'Body Of Proof' Recap: 'Committed' Is A Mental Hospital Thriller Without Thrills
April 24th, 2013 9:45am EDT
After a faked death last week, Body of Proof visits a mental hospital this time around, perpetuating the idea that there's no such thing as a garden-variety murder in TV's Philadelphia. There's normally nothing wrong with that, but this particular demise is more like a movie of the week.
A young woman named Renee is found dead in the shower of a psychiatric institution for girls, bringing Megan, Tommy and Tommy's would-be girlfriend Riley Dunn (guest star Marisa Ramirez) to the scene. Megan can tell Riley has a thing for Tommy, who must be over his all-of one-episode-interest in Riley, because he tells Megan that he's "saving myself for someone special." As quickly as the possible love triangle arrived, so has it departed.
Returning to the murder, the hospital's director is Dr. Derek Malcolm (guest star Craig Bierko, who previously played a romantic rival to Mark Valley's Brad Chase on Boston Legal), and he's the usual authority figure who doesn't want to help the investigation. Another patient named Darby tells Tommy that she saw a man sneaking around the hospital, and also believes that she, not Renee, was the person he wanted to kill. Cue Megan seeing Dr. Malcolm looking on ominously. Tommy's skeptical, but Megan persuades him to investigate the young woman's statements anyway, as if he wouldn't already do so given that it's his job.
She then meets with her mother (guest star Joanna Cassidy), telling her about the unidentified fingerprint found on her father's suicide note, and asking to exhume the body. Mom Hunt is still not pleased with Megan's digging into the past and refuses to provide the necessary signature. The next day, Megan calls in Dr. Charlie Stafford (a returning Luke Perry from "Skin and Bones"), in order to go around her mother. He agrees to see what he can do.
In the lab, Curtis wonders how someone inside a mental hospital got access to a ball peen hammer, which may be the murder weapon. Megan is pulled away from the autopsy to meet with Tommy and Mo Childs (guest star Jude Ciccollella, 24), the detective who investigated the earlier murder of Darby's sister, Beth. Childs tells them everything he knows about Beth's still-unsolved case, and asks if they believe there's a connection between the two. Tommy isn't sure yet, but the conversation is enough to send him and Megan back to the hospital to ask Dr. Malcolm for permission to interview Darby. This would be a good idea if Darby wasn't drugged, which sets Megan off on another rant.
One of the CSU technicians tells Tommy that they've inspected the heating vent and confirmed that someone's definitely come through it, which confirms Darby's story. Once she's alert enough to talk to them, the young woman says that her mother hired the mysterious man to kill her - because she saw her mother murder her sister and then her mother made her lie about it to the cops. Take a second to wrap your brain around that. "That's why she sent me here. To shut me up," Darby continues, going on to insist that her mother pays Dr. Malcolm to keep her quiet, and asking for Tommy and Megan's help.
Shifting gears, Megan awkwardly runs into Riley in the bathroom, with Riley wanting to know if something is going on between Megan and Tommy. "It's none of your business," Megan rightly responds. Riley tells Megan that she did go on that previously mentioned date with Tommy to the Flyers game and just wants to know what to do. Megan tells her, "You do whatever you want."
She and Tommy then interview Darby's mother (guest star Sharon Lawrence), by which we mean Megan pokes and prods while Tommy essentially holds down the furniture. The only thing he points out is that she did donate money to the hospital. Darby's mom lets slip that she told Dr. Malcolm that he could start electroshock therapy. That sends Megan straight back to Dr. Malcolm, feathers ruffled and insisting that she's going to put a stop to things. She doesn't need to - Darby attacks Dr. Malcolm and escapes from the hospital, after which the doctor holds Megan responsible.
Megan's shocked to get a call from Lacey, who tells that Darby has shown up at their apartment. When Megan and Tommy get there, her daughter and the mental patient are playing Scrabble. While Darby gets ready to leave, Megan confesses to Tommy that she sees herself in the young woman. They take her back to the police station and ask her what she remembers about her sister's murder, and Darby tells them enough for them to obtain a search warrant for her mother's home, where Megan finds the necklace Darby's mother was allegedly wearing the night she murdered Beth. It goes back to the lab, where Ethan finds human blood on it that matches Beth.
This means it's time to haul Darby's mother into the interrogation room. She admits to destroying evidence, but not to killing her daughter. That, she wants to pin on her other daughter. Tommy and Megan don't buy this for a second, at least until Ethan says that the substance he found in the heating vent was for muscle aches and pains, not unlike the ones Darby went to the infirmary for before. She was in direct contact with both the vent and Renee's body, making her the killer.
Tommy calls Megan and sets off to rescue her. Darby figures out that she's been had and jumps from Megan's car, flagging down some conveniently placed uniformed cops and claiming that Megan is the crazy one. Being generic cops, the uniforms don't know who to believe. When Darby seizes the moment and attacks one of them, Megan snags a gun and aims it squarely at her. Things work out okay, though, because the next time we see Darby she's in interrogation, Tommy has the murder weapon, and there's a confession just in time to wrap up the show. An insecure Megan tells Tommy to put the past to rest, although she looks on upset after he's gone.
With only a handful of episodes left in season three, Body of Proof is doing its best to make its case for a fourth run. All the signs of a show on the brink have been here: a significant retooling between cycles, more 'out there' plotlines, the addition of an ongoing mystery surrounding Megan's father's demise. Normally, when you see moves like that, you have cause to worry about a show (see: Fairly Legal and Human Target, two good series that were upended and then didn't last past their next seasons). The funny thing is that unlike ninety percent of other shows in this position, most of the changes on Body of Proof are working out. No offense intended to the previous cast members, but Mark Valley and Elyes Gabel (who's missed in this episode) are strong performers. And while some of the plots this season have been worthy of head-tilting, once you get past whatever it obviously isn't, they're entertaining.
"Committed" is, unfortunately, not one of those episodes. It hits the nail squarely on the head, over and over again. From the moment Megan spots him before the opening title, Dr. Malcolm may as well be wearing a sign that says "suspect" on it. There's absolutely no sublety to his character at all. Likewise for Darby's mother, who is your usual evasive parent with a secret. These characters don't feel like people, but stock parts. The only way they could get more one-dimensional is if they'd actually committed the crimes in question. In turn, circling back around to make Darby the killer falls flat, because the other characters are so obvious you can't help but look for a third option, and she's the only one.
One also has to wonder about the introduction of Riley Dunn, because if she was intended as a rival for Tommy's affections, she's definitely not fulfilling that role. At the end of her first episode, she's agreeing to go out on a date with Tommy, but by the next episode he's having drinks with Megan, and tonight makes it pretty clear that Riley's out of luck. While she'll be in at least one more installment after this, she isn't nor has she ever been a legitimate threat to the obviously intended Megan/Tommy relationship. There's nothing wrong with Marisa Ramirez as an actress, and it might be interesting to have her stick around as a recurring cop character (like, say, Profaci on Law & Order), but the love triangle idea has failed.
Body of Proof is off next week, so we'll see you in two weeks for a plane crash. It's still not boring in Philadelphia.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Photo Credits: ABC