Let's embark on the twisty, who-can-you-trust adventures of Alice in Shondaland
We’ve got a new face in the #TGIT lineup, with the Shonda Rhimes-produced cat-and-mouse espionage drama The Catch taking over How To Get Away With Murder‘s 10 p.m. slot. In typical Shondaland fashion, the pilot is sleek, steamy, and packed with twists, so let’s dive in!
The series opens at a swanky art gallery party, and we follow a suave dude as he puts the moves on Mireille Enos (looking glammed up and amazing, an immediate departure from her gritty detective character from The Killing). Thinking Mireille Enos works for the gallery after seeing her key card, Suave Dude charms her into showing him some hidden masterpiece the gallery just got. The two of them stare at the painting of a sad lady in the embrace of a faceless man and start hardcore art critic flirting. Suave Dude throws out the line that will define the episode: “Just because it doesn’t last, doesn’t mean it isn’t love.”
By now it’s pretty easy to tell Suave Dude is actually a Suave Burglar, and he palms Mireille Enos’ key card and quietly leaves with the painting. Not on Mireille Enos’ watch! Just as he leaves, she punches him down and cuffs him, revealing herself to actually be private investigator Alice Vaughan, Shondaland’s newest heroine. And cue title sequence.
After the brief opening sequence, we find ourselves in Alice’s office, and now it’s time to actually set up this new batch of characters. We learn Alice is getting married soon, and her BFF, business partner, and self-titled “Best Woman” (really Maid of Honor) Val is having to force her to try out wedding cakes. C’mon, Alice — why are you running away from cake!? Over the cake tasting, we also meet Alice’s two employees, or The Catch‘s “Gladiators.” New-to-the-firm Sophie is introduced to be a by-the-book lawyer, contrasted by the more seasoned investigator Danny, who is partial to breaking the rules. Their head-butting is cut short when the group sets off to catch “Mr. X,” a man who’s been stealing from their clients after sending Alice emails saying, “Are you ready to play?” (which is also the show’s tagline).
Cut to the exact image of a mid-life crisis: Peter Krause exiting a Lamborghini as Pitbull plays in the background. Alice and crew are trying to find him in a crowd, but Krause uses a combination of dog calling, Asian schoolchildren, and costume changes to escape with the hard drive he had come to pick up.
Alice returns home to lament the botched arrest to her fiancé, who’s obscured while he takes a shower. Now get ready to gasp, because a big reveal is coming. Are you ready? When her hubby-to-be steps out of the shower, it’s revealed to be… Peter Krause! Okay, please take some time to catch your breath.
The next morning Alice visits her fiancé at work, and we find out his name is Christopher Hall because it’s literally plastered all over his office building. Alice and Chris are going Dutch on an expensive new house, and she signs a check over to him for $1.4 million like it’s nothing, then leaves as Chris’ boss, Margot, walks in. And then BAM: Margot orders Chris to break it off with Alice within the next day and plants a kiss on him, saying, “She’s had you all to herself for a year. I want you back. I miss you.” Chris’ love life is certainly thriving.
Chris gets the help of his friend and fellow con man Reggie to ghost Alice. They meet at a golf course to drive home the fact that they live the lifestyle of blue collar businessmen, and Reggie reveals Chris is actually named Ben.
Back to Alice — after Best Woman Val gets her excited about her wedding dress, she tries it on at home just as Chris/Ben walks in. Superstitious Alice hides behind a door, but can’t resist the Krause Kome-on™ when he murmurs, “Please let me see.” She walks toward him and he unzips the back, and — in case you forgot this was a Shondaland show — they begin having slow, moan-y sex, shown in vignettes of low-lit passionate touching and kissing.
The morning after, Chren (Chris/Ben) sits on their bedroom’s chaise lounge (because of course their bedroom has a chaise lounge) and watches Alice sleep. When Alice wakes up, it seems like Chren is actually going to choose to be Chris instead of Ben, asking Alice if she’ll elope with him and run away today. But Chren’s excitement quickly drains when Alice tells him “Once I catch this guy, I’m all yours.” Ben leaves Alice and Chris behind with a terse “Bye,” knowing he will have to disappear.
At work, Alice is distracted and tells her team that Chris wanted to elope. Apparently, all Alice needed was a push from Val because once her BFF tells her to go for it, she’s in her car driving home to run away with Chris. But it’s too late — all Chris’ stuff is gone.
NEXT: Chris becomes Ben, and Alice gets investigative
Like the seasoned investigator she is, Alice and her team quickly put together that Chris was a con artist, and Alice reveals that the $1.4 million she handed over to him was her entire life savings (girl…). Danny is in awe that Chris has no web presence of photos, which lead Alice to bring up her personal photos with Chris, only to discover he has hidden his face in all of them (Wouldn’t she have noticed that she didn’t have a clear picture with her fiancé sooner? What did she show her friends and family when they started dating? Was their wedding announcement going to be a picture of her next to some dude with his hand over his face?).
Then Sophie comes in with our second reminder we’re in a Shondaland show: the booze. Olivia Pope has her red wine, Annalise Keating has her vodka, and it looks like Alice Vaughan is all about brown liquor, as Sophie begins pouring into coffee mugs to comfort Alice after she comes to the crushing realization that she knows nothing about her former fiancé.
In trying to figure out more about Chris, Alice flashes back to when they first met, realizing that he posed as a difficult prospective client to make her approach him. Apparently con man rule #1 is to have the mark approach you. We also get a quick flashback that reveals Alice’s computer background is that painting of the sad couple from the opening, and then we get a scene where Chris and Alice are acting gross-ly couple-y as they trade ice creams back and forth while walking down the street (just get the ice cream flavor combo you wanted at the store for yourself!). Master-of-words Chren turns their light conversation into somehow having Alice propose their marriage, and present day Alice realizes Chris never asked anything of her, not even her hand in marriage, which is con man rule #2. After all of these flashbacks Alice finally comes to the conclusion “Christopher is Mr. X,” eliciting a resounding “Duh!” from all viewers.
Cut to former-Chris, actual-Ben handing over all of Alice’s company’s files to Margot. “You took everything?” Margot asks. “I took everything,” Ben replies. In case you haven’t heard, he took everything. Margot kisses Ben and leaves him looking a little guilty about what he’s just done.
Back in Alice’s office, she says “He took everything.” Did you get that he took everything yet? Thankfully, Sophie and Danny find out he hasn’t drained the client accounts, and they change the encryption so that the “everything” he took is totally useless. Still, Val wants to call the clients to tell them about the breach, but Alice begs her to stay quiet while they wait for Chris to make his next move, and she reluctantly agrees.
The next day, an FBI agent named Jules Dao comes to Alice’s office. Dao meets with Alice and Val, and reveals he used to be in Interpol and has been chasing Ben across Europe for two years, but still doesn’t know his name and only has super grainy pictures. As the meeting is happening Danny and Sophie are looking in. Sophie immediately pinpoints Dao’s accent as being from Burkina Faso, which she determined solely from reading his lips, much to Danny’s awed shock. Sophie clearly has some very interesting skills that we don’t know all about just yet. Back in the meeting, Dao proposes that they work together in tracking down Ben, but Alice gives him the cold shoulder.
“I am not going to sit in his supervisor’s office telling a room full of smug FBI agents what happened to me; what I let happen to me,” Alice explains to Val as Agent Dao leaves the office. “I’m not going to do that.”
So Alice is on her own in trying to find her fraudulent fiancé. She goes back to her home and breaks out the heavy-duty spy gadgets to look for clues in 10 — count ’em 10 — split screens. Coming up dry, she heads to Chris’ office and breaks into his car, only to be spotted by Agent Dao.
“Now are you ready to talk?” Dao asks. But Alice remains adamant that she doesn’t need his help, and drives off.
NEXT: “You wanna play?”
Back at her office, Alice and team mull over what Chris got from the hack, since he didn’t go after any of their clients’ money. They come to the conclusion that he wanted the personal information of their clients in order to get into a swanky event being thrown by a wunderkind inventor named Seth Hamilton. Now, this is part spy show, so you shouldn’t be shocked when the split screen comes in. One half of the screen shows Ben transforming himself into a new person via contact lenses and new threads before walking into Seth’s event, while the other half is Alice explaining that Chris will be stealing the identity of one of her clients in order to grab the expensive new technology that Seth will be announcing at the event.
Ben finds Seth immediately, and the young inventor immediately starts fangirling over his assumed persona of someone named Dr. Merrick. Seth giddily takes Ben to the beach and showcases his invention: a filter that instantaneously makes ocean water drinkable. Seth is about to hand over the flash drive with the specs for the invention, but is called away, so Ben quickly pickpockets it and then stares triumphantly at the setting sun over the ocean.
When Ben goes back inside, however, it’s not all smooth sailing. Alice and Co. show up and she angry-smolders at him in a red dress from across the room. It’s Reggie to the rescue — he kills the lights and Ben disappears, leaving Alice looking gorgeous and flabbergasted.
In their getaway car ride, Reggie and Ben have a bro-to-bro talk about his feelings for Alice. Reggie accuses Ben of jeopardizing the mission by staring at Alice for too long. “I was looking for an escape route,” Ben defends himself. “You were looking at her, and you need to stop,” Reggie retorts, having none of it.
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It looks like Alice had another trick up her sleeves. Back at her offices, we’re greeted by Sophie uttering the crime drama hacker catchphrase: “We’re in.” Sure enough, Val confirms to Danny that yet another of Sophie’s hidden talents is that she’s a hacker. Apparently, she isn’t just any lawyer; she is a lawyer who worked for the hacker group Anonymous, as Alice reveals. Anyway, Sophie hacks the flash drive and is somehow able to drain all of the funds from Margot’s computer when she plugs it in. Now it’s Sophie who took everything.
With her mysterious company bankrupted, Margot has a mini freakout then composes herself and coldly tells Ben to “Fix it” before leaving the room.
Rather than freaking out, Ben takes a stroll to the art gallery from the opener to take a look at that painting of a sad couple that Alice is so into. He gives a brief smile while looking at it, and then we see it in Alice’s bedroom when she arrives home. Alice smiles at her new masterpiece bedroom decoration, and utters the episode’s final words: “All right Christopher, you wanna play? Let’s play.”