Thursday, March 9, 2017

REVIEW: ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Scandal' & 'The Catch' (March 9)

Reviews for ABC's Shondaland shows from March 9:

ABC's Grey's Anatomy - Episode 13.15 "Civil War"
ABC's Scandal - Episode 6.05 "They All Bow Down"
ABC's The Catch - Episode 2.01 "The New Deal"

Due to the demands of Peak TV, it is becoming more and more difficult for this website to devote the time to full length episodic reviews. And yet, there are still thoughts to be had about the ongoing adventures on a number of series. TGIT is back on ABC. So I thought it would be good to still write down a couple of brief thoughts about each episode on a weekly basis. Of course, you can still expect full reviews for premieres and finales. If ABC should make screeners available, those episodes would get detailed analysis as well. But for now, this will be the way to continue to provide content for these shows while also being a lighter workload for me.

Grey's Anatomy - "Civil War"
Richard, Jackson, April and Catherine tackle a grueling trauma case intensified by hospital politics. Amelia finally faces her feelings about Owen. Meredith gets caught between Nathan and Alex over a patient. Written by Elizabeth J.B. Klaviter and directed by Nicole Rubio

Grey's Anatomy
 is in a bit of a lull at the moment because there are very few things that I actually care about. The civil war amongst the attendings has gone on for far too long - with Jackson seeming to be the only one still fighting. That's setting up an interesting personal conflict for him. But it's still the same plot beats the show has been hitting over the last few episodes. Arizona and Eliza's romantic spark is charming but the need to keep it secret and scandalous isn't that great. And of course, Richard walks in on them kissing because that's the cliche moment it's all been building towards. The separation between Owen and Amelia feels like it's the same kind of story and fight they've had for almost their entire relationship. Yes, it's about something new with the baby issue. But the shaping of the characters isn't all that different. And then, there is Meredith's ongoing romantic intrigue with Nathan. That's a story the show has forgotten about lately. It hasn't been important for a long time. Of course, that could be seen as a side effect of Meredith not really being a leading or active character in awhile. So, it's startling when all of this becomes important again. It's good that Nathan takes a firm stance with her. That makes him seem like a good guy who doesn't have time for all these trivial tiffs. And yet, the show really hasn't presented much evidence for why they should or shouldn't work as a couple or why the audience should be invested in them. C+

Scandal - "They All Bow Down"
Jake and Vanessa's messy relationship poses a threat to the campaign, forcing Olivia to take action. A game-changing revelation about the conspiracy surrounding Francisco Vargas' assassination is revealed. Written by Zahir McGhee and directed by Millicent Shelton

The whole purpose of the fifth season of Scandal was Olivia becoming Command. It was a powerful character transformation that had meaning and showed that Olivia is no longer the white hat gladiator she used to be. Now, she's the one who craves power and will do whatever it takes to get it. She will bend the world to her whim to control everything. So, it's frustrating that this season is painting her as just a mere pawn in an even grander conspiracy. This episode makes Olivia seem inconsistent, weak and stupid. She has a number of strong moments in her handling of Vanessa. She has no time for that alcoholic woman and knows exactly how to deal with her. But she goes back-and-forth over Cyrus facing the death penalty in prison. Plus, she seems clueless about Jake figuring out she's investigating him and later getting in the car with him. This episode does enough to shine new light on the big mystery of the season - the assassination of Frankie Vargas. Jake becomes an active part of that story now too. The final reveal that Jennifer Fields is still alive is a genuine shock. But again, the show is just adding another layer of conspiracy that is a little confusing and overwhelming as well. Papa Pope is even afraid of this mysterious new player in town. But that's honestly not as interesting a direction for the show to go in as Olivia Pope being the one in power and controlling all of this wide-reaching conspiracy. B-

The Catch - "The New Deal"
Con man Benjamin Jones has gone from committing the ultimate betrayal to performing the ultimate sacrifice, when he turned himself in to the FBI to save Alice from wrongful imprisonment. Now in jail, Ben is forced to reckon with his criminal past, while the team at Anderson Vaughan Investigations must come to terms with getting in bed with the bad guys. How will Alice and Ben game the system - and each other - to stay together and overcome their less-than-legal pasts? Written by Allan Heinberg and directed by Rob Bowman

The Catch
 aspires to be fun and escapist. It doesn't aspire for prestige in the same way other Shondaland shows do. It simply wants to be light, action adventure with a number of thrilling twists to surprise the audience. It's aware of that fact. So, it's glossy in a very deliberate way. It's a lot of fun too. The show has grown so much over its series run. Of course, it's still problematic as well. The visual of the show cutting two of its African-American lead characters (Alimi Ballard and Jacky Ido) in between seasons is not great - though at least Ido appears in the premiere to explain his absence. Plus, the addition of Gina Torres to the cast could be seen as a major improvement. T.R. Knight is the other major introduction for the season. It's so great to see him back on a Shondaland show. And yet, Alice's brother is a little too twitchy to work. He basically pops up to say mysterious things about Alice's past and get into trouble. That's it. Beyond that, this episode is largely just piece moving with Ben needing to get out of prison and into a new deal with the FBI. That could be tense and intriguing for the future. Ben and Rhys are a compelling partnership. Plus, Alice's life is still being complicated by all of these criminals. That's true in the final moment when Margot arrives at the firm needing Alice's help. That plays as a surprising moment more than something that character would actually do though. She and her business are being targeted. Alice has proven herself to be a capable private investigator. But it's absolutely ridiculous to believe there is any circumstance where these two would work together. B-