It’s about time that Body of Proof got around to a Mark Valley centric episode. After all, he’s certainly deserving of one. While “Doubting Tommy” stretches plausibility a bit, it’s proof that when you put a script into the hands of a good actor, good things almost always happen.
The episode begins with an unlucky guy meeting his demise via baseball bat, and then cuts to Megan testifying in the subsequent murder trial. After her evidence is given, Tommy is called to the stand, and is cross-examined by the defense attorney, and asked about his “gut feeling” regarding the case. He admits that he still has doubts about the suspect’s guilt, which doesn’t make him popular with Megan. His response to her annoyance is to suggest they have a few drinks – and even though she rebuffs him initially, once he calls her scared, they end up at a bar together rehashing their past. One wonders what happened between Tommy and the cop he invited out to the hockey game last week?
But Megan is about to be the least of Tommy’s problems. She leaves him to pine, then apparently changes her mind and comes back, only to see him being aggressively flirted with by your average blond bar girl. This sours Megan on whatever she was thinking, and the next day, she’s her usual cranky self.
She arrives at a fresh crime scene, and given what she saw the night before, isn’t worried when only Adam meets her, and asks if she’s heard from Tommy. What shocks Megan is discovering that the victim is the blond bar girl, who she deduces was strangled sometime the night before. Uh-oh. The good Dr. Hunt quickly gets Adam up to speed on what might have happened, only for them to subsequently discover Tommy passed out nearby, claiming that he doesn’t remember anything. Yep, this is that episode where one of the main characters gets fingered for something they may or may not have done. Yet when the actor at the center of the plot is Mark Valley, you can expect it to be a whopper of an episode no matter what happens.
Megan gives Tommy a quick once-over as Adam asks him what he does remember. Tommy’s memory only goes as far as Megan leaving the bar and being approached by the victim. “How can this be possible? Was I drugged or something?” he wonders aloud. It comes out that he’d previously interviewed the victim for the case he’d been testifying in the day before, and that the dead girl kept calling him after the fact. While Tommy realizes the enormity of what he’s about to face, Megan deduces that the victim’s murder must therefore something to do with the previous case.
Adam interviews Steve Owen, the suspect in the previous murder, who says that he hasn’t seen the bar girl in awhile, but that she was “infatuated” with Tommy. “Skylar wasn’t used to hearing no,” he continues. No, that doesn’t sound ominous at all.
In the lab, Megan isn’t happy to hear that there’s DNA and fingernail polish that implicates Tommy as Skylar’s murderer, and at the precinct, Tommy’s boss, Chief Angela Martin (played by the fantastic Lorraine Toussaint) is also displeased. She tells him not to leave and warns Adam to get the case resolved as soon as possible. Adam and Tommy talk afterward, with Tommy suggesting they check out the bar’s surveillance tapes. When Adam and Megan do so, they see Tommy leading Skylar from the bar. The lip-reader with them claims that he said “You’re going to regret this.”
A phone call from Ethan brings the two of them back to the lab, where Ethan shows them the recovered murder weapon – a man’s belt – and that epithelials found on it registered another DNA match to Tommy. This is enough to get everyone’s favorite detective formally arrested, while Adam and Megan look on, with Megan visibly upset.
Adam and Megan confer with Tommy again once he’s in custody and ask him to explain the forensic evidence, but of course he can’t. Megan further tells him that his blood work didn’t show any drugs in his system. This makes Tommy finally flip out, and he angrily insists that he isn’t a murderer. But how can they possibly prove it?
Megan returns to her office to find Chief Martin there, and Kate informs her that Martin wants updates on Tommy’s case. “Detective Sullivan may not be the man you think he is,” Martin tells her, going on to say that after they left the club, Tommy and Skylar apparently went to a nightclub where Tommy got into an unprovoked fight with the bouncer.
Furthermore, the case has prompted the NYPD to unseal Tommy’s records there, and the reason why he left New York involves beating a suspect. Martin wants Megan off the case, and Kate informs her that she’s agreed to the request. Megan makes her displeasure known, while Adam begins to wonder if his partner really did crack.
At home, Megan’s mother suggests that her emotions are clouding her judgment, but Lacey encourages her mother not to give up on Tommy. Smart kid, that Lacey Fleming. Unable to sleep that night, Megan places a late-night call to Adam, wanting him to meet her at the nightclub where his partner allegedly fought the bouncer. “I think I can prove Tommy’s innocence,” she tells him.
The two of them arrive at the nightclub and question the bouncer. Megan wants to know all the details of the fight, including the specific location where it took place. She finds a bloodstain on the carpet there and immediately removes a sample – over the bouncer’s objection – in order to see who the blood belongs to and what’s in it. Since it was spilled ten hours earlier and hasn’t had a chance to metabolize, it proves that Tommy was indeed drugged, as he’d suggested. There’s Zolpidem in his system, which explains all of his symptoms.
Adam and Megan are encouraged by the test results, but Kate and Martin remain skeptical, particularly Martin, who seems like she’d rather see Tommy fend for himself. “That woman has an agenda,” Megan tells Kate afterward, revealing her past with Tommy to her boss, who reiterates that she can’t be on the case.
Megan’s response is to bail Tommy out of jail herself, finding the two million dollars to do so, by putting pretty much everything she has up as collateral. She’s also convinced Kate is going to fire her. “I don’t want you to put everything on the line like this,” Tommy tells her. Megan’s only response is that she wants to know what really happened in New York. Tommy finally reveals that his sister died in a hit and run accident, and he lost control with the guy that killed her. That’s the suspect that he beat up.
Satisfied, Megan goes with Tommy back to the nightclub, hoping to jog his memory. He gradually begins to remember things. The woman he’s accused of killing was trying to show him something, possibly regarding the murder case he’d interviewed her for. The two of them go with Adam back to Skylar’s house, where Adam finds a photo in her printer’s cache: Steve Owen in his club at the time he was supposedly committing murder. Skylar had solid evidence to prove Steve’s alibi. “Her killer knew that she was bringing it to you,” Megan tells Tommy, who recalls chasing someone outside. Megan follows Tommy’s direction and finds a fabric sample in the fence that might resemble the one found in Tommy’s belt – also known as the murder weapon.
Tommy pays a visit to Steve’s lawyer, who’s grateful to see evidence proving his client’s innocence. “We have to assume that whoever framed Steve Owen for murder killed her too,” Tommy says. “And framed you in the process,” the lawyer continues. “My understanding is you were arrested for her murder.” Tommy concedes the point, asking to look at all the evidence that was collected.
At the Medical Examiner’s office, Adam and Megan find out from Ethan that the fibers from the fabric found in Tommy’s belt match the ones from the piece she recovered from the fence. Furthermore, the piece Megan found gives them more information beyond that: it’s a glove fragment, and the dust found on the sample proves that it must be a work glove. Adam realizes that they have a problem just as Tommy is ducking to avoid a baseball bat to the back of the head, courtesy of…Steve Owen’s lawyer?
After the lawyer and Tommy get into a fight that ends with Tommy’s use of a nail gun (and which seems like it shouldn’t be quite so even when you consider the participants), Adam and Megan come to Tommy’s rescue. Megan watches as Adam and Tommy interrogate the lawyer and explain his whole master plan to him. “I want you to know that I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that you never see the light of day again,” Tommy promises him, just before the lawyer asks for a lawyer.
With that, it’s case mercifully closed. Tommy is exonerated, Steve is freed, and Kate apologizes to Megan, before Tommy and Megan resume bantering with one another without missing a beat. She agrees to go have drinks with him again, though she also advises him to stop talking while he’s ahead.
“Doubting Tommy” will not go down in history as one of the most suspenseful Body of Proof episodes – one needs only to remember that Mark Valley is a series regular to know that Tommy Sullivan’s name will be cleared by the end of the hour – and its plot definitely calls for some suspension of disbelief, to keep up with all its twists and turns. But there are a quite a few things to love about this installment, which is ultimately satisfying.
As previously mentioned, it’s always a pleasure when an episode centers around a strong actor, and Mark Valley is definitely one of those actors. This is a wonderful installment for him, whether it’s adding some vital new facts to his backstory, or just getting to watch him play Tommy from a position of weakness rather than strength. By that same token, Tommy’s being the accused also means more screen time for Adam, and Elyes Gabel really makes the most of the material. We haven’t gotten to know Adam too well just yet, but this episode helps to remedy that, showing us the trust that does exist between these two guys even though they haven’t been working together for a particularly long period of time.
It’s also nice to see Megan toned down a bit here. In other episodes this season, her usual snarkiness has more than once come off as downright mean, and as a result she’s become a little less likeable in season three as opposed to the previous two. However, there’s none of that here, and it allows the audience to see Megan underneath all that bravado once more. It’s a reminder that Dana Delany is a wonderful actress, and Megan is more than just a fabulous wardrobe and witty comments. Conversely, the episode pretty much wastes Lorraine Toussaint by making her character so one-dimensional. Toussaint is a great actress, perhaps the best to play a defense attorney in the entire twenty years of Law & Order, and the material she’s given couldn’t be more heavy-handed.
While not a flawless episode by any means, “Doubting Tommy” gives the Body of Proof ensemble some interesting new material to chew on, and proves that the series made the right choice in bringing aboard the two new actors that it did – because they’re definitely the right guys for the job.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.