On the series premiere of The Catch, private investigator Alice Vaughan tries to trap a con man known only as Mr. X. She soon discovers that the elusive criminal has been within her grasp all along.
Alice Vaughan (Mirelle Enos) is a partner at Anderson Vaughan Investigations, and from the looks of her bustling office, business is good. After spending the evening taking down an art thief, she arrives to work and we learn that she’s also a bride-to-be. Alice isn’t your typical bridezilla, preferring to even keep the fact she’s tying the knot a secret. But her maid of honor and partner Valerie Anderson (Rose Rollins) reveals Alice’s secret when she arranges for a surprise cake tasting.
A Message From Mr. X
Valerie doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage, but she does take her role as “best woman” seriously, so Alice is forced to shove a variety of confectionery creations down her throat first thing in the morning. The feast is interrupted by a note from “Mr. X.” which reads “Are you ready to play?” Mr. X. has stolen 5 million dollars from two of the firm’s biggest clients over the previous nine months. They don’t know who he is or what he looks like, but he knows who they are, sending the same message before both jobs.
Mr. X. finds a disgruntled employee within their clients’ firms to copy confidential files to a hard drive and then trades if for a briefcase full of cash. New employee and attorney Sophie Novak (Elvy Yost) questions why he is targeting Anderson Vaughan, and Alice states because they have the best client list in town.
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Alice, Valerie and their top-notch team of investigators have been monitoring all of their clients’ employees. The believe Mr. X. has currently recruited a man named Patrick Lewis. Lewis works as account manager who has worked at his company for 11 years; 11 years of being taken for granted; 11 years of no surprises.
As they speak, Lewis is downloading files, and Alice knows where he’s going next. Every day Lewis eats lunch at the same place in the Sun Century Plaza, and Alice is ready. She’s going to have security at every entrance of the plaza, so Mr. X. won’t be able to get in or out without them knowing about it.
One Step Ahead
A man, Mr. X. (Peter Krause), arrives at the plaza driving a Lamborghini and after he emerges, sets of the car’s alarm. Alice and her team are in a nearby van, and she figures Mr. X. is using the noise as a distraction. One of Alice’s investigators has his eyes on Lewis but loses him after Mr. X., who spotted the guy right away, finds a simple means to distract him long enough so he loses sight of his target.
Alice and Danny (Jay Hayden) emerge from the van and run into the crowd. Not exactly subtle. Patrick Lewis puts the drive in a food container and is approached by a young school boy in uniform holding a briefcase. When Lewis turns around, the food container and the hard drive are gone. He never even spots or interacts with the elusive Mr. X.
Alice and Danny spot Lewis, sees that he has the briefcase and realize they missed the drop. Danny and the police deal with Lewis who isn’t going to get the chance to enjoy his ill-gotten gains. Meanwhile, clad in a baseball hat and sunglasses, Mr. X. strides right past Alice.
Later, Alice arrives home, and it’s revealed her fiance is Mr. X., a revelation that fails to pack a punch since viewers already know the premise of the show.
The Long Con
The next morning, Alice makes a stop at her fiance’s office. Mr. X. is known as Mr. Christopher Hall, but we know that’s not his real name either. Alice forks over a check for 1.4 million dollars, half of the asking price for the new house that they’re buying as husband and wife. Hall offers to buy the whole place, but Alice refuses to be dependent on her husband-to-be. She wants an equal partnership.
Alice leaves, and we learn the office is a front for all of his illegal activities, and he’s not working alone. He meets with Margot Bishop (Sonya Walger). Mr X./Hall’s latest score yielded nothing since Alice and her guys got the drop on Lewis minutes after the exchange, and Margot isn’t pleased. Hall says Alice is good at her job, and that’s why they targeted her in the first place. Margot announces that Alice has officially outlived her usefulness and Hall needs to break things off immediately.
Hall starts to protest, but Margot says he has no choice, they are set to disappear in two days. Further complicating matters is the fact that Hall and Margot were/are an item, and she’s been sharing him with Alice for a year. It turns out Hall was supposed to get information from Alice not engage in a yearlong courtship that ended with a marriage proposal.
Hall tells Margot, Alice will get suspicious. Margot counters Alice will be heartbroken, her firm destabilized, and they’ll never see them coming. Margot gives him 24 hours. Hall’s going to get some help extracting himself from his own con from another partner in crime, Reginald “Reggie” Lennox III (Alimi Ballard).
Hall thinks his partners don’t trust him, but Reggie argues that Hall gets so immersed in a con, that he becomes that person. Currently, he’s a fine, upstanding citizen, set to marry his redheaded lady detective and settle down. But Reggie knows Hall has been playing a little dangerous game on the side. Those messages he sent as Mr. X. put more than himself at risk.
The following morning, after Hall kisses Alice goodbye, Reggie will arrives at the house and makes all traces of Hall, who he refers to as Ben, disappear.
The Long Goodbye
Alice and Valerie dish about the upcoming wedding, but Alice isn’t all that excited. As if the fact she’s barely told anyone, doesn’t want to engage in any planning or want to try on the dress hanging in her office. Alice is eager to be married, but she hates weddings. She never knows what to do at the social gatherings other than drink too much and sleep with inappropriate people. (Uh, yeah. That’s what everybody does at weddings.) Valerie points out that if Alice really hated weddings, she would have never bought the dress, and Alice admits it’s a good dress.
At home, the temptation proves to be too much, and Alice tries on the gown. Hall arrives home and catches her in the act. She tries to hide, but he convinces her to come out. Once he sees her, he’s more interested in getting Alice out of it. Then there’s a brief and appropriate for prime-time TV love scene.
The next morning, Hall looks like someone shot his dog. Alice wants to know what’s wrong. It looks as if he’s going to dump her. Maybe there’s an off, off, off chance he even flirted with telling her the truth, but he says he wants to go to city hall, do the deed and run off somewhere. For someone who isn’t big on weddings, you’d think this would be a dream proposal, but Alice says she can’t leave, citing Mr. X. as the reason. That’s the moment that could have changed the trajectory of both their lives. Had she said yes, he’d have left it all behind for her. Alice tells her fiance she loves him, but the moment has passed. He kisses her on the forehead and gets up to leave. Alice say’s she’ll see him that night, but Hall simply responds “Bye.”
When Alice gets to work, she can’t focus and tells her cohorts about Christopher’s suggestion. Valerie can’t believe Alice turned him down. Suddenly, Alice is in her car racing back home. She leaves a message for Christopher, telling him she’s on board. She arrives home and sees all of his belongings are gone from the closet. Alice tries his cell phone and finds that it has been disconnected. She races to his office, and it’s empty as well.
The “X” Factor
Alice seems more concerned with the 1.4 million dollars she gave Christopher than losing the supposed love of her life. That hefty chunk of change was her entire savings. Danny points out the guy is a pro. Hall’s entire web presence is gone, and he’s got no way to start investigating. Alice has photos, but as she pulls them up on her computer, she realizes that Hall’s face isn’t visible in one of them. Valerie tries to comfort Alice, but all she wants is to find Christopher, today. Alice quickly comes to terms with the fact that she knows nothing about Christopher Hall because the guy doesn’t exist.
A flashback reveals he came in as a client, recommended by a man named Seth Hamilton. After their sales pitch, Hall decides to Anderson Vaughan just wasn’t a good fit. Alice tracked him down, and invited herself to dinner with him. His excuse for going with a competing firm was conflict of interest-his romantic interest in Alice.
Alice now realizes it was a textbook con, and she was the mark. She approached him. A con man creates a situation where the mark approaches him or wants something from him. Because they started dating, Hall never became a client, and they never vetted him.
A con man gives and gives and never takes. This establishes trust and results in the mark dependent on him and keeps coming back. He never asks for anything, so the mark gives him everything. Sophie questions if Hall ever asked her for anything, and she says not that she recalls. Valerie reminds her he did ask for one thing, for her to marry him. In actuality, Alice wound up doing the asking.
Sophie wonders why Hall would target a private investigator, the one person most likely to bring him down? Alice begins to see the full picture. She tells Danny to check their security protocols to look for any irregularities. It wasn’t her Hall was after, it was their clients. That’s how he always to stay one step ahead. Christopher is Mr. X.
Danny discovers their system has been hacked and all the security protocols changed. As Alice comes to terms with being had, Margot and Mr. X/Christopher Hall/Ben take everything. He had every password, every log in, everything he needed to drain their clients’ accounts.
Sophie discovers Hall hasn’t touched the accounts, and Danny re encrypted their codes, so the data Hall has won’t do him any good. Valerie wants to inform their clients, but Alice warns her that nobody will stay with a security firm that’s been hacked. She wants to monitor the accounts and wait for him to make his move.
Alice Figures Out Mr. X’s Endgame
The next morning Valerie and Alice get a visit from an FBI agent named Jules Dao (Jacky Ido). He wants their help finding a man wanted for intellectual property theft, burglary and fraud. They have no clear photos or a name, but Dao has tracked him across Europe for two years, and he now believes he’s in LA. Dao is obviously talking about Mr. X. because he mentions the man stole five million dollars from Alice and Valerie’s clients this year. Dao wants to work together, but Alice tells him they can’t disclose any client information without talking to them first.
Valerie thinks they should have told Dao everything, but Alice isn’t about to sit in a room full of smug FBI agents telling them what happened to her. She wants until the end of the day to find something.
She returns home and tears the place apart, but it’s been swept clean. She goes to his office and finds his car still in his parking place. She breaks in, but in the midst of her search, she spots Dao. Dao wants to know who Hall is, and what he took from her. If Alice tells him, he can help. She tells him he can’t help her and drives off.
Danny, Sophie, Valerie and Alice brainstorm trying to figure out Mr. X.’s endgame. Hall took their contacts, emails, calendars and security data. Sophie says this means he knows who all their clients are, but Valerie says Hall’s always known, he got to them through Seth Hamilton. Alice decides he was using them to get to Seth.
Seth Hamilton is about to announce a new technology that will generate billions of dollars, and Christopher is going to steal it. They vetted everyone going to the launch, and Mr. X. is going to use that information to become one of those people, giving him direct access to one of their biggest clients.
Mr. X. arrives at the party posing as Andrew Merrick. He introduces himself to Hamilton who ushers him straight to the product. Hamilton has come up with a water filtration system, converting saltwater to fresh. He’s got the specs on a hard drive that he puts in his jacket pocket. No big shock, X picks Hamilton’s pocket pretty handily. He passes it off to Reggie who’s posing as a waiter. The timing is fortuitous because Alice walks in with her team. Reggie kills the lights, and X disappears.
Even though they get away, Reggie thinks X/Hall/Ben cut it very close, standing there staring at Alice as if he was going to ask her to dance. Ben swears he was looking for an escape route, but Reggie knows that’s a lie. He warns Ben that if Margot finds out, she’ll kill both Ben and Alice.
This time, it’s Alice who’s one step ahead. She had Sophie, who also happens to be an expert hacker, build a back-up plan into the thumb drive they gave Seth.
Margot, Reggie and Ben realize they’ve been conned. Sophie’s back-up plan cleaned them out. This is bad news because their “benefactor” is expecting payment. Margot orders Ben to fix it.
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Just Because it Didn’t Last Doesn’t Mean it Wasn’t Love
Ben heads to the museum where Alice made her earlier bust and stares at the painting she saved.
Alice finds it hanging in her house hours later that night. The painting has some personal significance. It’s of a man with his face buried in a woman’s neck. Christopher knew Alice was hired to protect it, and when he saw it, he told her he knew how the man felt. This hearkens back to something the man who was trying to steal it said to Alice about the subjects of the painting. Alice remarked the woman looks sad, and the thief said it was because she was in love. Alice responded the man didn’t seem to have any doubts, but he pointed out the male subject isn’t showing his eyes. But just because it doesn’t last, doesn’t mean it isn’t love.
Staring at the painting, Alice simply says “You want to play, let’s play.”
The Catch airs Thursdays at 10pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)