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Motive “Fallen Angel” Review: Gone to the Dogs

By on August 16, 2013
KRISTIN LEHMAN, LOUIS FERREIRA, JORDANA LARGY

Wow. This week’s episode had everything. Porn and gambling habits, greed, violence, lying, stealing, cheating, betrayal — and blasphemy. Dang. Did we leave anything out? Oh, yes. Murder. Murder, and a really screwed-up motive!

This week’s Motive—directed by Andy Mikita who produced runaway cult dramas Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis—pokes a sharp stick at the oft-times duplicitous nature of benevolence in the form of servitude. With ten episodes under our belt, we’re used to Motive’s propensity for polarizing conundrums woven into dingy canvases of messages more ominous and personal. This week is no different and we ask: under what circumstances is it okay to take another human life? What is a reasonable motive? Is there even such a thing? Actually, this seems to be the question hanging in the air—After. Every. Motive. Episode. Not that there’s anything wrong with that …

In “Fallen Angel” orphaned Felix Hausman (Dustin Milligan) is now a thirtysomething with a hefty martyr complex, a gambling habit, and a sad mobile mailing address. Imagine how surprised Hausman (who looks so much like a Cairn Terrier and even washes his face and hands in a rain puddle at one point) is when when he learns from his father’s incarcerated lung cancer-riddled accomplice that the stolen $2 million brilliant cut diamonds he’s serving time at Harper Maxim Security Prison for stealing, are now his—but he won’t say where until he dies. Wow. All Felix’s problems solved, right? Wrong. Before he gets the diamonds he needs help looking for them—from the pastor of St. Roch Church, Father Barnett (Tony Nardi)the man who raised him; the man he’s trusted all these years.

FYI: St. Roch is the patron saint of dogs. I think that’s called irony.

(ABC/Kharen Hill) DUSTIN MILLIGAN

(ABC/Kharen Hill)
DUSTIN MILLIGAN

Queue the ominous music … Well, it seems the contrite (come on, really?) convict confessed the whereabouts of the purloined diamonds to St. Roche’s confessor, Father Barnett, twenty years earlier. Unfortunately, the good Father took it upon himself to use those diamonds to subsidize his failing church. Snap! When the search for the booty proves fruitless, Father ‘Do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do’ Barnett advises a frustrated and destitute Hausman to, ‘unburden yourself. There’s nothing lighter than a forgiving heart.’  What would Father Barnett know about a forgiving heart when his own granite heart has been stealing diamonds off Hausman’s father’s corpse for twenty years. Riddle me that, Batman!

Upon the convict’s death, Hausmen discovers the exact location of the hidden diamonds along with what’s left of his father’s corpse. Realizing the priest’s duplicity, he’s now faced with the dilemma of when it’s okay to kill, but he’s hurt and desperate and too filled with rage to think straight — besides, everything happened so fast. (Not a good state to be in when making life-changing decisions, just so you know!) So, Hausman offs the Catholic priest who took him in and raised him from the age of ten.

Father Barnett was willing to sacrifice the life and sanity of one boy under the auspice of serving the greater good. Barnett seems to think he is The Father in Heaven and Hausman is Christ! Exhibit A: Felix Hausman’s response after confessing ‘I was a son to him (Father Barnett). He sacrificed me. For his church. He took everything that I had.’  Exhibit B: Flynn’s comment, He knew (Your father was dead) and he watched you suffer with that abandonment that rejection. Not subtle at all. Nope.

Did I mention St. Roch is the patron saint of dogs. Just want to be clear about that.

Instead of soul-searching our own answer to the reasonable motive question, it’s easier to shiver and pass it off as a challenge we’ll never face ourselves, right? Like politics and football allegiances, it’s just better not to discuss our own morality over a mocha latte half caf with extra foam because people are divided on this issue and no one wants to start a fight … fighting causes war and war is killing and then we’re back to square one! *Throws hands in air and drops head on table*

But wait one more minute—Motive viewers—did you catch the more subtle message? It came from none other than Detective Vega. Vega, a lapsed Catholic who spent three years St. Augustine Seminary studying to be a priest, is quite vocal about his respect for the Church. As a matter of fact, he says he loves the church and finds the clergy’s sacrifices remarkable and later struggles with the possibility that the priest could have been the accomplice to the diamond theft years earlier. But here’s the cool thing. When he tells the remaining pastor that he left the church because he didn’t care for the politics, the pastor says, “You shouldn’t deny yourself a spiritual life.” To which Vega says what many are saying in this day and age: “I’m still spiritual, Father, just non denominational.”

That is all.

Oh, and St. Roch is the patron saint of dogs.

Tune in next week to find out what would make a guy in a wheel chair knock off a former Olympic boxing gold medalist Mark “Machine” Mason! Tune in Thursday, August 22nd (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on ABC.