Much like Mireille Enos’ character Alice Vaughan, I feel duped. I was promised a twisty game of cat and mouse, but all I saw this week was the mouse gaping at the cat across the street and then slinking away to seduce a different cat for money. Is this how the game goes, really? I have no idea how animals work.
In episode 2 of The Catch, Ben (Peter Krause) must ditch his Christopher Hall identity — that’s the guy who stole $5 million from Alice’s clients and then $1.4 from her, but Ben totally has mixed feelings about him, for the record — and become a hollow silo of sexiness once again under the control of his boss/lover Margot (Sonya Walger). The premiere suggested these two must have one hell of an open relationship, and that they’re both fine with that; it’s how they work so well together conning millions form marks around the globe. But now that they’re sharing a bathroom again, the truth comes out: They’ve been together together in real life for 15 years. What?! It’s like we barely know him! Ah, right. That is exactly the case. Margot gently shaves Ben’s face as she reveals how jealous she “was” (read: is) of his “real” relationship with Alice. What is real anymore? Back away with the razor! Margot and Reggie (their swarthy third man) want Ben to hop on a plane to Shanghai so he won’t be a lovelorn liability to their crazy con-artist trio anymore. Alice’s team knows Ben’s face, and besides, the three have a new con: swindling the guardian of a Middle Eastern heiress named Princess Zara. She is decidedly not shopping at everyone’s favorite worldwide fast-fashion retailer, because she just spent $6 million in L.A. on shoes alone. Anyway, Margot and Reggie are all about Zara now, so Ben goes to spy on Alice, because he loves her and desperately wants his most recent fake life to become his real life again — like full-time 24/7 book-reading, web-browsing, takeout-ordering reality. Instead, it seems he'll have to stick to the same old high-stakes reality in which he’s still a conny weirdo and she’ll never be wrapped up in his beefy arm-slabs again. Ben spots that fussy Interpol officer Jules Dao chatting Alice up and realizes he can’t go to the airport, because Jules Dao would surely have other Interpol guys there looking for him. Ben confesses to Reggie that he still loves Alice, and Reggie’s like bitch, please, anything but that. Can’t Ben pretend he has a drug problem instead? Basically, if he tells Margot he loves Alice, “There’ll be no Alice.”
Alice is hardly there herself. She’s off her game, threatening to tattle on Jules Dao to his supervisor for following her all day (as if Interpol would care?) and flipping through photos of her smiling and Ben looking away on her desktop (Sad City). If this is supposed to be a big emotional moment, it’s lost on me, because all I can focus on is the chic modern decor of Alice’s office, the fact that she doesn’t seem to do much to warrant such expansive corporate digs, and her wardrobe (an elegant set of short, structured dresses also probably not from Zara). There’s a dreadful, rich-family murder case of the week, which eventually, despite her minor photo-browsing setback, ace P.I. Alice ends up solving because of tar stains on someone’s shoes. Turns out the very same ex male model who hired Anderson/Vaughan to find out who killed his rich 40-years-older wife…killed her himself. Huh? To be fair, Alice saw that one coming. So why couldn’t she tell that her fiancé was a fraud? Well, Ben might not be a total fraud. After all, he did leave that $12 million painting of a despondent lady cradling a hidden-faced man in Alice's bedroom so that she’d have something nice to remember him by. Is he setting her up again? Or maybe, just maybe, was Alice’s original hunch about him correct and he really did love her from the start? Alice doesn’t know what to think, so she asks Sophie, the attorney who’s also a magical hacker, to track down the painting’s forger. An identical copy is hanging in the museum, so one of them has to be worthless. In just one episode, Sophie’s established herself as Alice’s secret accomplice in the office and in life. There’s no distinction in Shondaland (or, let’s be honest, in reality at this point). Anyway, Sophie finds the forger, and in the process she discovers that Ben must have copped “Christopher Hall” from an obituary in The New York Trib. This is the classiest of the fake TV newspapers; only the best for sexy silo Ben. So — and I guess here’s when the cat yawns and stretches and thinks, “Fine, yeah, I suppose I’ll go after this mouse now with this shot in the dark” — Alice calls the Trib and plants an obit she thinks could motivate Ben to become a brand-new man again. Michael Peter Thorne. And he takes the bait! During breakfast at Princess Zara’s hotel, Ben sniffs out a lonely soul with no survivors from the classy paper right under his nose and tells his new flirt-slash-“business” interest that his name is Michael Thorne. Are we in for a love rhombus now, and will anyone actually shop the Zara sales? Stay tuned.