Recap and review of Deception – Season 1 Episode 4 – One, Two,Three…One, Two, Three:
Perhaps the best thing that Deception has going for it, other than the handsome way it’s filmed, is in how each episode gives the appearance of forward momentum in the investigation. Much of “One, Two, Three…One, Two, Three” sees Joanna (Meagan Good) making significant progress towards her goal of getting a confession out of Julian Bowers (Wes Brown), and while we do learn more about what transpired on the night that Vivian Bowers (Bree Williamson) died, we’re pretty much back to square one by the end of the episode, with Edward (Tate Donovan) remaining at the top of the suspect list, at least as far as Will (Laz Alonso) is concerned. And with no evidence to tell him differently, Edward is going to continue to be out front in the “Who Killed Vivian Bowers?” Power Rankings. On the subject of Will, he’s gone from an inoffensive romantic interest to the most obnoxious character on the show. His warped gender politics and his relentless jealousy over Julian having been Joanna’s first, seventeen years ago, fueled much of the narrative tension of the episode, at least as far as our ostensible love triangle is concerned. While it’s certainly easy to understand why he’d be mad that Joanna never told him this, since the revelation could torpedo any case they build against Julian, should he be guilty of Vivian’s murder, he takes it pretty far overboard, particularly given that he’d recruited her for this assignment in the first place. This doesn’t stop him from nearly pulling her off the case, and one can never really tell if it’s his concern for Joanna’s safety motivating his desire to get her out of there, or if it’s his fear that Joanna and Julian are getting too close for his own personal comfort. It adds yet another shade of ambiguity to a show populated with characters of increasing shades of such vagueness.
After making the connection last week between Julian’s ring and the bruise on Vivian’s face, Joanna decides that it’s time to get the truth out of her ex-lover. She gets fitted with a wire, and then goes about flirting with Julian to get him into a compromising position, drinks flowing, his drunkenness giving way to a compulsive need to come clean. But that doesn’t happen on the first try. It only results in the revelation that Julian was her first, which sends Will into his aforementioned jealous tizzy. And so she asks for another opportunity, this time getting Julian to take her out to dinner in a fancy restaurant. They don’t appear to have been drinking terribly long before Julian can no longer bear to keep silent. We get a flashback to the night of Vivian’s death, where Julian tried to dissuade Vivian from blowing the whistle on their family secret, only for her to throw his favored child status back in his face, saying that he could never accomplish anything without their father’s help, and that his life and his future have their father’s fingerprints all over it. She calls him a fraud, he backhands her with his ring hand, and it’s all very dramatic and soapy, like we’ve come to expect from this show. The Bowers appear to be a family full of amateur dramatists, wringing the most pathos out of every situation in their lives. Vivian storms off after Julian strikes her, with Julian attempting to go after her, but failing. He admits to Joanna that he went home after the confrontation.
Not yet satisfied with Julian’s answers, Vivian plays magnanimous and allows Julian to cook her dinner, believing she has a shot at getting the whole truth out of him. And this third date works, for the most part, as Julian reveals that he didn’t actually go home after talking to Vivian. He states he shacked up with a lady friend, to whom he frequently turned in times of distress, to remedy his worries with sex. It’s hardly a full confession, and making matters worse is Julian’s lack of patience of Joanna’s persistent line of inquiry. He cancels their dinner date and sends her away, and while Joanna has actually come to believe that Julian didn’t kill Vivian, she appears to have done real damage to whatever potential romance they were rekindling, to say nothing of how Will continues to freeze her out. It looks like Joanna is back to square one in both her love life and the investigation. That said, Joanna’s determination to see the investigation through, no matter the cost, is a good direction for her, as a character, and will go a long way in helping to develop her into a character we can root for, as opposed to someone jerked this way or that by the men in her life. And really, it’s not like everything is coming up roses for Will either, as he fails to catch Ben Preswick (the father of Vivian’s unborn child) after a chase through an apartment building. Will on the run, Ben attacks Edward, steals his vehicle, and uses his ID to break into the Bowers’ headquarters, where Joanna (a woman who’s infinitely more competent than the man in charge of the investigation), is able to corner him, wrestle him down, and put an end to all of his running…by revealing she’s a cop. I really dug Joanna’s on-the-spot call to reveal her identity to Ben, as the ingenuity of the decision makes her a more savvy character who thinks on her feet. Of course, this could all end disastrously, but even if it does, it has the potential to bear richer fruit than any storyline twist Joanna has instigated thus far. Count me in.
Meanwhile, Edward meets with Senator Haverstock (John Larroquette), who reveals that he’s responsible for making the charges against Edward, following his arrest for the murder of young intern Kimberly Yeager, disappear completely. Haverstock insists on setting up contact with Robert (Victor Garber) so as to collect on a deal he’d made with the Bowers patriarch which would allow Edward to go scot-free. Edward remembers pieces of the tragic night in question, in which he slept with Kimberly Yeager, and then blacked out, remembering nothing that happened after, including whether or not he actually killed her. As if on cue, he gets a flashback of a repressed memory in which he recalls waking up to a dead body just outside his room, and while Robert neither confirms nor denies Edward’s culpability in the death of Kimberly Yeager, he implores his son not to listen to Haverstock, a turncoat who’s had it out for their family for years. Robert confronts Haverstock on his yacht, punches him out, and threatens him with ruin if he ever comes near his family again. I do enjoy the gradual revelation of a dark side to Robert, one that is equally parts noble as it is sinister, as a man will always defend his family, particularly when it’s a family of as high a standing as the Bowers, and with as much to lose.
Lastly, there’s the continued saga of Mia (Ella Rae Peck) and her romance with motorcycle-ridin’ bad boy Kyle (David A. Gregory), of whom Robert doesn’t approve. Sophia (Katherine LaNasa) actually comes across as motherly, for once, helping her “daughter” pick out a dress, and telling her a story about how in love she was with her upon her birth. She also defers to Robert’s opinion about this boy with whom Mia is completely taken, although later, when Sophia gets the chance to meet Kyle, she employs her motherly instincts, telling Kyle, “If you’re after anything other than my daughter’s heart, I’ll eat yours.” It would be chilling if it weren’t so corny, but it’s exactly the kind of salacious, tacky line that works on a show like this, and LaNasa delivers it with a winking sense of deadpan humor. Sophia still isn’t the best character in the show, but I’m slowly turning the corner on her potential.
“One, Two, Three…One, Two, Three” is an episode that charts the development of Deception into a series that could potentially be worth watching as an hour of escapist television every Monday. I don’t think this series has more in it than that. But I doubt it was ever supposed to be more than a densely plotted soap, so perhaps it really is better to take it at face value. Regardless, this is one of the better episodes so far, owing to a narrative that doesn’t try to do too much, but also doesn’t do too little. It does just enough to get by until next week, where (according to the preview below) things will start actually happening.