Sunday, November 13, 2016

REVIEW: 'Eyewitness' - Philip is Unsure How to Help Lukas Deal with His Trauma in 'The Lilies'

USA's Eyewitness - Episode 1.05 "The Lilies"

Ryan is forced to interfere with an autopsy as Helen gets closer to the truth. Philip deals with a surprise visit from his mom. Lukas struggles with anxiety about the cabin murders.

Seeing multiple people murdered at the cabin was a traumatizing experience for Philip and Lukas. It has brought them closer together. And yet, the need to keep their relationship a secret and thus not telling the police what they saw has done a lot to them. Of course, most of that is dramatized through Lukas. He's the one really struggling with the trauma that he saw. A gun was pointed in Philip's face. His refusal to speak up got two classmates killed. However, Philip is the healthy and stable one of the core couple. He's not allowed to have a reaction because Lukas is carrying that storyline. It's a weird way to tell story. It makes Philip come across as a little too saintly. The show justifies all of this by saying that Philip has seen a lot of messed up things in his life. This is a completely new experience for Lukas. On one level, that makes sense. But whenever the audience thinks more deeply about the actual plot, the more frustrating it actually becomes. That has been a major issue throughout the entire run so far. "The Lilies" doesn't do anything to change that even though it has a pretty exciting final minute that could bring a lot of change to the remainder of the season.

Lukas is spiraling out of control a little bit. The lies and deceit are really starting to pile up for him. He is only his genuine self when he's with Philip. And even then, he is still tormented by the trauma from the cabin. Keeping this secret is really forcing him to some crazy and dark places. Of course, the show only really scratches the surface of what this story could actually be. The storytelling has been very erratic in this regard. At times, Lukas is capable of being a functioning human being. Last week, he wasn't freaking out about what he saw at the cabin. Instead, he was more concerned about his reputation at school and enlisted Philip's help in making a sex tape with Rose. Here, he confirms that the two of them didn't really do anything. That's not all that important information after the fact. It's just a new detail that's suppose to help highlight just how chaotic things are for Lukas. He's looking to Philip for help. But it largely just serves as a way for the show to once again articulate the perils of drug use.

The show really hasn't been subtle at all with its depiction of organized crime and the drug trade. It's this huge investigation that the FBI is involved in. They are actively trying to put a stop to a couple of the big drug suppliers of the region. This country town hasn't really been effected by the drug trade though. Yes, everyone believes those two kids died because of drug overdoses. But that was just one of the many staged crime scenes that Kane has made to keep his own secret. Other than that, the only character battling a drug addiction is Philip's mom. She has always been located in the city. She's far removed from the everyday story in this town. Of course, that's an important part of the story. It's why Philip is living with Helen and Gabe. It just hasn't been an important part of the overall narrative. And yet here, Philip's mom shows up in town and Lukas is desperate to get pills to help him cope with his self-destructing reality. Things aren't as bad as Lukas believes they are. Most of his fears exist solely in his head. That's a strong way to feed into an addiction storyline. But here, everything that happens with Lukas reads false.

Lukas gets addicted to pills offscreen after Philip refuses to get some for him. That leads Lukas to sell one of his father's possessions not knowing the value it has in his family. He doesn't know the story of the clock that got his father and grandfather through their respective wars. It means Lukas has to lie once again about why he needs the money. He claims that Rose needs an abortion. The topic is handled in a weird way though. It's a big word for Lukas to drop just so his father stops asking questions. After that, a switch almost flips inside of his father. Up until this point, Lukas' father has been the chief critic of Lukas breaking from family tradition. He's the reason why Lukas fears he won't be accepted in this community for loving Philip. But here, he has an emotional moment telling his son he's not good with expressing his feelings and listening to Lukas'. He blames it on the death of his wife. But it's not a moment that can build character because Lukas is too distracted by seeing the gun from the cabin in the lake below. It's the show once again valuing plot over character. Again, it builds to that effective ending but it sure is a slog getting to that point.

However, Philip watching Lukas spiral like this is a strong way to motivate him into telling Helen the truth about the cabin. Of course, he only shares a few of the details. He doesn't share that he was there as well. He just outs Lukas as an eyewitness to prevent him from spiraling any further. Philip really does care for Lukas. He sees how damaged he is becoming and wants to help. But he doesn't want to fuel his drug habit. Again, it's a really clunky moment when Philip gets pills from his mother and then decides to get rid of them instead of giving them to Lukas. But it does fuel a divide between them. It's enough for Lukas to feel lonely and pushed to the brink of suicide. That's an extreme that the show rushes towards. It's a tense moment the episode ends on with Lukas holding a gun and pointing it towards himself. Helen will rush to him to learn the truth after Philip comes clean to her. It's just such a problematic way to force drama. It should be fascinating to see what the release is next week. Will Lukas actually hurt himself? Or will the police get there in time to stop him? It seems unlikely that he dies. But anything could realistically happen. If he kills himself, that would be a whole new trauma on Philip's conscience.

And frankly, Helen needed this break in the case as well. She's a smart detective. She gets Bella's death classified as a homicide which triggers an official autopsy. She even has the potential to out Kane as the killer. But again, she puts her trust in him and he is able to corrupt her investigation. He instead gets her to look into Mithat as the rapist and killer. That's a reveal that hits Helen hard. She was comforting him over the death of his daughter earlier in the episode. And now, she believes he abused and killed her. He was a criminal but his love for Bella was genuine. Kane pointed Helen in his direction as a way to hopefully get her to stop her investigation. She has her answers. And now, she can stop meddling in his case. Of course, that's not the full story. Kane is just protecting himself. But more importantly, Sita kills Mithat in order to get back in the good graces of her gang. It's an awkward moment because Kamilah is there to see it happen but chooses not to photograph her sister killing a man. That motivation is so vague that a moment like this doesn't work at all. But it does help explain how Helen will still have an investigation to lead despite seemingly having all of her answers.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Lilies" was written by Angel Dean Lopez & Samir Mehta and directed by Kelly Makin.
  • Helen and Gabe found a rehab for Philip's mom to go to. And yet, she refuses to go unless she can see Philip first. She's able to just show up at Helen and Gabe's house and spend the day with Philip too despite the court order against her. And then, she just happily goes to rehab.
  • Philip's mother is the only person who knows about Philip and Lukas' relationship. She knows details about Lukas and wants him to know that things will get better. Of course, she doesn't know about the murder and the lies in each of their lives either.
  • Tony wants to know if Helen has ever shot a person. She tells him no. And then, he tells her how he feels nothing when he goes deer hunting. That's an ominous scene. But also, Helen goes back to her secret storage locker to cry over a bunch of photos. So, there's perhaps more guilt on her conscience as well.
  • Kamilah is willing to forgive and help Sita with every single crazy thing she does because she's family. That's loyalty that hasn't been earned at all. It's the explanation given for everything Kamilah does with Sita. It just makes no sense. Sita obviously doesn't feel the same way. She keeps getting away with more and more horrifying crimes. Will murder be it? Or will Kamilah still protect her?
  • It's still weird to see just how close Helen and Kamilah have gotten over the course of this investigation. At first, they blackmailed each other. And now, they are being witty with each other and joking about each other's horrible lives.