“To Lie For” – Lying Game

       

Wow. What a mid-season finale! It’s not that there was a whole lot of drama, or a major cliffhanger (there was, but we’d seen it coming a mile off), or a load of big reveals… it was just good, in the way that The Lying Game so often is. Unlike it’s big ABC Family rival, Pretty Little Liars, it has always felt realistic. And this episode was no different. Lying Game has never been afraid to step back from the mystery and intrigue in favor of (relatively) down-to-earth teen drama. This episode pulled back a little from Emma and Sutton’s efforts to uncover Rebecca’s involvement in Teresa’s death to allow Emma to mourn the loss of Ethan. That felt natural. And that was great. Even though we’re pretty close to 100 per cent certain that the Etma split won’t last past the first episode back in the Fall, it was nice that that arc got a chance to breathe and wasn’t buried under the twin business.

Though if we’re talking realism, that’s the one aspect of the show that continues to rankle. Unless one of the twins was made of diamonds, it’s unlikely that anyone would kill to protect their secret. And that’s where we had problems with (Spoilers!) the fact that Thayer is the killer, even though we saw it coming weeks ago. There’s no clear motive for the murders. We know why he tried to frame Alec for Derek’s murder, but not why he killed Derek in the first place. We almost have too many options but, knowing The Lying Game, none of them will turn out to be true.

But, as always, this is something we can get past – the rest of the show is just too damn likeable for us to hold that against it. We love the new, nicer Sutton, and the new sisterly bond blossoming between her, Emma and Laurel. We love scary, grief-stricken Dan, and how Ethan gave up everything for him. We love that the show made us think (really think) for once by floating the idea in front of us that each and every person involved in the twin secret is responsible for Teresa’s death, because they are. We love that the kids are finally letting the adults in on the secret (contravening all the established norms of teen drama).

As we look forward to the Fall premiere, we wonder where the show can take us. With Alec dead (retroactive Spoilers!), will Rebecca turn Thayer over to the police or will she be a fugitive after the murder of Alec? Is Emma in danger? Will Jordan come back, or will he be stuck in prison (we hope not – we enjoyed having a little more eye-candy on the show)? Will Etma make it work, once and for all? So many questions. But, mostly, we’re just excited to see what’s going to happen now that Emma and Sutton have switched back, for good. Fall just can’t come fast enough. – B+K

Quoteworthy:

“Please, Emma. Things with Kristin and me have gotten so ugly she might throw me out. She might… she might want you instead.”

“Sutton, come on. This is your family. It always was.”

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“A Kiss Before Lying” – The Lying Game

This episode was more about the romance than previous weeks. We’re not sure that’s a bad thing, but we’re not sure it’s particularly good, either. There was a smidgen of intrigue – Alec going to great lengths to drive Rebecca insane with guilt, Emma almost finding out about Rebecca and Sutton, and Rebecca’s possible revelation to Sutton at the end of the episode – but the rest was all about the relationships. Laurel giving Mads the go ahead to do what she wants with Jordan, Ted, Kristin and the girls in family therapy, Alec and Rebecca on their honeymoon, Emma ditching Ethan to visit Thayer in LA, Sutton warming to Kristin and not being a total bitch, and Ethan kissing Sutton (he seems to be playing some sort of positive reinforcement game with her and we can’t help wondering if it would work in real life).

The most interesting moment came at the very end of the episode. Mads is talking to Emma in LA, tells Laurel she’s talking to Sutton, Laurel grabs the phone, chats away to ‘Sutton’ for a few seconds, hands the phone back, Mads leaves the room, Sutton walks in. Is Laurel about to figure out what’s going on? We hope so, ‘cause that’s going to make things just a little bit exciting. – B+K

Quoteworthy:

“This creepy motel room isn’t exactly the ideal place for studying Faulkner.”

“Yeah. Maybe if we talk louder the hookers next door will learn something.”

– Ethan, Emma

“Advantage Sutton” – The Lying Game

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Thank god for small mercies – we’re referring, of course, to Thayer’s departure. We knew he and Emma were so beyond wrong for each other and we’re delighted he didn’t stick around long enough to prove us right. This isn’t just because we’re team Etma. It’s because Thayer and Emma had exactly zero chemistry. But why did he leave, you ask? Because Alec has finally been released. And it was a little bit thanks to Thayer. He found a burner cell in the garage and brought it to the police to prove Alec’s guilt. It actually just proved his innocence. Then we the viewers find out that it was, in fact, Rebecca who framed him. In other news, Laurel goes on a date with Jordan, then catches him and Mads making out. Ted tells Rebecca nothing’s going on between them. Ted and Kristin are going to keep going to therapy. Rebecca tells Sutton to take her life back, and break up Ted and Kristin. So Sutton plays Emma at tennis for her life, wins by default, and confines Emma to the cabin for the foreseeable future. Sutton thinks this will make Ethan like her more, because it means Emma will be out of the way. But, as Emma is going to be tutoring Ethan, it just means that they’ll be alone far away from Sutton. Ha. Backfired. – B+K

Quoteworthy:

“My god, what did I do?”

“Me. Several times, actually.” – Ethan, Sutton

“Cheat, Play, Love” – The Lying Game

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With “Cheat, Play, Love”, Lying Game took a second-episode-back dip in quality à la that of Bunheads. Not that made it terrible. There was just a noticeable difference between this episode and the uncommonly good season opener. And yet, despite this dip, the episode still blew away the competition – it was incredibly watchable, and there were just enough twists and turns to keep it interesting without it becoming mind-addlingly complicated.

To a certain extent, the focus this week slipped off mother and twin mysteries and centered more on the burgeoning romances of our group of characters. Emma and Thayer, Sutton and Ethan, Mads and Jordan and Laurel… It also dealt significantly with Kristin and Ted’s attempts to repair their marriage. And this is where Lying Game has always and will always eclipse Pretty Little Liars. While the latter is all mystery, all the time, Lying Game has never been afraid to take a step back and play around with something that’s not designed to keep us guessing. It’s a relief, if we’re honest, and is consistently enough to keep us from getting that fuzzy-brain feeling.

If one thing surprised us with this episode, it was Sutton’s happiness about drunk-Ethan’s appearance at cabin. Sutton has always struck us as a strong-willed girl, who knows what she wants and brooks no nonsense. So how, knowing that Ethan still has feelings for Emma, and knowing that he’s drunk and probably only there to get Emma back for moving on, can she be so okay with him, effectively, using her? Or are we just projecting?

Other love developments saw Thayer and Emma finally kiss (though we’re not sure how we feel about that), Ted and Kristin go to marriage counseling (and he’s still lying), and Laurel beginning to fall for the attractive new guy, Jordan. This latter relationship is sure to throw up some teen drama, as it’s clear that his dalliance with step-sister Mads can never be a one-night thing. Especially as she’s more than likely pregnant (we’re sticking to our guns on that one).

But this is an ABC Family mystery, so it can never be just about the romance – the episode also saw Rebecca trying to manipulate Ted into her bed, Thayer telling Emma Alec isn’t his real father, everyone finding out that Alec was framed (but did he frame himself to cover up his crime?), Alec turning Mads over to his side again, Alec telling Teresa that he’s sure Rebecca, Sutton or Thayer framed him (we think it’s going to turn out to be Thayer, not least because the waitress who planted the murder weapon in Alec’s golf-bag kept talking about the man who paid her off), and Jordan seeing Sutton at the cabin, knowing “Sutton” is at his party, and becoming immediately suspicious.

Alec turning Mads was perhaps the most interesting aspect as, in the process, he tells her that the reason he never admitted he knew about the twins was because he’s protecting them from a killer who’s still out there. If that turns out to be true, it’s a neat turnaround – portraying the über villain of the first season as the preserver and protector of the second is enough of a 180° to give us whiplash.

Looking forward to the next episode, and a few more answers! – B+K

Quoteworthy: “That’s kind of number 272 on the list of things I’m never going to talk to you about.” – Laurel, to Rebecca

“The Revengers” – Lying Game

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Well, damn. Strongest return of any of our shows (except, maybe, Bunheads)! The Lying Game suffers some of the same problems as Pretty Little Liars – it can be a bit too convoluted for its own good – but this season premiere episode struck the exact right balance between ‘what the eff is going on’ and ‘ooh, that’s really quite exciting and mysterious’, with an added dash of genuinely entertaining love-square. We find ourselves already excited for next week’s episode and, unlike with Pretty Little Liars, we won’t be approaching it with a sense of dread.

The episode picks up a scant few weeks after the first season’s finale. It’s the day of Alec’s bail hearing (bail denied, thanks to some judge-bribery by Rebecca). Sutton and Laurel’s parents are still split up, Sutton is still devious, Mads and Thayer are, well, Mads and Thayer. She’s partying, he’s looking after Emma. Ethan is still mad at Emma (uh… you were the one who cheated, dude) and thinks there’s something going on between her and Thayer (he’s not wrong).

In short order, we learn about Rebecca’s devious plan – she’s trying to unite her family. She wants to be living under one roof with Ted and the twins. Sutton is in on her plan. Truth be told, that’s not all that devious. But the rest of the show more than makes up for it.

Alec calls in Dan’s girlfriend, Teresa, to be his lawyer. He says there is compelling evidence that shows his innocence. She buys it. We can’t wait to find out what that evidence is, and who really killed the kid!

We find out that Alec knows, and has always known, that “Sutton” is Emma. We suspected that, but it’s nice to have it confirmed so early on. We also learn that Thayer has a pretty short fuse and is full of rage. Could he have had something to do with the murder, and the cover up? But maybe we just don’t want to trust him because he’s getting in the way of Emma and Ethan.

So is Sutton. She’s trying to use honesty to win Ethan back. We’re hoping it won’t work. There’s something strange about rooting for one twin against the other, though. Perhaps that’s just because we know that both twins are Alexandra Chando, so it feels like rooting for one person against themselves.

Thayer and Emma admit they have feelings for each other.

But the most jaw-dropping moment came thanks to Mads and new character Jordan (Ryan Rottman, 90210). Mads is, arguably, in the throes of a self-destructive spree. Hooks up with randomer Jordan. Turns out he’s Rebecca’s son! And then Mads turns up at the Mercer home, asking if she can move in and saying she just did something stupid. Why do we feel like she’s going to find out she’s pregnant soon?

Okay, so we made the episode sound really crappy with this review. But honestly, it was fantastic. And we just can’t wait for the next one! – B+K

Quoteworthy: “Pocahontas isn’t the quintessential history of the Native American.” – Ethan, to Sutton