In the first season of “The Catch,” Alice Vaughan (Mireille Enos) gets taken for all she’s worth by Ben Jones (Peter Krause). Her season-long hunt for Ben also leads her to Margot Bishop (Sonya Walger), his boss and sometime lover, who’s pulling the strings.

But over the course of the season, Alice got the upper hand on Ben and Margot — and we got to know all three of them a lot better — so Season 2 offers a very new dynamic: Margot is somewhat on her own in the Kensington Firm, a chance to start over that also brings with it new dangers, while — having teamed up together on a number of missions now — there’s no telling what’s in store for Ben and Alice.

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This new season’s mission is, in part, to widen the focus and give more attention to characters like Margot, an opportunity Sonya Walger couldn’t wait to tell us all about when we spoke by phone last week. Ever the femme fatale, she was plenty coy about spoilers — but we got a little taste of how Margot might end up back on top.


Where do we pick up with Margot in Season 2?

Well, we pick up with Margot having, at the end of last season, dispensed with her mother and her brother — so she’s now running the Kensington Firm, which comes with its own host of problems. She’s almost immediately under attack, which means she has to be pretty resourceful in finding a new, ally because she’s alienated everyone in her family. So she goes to a pretty unlikely place for help.

How long until we see who she turns to?

That’s the first episode.

Is there a time jump from when she took over the Firm last season?

No, not at all. We pick up almost directly. If it’s a week, I’d be surprised.

Does Margot have new cons up her sleeve?

Yes, although her first priority is going to be her safety, and securing her position as head of the Kensington Firm. Once that’s locked down, then she can proceed with cons. I’m not going to say she’s lying low, she’s got plenty going on — but cons aren’t the first priority, for the first few episodes.

What’s her financial situation? Does she have her money back, or at least enough resources to work with?

I feel like her financial situation’s always been precarious, regardless of how many cons they pull off. They always seem to be running out of money! It’s more physical security than financial security that’s Margot’s concern at the beginning of the season. That changes, as the show goes on. Life gets just increasingly complicated for Margot. Ghosts from the past, unlikely love affairs… It’s a great, great season for my character.

And then what will Margot be dealing with, for the bulk of this season?

Two different characters take Margot completely by surprise… And if they take Margot by surprise, then I can tell you that they take everybody by surprise!

Is there a new love interest? Rekindling an old one?

Both!

How is Margot’s relationship with Ben, at this point?

I would say strained. He’s not the priority, let’s put it that way.

sonya walger peter krause the catch Sonya Walger on her mercurial Catch character, acting while female, life as a con artist and more

And further complicated, now that Alice knows who Margot is?

Yes, it’s both complicated and simplified in some ways. Sorry, I hate to sound so abstract! But I’m loathe to give too much away. Life gets, in some ways, simpler, and in some ways tougher.

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Do you think it might ever occur to Margot that going straight might just be a more relaxing life?

I think Margot would be bored out of her mind within about 15 minutes, if she went straight. No, I think she loves the challenge and the danger and the risk taking. I think the roleplaying is part of what keeps her vital, and loving what she does. There are many overlaps to being a con artist and an actor: Just one is socially sanctioned, and the other isn’t.

Even the life-threatening risks? Does she thrive on that?

I think she thrives off it — I think it’s also all she’s ever known. She grew up in the Kensington family, this is the only way I think she would know how to use her particular skill set.

“The Catch” has really grown — it started centered on Ben and Alice, but now it’s also about Margot running the Firm, and all these other characters…

Absolutely. I think Allan Heinberg just did such a sensational job this year, of figuring out what works and what didn’t — and being unafraid of pivoting the show, dropping the case of the week that just felt like it was tying everyone up… And turning the show more in the direction of developing these relationships, developing the comedy, developing the romance, developing the con artist life.

Taking these characters that are so fun, and cross-pollinating them in a way that I think people… You’ll be utterly taken aback to see who’s in a scene with whom, who’s hooking up with whom, how characters you think of as being worlds apart are actually aiding and abetting each other. I think he’s been unbelievably inventive, putting us all in a bag, shaking us up and taking us out and seeing where we fall…

Is there a lot more levity for Margot?

I think the caper aspect plays a much bigger part this year. The cases that AVI are investigating really only emerge from relationships that are already established, as opposed to a new person coming in every week with a case that needs to be solved. So that roots everything back into character, rather than 40-minute mini-plots.

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Do you have to avoid judging Margot as you play her?

Oh, absolutely. I think that’s your role as an actor, to come with absolutely no judgment about the person you’re playing, so that you can make them as human and interesting as possible. I understand intellectually that Margot is a villain, but I don’t approach her as a villain. I approach her as a complicated, interesting woman with a moral compass that’s thankfully very different from my own!

Just different, rather than worse.

There are real people who do this — how do you imagine someone justifies that? That it’s okay to make a living this way?

It’s a good question. I’m not sure how a real person justifies it, other than… I think there’s some degree of probably intellectual superiority. “Well, if my mark is dumb enough to let me take their money, then I’m going to do it.” I suspect there’s a degree of that, that allows for that behavior.

Did you learn any sleight of hand when you were learning the cons?

I wish! That would’ve been so fun. No, last season we had a wonderful sleight of hand artist who taught some of the guys little card tricks for some of the casino cons we pulled off — I just stood by, marveling.

But no, I didn’t learn any sleight of hand. I read a fascinating book about the art of the con artist, but that was more about the sort of psychological profiling that con artists do. It related more to the psychology than the actual sleight of hand.

As a con artist, you get to play other characters, within Margot…

Yes I do! Which is really fun. There’s some fun dressing up that happens, playing a con artist. It’s great.

What were your favorites?

There are a couple of great costumes in the second season. There’s a great wig coming up, a fun bank heist. There’s another one where I pretend to be American… It’s always fun to do accents.

You’ve played American before — are there different degrees of American, or I guess regions?

Not on this one. On this one I just played a sort of standard American. Yes, I play American all the time. It’s not a reach, thank goodness, anymore.

Do you do any other foreign accents on “The Catch”?

Accents, not so much. I’m bilingual in Spanish. My father is from Argentina, and I speak good French, so I have a feeling if we get a Season 3 those might get to come out to play…

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You’ve played a lot of sympathetic characters before — Penny on “Lost,” Olivia on “Flashforward” — even if you don’t judge Margot, has it felt different playing this kind of character?

It sounds like a trite thing to say, but I have really loved everyone I’ve ever played — but Margot holds a really special place in my heart. It’s so delicious to play a character who’s this unapologetic about herself, who is so crystal clear on who she is, what she wants, how she wants to achieve it.

It’s wonderful to play someone who is not tethered to a man. All the women you mentioned, wonderful as they were, were heavily dependent on men in order to have a scene, frankly. Whereas Margot doesn’t belong to anybody and has this wonderful independence to her. I can have a scene with anybody, or I can have a scene by myself — which is so refreshing.

And Margot often has the upper hand, when it comes to men…

Absolutely. It’s really wonderful to play a woman this empowered — particularly in this day and age.

 


“The Catch” returns Thursday, March 9, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Edited for length and clarity.

Posted by:Fred Topel

Fred Topel has been an entertainment journalist since 1999, and is a member of the Television Critics Association.