“The Larágon Gambit” opens with one of those playful phone conversations between Alice and Christopher—actually, let’s call him Ben now—that have become some of the best moments on The Catch. I doubt the show will be able to keep these phone calls as fun as they are for much longer, but there’s just something about Mireille Enos and Peter Krause’s energy in those scenes that is really quite captivating. Over time, The Catch is selling me more and more on the romance, which is exactly what it should be doing. There are still several factors holding the show back from its true potential, especially when it comes to the dialogue, which can still be quite stupid in a way that distracts from the story.
One thing The Catch definitely has going for it right now is that it isn’t overloading the season with too much story. There’s a tendency for primetime soaps that rely on thrills and twists to get a little too overstuffed, as is the case for both Empire and Scandal right now. How To Get Away With Murder has struggled in the past with that as well. Don’t get me wrong: Things on The Catch are undoubtedly complicated. Look no further than the scene leading up to Alice and Ben’s eventual hookup—the best scene of the episode—to see exactly how it’s complicated. Ben and Alice flirt and fight, and Enos and Krause give such great performances that it all feels very natural. Alice headbutts him and immediately starts apologizing. Both are still very clearly unsure of how to proceed. So they have sex about it.
But even with the double-crossing and the uncertainty about who to trust, The Catch manages to keep the story quite simple, for better or worse. Sometimes that makes the show a little too predictable. “The Larágon Gambit” doesn’t really land its biggest twists as well as the dramatic editing suggests it does. Instead, the real surprises are in the smaller, more character-driven moments, which I’ve been saying the show needs more of. Right now, those more nuanced moments are really being commanded by the actors. Enos is particularly great in the scene where she finally comes clean to Val. Once Val started talking about how she and Alice never lie to each other in last week’s episode, it became very clear that Val would soon discover Alice has been lying to her about Ben. She does so early on in “The Larágon Gambit,” and it leads to a couple compelling scenes between the two characters, whose dynamic has been one of the more interesting and yet under-explored parts of the show since the pilot. The way Enos’s voice breaks slightly as she says “I was going to tell you” is really quite good. Both women fight tears in that scene, but the lie isn’t enough to threaten their friendship. Ultimately, they both want what’s best for one another. And Val immediately pivots from being hurt that she lied to wanting to help Alice get the answers she needs. Rose Rollins is also fantastic later on, when Val goes from flirty to threatening with Dao over bourbon in a matter of seconds. I just finished covering season three of Broad City, and I wrote in my review of the finale about how downright delightful it is to see two female friends who love each other unconditionally on television. For as much conflict as Alice has in her life right now, none of it is getting in the way of her relationship with Val, which is easily the healthiest and best developed relationship on the show right now. Alice and Val might just be an alternate-universe version of Abbi and Ilana.
The one part of the story that could easily get too complicated is this whole Syndicate madness. For now, Ben and Margot’s faceless “benefactor” and the company they used to work for isn’t a weak spot for the show. In fact, if I’m being honest, Ben and Margot’s escapades in this episode were really the most fun parts. But shadow organizations almost always become too big for a show to handle. It happened to Buffy with the Initiative. It happened to Scandal with B613. And there are already some red flags that The Syndicate will become a similarly omnipotent and convoluted force on The Catch. But we’re not quite there yet, and maybe I’m being overly wary because of just how much I hate when shows try to be interesting and mysterious by introducing some far-reaching shadow organization without really backing it up with actual reasons to be invested.
In other words, a shadow organization is only as interesting as its characters are. So time will tell who this benefactor turns out to be. The Syndicate’s hit woman Felicity gets more play in tonight’s episode, but she still isn’t a very well developed character, seeming like she could easily fit in in pretty much any summer spy movie. Well, the one major exception to that is her queerness. I won’t got so far as to say its a subversive portrayal—at least, not yet—but it is pretty exciting that the beautiful, dangerous woman sleeps with the…other bad woman. And both characters seem to be genuinely getting pleasure out of it, so the scenes aren’t coming off as male-gazey to me. I know Felicity and Margot are two horrible people who are using each other, but I’m getting wrapped up in their flirtations. I clapped along with everyone else on screen after that dance they shared. The Catch has a pretty cynical view of relationships and romance, but it’s quite good at developing sexual tension.
Margot is actually sneaking up on me as one of my favorite characters on the show. As with Rollins and Enos, Sonya Walger is really just lifting the character to a new level with her performance. Margot owns all the funniest moments of the episode, and her dry, dark humor is irresistible. Walger is playful and alluring in her performance, and she brings some much needed comedy to the show. But there’s more there, too. She looks truly pissed when Felicity reveals the benefactor has a new job for them. We’re bound to learn more about her departure from The Syndicate, and I hope that’s not when things start to spiral down the rabbit hole, but I’m already yearning to know more about Margot. She’s already an infinitely more compelling character than Danny and Sophie combined. Sorry, kiddos!
The case of the week is a snoozer, but it’s definitely laying the building blocks for something bigger and badder down the road by giving Val and Alice a new, powerful enemy. Fortunately, the episode doesn’t spend too much time in that particular plotline, instead focusing on Ben and Margot’s cash flow issues and on the ongoing game between Alice and Ben. Even though they’ve saved each other’s asses multiple times now, Alice and Ben are still playing each other, still constantly changing the rules of the game they’re playing. Alice and Ben sleep together, but Alice isn’t satisfied with the answers he has given her, still doesn’t quite trust him. So she steals the bracelet he spent all episode trying to get his hands on—his ticket out from under the thumb of the benefactor. Ben thinks he’s still a few steps ahead of Alice, figuring out that Dao bugged her before she does. But she’s just as good as he is. The game keeps changing, but it stays entertaining because of how equally matched they are.
- After tonight, it seems The Catch has finally established its drink of choice: bourbon. Now, every Shondaland show officially has its own go-to beverage. Grey’s Anatomy has tequila; Scandal has red wine; How To Get Away With Murder has vodka. I like all of those drinks, but The Catch wins in my book for choosing bourbon.
- On that note: Alice, while bringing apology coffee to Val: “I brought apology coffee, but only because it’s too early for bourbon.”
- Sophie doesn’t understand how Val stole Alice’s phone from her pocket. She was wearing tight pants! “I’m that good,” Val tells her. I swear I saw a flicker of fear in Sophie’s eyes, and I’m very here for it.
- “I think I hate that man.” - Alice, to Val, about Tony Ellis, but I like to imagine her saying it about every man in her life
- “Where’s the honor among thieves?” Felicity asks. “Historically, there isn’t any,” Margot replies. Also, when Felicity says she’s a killer and not a thief, Margot snaps back: “well, nobody’s perfect.” I love Margot.