After endless teasing, tonight’s episode of The Catch finally gave viewers some long-awaited insight into Alice’s past, including how she first met Val and the details of her relationship with mysterious bad boy Ethan Ward. There’s a lot to unpack in “The Hard Drive,” so let’s dive right in.
Last week, Nick Turner visited the AVI offices and asked his old partner, Val, to investigate his past cases in hopes of unearthing potential skeletons before the mayor’s office starts its background check. After some hesitation on Alice’s part — she doesn’t seem too thrilled at the idea of revisiting that part of her life — she agreed to forge ahead. Nick’s specific request? To revisit the case of Ethan Ward, a cryptic but charismatic character we only just met a couple episodes ago.
Not only is Ethan a former boyfriend of Alice’s — whom she was with for five years — but he was also her boss and soon-to-be partner at the development firm he founded in Los Angeles. In a flashback, we see the happy couple enjoying a morning in bed when Nick and then-detective Val show up to arrest him for the murder of Det. Steve Mason, who was last seen entering a warehouse 30 minutes before it exploded from an alleged gas leak. A still-high Alice is none too pleased to see her boyfriend being carted away by police, so when Val tells her to stay back, she lashes out by punching her future friend and partner in the face. Val has always been able to handle herself, though: She takes Alice to the floor and arrests her for assaulting a police officer.
In present day, Alice and Val brief Danny and Sophie about the cold case. At the time of his death, Mason had been investigating a commercial developer accused of bribery and extortion. Said developer was — you guessed it — Ethan Ward, who had just finished buying up all the riverfront property except for the warehouse. The building’s owner was the last holdout, giving Ethan a clear motive to commit the crime. The charges against him were eventually dropped, suggesting he may have bribed people to secure his freedom.
Back in the past, Val interrogates Alice about the night of the murder. Alice’s initial story is that she and Ethan had dinner and went to a club with some friends before grabbing a cab at 2 a.m. and going home. It’s clear she’s lying, however, by the way she averts her eyes. (I’ve watched enough episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to know the signs. It’s a textbook tell.) But she doesn’t budge under Val’s questioning, even when she shows Alice photos of the deceased detective’s family to play on her sympathy.
Ethan’s understandably tense about the whole ordeal, so he throws Alice’s stash of coke down the sink and tells her they need to lie low for a while — exactly what Alice doesn’t want to do. After he tells her he didn’t kill they cop nor hire anyone else to kill him, he (again) asks her to marry him, only for Alice to counter with a request to become his full partner at Ward & Associates. It’s a somewhat bizarre exchange, but you can’t fault a girl for wanting to get ahead in her career.
The current investigation reveals that Mason had some demons of his own, including a gambling problem and an addiction to painkillers, for which he spent time in rehab. Val maintains that Mason was a good detective but later discovers his widow is now living in Bel Air and paying $80,000 a year to send her kids to private school. She’s not working, which implies she might be one of the people Ethan paid off to keep quiet about her husband’s murder.
Despite Alice’s insistence on Ethan’s innocence all those years ago, she becomes doubtful when she finds out her beau hired one Danny Yoon to spy on her. Alice quickly offers to hire Danny to keep her secrets and pretend he’s still following her for Ethan. She then visits Val to tell her the truth: Ethan wasn’t with her when she left the club the night of the fire. She’s still unsure of his guilt, but Val wants her help finding the truth.
The AVI team makes a break in the case when they look into the finances of Mason’s widow and learn she makes a monthly $10,000 payment to a nonexistent charity. The so-called Altgrove Foundation is registered to one Marty Dixon, Val’s supervising officer at the time of Ethan’s case. Adding further suspicion is the fact Dixon opened a safe-deposit box one week after Mason’s murder, though he hasn’t been back to the bank since. Alice, posing as a bank manager, calls and tells him the branch is closing, so he’ll have to come collect his belongings. When he exits the bank, Val and Alice are waiting to confront him.
And surprisingly enough, Ethan is innocent of Mason’s murder: What Dixon kept hidden was Mason’s suicide note, proving he set the fire himself and staged his own homicide so his family would be compensated for his death in the line of duty. Dixon kept the note all these years to blackmail Mason’s widow for the aforementioned monthly payment. The note clears the way for Nick to be promoted to police chief, but knowing Ethan had been telling the truth all along pushes Alice to show up in the lobby of his office building and apologize. After the flashback we get of their breakup — during which Ethan, incredulous that Alice could think he might be a murderer, called her weak, selfish and incapable of thinking of anyone other than herself — it makes sense he doesn’t have much to say in response.
While the cold case might be settled, I’m not sure the same can be said for Alice and her former love. Ben and Alice are chatting in front of a cozy fire at home when she starts telling him about Ethan, only for Ben to say he’s known about her ex all along. His alter-ego, Christopher Hall, was even based on Ethan himself. It’s not exactly new information, but the reminder of Ben’s betrayal leaves Alice reeling. Just as her fiancé asks what he can do to make it up to her, the doorbell rings. It’s Ethan, who wants “to talk.” And based on the slight hint of a smile on Alice’s face — and Ben’s look of concern in the background — I’m betting that’s not all they’re going to do.
Elsewhere in this hour, Ben and Rhys learn their status as criminal informants may have been compromised as the result of a security breach at the FBI, setting up another job in which they infiltrate a private military contractor known as Blackwell. Diaz is hesitant — these aren’t common criminals they’re messing with; they’re hardcore mercenaries and assassins — but Rhys and Ben are persuasive as ever. With a little help from Alice, Ben uses his new cover to get a meeting with the company’s CEO, Donna Kane, in hopes of getting access to Blackwell’s server room and recovering the stolen FBI data to ensure his and Rhys’ safety.
When Ben and Diaz show up at Blackwell, he manages to swipe an employee’s security card, which Diaz then passes off to Rhys. They finally get access to the building’s data center, only to discover there are no servers and computers to be found. No, Blackwell uses an actual person — an adorable and fresh-from-the-shower guy named Troy — to store its confidential information and other illegally obtained intel. Troy has a photographic memory, and though his employment at Blackwell was fun at first, the company eventually locked him in a room once they realized the value of the materials stored in his head.
Since he only wants his freedom, Troy offers to tell the FBI everything he knows about Blackwell so the company and Kane can be brought down for good. But even with his testimony, Diaz says she still has to arrest him — much to Rhys’ chagrin — until Troy offers to help her track down her long-lost husband, Special Agent Edgar Diaz. Troy knows where “Eddie” was before he disappeared, which is a place to start searching for him. Diaz accepts his pitch and then says, “Now help me find my husband, so I can kill him.” Say what now?
Meanwhile, Margot finds it tough to juggle her newfound parenthood with her job as the head of an international crime ring. (Ah, every working mother’s problem.) Though she asked her mom to stick around for a bit, Sybil can’t help but want to retake control of the Kensington firm, and the wiser-than-her-years Tessa just wants to learn the ins and outs of the family business. This time around, our second trio can’t seem to agree on how to handle an apparent “pirate problem” the firm is having in the Gulf of Mexico, but a photo of one of Margot’s lieutenants — well, his head at least — convinces Margot she needs to fly south and make a deal with the pirates in person.
Although Margot doesn’t trust Tessa one bit, her little girl proves her worth when she arranges for Margot to listen in on a conversation between her and Sybil, during which the backstabbing matriarch discloses her nefarious plan: She photoshopped the photo of Fernando so Margot would leave for the Gulf, where Sybil’s Kensington allies will effectively remove her from leadership (but, apparently, leave her alive). She even offers to bring Tessa back to England with her, where the 15-year-old can train by her side and eventually assume her birthright.
At this point, Margot walks in and has her own Kensington lieutenants take Sybil away. We don’t know where she’ll end up, but that certainly was a short-lived reunion, huh?
What did you think of “The Hard Drive”? What’s next for Alice and Ben — and Alice and Ethan? Head to the comments with your theories!
Odds and Ends
- “You don’t wanna go rushing into this parenthood thing. Your body will be dad bod, your jeans will be dad jeans.” —Rhys giving Ben some fatherly advice
- Ben: “I was 13 when I got my first gun.”
Alice: “What? Who gave you a gun at 13?”
Ben: “It doesn’t matter. Point is, I turned out okay. Kind of. Right? Hello?”
- Rhys: “Perhaps I could charm her with my…”
Diaz: “[She’s a] hardcore lesbian.”
Rhys: “Well, in that case, no.”
- “I keep hoping [Tessa will] run away, go take over a country or something. Give Putin a run for his money.” —Margot to Sybil
- Ben: “When Justine gets off the phone, tell her to give this to the FBI. [gesturing to Troy] Tell her to give that to the FBI, too. Where are his clothes?”
Rhys: “He was hot. He is hot. Can we keep him?”
Ben: “Is it not enough that I have a child, you have to have one, too?”