The cases of the week tend to be the weakest parts of The Catch. Most of the cases seem like they’ve already been done before on Scandal. And even if they aren’t exact replicas of other case-of-the-week plots from network television, the twists are so easy to see coming and the characters are so broadly drawn that it’s very difficult to become invested. I can’t tell you much about the case of Joey Singh. Sure, the plot details are there. Joey’s father Vincent hires Alice and Val to investigate, suggesting his ex-wife as a possible suspect. Indeed, the ex-wife Karen orchestrated an elaborate plan to get Joey away from Vincent, who has sole custody over his son because he paid off a bunch of witnesses to testify that Karen was a dangerous and unfit mother in court. I’m about as invested as Alice is, who is distracted as usual by thoughts of Ben and the weird middle-ground where they currently exist: not quite enemies but not really allies, either. The Joey stuff is all pretty ancillary, and it isn’t even anchored by a strong performance as the case of the week was by Samira Wiley in last week’s episode. Sometimes, I think The Catch is so much better suited for cable or streaming, where it wouldn’t necessarily need to have the episodic hook but could focus on the more serialized storytelling, which is undeniably stronger. But the overall frothy tone also makes the show a perfect fit for the TGIT lineup.

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Some of the best scenes of “The Ringer” happen in the cold open. Alice wakes up with Ben, and the two attempt to go about their morning as a normal couple would, getting ready and dressed together. Ben zips up her dress, and it’s indulgently sensual. The Catch never dials down the sex appeal. But there’s strong emotion and mood to the scenes, too. Something changes once Ben and Alice pivot to talking about work. It’s a perfectly normal thing for a normal couple to talk about. Hey honey, what’s in store for you today? But Alice and Ben are far from a normal couple. Their brief minutes of mundane morning activities vanish. Ben asks Alice about work first, and then she flips it on him. Neither one answers the other. “I can’t trust you, so what do we do,” Alice asks. She knows that even though they woke up together, even though he didn’t disappear this time, they can’t really be a normal couple. He confirms this by asking her to run away. But unlike Ben, Alice has very real relationships and feelings anchoring her to her life in Los Angeles. And she also knows that if he’s telling the truth about the people he works for, they won’t be able to simply run away from all that. She calls it off. This isn’t what she wants, and she’s through with him calling the shots. She asks him not to call or text or reach out ever again. They hug, and the hugging turns into fucking. The Catch makes it very clear just how difficult it is for Alice and Ben to sever the ties that bind them—ties that are equally professional, sexual, emotional.

Shortly after Alice and Ben’s “goodbye,” the episode cuts to Val, who is in the midst of her own little ill-advised tryst with Agent Dao. They similarly share a connection in which pleasure trumps professionalism. And even though Val is making it perfectly clear that she’s only in it for the sex, their little subplot does carry more significant weight for the story beyond just being hot. Val’s lying to Alice, just like Alice is still lying to her about Ben. There’s a nice symmetry there, and it will likely affect their relationship dynamic, which is one of the more interesting parts of the show, even though it’s still underexplored.

Maybe every Sophie and Danny scene should be replaced with more intimate scenes between Alice and Val, because Sophie and Danny are still not happening, no matter how hard the writers are trying to make them happen. They fortunately don’t take up much of “The Ringer,” but their scene in which they talk about running away is painfully labored. It’s a combination of the acting and the writing: Elvy Yost and Jay Hayden simply don’t elevate what’s on the page in the same way that their co-stars do. But it also just feels like the writers haven’t fully figured out how to best use either character. They’re merely around because of the usefulness of their skills. But beyond that, they don’t serve much of a story purpose. Part of the reason the cases Alice and Val’s firm takes on really struggle to catch fire is because Alice and Val are the only characters worth caring about in that sector of The Catch’s narrative. The Singh case only becomes interesting once Alice uses it as an excuse to reach out to Ben again. That ends up connecting to the more intricate part of The Catch’s web, because Rhys ends up being a covert third attendee of Ben and Alice’s secret meetings.

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So there are technically two episodic stories at play here. There’s the more traditional case of the week: the aforementioned Singh case, which flops. But there’s also an episodic story for the baddies: a gambling heist that contains all the most exciting twists and fizz of the episode. It’s a frilly Ocean’s setup, but it’s executed quite well. Ben convinces Rhys to let Margot call the shots for the latest job. The mark is Teddy, a rich boy with a gambling addiction who the team lures into their trap by promising the game of the lifetime. The job brings back Reggie as “the ringer,” a notorious gambler who eventually convinces Teddy to get in the game despite the fact that his relationship hangs in the balance. The buildup to the game night is fine, but once the heist is in full motion, it’s exhilarating, especially with Margot in command. Sonya Walger so often steals the show, and even though she isn’t as big of a part of “The Ringer” as she has been in the past couple episodes, she’s still magnetic. Thanks to tiny cameras installed on the game table, Margot calls all the moves of the game, guiding Reggie, Ben, and Rhys to play the way she needs them to in order to rob Teddy without ever letting him realize he’s being robbed. It’s pure fun. The Catch thrives in its most unapologetically soapy moments, and this is certainly one of them.

But there’s a pretty good catch, too. The heist is nearly ruined by Rhys, who gets too drunk, folds against Margot’s orders, and spills his drink on the cameras, frying the feed and taking away her control. Margot and Ben regard Rhys as the wildcard episode, criticizing his methods for being too sloppy and uncalculated. Rhys grabs and threatens his sister, with John Simms bringing genuine terror to Rhys’s wrath. Ultimately though, he outperforms Margot, proving he’s a much more formidable threat than she even realizes. His tequila bottle was filled with water all night, and he faked getting drunk just to ensure that Margot would keep Teddy occupied all night by the game. Then he jumped right into the real job: becoming a co-owner of the Weatherby hotel chain.

By moving into her territory of North America, Rhys has declared war on his sister. The Kensington family is quickly becoming the most compelling and thrilling part of the show. Even Alice has Dao and Val convinced that that’s where all their attention should be focused. The lines between her world and Ben’s world are becoming even more blurred, especially with the episode’s final, most shocking twist: Margot is posing as her new therapist. The Catch is undoubtedly playing with a lot of soap conventions, but it’s still grounded in some really great relationship writing when it comes to Alice and Ben and Rhys and Margot. It’s a tangled web, and the strongest threads are the ones supported by emotional stakes. That’s what’s still missing from Val and Alice’s non-Ben investigations.

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Stray observations

  • I’m more interested in Sophie’s seemingly intimate knowledge of the black dot campaign and her quick confession that she’s on antidepressants than anything that she says in the one-on-one scene with Danny.
  • Did we really need to see an actual flashback to Alice telling Ben not to call or text her when we literally just saw that scene? (No, we did not.)
  • The writers are tabling the issue of Felicity’s death for now by having Rhys tell the others that she’s just on her way to India.
  • Dao is super cute in that first scene with Val. I know he’s not to be trusted, but I’m loving them together.

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