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Motive Review: Murderous Counterpunch in ‘Brute Force’

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 8 years ago

‘Brute Force,’ in cryptology, refers to dominating an uncooperative subject through extreme measures for the purpose of exploiting a weakness when all other avenues have proven ineffectual.

How does one kill an iron-willed, mountainously muscled and undefeated erstwhile Olympic-boxing gold medalist when you’re a half-pint in a wheelchair? Brute force. That’s how. Brute force and cunning.

In this week’s Motive, our killer, wheelchair-bound Joey Mason (Jarod Joseph), exploits familial intimacy to render defenseless, and murder, his business partner brother. Joey and Mark ‘Machine’ Mason (Adrian Holmes) own a struggling boxing gym whose doors are kept barely propped open by Machine’s wife’s profits from her own business.

Despite Joey’s attempts to revitalize the business with new revenue streams, Machine self-righteously insists that money perverts the purity of the sport. Well, you can’t take purity to the bank, and self-righteousness doesn’t even taste good with ketchup — though everything tastes good with ketchup — but you have to be able to afford it!

To add insult to injury, Machine takes the gym’s most profitable fighter, Ricky ‘Bam Bam’ Perez (George Tchortov), into the ring and pulverizes him, forcing Bam Bam to quit the gym. With no revenue and few resources, gym equipment falls into disrepair, injuring Joey devastatingly when a faulty railing crashes down upon him during a workout. The injury lands Joey in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, emasculating him to the point that all he produces is ‘soft serve,’ according to Bam Bam.

What at first blush appears to be a case of murder motivated by money and frustration, in the final analysis proves to be a a solid case of resentment — and revenge. It turns out Machine never intended to spin his talent into gold. Machine’s only goal: fighting for the love of the sport. He never had the heart to tell Joey, choosing instead to fake a limiting knee injury.

(ABC/Kharen Hill) JAROD JOSEPH

(ABC/Kharen Hill)
JAROD JOSEPH

Finally, Joey confronts Machine about his knee injury and accuses him of being weak and disingenuous. Stunned, Machine is defenseless against Joey’s attack on his knee — which Joey pulverizes with a handheld barbell — and is also defenseless against Joey’s preplanned attack during which Joey skewers him through the back with the pokey ends of his disassembled wheelchair. *Involuntary shiver.*

How is the case solved? Detective’s Flynn and Vega have taught us that the how is not as key as the why. Suffice it to say that our detectives catch Joey being ‘swishy’ (Flynn’s way of saying ‘wishy-washy’) about suspects in a line up. Then Joey holds two press conferences despite being explicitly asked not to. Flynn and Vega use the media themselves to lull him into a false sense of security, then tell him they know Machine’s wife is the killer. Finally, they accuse Joey of being a parasite and killing his own brother. Gotcha!

Joey’s final grudge line after being caught: ‘Undefeated Mark Mason. I beat him. Me.’ 

Wow. Them’s some sour grapes, baby!

So, eleven episodes into a thirteen episode season and are we hooked on Motive yet, America? Canada is giving it another go in 2014, but do we have enough interest when our time slots are being competed for by the likes of train-wreckingly gripping reality shows and fantastical scripted fairy tale romance dramas? You have to admit, focusing on motive is an interesting premise, but how many ways can we go with it?

Columbo—the movie-length series featuring an unkempt yet indefatigable sleuth invented the inverted detective mysteries and turned it into a sixty-nine episode franchise, winning several awards over the years including a spot in TV Guide’s 2013 list of  ‘The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time.’

Detective Flynn uses one of Columbo’s most effective tools, the afterthought inquiry which goes something like this, ‘Oh, just one more question, sir …’ The question we have to ask ourselves is, Is Kristin Lehman as good at it as Peter Falk? This reviewer thinks she is. She’s also more interesting—and would be even more so if we got to know her a little better.

Speaking of which, how much do we know about her? She’s a single mom by choice and doesn’t get a lot of romantic action as evidenced by this great line from tonight’s episode:

‘God, if I had a dollar for every guy who asked to play with my handcuffs, I’d only have a few bucks!”

What else? She has close and comfortable relationship with her subtly charismatic partner, Detective Vega, who is also single, but a has regular date nights and occasionally shows up in yesterday’s clothing. Hm. Do the two detectives have chemistry? Yeah. And it’s a good chemistry, a charming chemistry, but is it enough to carry a show?

And what about the motives of our killers? Every Gumshoe in make-believe history from Dick Tracy to Inspector Clouseau or Jack Bauer to Agent Seeley Booth will tell you it always boils down to love or money. However, Motive has taught us that it’s not always that clear cut. In eleven episodes, we’ve had three killers who took lives simply to protect a damning secret. Then we had five who killed out of revenge, sometimes mixed with love or money.

In eleven episodes, we’ve had four semi-intentional, five deliberate, and two accidental murders.

So, I guess we could say that the one thing for sure is that murder is as complicated as motive. According to 6.83 million viewers who, week after week, choose to watch Motive over reruns of such programming as Hollywood Game Night, New Girl, and America’s Next Top Model—Motive has a fair shot at getting and American nod for summer 2014.

What would your motive be to look for Motive next Spring?

**Did anyone else notice the irony of the killer sharing the last name of another famous character in a wheelchair? Joey Mason—Perry Mason!

Next week’s two part season finale of Motive has a new bride killing a high-powered executive assistant. With a brand new life ahead of her, is Sonia Brauer a deliberate murderer. If she is, is it revenge, love, keeping a skeleton closeted, or money that ruins her vows?

Tune into “Ruthless” and “The One Who Got Away,” guest starring Amanda Tapping, Thursday August (from 8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on ABC to find out!

Motive Season Finale: Amanda Tapping Guest Stars

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