'Secrets and Lies' recap: 'The Father'
With Detective Cornell gleefully discovering Ben’s juicy secret at the end of episode 1 (at least I’m assuming she was gleeful; the look of disgust that is permanently frozen on her face makes it a tough call), things quickly turn more complicated for our friend Ben in this second episode of the premiere.
Armed with the newfound knowledge that he’s Tom’s father, Ben visits his son’s memorial in the woods, where Jess—who also just discovered Tom’s true paternity—tells Ben she suspects her estranged husband, Scott (Benjamin Ciaramello) of the murder. It seems that Scott has been exhibiting violence toward her since returning from his last tour and she’s recently gotten a restraining order against him. Jess believes killing Tom was Scott’s way of getting back at her. Harsh.
Tom’s official cause of death is discovered to be blunt force trauma by flashlight—a flashlight just like the one that is missing from Ben’s truck (like we didn’t see that one coming). Ben is insistent he’s innocent and wants to take a lie-detector test, which his [divorce] lawyer discourages. (Quick refresher of what you already know from watching Law & Order, but that I will tell you again anyway: Lie detector tests are not always accurate and are not admissible in a court of law, so taking one can only hurt you, no matter how much you want to prove you’re not lying.) But Ben doesn’t listen to me—or his lawyer—and gets strapped up to the machine, where the administrator proceeds to pelt him with questions that trap him. “Have you lied to Detective Cornell?” he asks. Uh-oh. Ben answers “no” because really, that smallish lie of how he got home from the bar that night totally shouldn’t count as a lie… but totally does, and the machine goes crazy. The results of the test are inconclusive, but there’s one thing that is conclusive; Ben needs to lawyer up with a criminal attorney and ditch the divorce dude.
The criminal lawyer, Elliot Weston (fine, it’s not Elliot, but I will always, always see Elliot Weston when I see Timothy Busfield, who is playing the criminal attorney), doesn’t take his case (yet), but leaves Ben with this nugget of encouragement: “If they find the murder weapon and it’s yours? You’re screwed.” Yeah, I was kidding about the encouragement part. Looks like Ben is screwed.
Back at home, Ben overhears daughter Natalie on a call, mentioning Tom’s funeral and making secretive, hasty plans to meet someone at the mall later that day. When she leaves the room he hits redial on her phone: Because he’s a murder suspect and frantically trying to figure out who the real killer is? No, because he’s a dad. Okay, fine, and probably the other things, too. When a man answers, Ben is understandably suspicious, as am I. Did Natalie have something to do with Tom’s murder? She’s certainly been acting aloof and has been distancing herself since Tom was found. Things are getting so secretive!
Following Natalie to the mall later, Ben spies her meeting a man who is driving the same motorcycle he’d seen at Jess’ house in episode 1. It’s Jess’ violent, estranged husband Scott, and when he takes Natalie’s hand, Ben goes berserk and runs across the street to protect his daughter. Scott zooms off and Natalie goes berserk on her dad for spying on her.
NEXT: Who’s Your Daddy?
Ben is disgusted by what he witnessed and tells Christy that Natalie is having an affair with Scott. Natalie corrects him; Scott was handing her his silver star to put on Tom’s coffin because Jess has banned him from attending the funeral. Oh. Or that.
When Ben overhears Scott yelling at Jess in her house, he runs in and, as expected, they get in a nasty fight. Scott chokes Ben and does a fairly good job of messing up his pretty face (still looks pretty, though, even with a nasty gash) because no matter what anyone says, he’s Tom’s dad. Well, then. Guess that juicy secret’s out.
When Christy sees Ben’s face she assumes that Scott found out Ben and Jess’ secret, but she thinks the secret is just that they slept together, which is apparently a secret that she’s known about. (Stay with me here people, the secrets and lies are starting to get tangled.) Ben tells Christy that he doesn’t love Jess. I’m calling “lie” on that one. Anyone else?
Ben goes back to Detective Cornell to try to talk some sense into her about investigating Scott. Cornell, as usual, twists Ben’s words around and he ends up looking guilty. “Sleeping with Jess was a mistake!” he admits. “So Tom was a mistake? Were you afraid Christy would find out?” she leads, clearly trying to plant a motive on him. “She knows,” Ben shoots back. “She knows Tom was your son?” Cornell asks, with a look of shock on her face (just kidding, it’s the same hateful scowl she always has). Oh, well, no, not exactly. SO MANY SECRETS! SO MANY LIES!
Later, Ben responds to Jess’ late night call to come over to help her with the overwhelming tasks of preparing for Tom’s funeral. Once there, Jess is overcome with emotion and tries to kiss Ben, who pulls away. “I’m not the answer,” he tells her.
The next day is Tom’s funeral, and Christy hopes Jess is heavily medicated. (I’m considering it, myself, when the photo montage of little Tom begins.) People are attacking the Crawford’s car as they pull into the church parking lot, and the congregation inside seems to be trying to hold themselves back from doing the same. Even Half Pint looks disgusted to see Ben enter the church. (She will always, always, be “Half Pint” to me.)
NEXT: Investigating the Secrets. And the Lies.
Late that night Detective Cornell shows up at Ben’s house to warn him that there was a leak in the press, and the news that he was Tom’s father is about to be broadcast. Ben rushes inside, but it’s too late. Natalie and Christy have already learned his big secret from the newscaster. Whoops.
Having been banished to the couch, Ben awakens in the middle of the night to discover Scott standing over him. “You ruined my family, and if you don’t go to prison, I’m going to kill you.” Yikes. I’d think about locking my door.
Let’s investigate the secrets, lies, and things we don’t yet know:
- What is the real relationship between Natalie and Scott? Ben mentions that Scott would sometimes come over to the house when Natalie was babysitting, to which Natalie brushed off with the explanation of “because Jess wouldn’t let him see Tom at her house,” but I smell a big secret.
- How did Scott know that Ben was Tom’s father if Jess didn’t tell him? And if he has known for a while, did he kill Tom and set Ben up as punishment for sleeping with his wife? Or is that too easy of a motive, and Scott too obvious of a suspect?
- Why would Jess try to kiss Ben if their relationship was just limited to a one-night stand, five years ago?
- Apparently Christy had just had an abortion when Ben slept with Jess five years ago; an abortion Ben did not want her to have. Now that’s a juicy secret that’s worth exploring.
- Half Pint’s son, a teen who is mentally disabled, is using a voice app on his iPad during the funeral, and he makes it say, “I want Tyler.” “Is Tyler back?” Ben quietly asks her. She responds, “No, he’s just confused.” So who is Tyler, and will he or the son become tangled in the web of secrets and lies?