Deception: EW's TV critics investigate the show about a crime-solving magician
On Sunday, ABC debuts the new series Deception, a show about a magician who solves magic crimes with magic. Obviously, EW’s TV critics Kristen Baldwin and Darren Franich had to know more. What follows is a direct transcription of a conversation they had on Slack while watching the show. NOTE: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS NOTHING BUT SPOILERS FOR THE PREMIERE AIRING ON SUNDAY.
Darren: I’m ready whenever you are, Officer Merlin.
Special Agent Gandalf.
FBI Deputy Director Dumbledore
Kristen: CI Houdini
Darren: Detective-Inspector Zatanna
Kristen: Detective Doug Henning
Darren: Lieutenant Masked Magician
Kristen: Chief Criss Angel
[The show begins]
Kristen: oh no
NO THE MAGIC COP IS TALKING TO THE CAMERA HELP
Darren: He’s asking us to imagine a card. I’m imagining the ace of blacks, is that a card?
Kristen: Is he wearing a blue velvet jacket, Darren?
I bet this guy could make the ace of blacks a real card.
There are two kinds of magic: One where magicians trick you, and one where ABC tricks viewers into thinking cops would hire magicians to help them solve crimes.
Darren: Kristen, he’s already doing the floating card trick. I propose to you that he only solve mysteries using floating cards.
Kristen: Wait, so he’s doing a Vegas show called Deception!
Darren: Houdini reference, DRINK!
Kristen: Question: Is this Now You See Me on a small screen?
Darren: That’s optimistic. Pessimistically, this is Now You See Me 2 on the small screen.
But I have to say, the presence of Vinnie Jones from She’s the Man has already made this 12% better.
Kristen: That’s generous.
Second Houdini reference! Get blackout drunk.
Darren: If he refers to David Blaine, drink out of a brown bag (because it’s street magic!)
Kristen: Ok so he’s dangling over a tray of spikes and the BLOWTORCH IS OUT OF ALIGNMENT!
Darren: I hate when that happens.
Kristen: Is the first crime he solves his own murder?
GHOST MAGIC COP
Darren: He has just smashed through a TV screen, so maybe he’s an electro-ghost?
Kristen: Oooh, like the kid in Willy Wonka.
Darren: Or like Johnny Depp in that movie where Johnny Depp was the internet?
Kristen: OK, so he was in Las Vegas, now he’s in New York? His magic was catching a cross-country flight?
Darren: What if the secret is that he’s a mutant with transportation ability, and also he likes magic card tricks?
Kristen: That I would watch.
Darren: Hey, his new girlfriend is Stephanie Corneliussen from Mr. Robot! This show just got 13% better!
Wait, did he just die AGAIN?
Kristen: Wait! Was it ALL A DREAM?
Darren: I propose that he should die every five minutes on this show.
Okay, so much to deal with here. The cops have a photo of him in New York, but he says it’s actually his twin brother.
Kristen: OH FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY HE HAS A TWIN.
What in the holy hell is going on? He’s a magician in Vegas with a Twin Brother and somehow he light-speed traveled to New York, where his brother killed someone with his car?
(Oh, he uses his twin brother to pull off the NY/Vegas trick, doesn’t he?)
I’m catching on.
Darren: I think what happened, Kristen, is that the writer of this show watched a certain new classic movie about magicians (hint, not The Illusionist) and asked the only logical question, “What if the characters from [title deleted to prevent spoilers] also solved crimes?”
So much to take in here. So this show about a magic detective is actually about magic twin detectives?
Kristen: I feel better. Not less confused, but better.
Darren: So his imprisoned brother says, “The woman in the car with me had different color eyes.” So the guy, who isn’t the guy we think he is, killed a woman who wasn’t the woman he thought he was.
Kristen: Someone just said, “A classic misdirection into a body swap.”
Darren: Someone else just said, “YOU’RE SAYING AN ILLUSIONIST SET YOU UP?”
Kristen: That just happened.
Darren: Is this show about a twin magic detective also about an evil magic villain?
Kristen: Penn and Teller sighting! Take a bong hit!
I hope it’s about twin magic detectives and a set of evil twin magic detectives!
Darren: What if the evil twins are their quadruplets?
Kristen: THAT I would watch.
NEW STORYLINE: Female FBI agent on a plane with a drug cartel commander.
Plus, Amaury Nolasco from Prison Break! This show just got 8% better.
Darren: The guy in the drug cartel has some kind of body explosive device that covers the plane in red fog.
Kristen, I think the evil quadruplet twin magic detectives are working with the cartel?
Kristen: “Magic Drug Cartel” is definitely a promising premise.
Darren: Should also point out that the FBI agent is played by Ilfenesh Hadera, who was great on She’s Gotta Have It and was unfortunately in Baywatch.
Kristen: Someone just said, “If you fall for a magician, you fall for all of his tricks”
Darren: COPPERFIELD REFERENCE!!!!
Kristen: CRISS ANGEL REFERENCE!
Darren: Wait so, is the Magic Detective going to use his magic knowledge the way Elle in Legally Blonde uses her beauty-products knowledge?
To be honest, I think I’d prefer Magic Lawyer to Magic Detective.
Kristen: Yes! He senses that the Evil Illusionist who helped the cartel dude is the same one who framed his twin.
WHAT IS THE EVIL ILLUSIONIST’S AGENDA, DARREN?
Darren: Evil Illusionist is taking all the world’s planes, because he’s going to make the Earth disappear, and then all the illusionists will live on planes?
Kristen: Just as David Copperfield intended.
Darren: KRISTEN! HE’S DEMONSTRATING CRIME STUFF TO THE COPS USING A CARD TRICK.
Kristen: Look, you have to illusionist crawl before you illusionist walk.
I really hope GOB Bluth is the Evil Illusionist.
Darren: Wait so, what our magic detective is saying is: In about 20 seconds, a plane was pulled out of a hangar, then there was a gas bomb, and then nobody noticed a plane away from the airfield?
Kristen: Or heard it, or saw it, etc. That’s exactly what he’s saying, Darren.
Darren: It would literally be easier to just actually perform satan magic.
Kristen: He’s also saying that the Evil Illusionist has a vendetta against him, much like the shark in Jaws 4 had a vendetta against the Brody family.
(Darren, what is the main character’s name?)
Darren: Magico Q. Spellsalot
Sorry, DETECTIVE Magico Q. Spellsalot
Kristen: You really could have a second career in character nomenclature.
Darren: It’s a hobby and a passion.
Okay, Kristen, let’s reorient. There is a joint meeting of the FBI and the DEA…
Kristen: …they’re not buying FBI Lady’s “magic drug cartel escape” explanation…
Darren: …and they are kindly allowing Magico to explain where the cartel guy fled.
I have to say, this whole backstory about the secret twin is truly one of the most depressing origin stories any charming TV character has ever had.
Kristen: Magico’s real (far more inferior) name is Cameron Black. I had to look it up.
Darren: Also, revelation: FBI Lady doesn’t like magic.
Kristen: Yes, I feel bad for Other Twin who had to pretend to be Cameron his whole adult life. Think of the quiet desperation he endures.
Darren: Cameron and the FBI agent are trying to interrogate some people. Cameron is winning them over with… A CARD TRICK.
Kristen: So, thanks to Magico’s card tricks, FBI Lady found an abandoned warehouse where the missing plane (and/or the Evil Illusionist) might be hiding.
Darren: “That’s how you make a plane disappear” is the new “I think someone flushed a baby down the toilet!”
Kristen: Your move, 9-1-1!
Darren: Magico claims that he knows how to catch a bullet. Do we think this will pay off this in the season finale, in the series finale, or in this episode?
Kristen: Due to Magico’s interference, FBI lady lost the drug lord, and she is not happy.
Looks like Magico’s career as a Magic Cop may be over…
Darren: …meanwhile, his support staff of supporting people is leaving to join Criss Angel
Kristen: SIEGFRIED AND ROY REFERENCE!
Darren: WAIT WAIT WAIT, what if Criss Angel is the evil illusionist?
What if the plot of this season is figuring out which famous magician is the evil illusionist???
Kristen: I hope it’s Blaine! I always knew there was something about that guy.
[Side note: I went to see David Blaine when he was “buried alive” in NYC 1,000 years ago. He waved at me.]
Darren, this guy pretending to be the Cartel’s banker… is it Magico?
Darren: Magico is also a master of disguise!
“Cartel bankers don’t dress like real bankers,” says FBI lady. News we can use!
Kristen: Though that’s some truly mediocre prosthetic work on this face.
Darren: Is the secret of this show that he’s a horrible magician?
Kristen: And maybe the Evil Illusionist just wants to expose his lack of talent?
Darren: Amaury Nolasco is doing great work as the guy who says “It’s Cameron Black!” every three minutes.
Kristen: He elevates everything he’s in. (Truly. I’m a fan!)
Oh god Magico just used the phrase “my magic team.”
Kristen: Older FBI Lady doesn’t want Magico to keep interfering, but Younger FBI Lady talks her into letting him help solve the case.
Darren: And now I think older FBI lady just put Magico in charge of the FBI, and I’m not sure, but I think his plan is to build a city street?
Kristen: I just laughed so loudly it startled someone in the next row.
Now Magico is visiting his twin in jail. Magico 2 is bitter.
Darren: Understandably! Magico 2 is the real victim!
Magico 2 = Tragico
Kristen: “There’s only one guilty man in this room, Cam, and it’s not me.”
Darren: Another spinoff of this show I would watch: Magic Prisoner.
Kristen: Wasn’t that Prison Break?
Darren: It would be like Prison Break, but instead of tattoos, it’s card tricks.
Kristen: Wait I looked away for 2 seconds and now the Magic Team and the FBI are performing some big sting in a public park involving the drug cartel’s banker?
Darren: Kristen, the FBI is super chill.
Now Magico is undercover as the cartel banker, definitely NOT in a Brooks Brothers suit.
Kristen: And there are three target vehicles, not one! Which one should the FBI follow?
Wait Magico is also skilled at hand-to-hand combat?
Darren: I’m a little disappointed that he just punches people and doesn’t flick cards at their eyes.
Truly, missed opportunity to pull a rabbit out of someone else’s hat, and then throw the rabbit at them.
Softly, so as not to injure the rabbit.
Kristen: No rabbits were harmed in the making of this fist fight.
Darren: He just drove through New York blindfolded, so at least he’s not as bad as some New York drivers, amiright???
Kristen: Tip your waiters, folks!
Darren: (I live in Los Angeles, we have no driving laws)
Kristen: Wait now Magico is schooling the drug cartel king on “the illusion of choices.”
Darren: And I believe he did, in fact, build a city street!
The secret to magic is infinite resources!
Kristen: Or at least a painted backdrop.
DARREN HE CAUGHT A BULLET
Darren: HE CAUGHT A BULLET
Kristen: Darren, are we truly to believe that he CAUGHT A BULLET IN HIS HAND?
Darren: He has superstrength and a secret twin, AND he’s good at card tricks.
Kristen: Plus, he’s a talented city planner.
This show has layers.
Darren: Now the magic team is explaining how they switched the bad cartel guy’s gun.
Using a 3D printer!
Kristen: Oh, so he didn’t actually catch a real bullet!
Amaury Nolasco is upset; he doesn’t like to have magic ruined for him.
Darren: FBI Lady sees a picture of young Magico, and realizes that he’s actually just likable enough to conjure up a couple seasons of buried chemistry!
Kristen: She can do so much better, though.
Oy, they’re flirting on a balcony with the fake NYC skyline behind them.
Do we think
the big twist of this show
is that the evil illusionist
IS HIS BROTHER?
I know the show is saying it’s the lady from Mr. Robot
But that seems like a… DECEPTION
Kristen: A misdirect, if you will??
So… okay… I can begrudgingly give the show props for making the Big Bad Evil Illusionist a woman and not some Criss Angel/David Blaine knockoff.
Now the show is about Magico and FBI Lady tracking the Evil Illusionist around the world while solving crimes-of-the-week using techniques from his library of tricks?
Darren: And wait, so is the Evil Illusionist only allied with the cartel? Or is she allied with various organizations around the world?
Like, is she a freelance Evil Illusionist?
Kristen: I want to say she’s a mercenary. Who knew there was such a market for Evil Illusionists?
What’s her beef with Magico and Magico 2, do you think?
Is she a long-lost sibling?
Darren: Well, I’m doubling down on my notion that she is allied with Tragico the Twin. So my theory is that she’s the daughter of another famous magician, and Magico’s father stole that other magician’s best trick, and now she’s seeking vengeance, and her biggest vengeance will be the reveal that Magico’s brother betrayed him.
Kristen: Wow, that is well thought out.
Is that the plot of [title redacted to avoid spoilers]?
Darren: Sort of, mixed with a bit of [other magic movie’s title redacted to avoid spoilers, just kidding it’s Now You See Me]
Kristen: Okay. Well, I buy it. So, that sounds sustainable for, what, one season?
And then Magico 2 either dies or reforms, and a new Evil Illusionist steps in.
Darren, do we have an Evil Illusionist problem in this country?
Darren: I’ve campaigned against Evil Illusionism my whole life.
Snap judgment, Kristen: Will you continue watching Magic Twin FBI Deceptor vs. Evillusionista? I think I’ll check back in for the finale to watch all the magicians catch bullets.
Kristen: Hmmm… tough call. The lead actor is sufficiently charming and I do like to support Amaury Nolasco’s career… but I think the best I can commit to at this point is “won’t change the channel if it comes on after something I’m watching.”
Darren: These days that’s a rave! And the show’s just silly-fun enough that I can’t use the closing line I was hoping for: “Abraca-crap-ra!”
Deception premieres Sunday, March 11 at 10 p.m. on ABC.