Lie to Me Review: Death in the Limelight Alert!

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To put it bluntly: This week’s episode of Lie to Me felt like another hastily written hour to remove another recurring character. The victim? Dr. Dave Burns, Gillian’s recent love interest.

Long-time watchers of the show are familiar with the fact that Cal Lightman is like a bloodhound if he senses any deception in someone. This is even truer if that person happens to be romantically involved with someone he cares about. Therefore, his near constant curiosity of Burns was to be expected.

In fact, part of the charm of recent episodes has been watching him stick his nose into Gillian’s love life and having her swat it back out. So when "Exposed" opened with Lightman “coincidentally” having breakfast at the same place as Dave and Gillian, was anyone surprised?

Lightman on a Job

But then I saw the glowing sign that this episode was written specifically to have Burns exit the show when he plopped down at breakfast in a restaurant and admitted freely to Lightman that he worked with the DEA and told him everything (in public, no less). Sure, Lightman has been getting more and more curious, but he was nowhere near the point that Burns needed to reveal everything.

So, why would Burns suddenly tell Lightman everything? The answer is referred to as "A Death in the Limelight."  It is a very commonly used formula (a.k.a. trope) for characters that are about to be written out (by death or other methods.)  Burns’ exit actually reminded me a bit of Clara Musso’s departure, as she too suddenly did stuff out of character.

You can bet the farm that when a recurring character suddenly start sharing their life story or doing stuff that was previously out of character for him/her, there is an exit coming up.

I really hope that the show didn’t write Burns in as a recurring character and then out so suddenly so they could have Gillian back in “Heartbreak Mode” again. We went through a lot of this in season one when she and her husband split up. As mentioned previously, I really like what they have been doing with Gillian. The writers have been doing a great job of expanding her character and I would be very disappointed if they use this to tear all that work down.

There was one piece of the episode that felt out of sync with the rest. That was Emily reading her grandmother’s journal and the paternity test. First, why in the blue blazes of hell would Gillian walk off and leave Lightman’s safe standing open?

Honestly, even if there was a fire, her first instinct would be to close it when she left the office. Second, why would Lightman keep a paternity test from 16 years ago loose in his safe? The man is a huge control freak. I would expect the letter to at least have been in with other files on Emily or Zoe not just lying loose with other mail.

Additionally, (just a pet peeve for me) did anyone think the paper looked really new for it being 16 years old? Ok, before you flame me, I know the test could be newer than 16 years old; it could new and only be a year old. But if it was, don’t you think Emily would have been a bit more upset about the test given he would have had doubts for all that time?  Her reaction alone told me that it was done back when she was born or not too long after.

The minor things aside, it was an acceptable episode. Lightman had some great dialog as always and I will admit that Emily is more and more like her father every day.  With only two more episodes left for season two, I wonder how much of what we are seeing is setting the foundations for season three that starts in November.

What did you think of the episode? Did you feel like Burns was rushed out of the show? Do you think we can get “Team Callian” into the main stream?


Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (27 Votes)

Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


I loved this show when it first started, but yes, i agree that the hasty writing in terms of story arcs (do we really need Gillian in and out of relationships so quickly?), the exagerrated characterization of Lightman (the quirks keep getting worse) etc is really pushing this show towards shark territory. The show keeps getting worse and worse. I hope the writers find the balance they had earlier. And soon.


I don't mean this to sound as cynical as it probably sounds, but I have the impression (with a lot of shows) that the writers, when they first imagine a guest character in a show, they consider how they might use him/her and sign the actor/actress to a 2, 3, 4 episode contract. That is, I have a feeling that both Musso and Burns were so hired, that their exits were scripted right from the start. I mean like if they imagined Burns, a psychologist, and thus figured something could develop between him and Gillian ... and then had to figure that if they gave him a several episode contract for a recurring character, what could they do with him (and guess someone suggested he could be an undercover DEA agent ... and from there, since the theme is Lightman discovering the truth from people who are concealing it, they had to come up with some truth he could be concealing) I'm wildly guessing -- but I can see how everything, as it turned out, is sort of logical.


Hi Alice, I have watched every episode this season, and when it comes to Dr. Burns, I have not seen any indications that they ran episodes with him in it out of order. As mentioned in review, there are only two more episodes before the short break. Even if Dr. Burns is/was in both episodes and this one was suppose to be last, Lightman was not acting nearly obsessed enough with him in this episode to warrant a full confession from Burns.


LOL. Are you kidding? You must be kidding. The whole Gillian/Burns thing felt rushed because of Fox. The Lie to Me writers have written ~subtext~ and other things into the episodes, but since Fox is screwing with the order in which the episodes air, certain things are being lost. Anyway. Kelli Williams once again proved that she is one of the most underrated actresses on television... of her scenes were FANTASTIC. She breaks my heart like no other. Tim Roth got all slouchy and territorial and brought that intensity that we've grown to love, and it was nice to see Loker/Torres/Reynolds doing something. Lie to Me just keeps getting better and better. Haters to the left. xoxo

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Lie to Me Season 2 Episode 20 Quotes

Agent Williams: Dr. Lightman, the ship is leaving.
Lightman: Whoop-dee-do.

Whatcha call that, "Stupid on a plate?"