The Catch recap: 'The Birthday Party'
The ghosts of relationships past threaten to tear Alice and Ben apart
Tonight’s episode of The Catch devoted far too much screentime to needless B-plots, like Diaz’s reunion with her missing husband and the boring security hack/murder mystery that only served as an excuse to keep Ethan around. But despite the mostly drawn-out storytelling, there were still some bright spots: Ben’s endearing turn as the overprotective father; Sophie’s impressive car-hacking stunt; and Margot’s hilarious conversation with Danny, her employee-with-benefits. (That might be the first time I’ve heard the word “peen” on a network TV show.) Plus, the subtle way director John Stuart Scott showed Ben and Alice unknowingly start to drift apart was at once both captivating and somber.
With only three episodes left, let’s hope “The Birthday Girl” was merely a stepping stone to a more exciting climax of the show’s sophomore season. In the meantime, let’s break down the latest developments in the lives of our favorite hustlers and private investigators.
The ex-fiancé always rings twice
Last week’s “The Hard Drive” faded to black just as Ethan showed up on Alice’s doorstep wanting “to talk.” He’s there to apologize for how he acted during their breakup and, insisting he’s better now, asks her to “start over.” With perfect timing, Ben comes out to meet his fiancée’s former love and invite him inside for a drink. As the clearly uncomfortable trio sips bourbon, Alice and Ben fumble over their answers to Ethan’s questions about their relationship. Luckily, Ethan gets a call and must cut short the impromptu happy hour, leaving Alice and Ben to retreat to the bedroom for some flirty banter about Ethan’s surprise visit.
It seems Alice’s past will be sticking around for a while, as Ethan hires AVI after his development firm was hacked. With investors pulling out and deals falling apart, Ethan needs damage control, and fast. However, taking the case may prove to be a conflict of interest when Sophie reveals she asked a fellow hacker friend, Heather, to look into Ethan’s company during the course of AVI’s investigation into the death of Steve Mason. When Alice and Val won’t accept her resignation, Sophie vows to make it right.
Unfortunately, Heather was found dead in her apartment in what looks like a staged suicide. It’s also revealed Heather was paid $250,000 in the days before her death, suggesting that whoever paid her for the info on Ethan came back to cover their tracks. A shaken Sophie is even more determined to find her friend’s killer, so Danny — unbeknownst to the rest of the team — calls Margot for help. She’s in the business of murdering people, after all, so she might know an assassin with a penchant for faking his victims’ suicides. Sounds reasonable enough to me.
After a hilarious conversation in which Margot asks why she’s getting a photo of a dead girl instead of Danny’s penis, she tells him the likely killer is Willy Grace, who “loves the bathtub gag.” She draws the line on her generosity when Danny asks how to find Willy, insisting on a picture of his willy before she plays ball. (See what I did there?) With Margot’s photo and intel, the AVI team finds Willy — and when he tries to make a run for it, Sophie hacks into his car’s computer and takes control of the vehicle, enabling Alice to hold him at gunpoint so they can hand him over to the police for questioning.
Unsurprisingly, Wily Willy refuses to give up anything to the cops. (Where’s the Hammer to talk some sense into him?) A look at his phone log shows he called someone named Marcus Nash just minutes after Heather’s murder. Nash is a developer who’s been trying to drive Ethan out of business for years — and what better way to do it than to release your competitors’ dirty laundry online? It seems a bit extreme to resort to murder for a few extra apartment buildings, but unfortunately, I don’t make the rules.
Ethan and Alice crash Nash’s press event, where they confront him with their evidence and present photos of Heather’s dead body for all the media to see. Later, a news report reveals Nash has been taken into police custody and the FBI is investigating. Oh, and Willy confessed that Nash paid him for the hit, which means AVI notches yet another win.
The team is celebrating with champagne when Alice gets a call from Ben. Though Ethan tells her to ignore it, she leaves the room to answer. They engage in some small talk while Alice makes eyes at Ethan from across the room and Ben smiles at his new family. The scene makes it clear the couple is drifting apart — even if they don’t know it yet.
We leave Alice just after she learns Ethan is engaged to someone named Gretchen. I’m super confused, seeing as how he asked her to start over at the top of the hour, but perhaps I misunderstood what he meant. What is perfectly clear, though, is Alice’s displeased reaction to the news. Dun dun duuuun.
An unorthodox family reunion
Ben’s story opens with his recently discovered daughter, Tessa, asking how her parents met and what drove them apart. When she learns he gave up his life of crime — and Margot — for a mark, she teases him for being too sentimental, but she does it in such a playful way that I start to like her a little more and resent her presence a little less.
The family bonding takes a turn when Ben finds out Tessa’s going to a birthday party, but little does he know that boys are the least of his concerns (guess he doesn’t know about her and Felix yet, huh?). As it turns out, Tessa’s not going to the party to make new friends: Margot’s sending her to plant mics at the home of Raymond Taggart, whose daughter, Arabella, is celebrating her sweet 16. Raymond took over Carl Mangels’ outfit when he and his wife, Galinda, got busted by the Feds awhile back. Some of Mangels’ guys aren’t happy with their new boss, so Margot wants to fold them into the Kensington firm in hopes of strengthening her U.S. operations. Though Ben “forbids” Tessa to get involved in the family business, Margot and Tessa laugh him off and leave anyway.
Armed with mics to position around the house and camera-equipped glasses so Margot can coach her through it, Tessa’s busy making the rounds as Ben shows up to take his daughter home. Being the teenager she is, Tessa pulls a guilt trip on daddy dearest about deserting her mum and threatens to make a scene if he doesn’t let her finish the job. Ben agrees, but Taggart finds Tessa planting a mic underneath his desk and blackmails Margot with a demand for $10 million to forgive her indiscretion and let her family go free.
Tied to their chairs and under the watchful eye of an armed guard, Ben starts to scold his daughter for her newbie con-artist ways. When Tessa fakes an asthma attack, Ben convinces the guard to give her the inhaler from his pocket and head-butts him as soon as he gets close. Now free, they have to figure out an escape plan — which is where Margot and Danny come in.
After her earlier request for a “peen pic” — which definitely deserves another mention — Margot recruited Danny for the afternoon, asking him to deliver a Jaguar to the Taggart home and tell Raymond his requested $10 million has arrived. One of Taggart’s lackeys brings the car to the garage, only to meet his end when he finds a gun-toting Margot hiding in the trunk. She shows up just in time to save Ben and Tessa but insists on responding to Taggart’s extortion attempt before they make their exit.
Outnumbered 2-1, Ben begrudgingly goes along with it. They split up to work the crowd and turn everyone against Taggart so his men will defect to Margot. An unhappy Raymond threatens Tessa when he realizes he’s been ousted, prompting Ben to once again assume the role of overprotective father and break Raymond’s wrist.
The trio triumphantly leaves for a celebratory dinner back at Margot’s, where we get a glimpse at the easy and familiar rapport between Ben and his ex. “You think this is what it would have been like, us as a family?” he wistfully asks her. (Is it wrong to ship these two, given everything Ben and Alice have been through together? I’m genuinely conflicted.)
Later, Margot hears a knock at her door and finds the presumed-dead Felicity, who says she’s “come to cause a bit of trouble” and wants Margot to join the fun. I have two questions: (1) How did she survive the shooting, especially without Rhys knowing? and (2) Exactly what kind of trouble is she talking about?
A new love triangle
I won’t spend too much time rehashing this subplot, as it was definitely the most uninteresting part of the episode. With Troy and Rhys’ help, Diaz successfully lures her two-timing husband — who’s been missing for months with no word, except for a hasty email telling her he’s fallen in love with someone else — out of hiding. The truth? Eddie’s been undercover the whole time, volunteering to stay behind alone when the FBI recalled everyone else on his assignment (code-named Argosy). He’s been tracking his target, a group of arms dealers, ever since. Convinced he wouldn’t come out of it alive, he claims he sent the email so Justine would move on and be happy.
Rhys isn’t thrilled at the idea of watching his object of affection reunite with her husband, shooting them dagger eyes when he spots them kissing at the door and canoodling on his couch. I’m Team Rhys all the way, which is why I let out a big sigh when Justine offers to help Eddie take down the arms dealers so he can return to his real life. A tip for the showrunners: More Justine and Rhys, please! As far as I’m concerned, said arms dealers can put an end to Eddie and I wouldn’t shed a tear.
Odds and Ends
- “I could definitely use one.” —Alice to herself, after Ben invites Ethan inside for a drink
- “Who doesn’t like a surprise? I know I do, especially when the surprise has the piercing blue eyes of a Siberian husky.” —Ben to Alice, after she tells him she didn’t expect Ethan to show up
- Ben: “You’re gonna have to cover for me. I’m taking a personal day.”
Rhys: “What? What is that? Is that a thing in this country? Can I have one of those?”
Ben: “No, not today. Whatever’s going on, you can handle it.”
Rhys: “Since when?”
- “Why am I getting a photo of a dead girl instead of your penis?” —Margot to Danny, after he sends her a picture of Heather Reynolds’ dead body
- “See, I’m afraid that will cost you a peen pic.” —Margot to Danny (again), after he asks for help finding Heather’s killer
- Ben: “I just gave our daughter the no-gun speech.”
Margot: “Well, thanks to me and my gun, you’ll live to bore her with it again.”