‘The Catch’ Series Premiere Review: Mr. X Marks the Spot

The Catch 7

“The Catch” is the latest from the uber-successful executive producer Shonda Rimes, of the Thursday night juggernauts “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” fame. Will the fourth time be the charm for Rimes to work her magic on Thursdays yet again? Too soon to say, but if the pilot of this show is any indication, she might just be onto something again.

Sort of a combination between the classic Hitchcock thriller “To Catch a Thief” and Spielberg’s true-life tale “Catch Me If You Can”- hence the title, no doubt- “The Catch” splits the difference by being both about the romance and the thrill of the heist, and how both can give the same rush, as can catching the people behind it.

In a surprising turn, “The Killing- vet Mireille Enos goes in the polar opposite direction from her riveting-if-dour turn in that show to the bright, shiny, colorful persona she plays here as Alice, the ringleader of a highly successful private investigation firm, Anderson Investigations. Alice seemingly has it all: a booming business, million-dollar clients, the swanky apartment and the dapper fiancee. In under twenty-four hours, she’ll have nearly lost it all.

The reason being the shadowy Mr. X, played by Peter Krause, of “Six Feet Under” and “Dirty Sexy Money” fame. Responsible for some $5 million in heists from her clients, Mr. X is by far Alice’s biggest priority. He also just so happens to be her fiancé. Awkward!

The Catch 3

Mr. X always announces his heists ahead of time with a rejoinder of “Are you ready to play a game?” signaling that the game is once again afoot. Springing into action, Alice’s team tails a known associate of Mr. X that they suspect he is about to do a dead drop with. Mr. X easily loses one of them, after which the rest split up and try to cover as much ground as possible.

As a kid gives the associate a briefcase, Alice springs forward…only to discover that the exchange has already happened right under their noses and the case was a misdirection. As Mr. X, aka Alice’s own fiancee, walks right by her, so does the opportunity to nab their most wanted suspect. Whoops!

It’s after this that we meet Christopher Hall, Alice’s man in question. Alice is going in half on a new place with him, to the tune of some $1.5 million. Guess who lays down the money first? Yep, despite Hall’s insistence that he can cover the whole thing himself, Alice demands, as a modern woman, that she can pull her own weight, thank you very much. Needless to say, this will come back to bite her shortly thereafter.

Hall meets with the leader of his own team, the shady Margo (Sonya Walger, “Lost”), who informs him that he needs to break it off with Alice as they are cutting town and running ASAP. Team partner Reggie (Alimi Ballard, “Num3ers”) will help cover Hall’s tracks, taking care of all his DNA and fingerprints and the like, while all he has to do is break the news to Alice- or not, if he so chooses.

The Catch 12

Catching Alice in her wedding dress- and we all know what THAT means before a wedding- he hooks up with her one last time. The morning after, in a moment of weakness, Hall asks her if she wants to run away then and there and elope, never mind the big splashy wedding. The only catch- they have to go now. Alice says she will…after they catch Mr. X, who has a big scheme planned soon. Little does she know how soon that is.

When she arrives at work, her BFF and co-worker Val (Rose Rollins, “Bosch”) balks at her working when she finds out about the proposal of elopement and tells her to go for it, telling her Mr. X can wait. Alice concurs and goes home, giddy, until she arrives to find all of Hall’s stuff gone. She calls him, only to find his line is disconnected, then goes to his office, only to find there is no office anymore.

As a cherry on top, Alice’s check has cleared and her money gone, basically cleaning her out. Val checks his web presence, which has also vanished, and the they check the various pictures she has of him, only to discover that he’s obscured in every last one of them, and clearly on purpose.

Alice flashes back to when she met Hall. He was a potential client, referred to them by another one, but he doesn’t hire them, ostensibly because he is instantly attracted to Alice. When she tracks him down, he admits as much and a love affair begins. For this reason, her team never vetted him- after all, he was never a client.

The Catch 2

Indeed, the more she reflects on their relationship, the more she realizes that he conned her into coming to him every time. Oh, he gave her lots of things and never asked for anything in return, but every step of the way, he was leading her on to him, down to hoodwinking her into proposing marriage to him.

The reason being, his access to Alice was also access to their clients. A closer look at their records reveals that Alice’s business has been hacked and the security protocols changed altogether. Mr. X has all the information he could ever need on all of her clients, down to their personal codes for the most private of information.

However, he hasn’t taken advantage of that yet. Why? Rather than going to the authorities, essentially deep-sixing her business in the process, once word got out what had happened, she decides to wait it out and see what Mr. X’s next move will be, even at the risk to her clients. After all, it can’t get any worse, and know they at least know who he is, right?

The next day, Alice gets a visit from a representative of the FBI, Jules Dao (Jacky Ido, “Taxi Brooklyn”), who, it turns out, is also looking for Mr. X, too. Having gotten wind that Mr. X has already stolen some $5 million from her clients, Dao suggests they work together, but Alice waves him off, saying that she can’t possibly betray her clients’ personal info that way- knowing full well that he would find out it already had been compromised.

The Catch 10

Asking her team to wait until the end of the day, Alice frantically searches her place for any sign of Mr. X, to no avail. She goes to break into his car, and Dao catches her in the act and asks her if she’s ready to talk now, suspecting that there is more of a connection between the two than she let on before. She once again refuses his help, storming off.

Then Alice remembers Seth Hamilton, the man Hall supposedly said recommended him to her Investigations company. Realizing that he might have telegraphed all along who his real target was, Alice knows Mr. X has all the info he needs to steal from Hamilton, who has an invention he’s about to sell for millions that has the capability of turning salt water into drinkable water, which would easily solve all of the world’s drought problems overnight.

Sure enough, Mr. X is already there, meeting with Hamilton under a false name as a party interested in buying the rights to his invention. After demonstrating the product in action, Hamilton goes to show him the specs on how it’s done when he’s called away, but Mr. X uses the moment to palm the flash drive with said info on it, which he then passes off to Reggie, who is posing as a waiter.

Alice arrives and Mr. X catches sight of her and smiles- just before he gives Reggie a nod and the lights go out, facilitating his escape. Mr. X and Reggie get away clean, but Reggie warns him that if Margo finds out how close Alice came to catching them, she’ll likely kill him. We also discover Mr. X’s real name is Ben, not Christopher Hall at all, which I suppose was to be expected.

The Catch 8

However, we soon find out that Alice conned Ben as well. Having contacted Hamilton as soon as she made the connection, she had him switch out the flash drive for another one that siphons their own money. Needless to say, Margo is livid and tells Ben he better fix it sooner than later. Making matters worse, the two are sleeping together as well.

We end with Alice arriving home, only to find a painting that she stopped the heist of earlier in the episode is on her wall, having obviously been put there by Ben. Alice is taken aback, but undeterred. And so it begins, and so it ends.

So, “The Catch” is about as deep as the shallow end of a wading pool, but it is a lot of fun, and the two main stars have an undeniable chemistry. It’s fun to see Enos play a glam character that’s the polar opposite of her “Killing” character, yet still firmly within the general wheelhouse.

Meanwhile, Krause somehow manages to walk a fine line between charming and duplicitous without fully crossing over into evil. While what Mr. X is doing is obviously wrong, you get the sense that he genuinely cares for Alice, which is why he offers her an out before it’s too late. That sliver of kindness is probably going to be his Achilles’ Heel that ends up getting him caught, but it’s also what makes the show interesting.

The Catch 5

After all, we know that Mr. X is romantically involved with Margo, so the fact that he fell for his “mark” Alice would seem to indicate that he wants out of the racket he’s in, and for good. However, the very fact that Margo is obviously in love with him means that getting out won’t be easy, and from what Reggie says, Margo doesn’t take failure or betrayal lightly.

All of this should make for compelling breezy drama in the short term, but I do wonder how the show will sustain itself over time. After all, are we just going to have a series of near misses from here to the end of the show? That could get old quick, to be sure. Hopefully, the show has a few more tricks up its sleeves than we realize, which I imagine is the case if Rimes’ other show “How to Get Away With Murder” is any indication. We shall see.

Until then, “The Catch” is just watchable enough and the core cast just compelling and likable enough to sustain itself for at least a season. It’s flashy, quick-moving and I dug the whole split-screen gambit, especially in the grabber of an opening sequence. Beyond that, we’ll just have to wait and see if the show has legs or if it’s more of the one-and-done variety. In the short term, though, I’m in.

The Catch 6

What did you think of “The Catch”? Did you like the cast? How about the main characters? Do you think the set-up can be prolonged in such a way that it won’t get old? Do you foresee it running more than one season? What direction would you like to see it head in from here? Sound off on this and more down below, and see you for a check-in later on in the season!