Ever since ABC first announced their new direction with “The Catch,” leaning into the comedic and lighter elements of the con-artist caper, we were optimistically on board. We even gave a “I see what you did there” nod of approval to their new Rom-Con marketing peg. Tonight, we were finally rewarded for our patience.
While we were mildly disappointed that the episode’s title, “The Bad Girl,” didn’t refer to Alice’s (Mireille Enos) mysterious past, what we got instead was equally satisfying. It checked off many of the boxes a a good rom-com should: A complicated love triangle, madcap sexual escapades, the plucky odd couple, and even a guest appearance by rom-con veteran Missi Pyle (“The Exes”)
In the episode, Margo (Sonya Walger) learns she’s a mother, we learn Rhys (John Simm) still enthusiastically swings both ways, and Ben (Peter Krause) learns his future with Alice is potentially headed for the pause button. Let’s start with…
The Love Triangle
This time around, the Margo-Ben-Alice love triangle gets familial: We open on Tessa (Philippa Coulthard), the woman in the red hat from last week — who is indeed Margo’s (Sonya Walger) daughter — sitting comfortably tied up in Alice’s office at AVI. Turns out she’s been busy for a 15-year-old: For the past year, she’s been working with one of Margo’s own lieutenants to track down and kill her long lost mother.
This, of course, sets off a chain of soul-searching events that has Margo not just wanting to know her daughter — “It’s a point of my own vanity to know I didn’t birth an idiot,” she affectionately tells Tessa after the AVI team manage to apprehend the lieutenant and shut down Tessa’s plan — but it also sparks in Margo the desire to re-examine her relationship with her own mother, Sybil (Lesley Nicol). Having sprung her out of prison and offered her cash and a ticket to freedom, Margo makes a last minute suggestion: Maybe she should actually stay, and help her deal with Tessa. The Bishop Girls are back together!
So, who is the father? You guessed it — our very own Benji! So far, everyone seems to know this except for Ben (Peter Krause) himself. Alice actually goes back and forth about whether it’s hers to tell him, seeing as how it 100% affects their future together, and in the end she holds her tongue, letting Margo be the one to break the news.
It looks like we may have a family reunion on our hands. Will it be a happy one? Meanwhile…
The Odd Couple
While the ladies are sorting out everybody’s parenting issues, Agent Diaz (Gina Torres) and her informants Ben and Rhys are off solving the Caper of the Week: This time around, capturing Rhys’ sometime-girlfriend Chloe (Missi Pyle), who happens to be one of the world’s most notorious thieves.
In town to steal a high-value vintage car and auction it off to some shady bidders for a profit, Chloe is not only a brilliant con artist but a bad influence on Rhys, persuading him to participate in petty crimes just for the thrill of it, jeopardizing Ben’s deal with the FBI. Ben hatches a plan giving Diaz the chance to take a high profile criminal off the streets (and close a number of big, unsolved cases for the FBI) and keep Rhys out of trouble: They’ll simply set Chloe up in a sting, pretending to help her steal the car she’s after, only to nab her in the act.
The only issue? To gain Chloe’s trust, Rhys informs Ben and Diaz they’ll have to pretend to be a “fun couple” — network television-speak for swingers. That’s right! Rhys and Chloe are pretty wild between the sheets, and aren’t picky about who’s between the sheets with them. Which leads us to…
Yes, this is 2017 and sexual mores are slowly, in fits and starts, loosening. But this is still primetime TV, and certain taboos are still hard to talk about. So it’s a refreshing surprise when it becomes clear just how loose Rhys and Chloe are in the bedroom. Rhys’s bisexuality has never been a secret, but it’s mostly hinted around, with passing glances and knowing smirks. It’s also fun to see Agent Diaz and Ben squirm in their fancy threads at the realization that they might have to get to know each other Biblically to close their con. (Spoiler: They don’t.)
While “The Catch” isn’t ever going to be the biggest hit in the Shondaland #TGIT lineup, and remains precariously at the bottom of the dreaded bubble for now, the writers’ plan to make it the “fun” one is becoming more and more clear. Clever writing, beautiful direction and charismatic people go a long, long way — and we’re hoping this is the season these lovable folks can catch on.
“The Catch” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.