Motive Addresses a Parent’s Worst Nightmare in “Crimes of Passion”
By Catherine Cabanela
This week’s Motive killer was Dennis-Hopper-in-Blue-Velvet creepy and just about every parent’s worst nightmare—the long-time family friend legitimized by wife, child, and with a wall of awards touting his outstanding community service—but covertly nursing a penchant for deviant, role-playing blackmail games with nubile felonious surrogates he forces to dress up as private school co-eds who look startlingly like your daughter. Holy – – !
Thursday’s episode ‘Crimes of Passion’ exposed ex-prosecutor and promising mayoral candidate, David Jacobs (Noam Jenkins of Rookie Blue and Covert Affairs fame). Jacobs drove his weapon of choice—a purloined fire-engine red muscle car belonging to the victim’s boyfriend—right into his bicycle-riding de facto niece and babysitter, Tiffany Greenwood (Heartland’s Siobhan Williams) so forcefully that she was thrown right out of her shoes and branded with a grisly impression of the hood lock assembly in her thigh. Who does that? Well, go back and read the first paragraph.
Detectives Flynn (Kristin Lehman of Judging Amy, The Killing) and Vega (Louis Ferreira of SGU Stargate Universe, Missing) identify the vehicle-turned murder weapon almost immediately and take the boyfriend, Kevin West (Anthony Konechny) into custody. West, whose brains have yet to catch up with his biceps, has his own apartment, and a life that revolves around nailing his girlfriend and playing with his car (not in that order), is an easy target. Jacobs, ever the faithful Greenwood family friend, pressures Staff Sergeant Boyd Bloom (Jamaican-born, Canadian-bred Roger R. Cross, Arrow and 24) to put the heat on Flynn and Vega for a swift close before the truth surfaces. Hmm, typical CYA maneuver.
Every crime procedural has their own angle, be it relentless evidence collection and interpretation, powerful observational skills, or brilliant forensic anthropology—and sometimes all the above, but in a different location: Las Vegas, Miami, New York, for example. Motive takes a sideways approach as evidenced by Detective Flynn’s comment to Vega, “Let’s forget about the who—and focus on the why.” In doing so, a motive is uncovered, suspects are eliminated, and the true murderous impetus is revealed along with its perpetrator. Motive’s premise is that the crux of any crime is the nasty life-threatening, career-ending secrets the killers are desperately determined to hide—even to the point of committing murder.
So, what would compel a viewer to sit through eleven more episodes of Motive’s freshman season? Good acting, to start. The relationship between Detectives Flynn and Vega, (who exudes the confidence and subtle sexiness of one such as Armand Asante, by the way), is not the center of this drama, though their easy banter and amused cajoling of each other is a pleasure to watch. An example:
Flynn: When you’re seventeen, yours is the only opinion that matters.
Vega: I was never a seventeen-year-old girl.
Flynn: Well, I was.
Vega: Yes, I know you were—a very long time ago.
Flynn, holding up a piece of paper to shield her hand as she flips Vega the bird: “Guess many fingers am I holding up?”
Neither are the forensics served up as the main course. My favorite line so far this season flies in the face of what all the other procedurals seem to be enamored of. During an interrogation, Flynn tosses off, “The forensics guys are doing their thing with all their stuff.” How many fingers do you think she was holding up toward Las Vegas, Miami, and New York that time?
Two other compelling reasons to continue watching are more personal. We live in a world where seemingly innocuous people are hiding big ugly secrets, which sometimes go terribly wrong—as they always do each episode. Last week’s case of the boy with the manifesto was reminiscent of the Unibomber and the Sandy Hook tragedy. This week’s case brings to mind Sandusky’s atrocious covert activities while assistant coach at Penn State. We all have dark spots in our personalities or pesky skeletons in our closets. What I want to know is—what makes a person go over the edge like these did. What turns fear into a Motive?
In next week’s episode, ‘Pushover’, Crewson, a mild-mannered cruise ship customs agent is compelled by his lover, a waitress at Crewson’s greasy spoon, to kill a limousine driver. Why? You’ll have to tune in THURSDAY, MAY 30 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on ABC to find out.