and phone until she talks. Um, I’m sorry, but didn’t she sleep in a grown man’s bed after lying to her parents about going to the party, not to mention the fact that she was completely drunk despite the fact that she might be pregnant? And they just took her phone away? Pretty sure I’d be thinking of better ways to scare her straight.

Speaking of frightening—in comes Detective Cornell, who shows up full of her usual piss and vinegar. She’s not there to talk to Ben, but rather to Natalie. (That should do the trick). Cornell asks Natalie where she was two nights before Tom’s murder, and she remains stoic. Christy tells Cornell that Natalie was babysitting Tom. But she wasn’t. It turns out Christy called neighbor Vanessa Richardson (Kate Ashfield) to come watch Tom after he went to sleep so she could go to a concert with her boyfriend, Cooper.

Ben, needing to know what else Natalie lied about, pays Vanessa a visit and finds her day drunk, holding a bunny from Tom’s shrine in the woods. After confronting her about taking the bunny, Vanessa tells Ben that the stuffed animal actually belonged to her son Malcom, who was “taken from us too soon.” When Vanessa leaves to fix Ben a drink, he discovers a box of Malcom’s things which contains a photo of the boy covered in welts and bruises, along with a report of child abuse, which Ben snaps a photo of with his phone. These are just the kind of secrets and lies Ben needs to clear his name, and he’s going to get to the bottom of this himself, obviously.

Vanessa’s husband, Joeseph (Steven Brand), a pediatrician who, conveniently, was Tom’s doctor, wants to take a look at the cut that isn’t healing on Ben’s head, so Ben and his faithful sidekick Abby pay him a visit. Ben shares that he knows about Malcom, and Joe tells him that he was the one who put the bunny at Tom’s shrine because he and Vanessa have “different ways” of dealing with their son’s death. When Ben leaves he notices a bulletin board full of soccer things. I have no idea how that’s going to come back into play, but it was an oddly isolated observation which makes me think it will, and I want to be able to yell, “I KNEW IT!” at some point before this whole mess is over. 

Ben’s new painting client, Arthur Fenton (Michael Beach) is still pushing Ben to go to the press to set the record straight. Abby overhears (she’s good at that) and blurts out that her dad is innocent and that he even took a lie detector test to prove it. How’d she know Ben had taken a lie detector test? You guessed it. She overheard it. Sneaky little monkey, isn’t she? 

Back at home, Ben reaffirms to us that he’s the most shortsighted suspect in history by loading the photos of a beaten Malcom and the abuse report onto his own computer. Discovering that Malcom’s legal guardian is listed as one Joseph Rawlings, Ben Googles his way into determining that Joseph Rawlings is really Joseph Richardson, and that he was fired from a hospital in the UK for sexual misconduct. Dun dun dunnnn

After talking to a reporter from the UK who’d covered the Rawlings case, Ben goes to the sex crimes department at the police station and discloses what he knows. When Cornell shows up (really, she’s everywhere), Ben wonders why she’s not investigating the Richardsons, who are not only liars, but child abusers. Cornell reminds him that everybody lies, even his daughter, who apparently wasn’t at a concert with Cooper two nights before Tom’s murder, but was with Dave. Man, that girl is a piece of work.

Ben confronts Dave at his parents’ house, and Dave tells him it’s true: Cooper flaked at the last minute and he took Natalie to the concert. Ben is irate but Dave continues to insist that nothing is—or ever has been—going on between him and Natalie, and angrily throws him out.

NEXT: Worst dinner party ever