Tonight’s episode of Moonlight felt like a season finale. Or at least it would have if they hadn’t revealed the final 2 minutes of the show in the first two minutes of the show – a device that this series has tried twice now and tonight didn’t work for me. It all started with Beth banging on Mick’s door and announcing that she has proof that Morgan is Coraline. When Mick responds that he knows, she spins around in shock. Shock which grows when Morgan/Coraline comes down the stairs wearing only one of Mick’s shirts. Beth looks at him and painfully asks "How could you?" as he replies with with predictable "It’s not what it looks like!". Beth obviously doesn’t care what it is, as she runs at the other woman, driving a stake into her chest.
Then we go back in time to the start of this whole mess.
Beth is watching Morgan’s apartment and has called Mick to join her. When he questions how healthy it is for her to be stalking the woman he thought was his ex wife, I have to wonder why he doesn’t ask about the more glaring issue – she keeps asking him about the sex he used to have with his ex-wife. Mick tries to be helpful and tells Beth Coraline was a courtesan in France 300 hundred years ago, and Morgan isn’t her. Beth remains unconvinced and her fear that the woman who ruined her childhood is back is enough to convince Mick to help her find a sense of security with her.
Beth asks him to take Morgan with him on an investigation, and Mick agrees. He’s been hired by a Mr. Hagins to follow his trophy wife, Tina, who has been distant. He wants to be reassured of her fidelity, or notified if she has none. He refers to his wife both as an employee and as his property, so he’s not a sympathetic character. When he gives Mick $25,000 up front with another $25,000 to be paid once he completes his surveillance and delivers the proof, he seems unrealistic as well. $50,000? I suppose he could be paying for extreme secrecy, but it still seems a stretch. Then again, I don’t live in LA, maybe that’s the going rate for dirty pictures of your spouse bumping uglies with someone else.
Mick calls Morgan to meet him at a restaurant, where she orders a hefty meal and he claims a new diet. He apologizes for what happened the last time they were together, what with the whole vamp out, ripping clothes, throwing her to the ground and accusing her of trying to kill him thing, admitting that she looks just like his ex. She forgives him once he tells her he’ll pay her $10,000 to take some pictures with him – which makes me cackle, since it’s means he’s keeping $40,000. Still, $10,000 for a couple day’s work is nothing to sneeze at and she agrees to take the job before moving on to ask him about his ex. He’ll only tell her that it was a very complicated relationship, which is almost more intriguing than if he’d actually told her all the sordid details.
Meanwhile, Beth is digging into Coraline’s background. 300 years back, where she finds a reference to courtesans being branded with the fleur de lis. Which is not only historically inaccurate but also doesn’t make sense, since a brand looks nothing like a tattoo. However the sequence is set to Nine Inch Nail’s Mr. Self Destruct, so they win some cool points. Elsewhere, Mick and Morgan are watching Tina, who loiters at a newstand until a man approaches and they begin walking together. In the least subtle way possible, Mick runs and jumps around people and hedges, holding a foot long microphone, while Morgan points a telephoto lens at them. Somehow they remain mostly unnoticed, except for a moment which Tina writes off to paranoia on her part. Mick’s microphone doesn’t pick up a clear conversation, but his ears hear them speak of their fear that if her husband finds out, he’ll kill her. Morgan gets something even even better, or worse depending on your disposition: pictures of Mrs.Hagins kissing Mr. Not-Hagins. Back at Mick’s apartment, he can’t isolate their conversation on his recording, but he is positive what he heard. Morgan tries to brush it off as a figure of speech – "like, I would kill for a hamburger" – but Mick remains stedfast in his belief that Mr. Hagins is just evil enough to be plotting murder. Morgan offers to take the audio clip to the sound guys from Buzz Wire to see if they can work with it.
Later, Beth has broken into Morgan’s loft and is snooping around, while Mick has arrived at Mr. Hagins office. And, because he is a jerk, Mr. Hagins refuses to see Mick, telling his assistant to give him the remaining $25,000 after he hands over the surveillance materials. Mick refuses to hand them over to anyone other then Mr. Hagins himself and leaves. He meets up with Morgan in the lobby and tells her how his non-meeting with Hagins went as they get on the elevator. A few floors later, Mr. Not-Hagins gets on. Another floor and they are joined by Mrs. Hagins. Mick hides by facing Morgan, but when they all get off the elevator, he listens to them agree to meet at the Biltmore Hotel in an hour. He passes the info on to Morgan, who enthuses a desire to get a better camera from her loft. The loft where Beth is currently drooling over her Manolos. Mick texts Beth that they are on their way, but not with enough time for Beth to do anything but turn the lights back off and hide in Morgan’s bedroom. Within seconds Mick has sniffed Beth out while Morgan is upstairs getting the camera and he narrowly blocks Morgan from going into her bedroom by telling her they have to get going.
In a room with windows facing Tina and her lover’s hotel room, Mick and Morgan keep watch. She tells him that she envies his hearing, adding that she used to date musicians and they are deaf as doornails. Mick’s questioning glance is cut short when Beth calls. He tries telling her that he can’t exactly talk to her at the moment, but she grows increasingly more jealous and borderline hysterical as Morgan exclaims unhelpful things in the background, such as: "The clothes are hitting the floor!", "This is hot!". Beth asks what he is working on and whose clothes are hitting what floor, but Mick can tell her nothing and the phone call ends awkwardly. Even more awkward is how Beth finds a photo of Mick from 1952 in Morgan’s loft just as Mick and Morgan lean in to kiss while they listen to the Mrs. Hagins and Mr. Not-Hagins make love. The awkward scale is topped when their listening device allows them to hear Mrs. Hagins ask her lover "What would your father think of that?" and him reply "You’re his wife, what do you think?" Um. Ew? Mick and Morgan agree it’s just kinky enough to be a good motive for murder.
All three of our characters converge at Buzz Wire, where Morgan remains enthusiastic about working with Mick and suggests they get Beth Involved and make it a threesome. I don’t think they allow things like that on network television. Beth claims she is doing an investigation of her own with an obvious air of jealousy, before stalking off. Mick joins Morgan at her desk and tries to broach the subject of the kiss. Morgan tells him that it didn’t mean anything, adding "unless you want it to". He nervously stammers out a no, and she replies "I get it, you don’t want me to tell Beth. You’ve got it bad for her", and finishing off with a dig about Beth not being his type. He completely takes the bait and asks what his type is and she replies that obviously it’s her, since she is so much like his ex-wife. Before he can point out that would be the ex-wife that things ended very badly with, his phone rings. Mr. Hagins – uh, senior – is ready to meet. Of course, Mick doesn’t want to give him anything, but he agrees.
Speaking of meeting, Beth has one of her own. With Josef. He describes her arrival as unexpected, and when she tells him she wants to talk about Mick and Coraline, he dismisses his staff with a snap of his fingers. He tells her that Coraline is dead, Morgan is human, and that her belief that Coraline became human is ludicrous, even after she shows him the photo she found at Morgan’s home. But he admits that their relationship was like a drug addiction for Mick, who was only strong enough to break free of her when Beth was in danger as a child. Meanwhile, Mick has been stood up by Hagins and had all the surveillance materials stolen form his office. Figuring that Mr. Hagins now knows about his wife’s relationship with his son (ew!), he decides to try to get to Junior first and warn him. While all this is happening, Morgan has gotten the cleaned up audio file back and it reveals that the stepmother and son were not worried about her husband killing her … they were planning to kill him.
The episode continues to jump between the three, taking us back to Beth, who has arrived at Coraline’s former "party house" and broken in to find a desk covered in photos of her and Mick. When she goes downstairs and finds the overtly pink room Coraline had kept her in, her memory comes flooding back and she grabs a small chair, breaking off a rung – the stake we saw her wield at the top of the episode. We jump back to Mick, who has arrived at Mr. Hagins Jr.’s house and told him that his father hired him to follow Tina. He doesn’t get to say much else because he notices all his surveillance materials on the coffee table. And then he gets shot in the back of the head by Tina. Tina and Junior figure they have to kill his dad tonight.
The next scene we see is Morgan arriving at Junior’s house and calling Mick. When the bushes start ringing, she goes in for a closer look and finds Mick buried under dead leaves. He bolts upright and gasps, denying a need to go to the hospital in favor of finding Mr. Hagins Sr.
They get to him just in time, as he crosses the street outside his office with his son. Mick knocks the son out with a solid punch to the jaw and announces to the father that his wife was sleeping with his son and they were planning on killing him and taking over his company. Not far away Tina guns her car and heads right for them, swerving as her husband jumps out of the way. Swerving towards Morgan, who Mick runs to, wraps his arms around and jumps straight up. When she asks him what just happened, he cracks "And they said Jordan had air", and she’s plays off like she’s too traumatized to question more. They agree to give the surveillance materials to the police tomorrow and Mick takes Morgan to his place to get cleaned up.
As she showers, he can’t resist taking a peek. When she sees him, she asks if he sees something he wants, and he steps into the shower with her, kissing her again before noticing her tattoo. When he calls her Coraline, she asks "Are you really surprised?", ticking off the various hints she’d recently dropped. He asks her how she became human and she grins, saying she thought that would get his attention, but before she can answer him – Beth is banging on the door. We watch the opening of the show all over again, with Beth stabbing Coraline with the stake, only this time we get a grand finale to the scene: Mick tells Beth that Coraline is human, that she found a cure. He doesn’t have to add that she’s also bleeding to death in his arms.
I hope you can forgive my ridiculously long review, but honestly this episode was so packed that I was startled. It had a pretty weak opening, but ended strong enough for it to seem like the sort of cliffhanger we expect at the end of a season. I suspect this is because Moonlight was still fighting for a permanent status before the writer’s strike and with this being the 9th episode, they were hitting crucial points where their stories need to be strong enough to generate the kind of audience that will secure them a second season. Sadly, it seems we will only get 2 more episodes this season, so I hope it is enough time for them to tell us how Coraline managed her transformation and that the ratings are high enough to catch notice despite the writer’s strike and get them to order us up a second season. Do you guys agree?