Sunday, November 6, 2016

REVIEW: 'Eyewitness' - Philip Tells Helen and Gabe a Secret About Himself in 'Créme Brulée'

USA's Eyewitness - Episode 1.04 "Créme Brulée"

As Ryan attempts to shut down her case, Helen and Gabe's marriage is tested when her suspicions lead Philip to reveal a deep secret. Lukas creates a scandal to bury gay rumors at school.

"Créme Brulée" is the first episode of Eyewitness that doesn't have someone new getting murdered. That has become a formulaic twist on the series. It's an easy way to escalate the tension. And now, there has been a considerable amount of bodies piling up. Agent Ryan Kane has killed many people. The only one he is agonizing over is Bella who he killed solely to keep his cover as an FBI agent intact. That's not to say this episode doesn't build to some pretty major moments. It ends with both Kami and Sita being taken away in handcuffs. That's an ending the audience should feel invested in because both of them have been major characters so far. And yet, it's hard to particularly care because the actual investigation and crime elements of the show haven't been all that great in the first four episodes. Yes, the tension is high and Helen is still making significant progress on her own murder investigation. The show is evolving beyond the things it set up in the premiere. But not enough has been done to get the audience to actually care about the characters in the FBI and crime worlds. They are simply characters where things happen to them.

Sita has been such a wild card so far. She claims to do everything out of love for her baby. And yet, she has done some completely ridiculous actions. The show rightfully questioned her fitness to be a parent. And yet, that concern was dropped nearly as soon as it was introduced. And now, she's still just searching for the drugs that her husband hid somewhere. She can't find them anywhere and the people who want it are getting very antsy. They need it within 24 hours or they'll punish her and exile her from the gang. Again, there's no major reason to be invested in anything that's going on. The audience just basically needs to know that drugs are bad and these are the characters responsible for bringing drugs to this community. The show highlights their evilness by having them use an iron to burn a tattoo off of Sita. It's a horrifying moment. But it's just horror with no purpose whatsoever. It's hard to care about this happening to Sita. That's because it is just so difficult to keep track of her plot and motivation. Seriously, that is such a mess. She goes back-and-forth on so many things within seconds. It's hard to know what to think. It's just easier not to care in the first place.

So, Sita learns that her husband and Kami had some kind of secret relationship. He didn't tell her that he was informing on his gang in the hopes of getting out of that life. Kami doesn't want to share that now either even though it did play a role in his death. That's what has brought so much attention to this case. The FBI just wants to stop these two gangs and the drug deals they've made. Things are tense in that community. It's just as scandalous on the FBI side of things too since Kami is also sleeping with her partner who wants to turn Sita into an informant. Sita barges into Kami's home to accuse her one last time before leaving town. And then all of a sudden, she is rational and willing to listen to Kami's plan to have the life that her husband wanted for her. That ultimately doesn't lead to her delivering the drugs to the gang members and catching them committing a crime on a wire. That's the plan. But instead, she is branded yet again. For some reason, Kami and Kane see that as a win. Of course, the tables are turned afterwards with the DEA knocking on the door and arresting Kami and Sita for drug possession. It's hard to know what anyone was thinking when they made that anonymous tip. Also, why is Kami arrested for that? It's just too complicated. Its sole purpose is to leave her phone behind so that Kane can see what Helen is up to.

Helen and Kane meet for the first time in "Créme Brulée" as well. They finally see the person who is complicating their investigations. Of course, the audience knows that Kane is much more than he appears to be. He is the killer responsible for everything going on in Helen's town. He's trying to shut Helen's investigation down before it points back to him. She's a complication he needs to keep his eye on. He believes his problems are over with now because Bella is dead. The coroner is ready to declare her death a suicide. He is an expert stager of crime scenes. He's good at it but Helen's instincts are still right to question everything as it is presented to her. She still wants to investigate while Kane has the legal opportunity to shut her down. Her persistence leads to her further developing her working theory that Bella's boyfriend is the killer she's been looking for. That's the truth. She just has to put a face to the crime. Through hard work on Tony's part, Helen learns that Bella was seeing an older man. She immediately labels him a pedophile. That word is used a lot in this hour to really amp up the ickiness of Kane's whole relationship with Bella. It's labeled as this morally wrong thing that will lead to him getting caught. That probably won't be the case because Kami doesn't have time to look at the surveillance tapes before she is arrested. So, Kane is once again prime to delay Helen's investigation for as long as possible.

The true emotional highlight of this episode comes from Philip coming out to Helen and Gabe. It's a way for the show to provide the sense of Philip telling the truth to his foster parents even though the audience knows there is far more that he is keeping from them. It's this big moment that helps explain everything that has happened since he first moved to this new town. He is able to say that his sexuality is the reason why he has gotten into so much trouble. He has his own troubled past. That really can explain away his reactions to any given situation. All he has to do is tell Gabe about the time he saw his mother's boyfriend overdose for Gabe to be sympathetic to him again. Philip and Lukas were in big trouble after skipping the school overnight. But now, everything is cool again. Yes, Lukas' dad warns Helen that Philip needs to stay away from his son. That's really the extent of things though. Helen is keenly aware that there is something Philip isn't telling her. He tells his foster parents that he's gay. It's played as this release of tension. Now that his sexuality is known, the three of them can be closer as a family. It does bring Philip and Helen closer together. They bond over the fact that they love the city more than country life. That's just a simple and easy way to build up character dynamics.

Of course, things are made unnecessarily complicated in Philip and Lukas' love story because of Lukas' girlfriend, Rose. She was always destined to be hurt this season. That's the consequence of hiding one's sexuality. It's a cliche in storytelling. A gay teen hides his sexuality by dating a girl only to ultimately hurt her after the truth comes out. Here, Lukas thinks the entire school is talking about his sexuality and his relationship with Philip. That doesn't seem to be true at all. Yes, Rose is concerned. Lukas does a poor job hiding the fact that he went to a club in the city. He's not as good a liar as Philip is. Of course, Philip's skills come from a lifetime of hardship while Lukas doesn't know how to handle these confusing emotions. Plus, their plan to protect Lukas' secret really doesn't seem all that great. It's just a way to spend time with the two of them for the week. There's nothing more than that. Lukas and Rose finally have sex and Philip records it. He then realizes the tape so the entire school can see. Afterwards, Philip and Lukas are able to go back to being best friends. Lukas teaches Philip how to ride his bike and they are no longer worried about anyone seeing them together. It's simpl and helps build them up as a couple. Rose doesn't even mind a sex tape with her in it being released. But it's not all that exciting on a purely dramatic level.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Créme Brulée" was written by Adi Hasak & Samir Mehta and directed by Scott Peters.
  • Should the audience be worried about Tony? The show set up an expectation that characters die in every episode. So when Helen couldn't reach him on the phone, those concerns started to rise. But then, it's just left unclear as to why he didn't answer and hear Helen's new evidence.
  • So, Helen learns that Bella was never at the cabin on the night of the murder. Instead, she was at a restaurant alone waiting for someone to show up. So now, Helen is looking directly at the boyfriend for being the killer with more certainty than ever before.
  • Helen questions if suicide or murder is worse to tell a parent about how their child died. She says that to set up the mystery over how Bella died and its impact on the investigation. But the show never actually depicts that conversation that someone must have had with Mithat.
  • Does no one question how short Lukas and Rose's sex tape really is. They are just grinding against each other. It may look like something is happening but nothing is because Lukas struggles with rising to the occasion. After Philip leaves, they do actually have sex though. So, Lukas was able to perform.
  • Gabe keeps the truth about why Philip didn't go to the school overnight a secret from Helen. And yet, it's not really a secret that is kept for very long. She learns the truth a couple of scenes later which makes her question Philip more severely than ever before. Of course, this is all just set up for him coming out to them.