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'Secrets and Lies' recap: 'The Mother'

Things take a frightening and shocking turn as a new suspect is discovered.

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Brownie Harris/ABC

Secrets and Lies

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

What the what just happened? If, like me, your head is spinning and you feel a little bit like Abby after riding the Scrambler at the holiday carnival last year from all the twists and turns in tonight’s episode, settle in, grab a bottle of water (or wine), and let’s try to make sense of the shockers—and the shockers that weren’t really that shocking—of the night.

Episode nine delivered the first shocker right off the bat with Detective Cornell admitting that she no longer thinks Ben killed Tom. (The fact that she delivered that line with the exact same expression—and in the exact same outfit—as she’s worn all the rest of the episodes wasn’t shocking at all, though, was it?)

Christy drops the second shocking moment when she discloses that Michael is the one who gave her the $150K she’s squirreled away in the attic, which was to be her “escape plan” from that rat, Ben, apparently. Seems like way too easy of a solution to that cliffhanger from last week, if you ask me. Disappointing, as well. Not shocking? Christy presenting Ben with divorce papers. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, sweetheart.

When the girls pop in at home to pick up some clothes, they tell Ben that Christy has a boyfriend (which we’ve all suspected since episode 1, so nothing shocking about that). Abby is worried about the impending divorce and about Ben shacking up with Jess, whom Uncle Michael has told them that their dad loves. Ben confronts Michael (who has driven the girls home) and he is quick (too quick?) to apologize, even suggesting that the girls join Ben for their annual holiday fireworks/carnival night (must be a North Carolina thing). Nat declines by telling Ben that Abby really misses him. (I’d like to add the abrupt turnaround Natalie’s behavior has taken since episode 1 to the list of shockers.)

Shocker number three is also credited to Cornell, who, after growing impatient with the delayed results of the blood spatter report (she’s still waiting for the forensic evidence to be re-tested due to that now infamous crime lab leak) decides to start over on her own and returns to the scene of the crime. Walking down to the river and mulling things over in her tightly bunned head, Cornell happens upon a toy tank nestled under a tree, about 30 yards (I’m guessing) from Tom’s murder spot. After the tech she’s brought along sprays the surrounding trees with magic blood illuminator and a tree trunk lights up with neon blue blood dots, Cornell instantly figures it out: Tom’s killer brought him to the river to drown him, but Tom, who didn’t like to swim (which we learned from last week’s Cornell: Confidential) ran away. After he was hit over the head with the flashlight, the boy stumbled to the original place where he was found. (Currently reminding myself this gruesome tale is a TV show so I’ll be able to continue with this recap…and be able to sleep tonight.)

As if that revelation isn’t shocking enough, Cornell drops this bomb: Water killing is a female’s MO. Tom’s killer is female. Dun dun dunnnnn.

Meanwhile, Abby is thrilled to be going to the holiday carnival with her beloved daddy, but her perfect evening is ruined when Jess tags along. Ben tries to minimize the horribleness of the situation by reminding Abby that Jess is lonely. (Um, hey Superdad, pretty sure your little girl is lonely, too.) Jess clearly doesn’t know when being the third wheel is an imposition and sticks right with them the entire evening. When Jess suddenly starts to get a bit touchy-feely with Ben, Abby shrieks and smashes her new smart phone on the ground (an accident? I think not) and Cornell, who just so happens to also be at the carnival, witnesses the entire thing. I don’t know about you, but I’m too tired of that woman appearing out of nowhere to be shocked.

With the obvious skill of teleportation, Cornell is instantly on the patio at Michael’s, where she confronts Christy and boyfriend Sam (Jon Briddell), whom Cornell seems to know a lot about. To simplify: He’s rich, and he is the one Christy was with the night of Tom’s murder. When she starts to pepper them with questions about that night, Sam gets impatient and uncomfortable. He leaves, but not before letting it slip that Christy left his house 30 minutes before she says she did. Whoops.

NEXT: Cornell gets to the bottom of it … with the help of a 12-year-old