Sunday, December 4, 2016

REVIEW: 'Eyewitness' - Lukas Gets a Protective Detail While Kane Hunts Him Down in 'The Larsons' Dog'

USA's Eyewitness - Episode 1.08 "The Larsons' Dog"

Ryan romances Kamilah to get close to Lukas. As she tracks the killer, Helen develops an unexpected emotional connection with Ryan. Gabe uncovers a clue to his wife's mysterious past.

Helen knows she is missing something important in the cabin killer case. A piece of the puzzle that will finally have everything make complete sense. She's right to be obsessive with this case. It's not like what happened to her last time in Buffalo. She is a smart detective who doesn't just believe the story she's being told. She knows the killer is still out there. And yet, she still has to be a little clueless about Agent Kane as well. He is the killer. The audience has known that since the very first episode. We've also known that the truth won't come out until both Philip and Lukas come forward with what they saw that night. These last few episodes have seen Lukas step up as an eyewitness. He has proven to be unreliable. But his statement is enough to bring the threat back to this small town. The stakes are being raised as the show heads into its conclusion. Shots ring out at the end of this episode that will likely motivate the characters even more into action during the final two episodes of the season. It's the latest complication to drag out this main mystery for as long as possible this season. And yet, "The Larsons' Dog" is a really nice and well thought out episode about tension, the unraveling of all of these secrets and how those secrets can alter relationships.

So, Helen has called in the FBI to provide protection for Lukas until the killer is caught. The opening scene sees both Philip and Lukas being sit down to tell them about this change to their lives. Of course, it doesn't have that much impact overall. They are still able to hang out with each other, secretly kiss in their private hiding spot and film Lukas as he attempts an epic jump on his bike. Their lives don't really change that much even though they realize that the killer is once again targeting them. Lukas' lies weren't enough to get this case out of his life for good. In fact, things have only intensified since he came forward with the truth. It was something he needed to do. But now, it may have so many consequences for him and the people he cares about. He's once again a paranoid and nervous wreck because of what he saw. This episode proves that he's not a very good eyewitness because he didn't really see the face of the killer. He couldn't identify Kane as the killer. But he is still haunted by the images of that night and the violence he saw.

The violence isn't over either. Kane is doing whatever it takes before he can be identified as the killer in this case. That would ruin his entire career in the FBI. He would be exposed as the sociopath he really is. But he is still able to stay one step ahead of Helen's investigation. Again, she has no suspicions about him being the killer at all. She's looking for that missing piece. He fills it. But the evidence doesn't point to him just yet. Of course, that's very dangerous. He's the man in charge of Lukas' protection right now. That means he can find a way to get to him without being noticed at all. That's why the audience should feel tense throughout this entire episode. We know that Kane can strike at any moment. Philip and Lukas aren't as safe as everyone is led to believe. All it takes is the right moment of opportunity for Kane to strike. He does too. The hour concludes with Lukas being shot while mid-jump on his new bike. It's an epic moment to end the episode on. Philip and Lukas' worst fears have come true. The killer has found them and targeted them before they can say anything. This huge moment will probably lead to Philip coming forward as an eyewitness as well. This could be the move that actually leads to Kane's capture. Lukas didn't know how he'd work with a sketch artist. But Philip actually saw Kane. So his story may ultimately be more powerful and important to the cops. He just needs to survive this whole ordeal with Lukas in order to feel the courage to come forward as well.

That's a powerful note to end the episode on. And yet, how the show gets to that point is very perfunctory. The moment that Helen called the FBI asking for protection for Lukas, it was clear that Kane could easily manipulate the situation to his benefit. But how he actually gets the information on Lukas' whereabouts is just way too forced. He essentially seduces Kamilah because she's the one put in charge of this detail. Of course, she is. This job requires someone with a personal connection to the story. Kamilah fills that even though she shouldn't be returning to the job so soon after Sita's death. It again just confirms that Kamilah is a plot construct and not really a character. She's being manipulated just to move the plot along in a believable way. Her dynamic with Kane has never been sexual before. And yet, that's all that it is in this episode. She seems to drop her guard just because Kane starts looking at her like that. It's annoying and really awkward. This didn't need to happen in order for Kane to get Lukas' location from her. He could have done any number of things to get close to the situation. This way just allows things to be more scandalous and tantalizing. And yet, it never really works.

However, Kamilah really is the only main character who doesn't really work as a human being. Sure, Kane largely operates as a deranged killer who'll do anything to protect his story. But Warren Christie gets to do some interesting work when he's sharing the story of how he met and fell in love with Bella to Helen. Of course, Helen doesn't know that Kane is talking about Bella in this moment. That does make her seem a little foolish. That scene is so intense because the two of them are waiting for video surveillance to reveal the identity of the cabin killer. It's not surprising in the slightest that it provides Helen with no more proof than she had before. Even when being kidnapped, Kane knows how to hide his face from surveillance cameras. He's really lucky in this moment. So is Helen because Kane opts not to shoot her in the back because of it. This moment serves a larger purpose in bringing the two of them together. They are opponents in this investigation. And yet, they are able to bond over the twisted truths of their pasts on the job. Kane shares the story of how he fell in love with a woman and wanted to tell her everything but couldn't while Helen shares the details of her own tortured past.

It has always been unclear how much Gabe knows of Helen's past life in Buffalo. The audience has learned that she became super obsessed with a case. It pushed her to the brink of suicide. A fact that she likes to remind herself with every time she gets depressed about her life. Things have been great with Gabe for a long time. This new case has pushed them apart though. She has really struggled to adjust to this new reality. And now, she reveals that it has always been somewhat of a performance with Gabe. That this is her true self that she doesn't want him to see just yet. She loves him and wants to tell him the truth about her past. How she was going to kill herself but he unknowingly stopped her from doing so. And yet, she is also pushing him further away because he's uncovering her secrets, giving her an attempt to share them with him and then being disappointed when she doesn't. This case has shown just how difficult it is to come together as a family. Helen, Gabe and Philip are all holding onto secrets. They will all more than likely come out before the season is over with. But it should be interesting to see if they stay a family afterwards.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Larsons' Dog" was written by Adi Hasak & Samir Mehta and directed by Rob Lieberman.
  • Why exactly does Lukas move into Helen and Gabe's house? It's a big deal because it allows him and Philip to be together and talk about the case. But he was already under federal protection at his house. Are things really that much safer at Helen and Gabe's? An explanation is never really given.
  • Plus, Gabe notices Philip sneaking into Lukas' room late at night. Of course, Gabe is pretty much drunk in that moment. So, it's unclear if he'll remember it moving forward. But it's also important that people are starting to notice just how close Philip and Lukas really are.
  • Gabe also finds Helen's storage locker but doesn't actually look inside her box from Buffalo. He knows there is something dark in her past but doesn't actively search for it when confronted with possible answers.
  • That scene where Philip turns on the water in the sink when he's freaking out for Lukas is weird until the context comes later on. He does it to feel better about his life no matter how tragic it becomes. It would have been great to see that earlier in the season to know that he's traumatized from all of this as well.
  • Kamilah claims she's back at the job so soon because she loves it. Plus, the baby is just able to disappear to an aunt. That's an easy solution. But again, Kamilah is to blame for what ultimately happens to Lukas. She'll need to face those consequences.
  • This episode gets its title from the dog Gabe had last week who was killed by Kane. And yet, that dog is never really important to the story. Gabe is seen burying him in the closing montage but that's about it.