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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The latest rivalry on The Catch is a family affair

Illustration for article titled The latest rivalry on The Catch is a family affair

At long last, “the benefactor” shows up on The Catch, and it turns out he has a name, a face, and a complicated connection to the other characters beyond just being the bad guy that the bad guys owe money to. Rhys (played by the immensely talented John Simm) is Margot’s brother. It turns out that in all that talk of “the family,” Margot was quite literally referring to her actual bloodline and not just her former crime crew. When their father died, Rhys got the throne Margot thought was rightfully hers. Oh, and he’s also sleeping with Felicity. Margot has plenty of reasons to hate her brother.

The sibling squabbles churn out some genuinely compelling character drama in “The Benefactor.” Given the life-or-death nature of their professions, the stakes are very high when it comes to their sibling rivalry. Sonya Walger and Simm are both powerful actors, and Simm’s stage-acting background adds a certain level of intensity to Rhys’s theatrics. Rhys is a sharp contrast to Ben. Whereas Ben’s borderline playful in his approach to con-work, Rhys is a true bad guy—carefree and a little unhinged when it comes to his work. He’s a killer. Margot and Rhys seem, in equal parts, threatened by one another. They provide a new kind of messy and twisty relationship for The Catch to play with.

Felicity gets caught in the middle, and the character is ultimately doomed by sloppy writing. It was pretty cheap for the show to introduce a twisted love triangle only to have it become irrelevant by the end of the episode. But it’s even worse that the writers were only just starting to hint at the possibility that Margot was actually starting to care about Felicity—evidenced by her slight jealousy (which she denies, but come on) and her genuine warning to Felicity to be careful around Rhys—only for the character to then be killed. In the end, Felicity really was just a plot device all along. She betrayed Rhys, so he killed her. She served her purpose for the plot, so the writers killed her off. Another show buried another queer woman for little reason other than the fact that she was disposable from the start. It’s just lazy writing, and it’s especially upsetting since complicated, ill-advised relationships are the show’s bread and butter. But I guess only the ill-advised straight pairings get to be a part of the story in a meaningful way. The queer ones get killed the second they’re no longer useful to the plot. I really thought the writers were going to go somewhere interesting with Margot and Felicity, but her death feels like something I’ve seen a million times. I’ve come to expect more from the sexually subversive Shondaland. Her character arc was, ultimately, just so flimsy and poorly executed. The show’s only queer storyline was diminished and rendered insignificant.

Tangled romances abound in “The Benefactor,” and not all of them get nixed by a bullet. Danny’s dalliance with the firm’s latest client, Nia, the first female Army Ranger. Played by Orange Is The New Black’s Samira Wiley, Nia hires Alice and Val’s team to covertly look into who has been relentlessly threatening and bullying her. The writers throw in a couple misdirections for the case, but as soon as Nia’s brother is introduced in the episode, I could see the final twist coming from a mile away. He turns out to be the one sending her death threats and intimidating her, because he doesn’t want her to go through with being a Ranger. Other soldiers despise her merely because she’s a woman, and he doesn’t believe they’ll have her back in combat. He thought he was doing the right thing. As unsurprised as I was by the twist, the case of the week’s final payoff is quite strong. While Nia’s case initially doesn’t seem all that connected to the rest of the story, it ends up tapping into a compelling message The Catch has started to play with. Alice puts it this way: She’s sick of men taking away women’s agency for the sake of protecting them. In a way, The Catch is starting to chip away at the concept of the noble knight. Ben thinks he’s playing the hero by keeping Alice out of danger, but all he’s really doing is further manipulating her. Nia’s brother thinks he’s saving her life, but he’s doing so by taking away her choices, taking away her dreams. Agent Dao undoubtedly fancies himself a hero, but his methods involve manipulating and lying to Alice and Val, too. The Catch isn’t letting these male characters get away with thinking they’re heroes.

It does feel, however, a bit like the writers are setting Danny up to be the neighborhood “nice guy.” His petty jealousy when it comes to Sophie was already annoying and pointless enough, but Nia as a love interest for Danny just sort of comes out of nowhere, and she was a compelling character on her own. Why did she suddenly need to be thrust into a love story with the least interesting character on the show? Danny comes off as so pathetic, and I can’t really detect whether the writers are intentionally portraying him that way or if they’re on his side. Ultimately, I don’t care enough about the character to really pay that much attention to his motivations. Hopefully he becomes more than just a guy who pines over any beautiful new woman that comes into his life. Because right now, that’s all I’m seeing.

I’m much more invested in the flirtations between Val and Dao, which began last episode and are consummated tonight in one of the many sexy sex scenes the episode features. Val continues to make sure Dao knows that she and Alice are not to be messed with. But her aggressive warnings turn into aggressive flirting, and she suddenly finds herself in a thorny tryst not all that different from Alice’s. Okay, so Dao is objectively not quite as bad as Ben, but still, she’s becoming intimately involved with someone she can’t fully trust. But hey, she’s getting exactly what she wants. And she doesn’t hesitate to tell him she’s using him for sex.


Ben and Alice also share another steamy hookup, but even more seductive than their chemistry in the bedroom is their chemistry when working together. I worry that The Catch will eventually become convoluted in its methods for forcing Ben and Alice to work together, but the bracelet heist works perfectly. They’re working together and against each other all at once, which is really the dynamic for their entire relationship. Alice doesn’t want to help Ben commit major crimes, but she also doesn’t want him to get killed. So she teams up with him for the heist, all the while playing Dao in a way that keeps her from getting into too much trouble. When it comes to their abilities to deceive, Alice and Ben are perfectly matched. Again, Mireille Enos and Peter Krause are great in the scenes where Alice and Ben aren’t quite sure how to be around each other. Alice still can’t fully trust him. They’re both toeing a difficult line between enemies and lovers, and The Catch is making it way more convincing than it should be, which has a lot to do with the actors.

But Alice and Ben also have a few moments in “The Benefactor” where they know exactly what they’re doing. There’s an undeniable sensuality to how smoothly they work together. There’s a passion and energy to their relationship that just didn’t really seem to be there in the flashbacks we’ve seen of Alice and Christopher. It makes it easy to root for them. “There’s not going to be a next time,” Alice tells Ben after they successfully pull off stealing back the bracelet and planting the fake one. But she says it through an unconvincing smile. Even if they’re on the wrong side of things, they make great partners. And with Rhys sticking around in Los Angeles, they definitely have a common enemy to work against, especially since the benefactor knows Alice’s name now.


Stray observations

  • Rhys calls Margot an “earl gray succubus,” which is perfect and confirms how much I love Margot. She’s the earl gray succubus of my dreams.
  • Alice fighting the two people in the parking garage is an amazing scene. I want more action scenes involving Alice!
  • Rhys and Ben’s pursuit of Mickey Shive is all fun and games until Rhys gets a little too taser-happy and then way too trigger-happy. Rhys is bad news.
  • Will anyone on the show even remember Felicity next week?