Is it possible to commit the perfect crime without getting caught over one minor detail? Unfortunately, that's not the case and is often part of the premise behind ABC's second season of "Motive," which had a group of police detectives finding out why a person was killed in order to get to the who part of the mystery. Sure, cop shows have been done repeatedly in recent years in various degrees, but the show's execution helped to make it stand out above some of them.
"Motive" followed Detective Angie Flynn (Kristin Lehman) and her partner Detective Oscar Vega (Louis Ferreira) as they often put the legal limits to solve a murder case. Despite their very different personalities, Flynn and Vega made their partnership work because they had a level of trusts that most cops don't have with their colleagues. They compliment each other, because Vega helped to reign Flynn before one of her impulsive case ideas threatened to get her into some serious trouble. Unfortunately, the partners weren't able to overlook a secret from Angie's past that could ruin their once strong partnership for good. The arrival of Sergeant Mark Cross (Warren Christie) was a change in leadership for Angie as she watched someone she despised become her new boss for reasons that only she knew about. She pretended to Vega that it was because he should've gotten the promotion instead of Cross, but she hinted that she had a past connection with Cross that went horribly bad years earlier. Vega sensed the strong tension between them, but he won't address it just yet to keep the peace with everyone. Meanwhile, Dr. Betty Rogers (Lauren Holly) was eager to flirt with the new boss, while she was doing her job as the medical examiner. She was told by Flynn to not go there with Cross, but she wasn't given an explanation either. The only one that seemed truly keen on Cross' arrival was Detective Brian Lucas (Brendan Penny) who was eager to prove to everyone that he was no longer a rookie and was able to improve his detective skills. Will the tension between Cross and Flynn ruin the department before it had a chance to truly come together?
In terms of questions, "Motive" posed a few but the bigger ones usually revolved around how a murderer was going to get caught each week. During the season premiere, it was a shocking reveal that a seemingly nice regular guy turned out to have killed two people for very different reasons. One was an accident, while the other was to cover up the first crime. Both victims were innocent and didn't deserve to die the ways that they did. The premiere also examined the brewing dynamic between Flynn and her colleagues. Her complicated relationship with her now 18 year old son was pretty much written off of the show, except for a brief mention early on in the episode. It's a shame that viewers don't get to see Flynn's family life anymore, but it's probably all for the best because the plots sometimes pulled away from the cases themselves. The show also managed to pick guest stars who were able to change over the course of an episode from regular people to unglued guilty people who needed desperately to be arrested. This week's upcoming episode is expected to feature Jennifer Beals as a possible killer, or victim depending on which angle, who may have had a darker motive in mind for her crime. Obviously, the show will either take the episode into one of two directions, which is to have the character become an obvious murderer for selfish reasons or truly be justified in their actions. Let's hope that the choice will be a somewhat less obvious one, but only time will tell. Fingers crossed that the show will continue to examine the tension between Cross and Flynn, because Lehman and Christie had an interesting rapport that could turn into something more; or less, down the line.
As for breakout performances, Lehman and Ferreira led the pack because their interactions were often the driving force behind each episode. Lehman played Flynn as the tough no non-sense detective who often broke as many rules as she could to secure a conviction. She embodied Flynn as someone who could be tough, silly and even someone who could hold a grudge. The last one was a side that hadn't been revealed until the season premiere. It was a nice twist to see Flynn not get along with someone for reasons unknown for now. Lehman had a dynamic with Christie that was very different from hers with Ferreira, which was much more easygoing and provided some necessary moments of levity. It would be a nice plot twist to see Lehman's usually put together Flynn be forced to go undercover or on a date to get the character out of her comfort zone. Of course, both scenarios would have to have some connection to a case for it make any type of sense. If not, the story would eventually end up on the cutting room floor as well. Ferreira, on the other hand, had the more challenging task of playing the show's straight man who had to usually keep a straight face or play by the rules to keep things on a level playing field. He embodied Vega as an easygoing detective who never let much of anything bother him, which will likely change soon enough. It would be nice for viewers to get to see the character in a different light, or involved in a case without his partner once in a while just to test the waters. Hopefully, future episodes will eventually test that idea at some point this season or the next one if need be.
"Motive" premiered on May 21st and airs Wednesdays at 10:00 PM on ABC.
Verdict: Despite a familiar premise, the show's different spin on the standard plot twists helps to keep things interesting, especially with a cast willing to shake things up.
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)