Ben continues to try to clear his name, but makes some pretty ludicrous decisions in the process.
Credit: Brownie Harris/ABC

Forget the official title, this episode of Secrets and Lies should’ve been called “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Murder Suspect.” In fact, let’s just run with that, shall we?

Chapter One: Trying to frame a cop

One word: don’t.

After Fenton convinces Ben that Detective Cornell is abusing her badge by creating vendettas against her suspects (one of about five vendettas being created by various characters at this point), Ben takes a trip to the local prison to try to get some damaging information from the latest person whom she sent there. Surprised to discover she’s a teenager, but even more surprised to discover she’s CORNELL’S DAUGHTER, the two of them commiserate for a bit on the unjustness of Cornell’s wrath.

Jennifer tells Ben that her mother threw her in jail for 18 months for doing drugs (taking “scared straight” to a whole new level, am I right?) and Ben discloses that Cornell has accused him of killing a child. Jennifer thinks that sounds familiar and mentions the case of Seth Goring, a man who was accused of strangling a little girl three years prior, but was never convicted. She says her mother is still obsessed with him. “That’s harassment!” Ben says. “Once you’re on the wrong side of Detective Cornell, that’s where you’ll stay,” she points out.

Leaving the jail, Ben runs into Cornell (because she is everywhere), who is all kinds of pissed that he’s been messing with her daughter. Uh-oh. If Ben was already on her wrong side, which he was, what side is left? He’s about to find out.

Calling him down to the station, Cornell meets with Ben in a room filled with evidence from Tom’s murder: photos of Tom (dead and alive), photos of neighbors, a flashlight, bags of clothi—scrreeeech. Hold on. What was that? A flashlight? We all know it isn’t the flashlight. You know, the bloody one that’s wrapped up in Christmas paper under Ben’s tree. So what’s with this flashlight? Does she think it’s the flashlight? Or is she just messing with Ben’s head?

For the answer to that question, let’s move on to Chapter Two.

Chapter Two: Getting rid of evidence

After seeing the flashlight that wasn’t his amongst the other pieces of evidence, Ben runs home and confides in his trusty companion, Dave. Telling him that Cornell has another flashlight, he ponders the details of how he’ll get rid of his. Out loud. IN HIS HOME THAT WAS RECENTLY BUGGED. (Sure, it’s probably not anymore, but how can he be sure?)

Taking the wrapped flashlight to brother-in-law Michael’s Christmas party with a stack of other gifts, Ben decides to get rid of it when he drops the family off at the mall for a quick gift on the way. Leaving his car in the well-lit parking lot, he runs about 50 yards into the woods and buries it under about two inches of loose pine needles.

Let’s review:

  • Well-lit mall parking lot (most likely with surveillance cameras, it being a mall and all)
  • Woods that are near a very public and populated place (a freaking mall parking lot)
  • 50 yards (at best)
  • Two inches of loose pine needles
  • Me (and everyone else watching) shaking their heads

Coming out of the woods with the empty backpack (which still contains the sweatshirt the bloody flashlight was wrapped in; i.e., a sweatshirt that would be just as damning of evidence as that flashlight) Ben is confronted by Christy, who wonders what he was doing in the woods. Totally fair question, BTW. “I had to take a leak,” he tells her. In the woods. By the mall parking lot. Do people do that? No really, I want to know.

Christy must agree with me, because she isn’t buying it, especially when they get to the party, and Monkey, who apparently suffers from a bit of OCD, notices that there’s one present missing. They fight (with snooty BIL Michael watching) and Christy tells Ben that unless he can tell her the truth about what was in the backpack she saw him carry out of the woods, he should leave. And in his least idiotic move of the night, he does.

On his way home, Ben is tailed by a cop and pulled over by another one. Panicking that they’ll find the backpack of DNA, Ben freezes. But they’re just warning him not to mess with another cop’s daughter (which confuses me because all he did was talk to her). Totally shaken, Ben gives them about a five second head start before going out and tossing the backpack over the bridge.

Once back home, Ben tells Dave everything, including the exact location of the buried flashlight. Sigh. You guys, I can’t even.

NEXT: The idiocy continues

Chapter Three: How to play cop

Ben decides to visit the Goring family to get the scoop on how Cornell has been harassing Seth since the murder of the little girl three years ago (see: Chapter One: How to try to frame a cop). He’s surprised to discover Goring’s wife is the woman he saw yelling at Cornell in episode 5 (“YOU DESTROYED MY HUSBAND,” she’d screamed). Mrs. Goring tells Ben that Cornell accused her husband of not only killing the girl, but of other “compulsions” as well. Cornell wouldn’t let it go, she tells him, and hounded Seth until he took his own life, just the previous week.

Ben gives this story to his new friend Fenton in hopes that the story he writes will expose Cornell for the crooked cop she really is. When he leaves Fenton’s house, Ben sees a woman rush up to his door with a manila envelope, drop it off, and hastily leave. Ben introduces himself and learns her name is Linda. “Hey, nothing idiotic so far in this chapter,” you might be thinking. Just wait.

Later, Goring’s son shows up at Ben’s house yelling at him because the story Fenton wrote (that was picked up by the AP) is opening up the whole can of worms their family has tried to put behind them. When Ben tries to argue that the article is a good thing, the son tells him that his dad was guilty—of both killing the little girl and sexually assaulting her—and that’s why he killed himself. Now that this story is out, everyone will find out. Way to go, BEN.

Chapter Four: Listen to your lawyer

Cornell shows up at the Crawford house and finally gets to do what she’s been dreaming of for weeks: She reads Ben his Miranda rights. “Where are we going?” Ben asks. Where do you think? THE MALL, duh.

They arrive to find the parking lot taped off and teaming with police cars and officers (I really hope there’s no crime happening anywhere else in the city, because every cop is at the mall) and Cornell commands a search team to begin searching the woods with metal detectors. Uh-oh.

Elliot Weston, the criminal lawyer Ben talked to back in episode 2 shows up (fine, he’s not Elliot Weston anymore but since he is nameless [so far] that’s the only way I can think of him). Ben reminds him he can’t afford him, and lawyer Weston tells him someone sent a $25K check in Ben’s name to him last week. Curious. Ben sticks with his “took a leak in the woods” story, and shockingly, Cornell’s searchers turn up nothing. Wha??

I know! I know!

Yes, you who are waving your hand wildly in the back row?

It had to be Dave!

Excellent guess. Exactly what I was thinking!

BTW, Ben recognizes one of Cornell’s minions as Linda, the woman who was bringing an envelope of information to Fenton, and realizes she’s the one who leaked Tom’s DNA info. Busted. Linda and Fenton.

Late on Christmas Eve, Cornell shows up to Ben’s house, where he is now alone, as his family has decided to stay at Michael’s (who it seems might be the one who paid for Ben’s lawyer). Even though he admits she’s supposed to go through his lawyer now when she wants to speak with him, he lets her in. Did you get that? HE LETS HER IN. Cornell begins asking him the same old questions about the night Tom was killed, and he answers her. Did you get that? HE ANSWERS HER.

She then shows him some surveillance footage from the cab Ben took home that night (because of course), which shows Ben getting out of the cab and heading across the street to Jess’ house. Cornell points out that he’s either lying about a lot of things or he blacked out that night and doesn’t remember. I’d like to add another possibility if I may—he’s an idiot.

Now let’s discuss, but remember, if you’ve watched the Australian series and think you know how this all turns out, NO SPOILERS in the comments, please!

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?
  • TV Show
  • 1