The two installments had two things in common: first, Lightman took both jobs to help a child; second, Lightman was as great as he has ever been.
While the writing for both episodes was exceptional, I found that I was really drawn to "Funhouse" a bit more. From Lightman eating a banana while sitting calmly in the middle of a patient fight where everyone else was standing, to him talking to his mother, who very well played by Paula Malcomson, I thought the episode was one of the best ever done.
I will freely admit that I have been a big fan of Malcomson since I first saw her on Deadwood years ago. But, really, it was Tim Roth who made the episode as satisfying as it was. He did such a great job of acting drugged up, with a mix of silly and insane, that you begin to wonder if his cheese really has slipped off his cracker.
My favorite part is that the episode ended with Lightman coming to the realization that it wasn’t his mother he needed to worry about being like. It was his abusive father he needed to watch for signs of. I think if we could all have such life-changing realizations, we would sign up for a few days on the same medication.This was followed by a case where a man being a social chameleon has been seducing women, getting them to marry him to get their ex-husbands out of alimony payments. While not as personally moving as the prior episode, I think Lightman saw a bit of himself in Noah. He kept challenging Noah, and Lightman only does that to people he can see have potential, such as Eli and Ria.
The only weak part of the entire night was the casting of Sam Page as George Walker. Having watched him with James Woods in Shark and more recently as Joel the intern in Greek, I am familiar with his work.
Overall, his character in this episode seemed like it was more of the same. He didn’t have any real depth or deception. He didn’t come across as a believable social chameleon who prays on women.
I noticed that they even had to go so far as specifically point out that he was lying without the classics signs of lying so we would buy into the story he was a great con-artist. Compare Page’s Walker to Angus Macfadyen Jimmy Doyle in the episode "Sweet Sixteen." You didn’t have to be told that Doyle was dangerous, Macfadyen did a superb job of getting that feeling across.
I do want to stress this is not a ding on Page, he is a good actor and I have enjoyed him in a lot of shows; he just wasn’t right for the part of lying-sociopath George Walker. There are many actors out there that could have given the character the depth it really needed.
However, offsetting Page’s mediocre performance was Hayley McFarland's continual awesomeness as Emily Lightman. From the trick Lightman pointed out she used to pull Amanda into the conversation to her picking up on queues from Gillian (or just tricking her), Emily is becoming a force to marvel. I cannot wait to see where they take young Emily. In time, I think she may have Ria and Eli chasing their tales a bit.
What did you think of this week’s episode(s)? Did you like the 2011 kick off? Do you think Wallowski had anything on under her trench coat when she visited Lightman?
Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.