One of the bonuses of writing about television and the entertainment industry, is getting to screen upcoming new shows and “new seasons” of existing ones. ABC has kindly put up the season two premiere of Secrets and Lies and while Ryan Phillippe has not returned Juliette Lewis is back as the dour and focussed Detective Andrea Cornell. Having not seen season one of this clever crime drama, Phillippe was not particularly missed and his character would seem very out of place in this story of murder, “secrets and lies,” with its new victim and storyline.
Michael Ealy, a firm favorite who played the “cyborg” Dorian on the very short-lived Fox science fiction cop show Almost Human, stars alongside Lost star Terry O’Quinn and the eternally youthful and talented Jordana Brewster. This season appears to be all about the family Warner and the murder of Kate (Brewster).
Ealy is son Eric, who has just taken over his father John’s (O’Quinn) business and whose wife Kate (Brewster) takes a high dive off the company building’s roof on the day. Mekia Cox and Charlie Barnett round out the Warner clan as siblings Amanda and Patrick respectively.
At the start of the episode Kate is propelled off the twelve story building’s roof and when Det. Cornell arrives, Eric is cradling his dead wife’s body and contaminating the crime scene. The no-nonsense detective is not happy and makes no secret of the fact. She immediately gets the grieving husband away from his dead wife and starts the investigation.
As the episode progresses, more secrets are laid bare. Things are revealed about the victim and not all of the surprises come from the police investigations. Eric learns that his wife had a number of things that she kept hidden. As the Detective begins the groundwork to find Kate Warner’s murderer, her widower has flashbacks and memories that are very painful.
In terms of popularity contests, Lewis’ homicide detective may actually be more unpleasant than David Tennant‘s American version of the homicide investigator “Emmett Carver” in the Yankee remake of the superior ITV crime drama Broadchurch, titled Gracepoint. (It should be pointed out that the Scottish version of Tennant’s character, Alec Hardy, was dour, but for some reason this cop was nowhere near as “nasty” as his American counterpart…perhaps it was the accent?)
Lewis comes across as an investigator who has a tendency to leave compassion at home as she zeroes in on asking questions and looking for clues. Her questioning borders on aggressive rather than inquisitive or assertive and the detective’s demeanor is just “this side” of unpleasant. The power of the actress’s performance is such that one senses immediately that this how the cop handles homicides. It is not personal, but harshly impersonal.
Not having watched the first season, it is not clear whether this is Detective Cornell’s Modus Operandi, but is would seem to be as there is no indication that the investigator is anything other than a focussed professional. Earlier in the episode, Cornell tells a uniform cop that if he has issues controlling a crime scene that he should, perhaps, change jobs. This detective wants the job done correctly above all else.
From the outset Cornell appears to believe that the grieving widower is the one responsible for Kate Warner’s death and the show’s synopsis makes it sound like Ealy’s character, Eric, will be battling to prove his innocence.
Secrets and Lies is listed as a “crime drama” but is also also part mystery. The “reveals” in the premiere episode alone equals a lot of mystery as each memory of Eric’s shows something else not previously known. ABC have not given a proper “air date” for season two, but season one began in March 2014 so 2015 may be in March as well. Regardless of when the 2016 second season starts, the wait will be worth it. Keep your eyes peeled for this one.