Is it possible to solve a murder without getting attached to your potential suspects? That's part of the premise behind NBC's new show "Deception," which followed one cop who had to deal with that problem on a regular basis.
"Deception" followed Detective Joanna Padget Locasto (Meagan Good) as she made a successful career for herself as a Narcotics detective, but she had to say goodbye to her career for a trip down memory lane. Joanna opened her front door to find her former partner/ex flame Will Moreno (Laz Alonso) who informed her about the suspicious death of her childhood best friend Vivian Bowers. Will recruited Joanna to go undercover as a way to find out what happened to Vivian, but Joanna's new assignment will end up opening some old wounds that she thought were long buried. Joanna's list of suspects included Vivian's ruthless father Robert (Victor Garber) and her deceptive stepmother Sofia (Katherine LaNasa). Robert and Sofia had many secrets that could've led to Vivian's demise, but the biggest one involved her half sister Mia's (Ella Rae Peck) true connection to Vivian. She also had to contend with Vivian's brothers Julian (Wes Brown) and Edward (Tate Donovan) who both had strong motives to want Vivian dead. Will Joanna be able to remain objective enough to arrest the killer once their identity has been revealed?
In terms of questions, "Deception" posed some strong ones but the greatest one was whether or not the show could last past the first season. What will the show do once Vivian's killer is caught? Will it turn into a routine procedural show or try to connect Joanna to another set of suspects? Shows that tended to focus on one mystery often lost steam pretty quickly. Take David Lynch's twisty "Twin Peaks" for instance, which followed one agent as he tried to find out who murdered one teenage girl. The set-up started with such promise, but the big reveal took way too long and the execution lacked the same panache that the premiere had. Let's hope that "Deception" doesn't make the same mistake as "Twin Peaks" did, but the show has demonstrated that it won't likely slow down anytime soon. The premiere's breezy pace kept viewers interested and invested in Joanna's quest to find her friend's killer. The show wisely focused on the story through her point of view because she was a somewhat objective person who provided valuable insight into why Vivian's death should matter to viewers. Fingers crossed that the rest of the cast will get the chance to tell their own stories in future episodes.
As for breakout stars, Good led the charge as the charming and observant Joanna. She embodied Joanna with a sense of intelligence and street smarts that allowed her to survive anything that came her way. After a memorable guest starring role on "Californication," Good has finally gotten a leading role that she can sink her teeth into. She played Joanna as a man who wasn't a victim or second fiddle to someone else. Her character made life or death decisions on a daily basis without blinking an eye. Good had a genuine rapport with Alonso that was comfortable, but the real tension came from her scenes with Brown's Julian. It was hard to tell whether Good should trust Brown or arrest him for murder. There was one tell tale scene that made viewers questioned Julian's motives, or proved to be the ultimate red herring down the line. Donovan also seemed to be playing against type as a family man who hid a much darker personality that could get Joanna killed if she wasn't too careful. Only time will tell if the mystery should be solved or ignored when the time comes.
"Deception" premieres on January 7th and airs Mondays at 10:00 PM on NBC.
Verdict: Good has found a leading role that she could sink her teeth into. Let's hope that the show will continue to allow her time to shine each week.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)