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Murder in the First review: The surprise kiss

Murder in the First‘s big kiss tonight changes the relationship between Hildy and Mulligan as Erich’s defense runs into its biggest hurdle yet.

Photo credit: TNT

Well, that didn’t take very long.

At the end of last night’s episode, Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson) and English (Taye Diggs) threw caution to the wind and flew in the face of everything we’ve all come to learn about building sexual tension up over multiple seasons. While washing the dishes after a cozy family dinner celebrating Mulligan’s reinstatement on the force, the pair shared a passionate kiss in Mulligan’s kitchen.

It took Mulder and Scully almost seven years to get to this point, but we’ve got to hand it to Murder in the First for getting here in the fourth episode. It was a sweet moment that didn’t feel forced or rushed, a natural extension of their friendship, and it was made very clear that both characters reached for it at the same time. Neither initiated it; they simply fell into it while washing dishes, and it was refreshing to see them handle the aftermath like grownups.

After a rocky beginning, Mulligan’s relief that D-Hop’s mother decided to drop her civil suit and that she was cleared by the force’s internal investigations department is palpable. English has been there for her every step of the way, and we get the sense that being unable to work with her at his side has rattled him. They’re both grateful, both finally breathing easy, and it seemed to occur to them at the same moment that they may have missed each other in a more than friendly way.

It may be too soon for English after his wife’s death, and it may confuse things with their partnership, but it was nice to watch them simply laugh about it together and not go too heavy on the angst. The door is clearly open for more with those two, and as much as we enjoyed them as platonic pals, we’re excited to see where it goes.

The future of Erich (Tom Felton), however, is looking much less rosy. At the beginning of the episode, he was all confidence and bravado. Warren Daniels (James Cromwell), the “Doberman” defense attorney he hired last week, has spun out at least three possible stories for other suspects who could have killed Cindy, and Erich is confident Daniels can clinch the win in the courtroom and eventually, this case will be nothing more than a footnote in his past.

He’s not taking it seriously… which is why he decided he was perfectly within his rights to head out to the desert for a weekend spent at Burning Man, leaving the state in direct violation of his bail. Erich’s spent too much of his life as an untouchable prince, safe in his armor of power and money. It didn’t occur to him that anyone would take photos at Burning Man or that those photos would turn up in English’s possession courtesy of Jeremy, a former employee who claims Erich stole his code to create his game-changing virtual reality system.

Daniels, already on edge from the fact that Erich lied to him about seeing Cindy the night of her death, blows his lid when the photos are revealed. Erich’s $10 million bail is forfeit, and he’s thrown back into jail while whining at Daniels to do something to fix this. Daniels, however, had one hard fast rule: that Erich never lie to him, but Erich plays by his own rules and was convinced he was ultimately untouchable. Now that his brilliant attorney has quit the case, and he’s stuck in jail, it appears to have occurred to Erich for the first time that he may actually lose this trial.

This was the strongest episode yet, focusing almost entirely on character work, and even when the story line turned to the case, more attention was paid to Erich’s arrogance and slow comedown than the details of the trial. It was a nice change, and it leaves us in a promising place for next week.

Murder in the First airs Monday nights on TNT, 10/9c.

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