[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
WhileÂ Cruel Intentions may still be viewed as Ryan Phillippe‘s signature role, for me, it’s Antitrust, a before-its-time tale of Internet intrigue where he played a young programmer caught up in an ITÂ conglomerate’s pitch for his tech, and ultimately, murder of his friends. He was very, very good in a film in which you were sort of uneasy about what was going to happen next. I bring this up because ABC’s new series, Secrets and Lies, which Philippe headlines,Â evokes some of that same uneasiness, in a similarlyÂ effective way.
Y’all know about my mad love for The Killing, and when these stories are done well, I’m in. I screened the pilot before I started seeing all the previews.Â My takeaway is that we’re supposed to believe Philippe’s character, Ben Crawford, is innocent, after he stumbles upon the body of his neighbor’s young son, Tom,Â while running off a hangover early one morning in the woods near their idyllic cul-de-sac. Curiously, the commercials want you to make your own guess. I’m not sure if that means the episodes that follow theÂ first twoÂ will make his innocence more of a question mark, or if it’s just a hook to make you watch.
Ben’s nemesis is Angela Cornell, a peculiar detective played by Juliette Lewis (who starred with Philippe in 2000’s The Way of the Gun). She’s very matter-of-fact, but she also backs into questions, and she kicks off her investigation treating him like he’s a suspect and not just the poor guy who found the body.
What ensues is a media circus as she makes a point of hauling him in a couple of times, and searching his house, in full view of the press camped inÂ the street, planting suspicion about him in the minds of his neighbors and his business’s clients.
His family is also struggling–his daughters were friends with, and babysat, the boy, and his wife, Christy (KaDee Strickland) is strangely unsympathetic, and mum about whatever their blowout was the night before that sent him out on a bender with his buddy who’s living in their garage apartment.
I liked it a lot. I hope it gives a new set of fans a look at what Phillippe can do. He and Lewis are very interesting in their scenes together as Ben tries to figure out what the right answers are to Cornell’s repeated questions, when (I believe) he’s telling her the truth. I think this is Strickland’s first role since Private Practice, and so far, she’s decidedly less fiery here than she was there, so I’m guessing that when Christy finally goes off, it will be epic. Under the Dome‘s Natalie Martinez plays Tom’s mother, Jess. The series filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, where Sleepy Hollow and Under the Dome are also based.
Secrets and Lies will have a ten-episode run Sundays on ABCÂ at 9/8c. The premiere this Sunday is actually two episodes back-to-back, with eight episodes to follow. Here areÂ a few sneak peeks.
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