Fans of Thank God It’s Thursday, or TGIT, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder may have a new series to sink their teeth into, because production company ShondaLand has done it again. The Catch is the newest addition to the TGIT family, and it is worth catching up on.
The Catch follows Alice Vaughan (Mireille Enos), a private investigator from Los Angeles who is given a harsh reality check when she discovers her fiancé, Christopher Hall (Peter Krause), is a con artist. He specifically targeted her, with the help of his lover, Margot Bishop (Sonya Walger), because of her involvement in the persecution of his alter ego, Mr. X, who is a wanted con man. With a new zeal to find Mr. X before he ruins her career, Alice and Christopher get involved in a “cat and mouse” game that leads them both on a bumpy ride.
Alice Vaughan, the protagonist of The Catch, challenges the status quo. Sometimes, media has a polarized portrayal of women, either illustrating a damsel in distress who can’t function without her male counterparts, such as Kate from Robin Hood, or a warrior archetype who’s cold and aloof with little to no feminine traits, like Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. Alice is a strong female lead who is good at what she does, and she has a life outside of her relationship with men while still finding a way to embrace her feminine side through her attire and poise. She is the perfect example of a woman who doesn’t have to be masculine to be powerful.
Within the first couple minutes of the pilot, we’re thrust right into the action. Alice and her colleagues are already chasing Mr. X, and by the halfway point of the pilot, Christopher has already exposed himself as a fraud. The stakes are high from the get-go with FBI agent Jules Dao (Jacky Ido) entering the picture, along with Alice’s career and the FBI’s reputation sitting on the line. If you love sitting on the edge of your seat as the plot unravels, then this is the show for you.
The Catch also gives us the unique opportunity to watch the story unfold through the lens of both the protagonist and the antagonist. We witness Alice coming to terms with Christopher’s fraud while getting a glimpse of Christopher and his group of cons’ devious plans. Exposing us to the two opposing sides leaves us conflicted: we want justice for Alice, but at the same time, we’re anxious that Christopher will get caught. This may work in the series’ favor by adding drama and tension. However, it could also set up the potential for harm by not giving the audience the opportunity to root for Alice the way the series encourages us to as a whole.
This doubt of whose side we should be on is partially due to the complex nature of Christopher’s character. He leaves without a trace and hacks into Alice’s firm’s database, but he doesn’t steal any money. He’s working with his team of fellow con men to bring Alice down, but at the same time, when he’s alone, we sense an ounce of remorse or uncertainty in his actions. He asked Alice to run away with him, and only went through with the plan to leave town with all that she had after she rejected his offer. When Alice almost caught Christopher at the gala, instead of escaping like he could have, he tipped his wine glass her way in greeting, almost as if he was relieved to see her.
Right when we think their relationship was all a lie, Christopher does something to question everything we thought we knew. We see this when he leaves a painting for Alice in their old apartment — a painting that held significance to their relationship — even with all the hardships he put her through in the duration of the episode. Is he an exceptional con artist who even has the audience fooled? Or did his actions and feelings end up being genuine even if they didn’t start off that way? Throughout the pilot, his true intentions are left unknown, making his actions all the more unpredictable and exciting.
This is why it was disappointing when the network showed us a glimpse of what to expect for this upcoming season, including a scene with Christopher claiming to be in love with Alice. This spoiler eliminates all the suspense that accumulated throughout the pilot, and the loss of that ambiguity takes away from a good chunk of the tension that kept the pilot exhilarating.
Another downfall of the preview is that the secondary characters fell flat throughout the whole episode. Valerie Anderson (Rose Rollins), Alice’s best friend who works at the same firm, held little depth other than the fact that she was married and supportive of Alice when it came to her relationship with Christopher. Danny Yoon (Jay Hayden), one of Alice’s colleagues, felt more like a placeholder than a character. He didn’t contribute much to the team, and we were left unaware of his purpose. The same goes for Sophie Novak (Elvy Yost), another of Alice’s colleagues. The only significant contribution she made to the team was getting Alice coffee after Alice found out about Christopher’s lies and when she hacked their firm’s database back from the crooks. These characters need to be fleshed out more throughout this season, whether that’s by showing us Valerie’s home life and giving her storylines independent of Alice and Christopher or by showing us some of Danny’s talents and personality traits that make him a good fit for the team in general. We also need to learn more about Sophie ― where she comes from, how she became a hacker and any other surprising traits she may have.
It may not be the next Scandal or Grey’s Anatomy just yet, but The Catch is a nice mix of an unconventional romance — between the cat and the mouse — and a heart-stopping thriller. This series might be a hit or miss, claiming the hearts of its viewers or completely falling under the radar, but the chase just might be worth it.