“Did he or didn’t he?” That’s the million dollar question ABC has been teasing us with for the past few weeks after giving us a glimpse into the secrets and lies of this intriguing new crime show (not to be confused with ABC’s other new crime show, American Crime, where there are probably also many secrets and many lies). Indeed, after watching the two-part premiere, two things are indisputable: There are secrets, and there are lies. But did he or didn’t he? That’s a conundrum for us to grapple with over the next couple of months, and I have a feeling that the puzzle isn’t going to be as easy to solve as we’re thinking it will be.
Here’s what we know:
—Racing home from his pre-dawn run in hysterics, Ben Crawford (Ryan Phillippe) reports his discovery of a dead 5-year-old boy, who is—was—his neighbor.
—Ben, a house painter, has what appears to be an idyllic life in a perfect neighborhood with wife Christy (KaDee Strickland) and two daughters who represent the typical clichés of their ages. Natalie (Indiana Evans) is a 16-year-old with a slightly pissed off attitude, and Abby (Belle Shouse) is a pre-teen daddy’s girl, still firmly ensconced in that sweet, unaffected stage between adoration and disgust.
—Tom, the deceased boy, lived across the street with his mom, Jess (Natalie Martinez), and was often babysat by Ben’s daughter Natalie.
—Ben’s pre-dawn run was the result of a late night bender where he drank himself into oblivion.
—Ben’s late night bender was the result of a wicked argument with Christy where they may or may not have decided to separate.
—Ben’s college buddy Dave (Dan Fogler) lives in the family guesthouse and still plays like a frat boy: random women climbing over the fence, day drinking, not taking himself—or much of anything else—seriously. Dave was with Ben the night before the discovery and is a big source of tension between Ben and Christy.
—Detective Andrea Cornell (Juliette Lewis), a no-nonsense, intense investigator complete with tight bun and tighter personality, seems instantly skeptical of Ben, his whereabouts the night Tom was killed, Ben’s role in the discovery, and Ben’s relationship with Jess. Cornell gets off on circular questioning, steely glares, and pantsuits.
—Both Dave and Ben lie to Detective Cornell about the details of their night out and tell her they shared a cab home from the bar. They did not.
As the hours after his discovery slowly tick by, Ben tries to reach out to Jess but is admonished by Detective Cornell to stay away from her. Seeming hell-bent on catching him in a lie, Cornell peppers Ben with questions about his whereabouts the night before, as well as the details of his discovery of Tom. Ben tells her he moved the boy and tried to resuscitate him with CPR, but he was already dead. She listens to him with a skeptical smirk that we’ll learn is her one and only expression (and one I’ve already grown tired of), and tells him to stick around.
NEXT: Cornell uncovers a big secret, or is it a lie?