How Does THE CATCH’S Alice Vaughan Stack Up Against Shondaland’s Other Heroines?
By Chelsea A. Hensley
The Catch is everything one might hope of a Shondaland production: flashy, sexy and fun. Alice (Mireille Enos) goes from blushing bride to woman scorned when her con man fiance (Peter Krause) takes off with her money and her firm’s impressive client list. Cue the chess game that ABC has already funneled a hefty bit of their promotional budget into. Courtesy of its splashy promos, we already know how things will progress from here: push and pull, cat and mouse, love and hate, and maybe a sexy tango here and there. The twists and turns will likely be frequent, the sex scenes scandalous, and if all goes well Enos will join Kerry Washington, Ellen Pompeo and Viola Davis in primetime fame.
Shonda Rhimes has built a veritable ecosystem out of her TGIT lineup (plus upcoming titles that will have to air some other night during the week, right?), and ABC has run away with it. Putting three of television’s most talked about, most watched, most lauded shows back to back is a triumph, and any show slipping into one of their timeslots is going to have big shoes to fill. Enter The Catch, taking up How To Get Away With Murder’s vacated 10 PM spot on Thursday nights and replacing Annalise Keating’s shadowy legal cabal with Alice Vaughan’s sharply dressed squad of private eyes. So how does Alice Vaughan compare to her predecessors?
Unless The Catch decides to try out being an ensemble (a feat only Grey’s Anatomy has managed to achieve) this show is going to live and die by Mireille Enos. Like Ellen Pompeo, Kerry Washington, and Viola Davis, she’s going to be The Catch’s beating heart. Enos was the only lead actor exempt from the show’s casting shuffle early in production, proving the show’s always had a plan in mind for her and Alice Vaughan. Far from her last television role on the perpetually cloudy and often rainy The Killing, Enos is practically a ray of sunshine in The Catch (which has a warmer, more welcoming color palette than The Killing and the rest of Shondaland combined). The Catch’s breeziness permeates Enos’ performance as she flashes numerous high-wattage smiles and bats thoroughly mascaraed eyelashes. When we first meet her she’s flirting with a would-be thief at an art show, her coy veneer giving way to a slick confidence as she stops the thief in his tracks and hands him over to police (her favorite part). Enos switches effortlessly between calculating and sultry, next frazzled and paranoid and can swing back around to romantic and flirtatious.
Shondaland’s penchant for putting its leading ladies through the emotional ringer (Meredith Grey can testify to that) appears here as Alice’s pre-wedding giddiness is shattered by Ben/Christopher’s betrayal. Though it’s difficult to really buy into their relationship with a only a few flashbacks to their courtship, there’s no question that she’s gutted by the realization that she’s been played. Like her Shondaland fellows Alice is at the top of her field, the best of the best (even though I’m not entirely sure what their company does–they’re a security firm?), but she’s vulnerable in matters of the heart. Like Olivia Pope’s blind spot surrounding president Fitz Grant and Annalise Keating’s compulsion to protect her (often ungrateful) students, Alice misses every single sign that points to Ben/Christopher’s true motivations: his careful manipulation that had her offering up everything (including her savings) while he offered little, his inability to take a decent picture, and her proposing to him.
Alice’s relationships outside of Ben/Christopher (Christoben? Benstopher?) are hard to judge this early in the game, but she’s clearly capable of maintaining productive professional and personal relationships, and that puts her ahead of Olivia and Annalise. She shares a partnership with Valerie (Rose Rollins), and while they aren’t yet at Meredith/Cristina levels, Alice and Valerie’s scenes are some of the most engaging as they sit and chat about their respective issues. Less engaging (but there’s still time!) are the other two people rounding out the group: Alice spends a bit of time with new addition lawyer/hacker Sophie (Elvy Yost), but Jay (Danny Yoon) is defined mostly by his disdain for his new coworker. Alice never feels as though she’s in danger of falling down a rabbit hole never to be heard from again. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were treated to a storyline at some point about her vendetta against Christoben becoming unhealthy and consuming, but by surrounding Alice with people fully aware of the situation (even the federal agent they were so worried about is in on it now), she won’t drown in it.
Shondaland’s overabundant success makes it harder for it to fail. There was that one show a million years ago, about doctors in the woods or something, that everyone has totally forgotten about, but The Catch is the first show we’ve gotten since Shondaland hit the success trifecta with HTGAWM. The expectations are higher, and only two episodes in it’s impossible to say how The Catch, or its leading lady, will look at the end of the season. Right now it’s all fun and games and hateful but longing looks across dance floors, but if Shondaland has taught us anything it’s that we can only expect the unexpected.
But I still have a good feeling.
Watch a new episode of The Catch tonight on ABC.