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Motive “Against All Odds” Review: The Odds Don’t Always Favor Motherhood

By on June 28, 2013
Image © ABC

Image © ABC

By Catherine Cabanela

The Odds Don’t Always Favor Motherhood.

After a three-week hiatus, Motive delivers a case rife with surprise intended, perhaps, to disabuse the viewer of stereotypical assumptions that ravage society and condemn us to a limited world-view of self-fulfilling prophecy. The good are good and the different are bad, right? Wrong.

Against All Odds, the Vancouver-based whydunnit’s fourth episode, written and executive produced by James Thorpe (Lost Girl, Sanctuary) and directed by Bronwen Hughs (White Collar, Royal Pains), strikes fast by serving up the archetypical jackal in a lawyer’s pelt. Mediator Shawn Mitchel, played by Dylan Neal (Blood Ties, Cedar Cove) appears at first blush to be exactly what his client refers to him as: ‘Counselor Jackass.’ Not so fast, gentle viewer. Not so fast!

Who knows what the guy is like in his business life, but there’s no evidence in this episode of anything but professional arrogance which, to be truthful, actually works for him. As the story unfolds we learn that Mitchell is devoted to his high school sweetheart wife. So, why was he offed on his kitchen floor in the middle of the night? Surely he deserved it, right? Wrong.

Tumbling forward from the Yahtzee cup are more archetypes, some deserving, others not so much.

(ABC/Carole Segal) KRISTIN LEHMAN

(ABC/Carole Segal) KRISTIN LEHMAN

Exhibit A. The killer, inky-eyed Sarah Muller, played by a Natalie Portman-esque Liane Balaban (Supernatural). Muller is a divorced Grand Western-Asia Market grocery store clerk trying to make ends meet to retain custody of her daughter. Sympathetic enough? Sure, especially when seen nearly hysterical and gasping in incredulous desperation and anguish immediately after the kill. But what led her to this?

Exhibit B. Muller’s ex-husband. He’s gotta be a bad guy, right? Wrong. He comes to the daughter’s aid when mom is unreachable through her own negligence, and offers to pay for quality childcare out of his own pocket. We never learn why the couple divorced, only that dad was the one who filed. His screen behavior tells us at least he is trying to do what is best for their child.

Exhibit C. Deanna Mitchell, the victim’s wife, played by the stunningly beautiful Chelah Horsdal (Level Up). When we first learn a million dollar insurance policy was taken out on her husband’s life the previous week, we are suspicious—and are those alligator tears running down her face? Then we learn hubby took out that policy on himself and hired a private detective to follow Deanna around to investigate threats upon Deanna’s life. It ends up that Deanna was oblivious to the insurance policy and the PI. She’s completely innocent—and now, filthy stinking rich by no fault of her own.

Exhibit D.  Craig Norton (Derek Green), a scruffy customer at Muller’s grocery store. He seems a bit sleazy and a little desperate, but, in the end we see he’s a guy with a past who has tried desperately to turn himself around to the point where his outlook on life is one we should all espouse. ‘Can’t let stuff grind you down. It’s never as bad as you think it is. It’ll get better, always does,’ he tells Muller, right before he’s taken away under suspicion of murder. But is he guilty? Not in the least.

Exhibit E. Mitchel’s client, Jack Carlin, played by Peter Kelamis (SGU Stargate Universe) hired Mitchel as a mediator to broker a deal between himself and another businessman. Carlin looks like the perfect killer. He has a history of alleged extortion, attempted bribery of a civic official and aggravated assault. This man has a soul several shades darker than the shadow of the moon during a solar eclipse and has made threats against Mitchel’s life! Now, Carlin is slimy and has plenty of motive, but he also has an alibi … so he’s blameless.  Snap!

Throughout the episode we slowly learn Sarah Muller’s motive and what truly happened. The victim’s wife and two other store customers had purchased MegaBonus lottery tickets from Sarah’s grocery store on the day the winning ticket was sold. None of the three were aware of this fact, but Sarah was. Refusing her ex-husband’s offer of financial assistance to provide adequate care for their child, she needed money to retain custody. Desperate, she broke into the victim’s house to steal the purse containing the winning ticket. Why? She wanted the money so she could support her daughter without the aid of the ex-husband she reviled. Unfortunately, she was interrupted by the victim whom she then stabbed, landing herself in prison for the rest of her daughter’s childhood.

BRENDAN PENNY, KRISTIN LEHMAN, LOUIS FERREIRA

The team work the case. (ABC/Carole Segal) BRENDAN PENNY, KRISTIN LEHMAN, LOUIS FERREIRA

Juxtaposed to the killer’s parenting skills are those of our main character, Detective Angelika Flynn. In this episode we get a further glimpse into Flynn’s personal life. She’s a mom who raised her kid by herself and traded in a nicotine habit for four shots of espresso with five sugars between chugs of Redbull on ‘those kinds of days.’ When her son, Manny, played by Cameron Bright (Godsend, Birth), is cuffed and taken into custody for getting into a fight and breaking several thousand dollars of property in a store defending his girlfriend’s honor, what does she do? She chews him out and lets him stew—all day—in lock-up! Then she reminds him that whatever she does, it is out of love for him. BRAVO, I SAY!

In Motive’s next episode, “Public Enemy,” a raw food advocate is electrocuted in his hot tub by a clothing store clerk. So – what was the motive? You’ll have to tune in THURSDAY, JULY 11th (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on ABC to find out!

One Comment

  1. myrnama

    June 29, 2013 at 3:01 am

    Catherine, you’ve captured all the hi-lights of this episode! Because it had been gone 3 weeks (I seem to recall they told us 2 weeks) I’d almost forgotten about the show…thank goodness for DVR.

    Very fast paced episode, sometimes the flashbacks are a little hard to follow, but am enjoying it. I will give it more time to evaluate. Have you seen “King & Maxwell” on TNT, it’s got a lot of humor in it? I swear, seems like in so many of the new shows lately I see scenes right out of Bones, but maybe that’s just me!!! 😀 Keep up the good reviewing!! M