Ben continutes to play detective with his neighbors, but someone is playing far more dangerous games with his life.
Credit: Fred Norris/ABC

It doesn’t take an uptight, navy blue pant-suited detective to figure out the direction this show is taking. After two episodes of Ben mistakenly pointing the flashlight at suspicious neighbors, it’s obvious that this is becoming a game of murderer roulette. Spin the Chelsea Bay Drive Wheel and see where it lands! So far, the Richardsons and Half Pint’s families have been the unlucky winners of Ben’s erroneous wrath; Kevin and Elaine Williams—and probably even Jess, herself—better watch what they do or say. And while I have to admit that the evidence Ben has discovered does seem to incriminate the neighbors who happen to be in his cross hair, after two weeks of the same formula I’m not sure I’ll be as gullible next time.

With five weeks to go, I can’t help but think there’s no way the killer will be revealed this soon. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Don’t even try to fool me a third time. I’m not buying it. (Actually, that’s a lie. I’ll totally be fooled every episode until the end. Guess this show is rubbing off on me.)

This week’s dupe focused on neighbor Lisa’s (Half Pint, Laura Ingalls, Melissa Gilbert—pick one) family. Ben and his daughter (Abby, Monkey—pick one) are going shopping when they discover Matt (Tad Cooley), Lisa’s son who is mentally disabled, walking into the woods alone. Telling Monkey to go back home, Ben chases Matt into the woods, where Matt stumbles, falls, drops a bloody blue jacket, and then runs into the river. Ben, momentarily distracted by the bloody blue jacket that he knows is a key piece of evidence, ignores it to pull Matt from the river where he’s frantically splashing about, looking for his trusty iPad. Ben chases Matt home through a sudden downpour (man, it rains a lot in North Carolina) where Lisa stops him from entering her house and tells Ben that Matt doesn’t have a blue jacket—bloody or not. When Ben goes back into the woods for the jacket, it’s gone. Of course it is.

Back at the house, Ben is looking for Abby when she runs in from outside. “Ready to go?” she asks, a little too breathlessly (and totally dry, btw). Huh. I’ll hold on to that piece of evidence in case I need it later.

Another piece of randomness that I’m tucking away? The mysterious woman who is hysterically yelling at Detective Cornell when Ben goes to report the blue jacket fiasco. “You destroyed my husband!” the woman shouts to a stone-faced Cornell. “TELL ME MORE,” I shout, but as usual, no one hears me.

After telling Cornell about the missing jacket, and after Cornell—big surprise—looks uninterested and makes more veiled remarks about Ben’s guilt in the matter, Ben decides to take it upon himself to find the jacket.

Back in the woods, Ben stumbles upon Tyler (Dillon Lane), Lisa’s other son whom Ben is surprised to see home from school (Lisa had told everyone he wasn’t coming home for Christmas). The scabbed scratches on the backs of his hands, hand-rolled cigarette, and attitude place him squarely in the crosshair of Ben’s suspicion, especially after Dave later reveals that Tyler’s been in and out of rehab recently. Seriously, Tyler may as well have been wearing a bloody blue jacket; that’s how fast Ben convicts him in his mind.

NEXT: I say “client” you say “lover”

As if poor Ben doesn’t have enough to be suspicious about with all the cagey and mysterious neighbors, Christy is still acting vague about all the recent meetings with her client. After taking Ben right to the brink and then shutting him down during a surprise morning romp in the sack (so harsh), Christy continues to throw out mixed signals by leaving the house dressed to kill (no pun intended) and conveniently forgetting to wear her wedding rings. Never mind. No mixed signals there at all.

Christy later leaves to go meet her “client” for the second or twenty-second time this episode, and discovers someone has painted the word GUILTY on the side of her car. (GUILTY for Tom’s murder, or GUILTY for something else?) When Ben leans down to investigate the vandal’s handiwork, he discovers a bloody blue jacket with Tyler’s name embroidered on the sleeve. (Kidding. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.) He actually discovers a cigarette exactly like the one Tyler was smoking in the woods, which to Ben is just as damning as if he’d really found the blue jacket.

Cornell is called to the scene, where she discovers the paint that was used for the Crawford’s previous fence tagging and this latest crime are both in Ben’s garage, a place she really should consider throwing down a cot and keeping her toothbrush, if you ask me. The next morning Ben discovers a trail of blood leading to the garage, and when he opens the doors finds about 30 flashlights all standing up on their ends, and Cornell, who happens to show up at that exact moment (as she does). Seems she received a text from Ben’s phone and deems this act a crime scene, yet for some uncharacteristic reason doesn’t seem to suspect Ben of any foul play involved with it. Could it be because this is the only one she hasn’t planned herself? Just spinning my wheels here, folks.

Later, Ben pays Lisa and her boys a visit, and despite Lisa’s refusal to talk to him rushes inside to find the house ransacked: broken mirrors, banisters, lamps. Running upstairs, Ben finds Matt in his room, terrified, rocking in a corner (with a brand new iPad—yay). He also finds a wall-full of well drawn and totally-creepy-in-a-stalkerish-kind-of-a-way pictures of the neighbors (little Tom included) and a box of the cigarette wrappers that Tyler uses. “Does Tyler hide things in here?” Ben yells, throwing clothes around and going out of his mind with the thought of finding the bloody blue jacket. Matt snaps and pushes Lisa to the floor, and Tyler runs in and immediately comforts his brother with a 4:00 chair hug of kindness.

Ben, now pointing his big, bloody flashlight at Matt instead of Tyler, wants to call the police, but Lisa stops him. Apparently, Tom’s death and the craziness of the neighborhood press has caused Matt’s violent behavior. He didn’t kill Tom, she insists. He’s only violent to himself. (That ugly seeping wound on your lip says otherwise, Half Pint, but whatev.) We also find out that Lisa is hiding Tyler because he was involved in a hit and run—and is still running—and that he’s ready to turn himself in.

NEXT: [NON-spoiler alert] The boyfriend did it

Ben now tries to convince Cornell that Matt is the killer (Forget everything I said about Tyler, he’s cool) but Cornell puts the kibosh on that by reminding Ben that Matt hates the rain (it was raining the night Tom was murdered), and besides, Matt’s GPS bracelet proves he was at home that fateful night. Bam. Detectived! She then reprimands him for trying to do her job. Please. Like anyone would want to stalk around with a pissed off look on their face 24/7. Besides, those pantsuits aren’t really all that flattering.

The next day, Cornell shows up—again—with Cooper, Natalie’s bitter boyfriend. Turns out he’s the mysterious vandal responsible for the fence and car tagging. However, the blood-trail-to-garage-full-of-flashlights thing is totally unrelated to Cooper’s harmless pranks, Cornell tells Ben, and the person who did it is skilled and dangerous. Sounds like a pantsuit and trenchcoat wearing tightwad I know.

As if his day isn’t emotional enough, Ben goes to Christy’s real estate office to confront her about her “client” and to put her on the spot once and for all about what it is she wants (because I’m assuming what he wants is to be able to finish the deed next time, thankyouverymuch). Christy bumbles around the issue about not knowing anything but the fact that “a 5-year-old is dead,” which she feels the need to remind him of about eight or 80 times. Her harshness knows no ends.

When Ben goes out to the parking garage and gets in his truck he gets a text from an unknown sender that reads: YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR SINS. Suddenly, all the power goes out in his truck; the radio shuts off, the headlights go out, and the doors automatically lock. Then the garage lights switch off. Ben is trapped. Quick, someone give me a 4:00 chair hug. I’m scared.

Other things that happened that are either important to know, or just plain awesome (i.e., Dave):

  • Abby got the polite (but not really polite) boot from attending her friend’s Christmas party because the parents all feel she’s basically a bad seed after witnessing her violent behavior toward the boy at the school’s winter fair.
  • When Ben tells Dave he ran into Tyler, Dave discloses a secret about him (his trips to rehab) that Nat had told him in confidence, and then regrets it. “Oh, man. That was supposed to be a secret. Why do I suck so much at secrets? People shouldn’t tell me stuff. Except for you! You know I’m gonna take your secret with me to the grave, don’t you?”

Hey, all you super-slueths! Comments and discussion are always encouraged, but please, if you’ve watched the Australian series, keep the spoilers to yourself! Believe it or not, some of us enjoy trying to do Cornell’s job, with or without the spiteful expression.

Episode Recaps

Secrets and Lies
This ABC drama—based on the Australian series of the same name—is about a man (Ryan Phillippe) suspected of murder being hunted down by a detective (Juliette Lewis). Sound familiar?
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