Recap and review of Deception – Season 1 Episode 5 – Why Wait:
Now that’s more like it. It may have taken four episodes, but Deception has finally kicked into high gear, luxuriating in the salacious family drama that makes shows like these worth all the trouble. Vivian’s death is still a point of contention throughout the episode, but what makes “Why Wait” so effective is in how it pushes that story thread to the back, for the most part, in service of telling a more nuanced tale of family intrigue. A good primetime soap will always have an innocent or two caught in the crossfire, and for Deception, that innocent is Mia Bowers (Ella Rae Peck). Mia is a curious character in how she’s both used to her family’s constant subjection to scandal, and completely torn apart by it. She’s a fairly tragic figure, in this regard, since she didn’t do anything to engender the kind of media scrutiny to which she’s subjected by the end of the episode. She was simply born into a high-profile, controversial family, a choice that was not hers to have made, nor could have been. Joanna (Meagan Good) tells Senator Haverstock (John Larroquette) that she believes Mia is stronger than Vivian was, and so it falls upon the narrative to contrast the differences between these “sisters”, where once it had compared their similarities.
Thanks to the cruel machinations of a tabloid reporter named Nichole Frishette (Anna Wood), the news of Mia’s true parentage hits the internet despite Robert’s (Victor Garber) best attempts at shutting the story down with his extensive network of money and connections. Nichole is bitter that Robert has put the kibosh on the biggest story of her career (which she pieced together from pictures of a flat-stomached Sophia during a time when she should have been visibly pregnant with Mia). She also carries a grudge against Robert for a particularly dispiriting assessment of her worth as a human being, telling her that her junior college education means nothing, and her career means even less, if her life even means anything at all. Robert isn’t necessarily wrong to be so vitriolic, since he’s protecting the innocence and dignity of the girl he’s raised as his daughter for the past sixteen years. But perhaps he might not have inspired Nichole to send the story anyway had he been a touch more delicate. But who’s to say? Nichole seemed like the spiteful sort who’d have no qualms about destroying the reputation of a 16 year-old girl. Hell, after she sends the story, she takes her colleague into her ex-boss’s office for a quick lay. While Nichole is vengeful in her actions, she has motives beyond the damage Robert does to her career prospects, as she suspects that the Bowers had something to do with the death of her friend and colleague Remy, a paparazzo who was an unlikely ally to Joanna in the pilot before being killed. However, regardless of the motives, the revelation has a disastrous effect on Mia.
Mia has been growing closer to her “mother” Sophia (Katherine LaNasa), and her upcoming cotillion serves as the culmination of that mother-daughter bond, as Sophia gives her the pearls her grandmother had worn. Then, in a rare moment of genuine warmth, Sophia tells Mia “you’re the best thing I ever did.” This serves to setup Mia’s heartbreak over the discovery that her parents, whom she genuinely loved and trusted, have been lying to her all her life. Worse, everyone at the cotillion finds out before she does, from surfing the internet on their smartphones. Mia’s geeky best friend nobly tries to shield her from the truth, but it’s no use. She swipes a friend’s phone and reads the headline herself, discovering that Vivian was not her older sister, but her biological mother. Though her friend offers to get her out of there, she goes through with the presentation anyway, even having the first dance with her “father”, taking the opportunity to ambush him with what she’s learned. Robert can’t duck her questions anymore, and can only apologize to her – which doesn’t do anyone any good, as Mia storms off despite Robert and Sophia’s attempts to reason with her. As if on cue, Kyle (David A. Gregory) arrives on his motorcycle and whisks her away to safe anonymity. It’s one of the better sequences this series has done so far, owing to the heartbreaking nature of innocence being further twisted and ruined by intrigue. Senator Haverstock remarks to Joanna how amusing it is to watch the Bowers family drama unfold, and if he isn’t revealed to be Mia’s biological father, I’ll eat my hat.
That said, there are plenty of other developments that put “Why Wait” in the “win” column. There was considerably less Will (Laz Alonso) this week, meaning less grousing about Joanna’s feelings for Julian (Wes Brown). We also met their boss, Donald Cheng (Ken Leung), who told them to get the hell over whatever emotional mess they’ve made with one another, so they can focus on the case. Will eventually owns up to his lousy attitude, and he and Joanna make amends. I sincerely doubt the love triangle is anywhere close to ending any time soon, even if Julian doesn’t seem to want to talk to Joanna after she suggested he might have been responsible for Vivian’s death. I’m hot and cold on the love triangle, depending on the episode, but I feel it was well-handled here. Honestly, the less Will is written to be a whiny, entitled jackass, the better off the story is from week-to-week. And yet, for all the talk of how Joanna is conflicted about her feelings for Julian, the playboy Bowers son has a burgeoning love life of his own, as an old flame re-enters his life, Audrey Cruz (Paloma Guzmán), a former Bowers employee who is secretly woman working for a competing firm, one with its own version of Lyritrol. This competing firm’s version of Lyritrol has been fast-tracked for FDA approval, causing the Bowers to panic. Audrey ducks into the bathroom to vomit at the end of the episode, and I can only guess that they’re implying a pregnancy, which would be an interesting road for this storyline to take, since Julian is something of a mercurial figure at this point, not really knowable, but not entirely beyond analyzing either. There’s a lot going on underneath the surface, and it’ll be interesting to see how his change in circumstances might bring that inner pathos out.
Lastly, the big shocker at the end of the episode (seems we get one every week – not that I’m complaining), as Ben Preswick (Tom Lipinski) bites the dust after getting hit by a bus. A BUS! Seriously, that was one hell of a show-closer. The storyline also provided us with some intriguing turns in the murder investigation. Ben, to whom Joanna revealed her undercover identity last week, reveals that he was intent on obtaining a document detailing the negative effects of supposed “miracle drug” Lyritrol, which has killed 27 people. The Bowers have allegedly been paying off the families of the victims in order to keep the news out of the papers. However, Ben and Vivian were intent on exposing the truth to the world – a plan that was brought to a screeching halt upon Vivian’s death. In a turn that’s nearly as surprising as the final sting of the episode is the revelation that Edward Bowers (Tate Donovan) is the third party that knows about the secret document, which is what motivated him to protect Preswick. This would seem to suggest that we can probably cross Edward off the list of suspects in Vivian’s murder. Of course, given how transparently slimy he was portrayed in the first two episodes, it’s no surprise that the clear-cut bad guy isn’t really the bad guy at all. With everything they’ve learned from Preswick, Joanna attempts to find the document on Robert’s computer, using his ID, but discovers that the file is conspicuously absent. Before they can get anymore help from Preswick, we see him talking with a mysterious party on a public payphone, telling the mystery caller that he did what they asked, and he wants to be free. The panic and desperation, as well as the sudden appearance of Edward, who wants Ben to keep his damn mouth shut, leads to Preswick getting cut down by a city bus when he fails to look both ways. Serves him right for not exercising the most basic rules of traffic safety. That said, with Preswick dead, a significant lead in Vivian’s murder investigation has gone by the wayside.
“Why Wait” is a surprisingly good episode for this show, keeping it tight and concise, and moving the story forward, packing in logical developments with compelling twists. The pieces on the game board are moving, alliances and motives are shifting, and the family drama is as tense as it’s ever been. Did Robert kill Vivian to keep her from blowing the whistle on Lyritrol? Who is Mia’s biological father? And who was on the other line just before Ben Preswick was killed? It certainly helps the momentum of the show to have these smaller mysteries peppered in along with the big, central mystery. It gives the show depth that didn’t seem apparent before. Episodes like these can only help the series to become a more formidable soap/mystery as the weeks go on.