But really: Where is Lake and why is no one THAT worried about it?
“Either way, documentary or scripted, you’re still trying to shape the story, you know? Which means that you’re always leaving little bits of truth on the cutting room floor.”
What Ten Days in the Valley lacks in subtle allegorical dialogue, it makes up for in Meta TV Stuff (to be added to “Cop Stuff” on the TDITV vocab sheet). Early in Wednesday night’s episode, Detective Bird watches an old interview with documentarian and soon-to-be television producer Jane Sadler, and hearing the quote above confirms something he’s long suspected: Jane isn’t lying about the way that her daughter went missing, but she is shaping the truth to fit her own personal story agenda. When she says she doesn’t know the kid on the bike from her neighbor’s security footage, she means she doesn’t know him — she does, however, buy drugs from him and stalk him at his school from time to time, and that’s a detail she deems edit-worthy.
Indeed, the second episode of Ten Days in the Valley establishes that Jane is going to great lengths to hide her connection to PJ the Local Friendly Drug Dealer. But why? Is she simply shaping the role she’s been cast in as “Mother of a Missing Child” in the hopes that she won’t be found out as someone who’s been known to Mother Under the Influence? And why would she keep shaping that character when Detective Bird is already positive that she’s lying to him? Is there a bit of nefarious truth left on the cutting room floor beyond just covering up a quick writers-bump of cocaine on a rainy night? (Author’s note: That’s not a thing. It is raining in New York City, but I am only high on sweet, sweet sparkling water while writing this.)
That’s where the third part of this non-sexy triple-entendre comes in. As Detective Bird hears Jane tell him that she’s a master manipulator of stories, we hear Jane tell us that we may feel like we’re getting a behind-the-scenes look at the mystery of who took little Lake, but no matter how many trashcan rendezvous we’re privy to, we’re still at the mercy of the show’s storytellers. Let’s see if we can’t pick up a few of those truth-bits they’re trying to sweep under that pricey bathroom floor tile, shall we?
The episode opens with Detective Bird driving Jane back home, where she finds a reporter waiting for her. She storms into the house, where her assembled team/cast — Bea the Nanny, Ali the Sister, and Tom the Sister’s Husband — swear up and down that they didn’t speak to her. Although Tom, who is a person who exists, thinks it’s time they should get the word out. “I cover tons of these cases and it always comes down to someone who saw something,” he tells Bird. I’m sure that’s true, Tom, but who are you and what are you talking about?
Like Jane, the kitchen crew tells Detective Bird that they’ve never seen the kid on the bike before. But are they just down the hall attempting to call the kid on the bike like Jane is? No, they are not. Jane! Calling a number repeatedly and then deleting it from your call log does nothing. You know Cop Stuff — you should know this!
But Jane is desperate to get in touch with PJ, and since his number has been disconnected, she has to get creative. So she methodically tells each person in her house to leave her house; not sketchy at all. She then smashes a rock into a car sitting outside the back of her house to set the alarm off and distract the policemen tasked with watching her house, escaping in her own car out the front. She’s headed to the food truck where we last saw PJ, but he’s not there serving up tacos and angel dust when she arrives. With a little persistence, and the name drop of someone named Sheldon, the young woman at the counter gives Jane a mysterious address.
That address leads her to a bumpin’ party in a huge loft, and indeed, Sheldon, the man we last saw with PJ in the taco truck, is there perfecting his tacos. And also hosting a big drug party because Sheldon is a man of many entrepreneurial talents, apparently. He’s not a fan of women busting into his house and demanding to see his employees though. Let it be stated for the record that Sheldon does not ask Jane to prove that she’s not a cop; she simply marches over to a coffee table full of powder and gives it a snort, reminiscent of what we saw one of her cop characters do in TDITV’s pilot episode. But the cop character only fake-snorted a little cocaine…
Jane, however, just took a big, real whiff of Special K, as Sheldon informs her when she immediately starts to feel her world spinning: “First time? Buckle up. It’s a trip.” That trip leads Jane to the bathroom, where she strips off all her clothes, gets in the shower and replays her last moments with Lake until, suddenly, Sheldon is banging on the door and it’s 6 a.m.
Luckily, in between all the drugs and impromptu showers, Jane manages to mention to Sheldon that her daughter is missing (it’s easy to forget!), so he throws her a bone by telling her that PJ takes a 9 a.m. film class at the So-Cal Academy. So, Jane loiters outside the So-Cal Academy bike rack until she spots PJ and screams, “I saw a video of you staking out my place!” In perfect unison, PJ and I explain why he was outside her house on Sunday night: “I went into your shed and sold you a little something which you are clearly still on.”
Jane is acting like she didn’t call PJ and request that he come to her house on his bicycle that fateful night. But I guess, Jane is a desperate woman, and desperate women do a lot of inexplicable things. At this point in the story, however, it’s hard to tell exactly what Jane is so desperate about. She seems desperate to hide her connection to PJ and she seems desperate to prove that it was Pete who took Lake, but she still doesn’t seem particularly desperate about the fact that her daughter is stone-cold missing. Perhaps that matches up with her certainty that it’s Pete who took her, knowing he wouldn’t hurt their daughter, but still — her lack of direct fret about Lake’s current condition is concerning.
And speaking of concerning, once Jane assures PJ that she’ll keep him out of this, he tells her what he saw outside her house that night: a black BMW that, when he rode by to see who was in it, booked it so fast it swiped a street sign. You know who has a black BMW…
THE FATHER & THE ASSISTANT
Effin’ Pete. If the TDITV writers are shaping truths, they have crafted Pete into the spitting image of an a–hole. This guy is the woooorst. We first run into Pete again while he’s in his house looking for a photo of Lake to put on the missing poster. His secret girlfriend Casey is hovering over him like a besotted monkey eagerly awaiting the chance to groom him. I really have trouble with how naive this little pigtailed dumpling is…unless, of course, it’s revealed later to all be an act and it was Casey the Assistant all along!
But I digress. Pete gets a text from an unsaved number that says, “where’s my money,” but tells Casey it’s nothing. In fact, he does quite a bit of blatant lying to Casey, which she believes all of: I’m totally not lying, babe! You believe me, don’t you? I’m a sad dad! I am (lightly) paraphrasing, but that might as well be what he tells Casey later when she worries about what to say to the cops since they’re asking her to verify Pete’s alibi once more. Pete acts like it’s not at all odd that he’s asking Casey to lie about where she was during the three-hour time period when his daughter went missing. He tells her to just say they were in bed together because that’s what they do every night. “But that’s not what we did that night,” Casey says ominously, still completely committed to lying for him and keeping her eyes the size of saucers at all times. She does at least seem to waver a bit when she notices that Pete has a key to Jane’s house on his keychain, but he assures her it’s Lake’s.
Yeah, okay, Pete.
THE NANNY & THE BOYFRIEND
But daddy is not the only one with key problems. Like Jane said in the pilot, there are plenty of people who have the keys to her house, so Detective Bird is rounding them all up to make sure they’re accounted for. The gardener tells Bird he never got one, and Bea the Nanny says she never got around to giving it to him…which doesn’t exactly match up with the fact that she meets her boyfriend in his truck down the street and angrily takes the key back from him. And even though she hands over both her own key and the key that was “supposed to be for the gardener,” Bird isn’t buying it.
He shows up at her house and finds her boyfriend in the garage, who he knows was previously convicted of breaking and entering. Leonardo says that’s in the past, but when Bird starts rifling around the garage, he finds boxes of the glass tiles from Jane’s bathroom that Ali offhandedly mentioned the high value of earlier in the episode.
As Bird explains to Jane once she shows back up at her house after 12 unaccounted-for hours, Bea has a teenage daughter back in El Salvador whom she’s been trying to bring to the States and “a convict boyfriend bringing in extra cash” to help. Bird says that Bea gave Leonardo a key to Jane’s house and he came in while they were away and took the tiles. When Jane asks what that has to do with Lake, Bird says, “They’re desperate for money — more money than a few tiles will bring them.”
At least someone is desperate to be reunited with their daughter, I guess.
Okay, okay, I should probably mention that the truth of her situation does finally seem to catch up with Jane when she shows up at Pete’s house after talking to PJ to see if his black BMW is scratched from running into a street sign. When she can’t find the car, she breaks down to Casey, “I will die without her. I will die. I mean, what if I never get her back? What’s if she’s really gone?” I hate to say it, but I must: That’s the (desperate) spirit, Jane.
Detective Bird arrests Bea while Jane screams that she trusted her, sort of floating the idea that she took Lake, but not really seeming to believe it herself. Bea screams back that she would never do that to her, and it seems that she’s telling the truth. Both Bea and Leonardo have alibis for the time that Lake went missing. Jane says she still wants to press theft charges, which I get, but it also feels sad that so many of the relationships in Jane’s life are just facades…
Except her sister, Ali. That one seems real — it has to be, right? From the bits and pieces we’ve seen in flashbacks, Jane was as much of a parent and protector of Ali as she was a sister. And her sister seems to want to care for her in return during her own time of need. She gets in bed with her at the end of the night and tells her she has to get some rest. Jane agrees, but then her computer chimes with an email, so she checks it quickly.
We hear Lake’s voice: “Hi Mama!”
And even though I was expecting an end-of-episode Lake update much like last week’s, my stomach drops. Because Lake just seems so…happy. So comfortable, like she doesn’t suspect she’s in danger at all, and somehow that seems more dangerous than her being aware that something bad is happening. She says into the camera, while swinging on a tire swing, that she knows her mom is too busy to see her right now, but she just wanted to say that she loves her and she’s okay. She blows “fly kisses,” the video ends, and then, presumably, Jane vomits directly onto her laptop.
The Cutting Room Floor:
We’re introduced to a new mysterious element right at the end of the hour: a young woman named Amira delivering “the latest scripts from Jane Sadler’s show” to a Commander Gomez. When he asks her how she got her hands on them, we flash to the studio lot where she’s meeting up with one of the show’s writers, whom we previously heard talking about a very successful internet dating match from the night before.
So…Ali’s husband is in on it, right? Why else does that character exist? And why else would he have that sketchy mustache? Plus, Ali mentions to Detective Bird during an interaction that we need to keep an eye on — he casually helps her inject her hormone shot??? And she’s all about it??? — that Tom was recently laid off and is stressed about the cost of IVF.
And then there’s Casey, who the story tells us is lying for Pete about his alibi, but the truth on the cutting room floor might be that…we don’t know where Casey was during that time either.
After Bird quotes Jane’s “truth on the cutting room floor” bit back to her, she gets angry, asking if his theory is that she has her daughter buried in the backyard. She gets in her car to drive away, but not before Bird mysteriously snatches what looks to be a parking ticket off of her windshield.
Do we really think there’s no man in Jane’s life to speak of? Where’s ol’ Gus the Cop these days?
Of note: Pete also tells Detective Bird he’s never seen the kid on the bike.
Of further note: The number Jane has for PJ is 213-555-0162 and the number that texts “where’s my money” to Pete is 213-555-0132. Family plan?