The Catch changed the rules of its own game tonight. The limitations to its premise seemed evident from the start, but “The Princess And The I.P.”—an unfortunate pun of an episode title as it may be—moves the narrative in a new direction. As it turns out, the show’s title doesn’t really seem to refer to an actual catch. Alice has her chance to catch Ben, and she doesn’t. That’s a damn good thing, because there wouldn’t really be a show if she had, would there? But a show about a woman continually trying but continually failing to catch her con-man ex wouldn’t really last either. The title, instead, refers more to its second meaning. Alice is pursuing her con-man ex but, there’s a catch. He still loves her. He says so tonight in the episode’s final, tense scene. She doesn’t explicitly say she loves him, too, but she unbuttons her blouse to reveal the wire tiped to her bra, which sends a pretty clear message.

It’s not exactly clear how things will proceed from here, but it looks like Alice and Ben will be both working against and with each other. Needless to say, it’s complicated. But with Ben seemingly wanting to break free from his con family and Alice wanting to bring that con family down, the two have compatible goals. Their personal relationship is obviously complicated, so they’re professional one is too. Neither partners nor enemies anymore, they have a twisted dynamic that could prove to be a lot of fun, especially as the chemistry between them heats up even more. They’re somewhat in this together now, and the blurrier the lines get, the more seductive The Catch becomes. I was wrong in my initial assumption that romance would bring The Catch crashing down. It makes things more complicated, and that rollercoaster keeps the story moving forward. At this point, Alice seems to be hovering somewhere between still wanting revenge and also wanting to believe that what she had with Ben was real and that her instincts weren’t totally off. As I wrote last week, the fact that Ben really fell for her makes it more understandable—and believable—that she missed the signs that he was playing her. I think it’s okay, for now, that Alice doesn’t know exactly how to feel. It leads to exciting spur-of-the-moment decisions like when she helps him escape Agent Dao. Ben knows he loves her, but he’s still figuring it out as he goes, too, unsure how to navigate the mess he has made.

“The Princess And The I.P.” is the first episode of the series that really sticks the landing on all of its twists, starting with the first one that happens just 18 minutes in, when Zara introduces Ben to the leader of a charity she wants to invest in and it turns out to be Alice. Regina King directed the episode, and she’s particularly great at framing the big reveals. We finally get to see Alice catch Ben off guard instead of the other way around, and boy oh boy does it look and feel good. Alice and Ben start their verbal tango, delicately dancing around each other as they try to figure out their next moves while anticipating each other’s. All the while, Zara blabbers on about how a woman broke Ben’s heart. “She broke his heart?” Alice asks, eyebrow raised. Mireille Enos and Peter Krause are so captivating in these scenes slathered with tension and unspoken feelings. They’re so drawn to each other that it’s hard not to be drawn to them. They have that fight-or-fuck dynamic that makes every glance, every exchanged word between the two incendiary. They’re each others’ love interests and each others’ villains.

The episode also manages to surprise with its case of the week, which also provides plenty of twists for King to detonate. A tech company hires Alice and Val to locate Gwen, a developer who goes missing along with her laptop containing the specs to a potential weapon that can see through buildings and detect people from miles away. The team finds Gwen dead on her favorite hiking trail, but when they track down the laptop, someone tries to steal it back…and the someone is Gwen. She faked her own death and explains that the man who hired Alice and Val is the real bad guy and that she didn’t want him to have his hands on her creation. The reveal that Gwen is still alive is done quite well, although it isn’t that hard to see the client twist coming. When a leader of a huge tech company shows up on a crime-thriller like The Catch, it’s pretty safe to wager they’re going to turn out to be evil. But The Catch takes the twist one step further. It isn’t just Gwen’s boss Phillip who wants to sell her invention to terrorists; her best friend Marie is in on it, too.

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It’s a brutal betrayal—one that echoes a recurring theme on The Catch. At first, I worried this show was building a world where smart women are constantly duped by charming men. We’ve seen it happen now to Alice, Zara, and the journalist who marries a murderer in the case-of-the-week plot in “The Real Killer.” Shondaland in general seems to have an obsession with mighty women whose only downfall is a handsome man. But The Catch casts a much larger net, suggesting that deception comes in many forms. Gwen isn’t played by a lover; she’s played by her best friend. Even Alice, to an extent, is betraying her best friend Val by not telling her the truth about how she has been chasing after Ben on the side. Val is still being underused on the show, but “The Princess And The I.P.” hints that things could blow up soon when it comes to her relationship with Alice. On The Catch, people hurt the ones they love almost as if it were inevitable.

But the writers still struggle with character development, especially when it comes to some of the smaller players. “The Princess And The I.P.” really pushes a Sophie/Danny storyline that doesn’t have a single compelling moment for the entire episode. Sophie is this badass lawyer-hacker, but she’s trapped in a plotline about an insecure guy with an obvious crush. Danny spends the entire episode flexing and ultimately losing out to the sweet, smart, and sexy security guard. Sophie’s obliviousness to his flirtations is almost painful to watch. By giving them their own storyline outside of just the case they’re working on, the writers were probably attempting to make Sophie and Danny more interesting characters, but it backfires. They’re even more boring than they were before now that they’re locked into this lifeless and unimaginative coworker dynamic.

Stray observations

  • We learn in a flashback that Ben was giving Alice tips on how to catch him back when they were together. These two actually bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “it’s complicated.”
  • Alice still doesn’t know Agent Dao bugged her home.
  • I’m not exactly sure what’s going on between Margot and Felicity, the collector who comes to kill her and Ben but ends up sleeping with her instead. But I am extremely here for it, especially because Shivani Ghai and Sonya Walger have insane chemistry even in the brief moments they share leading up to their sex scene. Walger in general is fantastic in this episode. Margot still isn’t a very well developed character, but Walger makes up for it by just crushing the character’s suave and sardonic vibe.
  • One of the funniest moments of the episode is when Danny insists that he can handle terrorists and Alice and Val smile and laugh at him like he is a child who just said something adorable.

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