#RealTalk, this show’s title should be changed to I Would. As in, “Pheebs, would you smash Peter Krause?”
“Phoebe, would you let Jay Hayden tap your tuckus like they’re bongos at an African dance class?”
“Phoebe, would you switch teams to go to Sushisamba — wink! — with Rose Rollins?”
In short, everyone on this Shonda Rhimes–produced show is good-looking and smart and I’m all about that. You know what else I’m about? The Catch. I have to admit, I was hesitant because of the ads that aired on ABC, like, 30 times a day, so I got tired of Mireille Enos. She plays Alice Vaughan, a private investigator at the top of her field who talks in a husky voice all the time. Take a Ricola, Alice! Anyway, once I watched this pilot episode, I was able to appreciate the show for exactly what it’s supposed to be: an hour of fun, fantasy, and slick dialogue. Only time will tell if The Catch has the legs to make it through this first season, but if future episodes are like this one, we’re in for enjoyable and breezy entertainment.
We begin the way all Shondaland shows do: with a bouncy soundtrack and a preview of the kind of “outside the boundaries of the law” work her characters tend to do. Alice and Co. are a private investigative team that protects ultra-rich clients, who are often the targets of con artists and thieves. In this opening scene, a cute dude in a suit flirts with Alice at an art opening before they head to a secret room where she shows him a painting that’s not up for sale yet. They exchange a lot of cute banter, and then she’s basically like, “You’re not getting access to my vajeen,” so they leave, but not before he swipes her ID. He then returns to the room, steals the painting, rolls it up in his jacket sleeve, and bounces. That’s when he’s met by Alice, her team, and the po-po. The guy is arrested. Alice loves it.
The next day at work, we learn that Alice co-owns the firm with Valerie Anderson (Rollins), is engaged, and wants nothing to do with wedding planning. Cut to them trying different cakes with Danny Yoon (Jay Hayden), one of their investigators, and Sophie Novak (Elvy Yost), a lawyer who is new to the team. Sophie wants to make sure everyone is busting crime in completely legal ways. I’m already not here for her or for those shenanigans. Anyway, cake-tasting is interrupted by an update on Mr. X., the ultimate bad guy. They’ve been trying to catch Mr. X for the past nine months; he has stolen $5 million from their clients. Since they haven’t caught him yet, he sends mocking notes like, “Are you ready to play?” The team figures that Mr. X is getting intel from someone within each of their clients’ companies to snitch. Today’s snitch is a sad and dopey dude named Patrick Lewis (Brett Gilbert). This guy looks like he’s been trying to get his poetry published for years in The New Yorker, but keeps getting rejected, so he’s stuck in his day job as floor manager at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Sorry, boo! Anyway, Patrick is meeting Mr. X at a shopping plaza. If you haven’t seen any of the commercials by now — and if you haven’t, I’m surprised and kind of jealous — you know that Mr. X is played by Peter Krause. I know I already said he looks good in this show, but let me just repeat: This dude can wear a suit. Moving on.
At the shopping plaza, the team is trying to catch Mr. X, but since they have no idea what he looks like, they are following Patrick closely. And because this show is call The Catch, we all know Mr. X is not going to be caught. He creates a bunch of distractions, gets the jump drive with all the intel, and Alice’s team is left with Patrick and his suitcase full of money. Patrick is arrested and Mr. X walks by Alice without her even noticing. That night, she arrives home and is talking to her bae — and we learn that bae is Mr. X. Ooh! The next day, the couple finalizes deets for their wedding and she goes to his office (where we learn his name is Christopher Hall) to drop off a $1.4 million check for some house they are buying. Fancy! She dashes off and we meet his “assistant” Margot Bishop (Sonya Walger), who seems to be running this con, or at the very least is Christopher’s boss. She tells him to end the relationship in 24 hours; they need to move on to their next mark. Christopher gets all sad, so we’re supposed gather that he has real feels for Alice. Margot is somehow oblivious to this, then kisses Chris and is like, “You don’t get a vote. You’re out of here and Reggie is going to make sure all traces of you disappear.”
So basically, Reggie (Alimi Ballard) is the Ving Rhames to Christopher’s Tom Cruise. Reggie tells him to keep his eye on the prize and stop worrying about Alice. Again, Christopher is all kinds of sad and I’m like, “Can you at least fix your face, so it’s not quite so obvious that you’re in love with Alice?” But he cannot hear me, so he continues to looks sad, which makes me want to go:
That night, Alice puts on her wedding dress. For the first time, we can see that she is actually into this wedding more than she lets on. She’s a little bit of a romantic, which is cute and explains why after Christopher comes home, she tells him not to look at her. He asks to see her in the dress. He’s into it, so they bone in soft lighting and shadows, which is the opposite of how I do it. (I bone underneath a five-year-old comforter with the Netflix on the background asking the question: “Are you still there?”) Anyway, the next morning, he watches her sleep until she wakes up. He asks her to run away and elope to the Swiss Alps with him. She says she will marry him as soon as she catches Mr. X — ladies and their pesky jobs! — and he looks defeated. That was his final chance to be with bae, but it’s not going to happen, so it’s time for Operation Disappear to take place. She heads off to work. Her co-workers are like, “Bish, you should marry him ASAP,” so Alice races back home. Everything is gone. She calls Chris. His phone is disconnected. She goes to his office. Everything is gone. Girlfriend has been played!!
Back at Vaughn/Anderson, she tells everyone what happens, tears up for three seconds and then is like, “We have to get this fool.” We see how he played her the whole time: He was cute AF, charming, caring, and made her think her ideas were his (i.e. she basically proposed to herself). Also, he blocked his face in all their photos, so the authorities would never be able to track him once the con was over. He’s completely scrubbed from the internet, so they basically know nothing about him. All they can figure out is that he went after the team’s clients and their money … which leads them to realize Chris is Mr. X. So, Chris and that trifling heaux Margot have wiped everything from Vaughn/Anderson, but he hasn’t drained the clients’ bank accounts yet. Hmm, why aren’t they taking the money?
The next day, Alice is basically wearing one of those satin covers that you use to keep dust mites away from your Kate Spade purses, but I’ll let it slide. Homegirl just got her life destroyed, so her fashion game is going to be a little boo-boo. FBI agent Jules Dao (Jacky Ido) — LOL, these character names, you guys — shows up at Vaughn/Anderson. He has a French and African accent, so y’all know I would. Anyway, he is there to see if they know anything about Christopher. The FBI has been tracking him for two years, but they have no solid leads on him. Alice immediately shuts this meeting down because, as she later tells Valerie, she does not want to be playing second to the FBI. She is going to find Christopher herself and thinks she’s going to do it by the end of the day. Or, at the very least, she will be able to find some big, juicy intel on him. Girl, bye. You are not going to find anything and you need to team up with Jules and track Christopher before all your clients learned that you effed up their security.
She does not hear me either — and what do you know — she spends a whole day searching and finds nothing. Jules has been following her and she still doesn’t give him any information, so it’s clear these two are going to be at odds this season. Alice meets up with the team and they figure out that Chris is after some sort of new technology that Seth Hamilton (Jake Green) created — it’s an apparatus that allows ocean water to be drinkable, and it will be worth millions of dollars. Seth is announcing it at a swanky party that evening, so everyone puts on their finest duds to capture Christopher. He’s already at the party and manages to swipe a jump drive that has all the specs for the technology. Chris gives it to Reggie and as they are about to leave, Alice and Co. show up. Chris doesn’t move, so Reggie creates a diversion so they can slip away. Reggie cusses Chris out in the car — this is where we learn his real name is Ben — because it’s obvious that he has feels for Alice. Margot better not find out.
Speaking of Margot, she’s at home working when she sees that everything she and Chris/Ben stole got stolen back. Turns out that jump drive allowed Sophie to hack into Margot’s computer. Chris/Ben tries to hide his smile, but he’s clearly excited that this chase is happening. Margot tells him to fix this, since they need to get the money to the top guns they’re working for. What does he do? The next day, he goes to the museum where the painting from the beginning of the episode is on display, then steals it and puts it in Alice’s apartment. Alice comes home to find the painting, then says, “Okay, you wanna play? Let’s play.” End of episode. Fun!
With that said, the show is not perfect. As I see it, its biggest problem is that it’s so focused on setting the series in motion — getting Alice and Christopher/Ben to realize the game is on — that it weirdly and unbelievably skips over the emotional trauma of Alice getting conned. This guy stole all her money, led her to believe in love again, and encouraged her to become a vulnerable person. And all we see is her tearing up for half a second? I’m not asking for a whole lot here. To get us to care about the characters, the show has to get the characters to care about the characters. Alice doesn’t have a depressed day or even a cry-sing to Adele. Instead, she just whips her hair into a perfect ponytail and carries on with her job. That rang particularly false to me. As much as I love the fast pace of Shondaland shows, I think a show like this would benefit if it emulated a movie like The Thomas Crown Affair. Take your time. Build the characters. Give us scenes that aren’t just slick and jaunty. Yes, this show is about the thrill of the chase, but for audiences to be into the chase, they have to care about whom is being chased and why the chaser is chasing. Nah mean? We need to get inside these characters; we need to feel like we know them. If The Catch does that, then we might have a good caper on our hands.
Alrighty, what did you think of The Catch? Are y’all “I Would”-ing anybody? Let me know in the comments below.