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Murder In The First review: Liar, liar

The best part of this episode fell into the last five minutes. What wouldn’t we suffer through to listen to Taye Diggs sing the first few lines of Etta James’ ode to true love “At Last?”

Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson) definitely knew what she was doing when she dragged English out to celebrate Molk’s (Raphael Sbarge) birthday at a karaoke bar, and we thank her for giving Taye Diggs an opportunity to finally show his stuff.

English and Mulligan have spent the entire episode making sure that Mark Strauss’ alibi for the night of Cindy’s murder is airtight. While they’re still working together as fluidly as ever, personal things between the two partners have been awkward since last week’s kiss, both of them tiptoeing around the subject, and their attempts to fall back into their easy friendship are made more difficult than they each want it to be. The cat’s out of the bag now; they’ve showed their hand. There’s a baseline level of sexual attraction there, and now that it’s been acknowledged, it’s harder for them to keep pretending that it doesn’t exist. Everyone’s lying about something this week.

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It’s never more apparent than when Mulligan is watching English reluctantly croon that gorgeous Etta James song onstage at karaoke. She’s interested, and she wants desperately to pretend that she isn’t. The song is speaking to her in ways she wishes it wouldn’t, and ultimately, she leaves the party early to keep up the facade.

When she arrives home, Erich (Tom Felton) is sitting on her front porch, waiting for her.

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Things are going a little more smoothly in Erich’s world. After a huge bump in salary, Daniels (James Cromwell) has agreed to return to the case and some smooth talking by Hertzberg (Richard Schiff), Erich is back out on bail. While one of Daniels’ conditions is administering a lie detector test to Erich, one that leaves him visibly rattled, he seems to feel as though he’s back in control. He’s spent a few days in jail and sobered up a little as he realizes the legal trouble he’s facing, but underneath it, he’s still the same cocky kid who can’t really see himself taking the fall for this crime.

That’s why he shows up at Mulligan’s house. He wants to reestablish his control, and after their date, he’s found himself intrigued with her. Mulligan rightfully points out that he only wants her because he can’t have her, which he doesn’t bother to deny. Once he’s proven innocent, he claims, he’ll cook dinner for her, and it’s a promise that he makes in a vaguely threatening manner.

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The intriguing parts, however, all happened in the closing few moments, leaving the rest of the episode packed with filler. No one really believes that Mark Strauss is responsible for Cindy’s death. It’s too obvious and he’s been too much of a tertiary character so far. Our money’s on pilot Bill Wilkerson (Steven Weber), whose wife has just left him after belatedly learning of his affair with Cindy, or Erich’s jealous business partner/lover, Ivana West.

Got your own thoughts on the killer? Leave them in the comments below.

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