This week, the U.S. Marshals are hunting down a white collar fugitive. Where are Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay when you need them? Not here, so it’s Eddie Cibrian (CSI: Miami, Third Watch) instead, to join the pursuit and – because it always happens eventually on television – make eyes at Annie Frost.
The perp is Adam Rothschild (at least according to how it’s displayed, but every time someone says his name, they seem to drop the “s”), who smashed a guy’s face into a bathroom sink and took off running when his trial went severely south. Our heroes start by searching a very swanky building where Rothschild was known to keep his mistress – and getting stuck in an elevator with muzak and Marco shooting off random statistics. I think that’s the first time I’ve honestly laughed at anything on this show. Once they get off the elevator, however, it’s all business, because Adam’s wife is hiding in the closet.
I’m convinced that I should never let Annie Frost near my CD collection, because that’s the first thing she and Jimmy look at while they’re searching the apartment, and they can apparently judge his personality based on it. She then asks Adam’s wife about their wedding, his mother and his high school, trying to see how well she knows him. She maintains that she had no idea what he was going to do. What he is doing is picking up said 22-year-old mistress in an Aston Martin (excuse my moment of jealousy) and planning on taking her away to the Caribbean. I can’t say I think he’s that smart. Driving said expensive vehicle, then turning up at a bank and saying he wants to empty her bank account in cash are two big red flags, at least in my opinion. Yet the only one who seems to notice is the lowly bank security guard, who gets shot for it. Adam ditches the mistress, steals her car and takes off.
Enter Eddie Cibrian, as a bounty hunter named Ben Crowley that no one likes. (I understand how they feel, because he was probably my least favorite character on Third Watch). He hits on Annie, who turns him down. Jimmy calls him a “jackass” and a “moron,” to which Annie points out to him that he and Natalie are back together again. Mercifully, this is all interrupted by finding Jessica’s car – and his association with a guy named Beau who lives in a gated community nearby. Adam’s in his living room as they speak, armed and irrational, and drops his former business associate. That makes two to add to the Chase in-flight body count. It’s almost three, but Annie helps Beau’s wife escape before Adam can shoot her. By the time the team gets to the house, however, Adam is already gone.
It’s back to the drawing board. Luke does some research and finds out that Adam is trying to get onto a private jet. This means they get to break out the helicopter for the second straight week. But wait – the pilot of said private jet, who meets him in the airport terminal, is none other than Crowley, pulling a fast one. His presence screws up Annie’s operation, and he’s still flirting with her even when she’s handcuffing him to a urinal. (Is Eddie Cibrian just typecast as a womanizing human hazard?) Adam escapes yet again, despite Jimmy and Luke’s best efforts.
Everything starts to unravel for him in a hurry, however. Money is being transferred from his Grand Cayman account to his wife’s accounts; Emma was involved all along. When Annie squeezes her, she squawks about his past life. It’s not a big jump to figure out that he’s heading back to his hometown. Unfortunately for him, when he goes to visit his grandmother, he finds out that she’s passed years earlier. There goes that plan. His next one? Make nice with the caretaker who just so happens to run into him, and get invited back to her place so he can steal her father’s cropdusting plane. I wish that I was making that up, but I’m not. At least it ends quickly when Annie disables the plane with her gun. I have to hand it to Kelli Giddish; her character gets some cool action moments, and she is able to serve them well. Now if my eyes didn’t roll when the episode ends with Annie on the phone with Crowley…
That sentiment sort of extends to my feelings about this episode, and about the series as a whole. It reminds me, in a sense, of how I used to feel playing Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? as a kid. I’d be raring to go, and then get really frustrated when I went to the wrong country, and eventually give up while I wasn’t that far ahead. For the things I like about Chase (Cole Hauser remains at the top of my list, and there have been some great action scenes), there’s something else that I dislike. Annie figuring out the bad guy because of his music was an okay, if slightly implausible, point in the pilot. Having her go back to it again her just reminds me of how implausible it is.
Then there’s the dramatic equivalent of the “meet cute” scenario: things aren’t figured out or naturally unraveled, but built on coincidence. With a quarter of the episode left, money just happens to move from Adam’s bank account so Marco can find it? Adam just so happens to run into his grandmother’s caretaker? She doesn’t have much of a reason to be there, if his grandmother died years earlier. Maybe I’m asking too much, but I like my heroes to earn their victories, not feel as if they were just in the right place at the right time. Not to mention I’m sure that everyone could have predicted Eddie Cibrian’s character would not only flirt with Annie, but also mess up her case, because that’s the mold. Therein lies in the problem. I’m being continually pulled out of the series because it’s asking me to overlook things time and time again, and I’m just not willing to do that. Once or twice, I’ll forgive, but you can’t keep going over potholes and expect me to not mention that we’re traveling on an unsteady road.
Apparently, neither is the rest of the audience. According to the latest numbers, Chase is down to about 5 million viewers – about half of what its fellow freshman competitor Hawaii Five-O is pulling in. While NBC’s shown patience with underperforming series by renewing three of them, the three they chose to renew have a lot more invested in them than this one. Law & Order: Los Angeles, for example, is part of an established brand, and The Event was probably the most hyped new series this season. I’m afraid that this Chase may soon be coming to an end.