Murder in the First: Pants on Fire

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Warning: Spoiler Alert

Daniels has removed himself from the legal team, which may prove most damaging. The case against Blunt is less than rock solid. Mulligan has been reinstated. And English and Mulligan got intimate last week. That should about get us caught up.

Herzberg calls for a meeting with the Mayor. As the closest thing to a lead on the legal team, Herzberg knows he has to gain some momentum while they figure out the Daniels situation. This is prime Richard Schiff. After politely mentioning how he’s been waiting for an hour, drank a bottle of wine, and is greeted by two when he asked for the meeting in private he gets up to leave. When asked why he’s leaving he almost yells, “to go tell Erich Blunt that apparently bundling 1.6 million dollars in campaign contributions doesn’t buy you a private meeting with the Mayor!”.

Before entering the courtroom the next day, English and Mulligan have an awkward moment. Beating around the bush of whether or not they need to address the ‘intimate moments’ from before. Once in the courtroom, clearly the private meeting did take place. A new judge is introduced. The prosecution reiterates its desire to keep Blunt without bail. Herzberg plays the fumbling lawyer out of his league well. He then proceeds to lay out a number of holes or imperfections in the prosecutions assertions and even manages to make Blunt seem like a normal guy. Blunt is granted bail at twice the price plus has the privilege of wearing a tracker around his ankle.

Later that day, Herzberg and Blunt meet with Daniels. I’d love to say that we get to see Blunt grovel or even almost beg for Daniels to come back. But what I believe we saw was Blunt do and say what he feels he has to for the dominos to fall the way he wants them to. Money was never supposed to be the factor that brings Daniels in or sends him away. But 10 million makes just about anyone stay. And just like that, Daniels is back in the fold. Reluctant but in the fold.

Salter, who is not actually on the case has been poking around the canvas area. Upon further follow-up, English and Mulligan venture out to the warehouse of a tip intended for Salter. There they discover a comprehensive surveillance system and video with time stamp of the bar next door. The same bar that represents Strauss’ (the victim’s former/estranged husband) alibi. And sure enough, Strauss was able to leave the busy bar and return within the window of possibility. Placing a major hole in the middle of the state’s case against Blunt.

Previously as a condition of Daniels’ further involvement, Blunt agreed to a polygraph. The polygraph questions are intriguing. Up to and including “did you kill Cynthia Strauss”? The situation starts to fall apart, but Blunt is able to compose himself and continue on. Not that the scene was that convincing, but it did leave some doubt in the mind of this viewer as to whether or not he really is the killer. We’ve spent every moment until now under the premise of “how do they prove Blunt did it” as opposed to “how do they prove who the killer is”? Two decidedly different approaches.

English and Mulligan (with the aid of Keefer, the woman is still very much into Mulligan) narrow down Strauss’ movements and find him working a job on the docks. In a nice little moment rarely found in law enforcement dramas, English decides he doesn’t want to run today. He grabs a short metal pole. When he calls out for Mark Strauss, and Strauss recognizes him, he makes an effort to run out of the fenced cage he’s working in. English throws the pole through the door handles trapping Strauss. They then escort him off the premises.

Back at Daniels’ office, the polygraph is still underway. How it’s going is anyone’s guess at this point. I do get the impression though, that Blunt does not feel its going well at all. When they leave the man administering the exam and Mr. Daniels both exchange an odd look. Did he pass? Did he fail? Was this all a rouse to get Blunt to say that he killed Strauss on tape?

I cannot even begin to articulate the majesty of this next scene. There are good cop shows and bad cop shows. But rarely do you find a cop show (if that’s what we’re calling this) that captures a great chemistry. Normally this is the point where I’d drop in quoted lines from the episode to illustrate the quality of writing or capturing the moment. That, I think, would detract from what I’m trying to drive at. English and Mulligan have Strauss in the interrogation room. He says “lawyer” and they attempt to leave. Strauss in turn rejects the rules of Miranda and tells them his story anyway. Where the beauty comes in is just smooth the two detectives fire back. They’ve got him where they want him and their exchange in tandem with Strauss is lovely.

After chasing down what seems like a weak lead on Strauss’ alibi, English and Mulligan find themselves waiting in a doctor’s waiting room. What better use of time than to address the kissing? Again the chemistry comes out. She asks him why he did it, he accuses her of instigating. It’s not pivotal to the story as of now, but does make for an interesting scene.

This is painful. They have followed up a playfully fun scene with a painfully awkward scene. The woman in question is clearly lying to protect her own marriage and eventually her marriage counseling practice (yeah, the irony is dripping). However, our team does what it does. They play off of each other beautifully and she caves. So as of now, it seems that Mr. Strauss is in the clear.

Wilkerson shows up frantic at Blunt’s offices. His wife has left him (obviously) and needs help to find her. The last time we saw these two on-screen (Mr. and Mrs. Wilkerson) I didn’t get the impression that they had a healthy and prosperous marriage. So, I’ve got to think there is something else working here. Blunt seems way to eager to help. Tracking the wife is not going to be difficult. But its the eagerness followed by the claim that they are friends and can trust one another. Blunt is stacking assets, or at least that’s how it plays.

Wilkerson tracks down his wife at a cheap hotel. He implores her to open the door for the sake of the marriage. She opens the door and slaps him into next week. Over and over, nothing happened, where are you getting this. Then she plays a video on her phone showing him in the act. When she slams the door in his face, the sense of worry for his wife/marriage washes away. As if there is nothing left to fight for.

Back at the precinct, Strauss is released. There is word of a Karaoke Birthday bash for one of the detectives. English declines, then Mulligan insists that he attend. Forced date kind of? Then the DA cannot control herself. The polygraph from earlier was done so that Daniels could leak it to the press. So instead of letting that happen and playing it like the cool veterans with all the facts on their side, the DA throws back, putting the detectives in a more troubling position of locking down this case.

At the birthday bash, Mulligan brings up the kiss again.

Mulligan: So?
English: So.
Mulligan: We never really got a chance to finish our conversation about what happened.
English: We don’t have to.
Mulligan: No, I know. Gonna make sure that we both know it’s obviously never going to happen again.
English: Agreed.
Mulligan: So we’re good?
English: We’re always good.
Mulligan: So…you wanna kiss and make up?

Anyone who’s ever been to a karaoke event knows that the one guy that refuses to sing (I’m that guy in my circle) is the guy who will be ‘volunteered’. Not that I’m an expert on musical talent (I’ll defer that to my wife), but Taye Diggs could be a lot worse of a singer. The placement of the song “At Last” by Etta James was a nice, albeit high school-ish twist. And naturally, as English sings it with all that it implies, does so while transfixed on Mulligan. So, what does she do with this awkward moment? She removes herself from the situation. Only to place herself in a more awkward one.

Mulligan gets out of her car to find Erich Blunt sitting on her doorstep. Blunt acts like Blunt acts when he wants something. Since Mulligan’s behavior on their “date” was done so to obtain DNA, her behavior today makes more sense. “Get off my property and never come back”. She should’ve stayed at the bar. My fandom and shipper nature wanted her to stay at the bar. But then again, we have to create drama and this show does it extremely well.

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