Take Two episode 3, “Taken” was a lot of fun. It could have been the best so far – except for one glaring detail. Sometimes it’s the seemingly small things that turn out to be a big deal. Still, Apollo 13 managed not to blow up and got home safely. Being that there really are some good steps forward in this episode, ABC’s Take Two definitely still has a shot at landing it for a season 2.
Take Two Episode 3: The Recap
Like most procedurals, Take Two episode 3 opens with the crime. A good-looking young man is hurrying down the sidewalk and looking over his shoulder. He ducks into a one-way deserted alley. (I know. It’s like the horror-movie thing of people always making the worst possible choice.) There, someone stabs him with a hypodermic needle. Usually, a murder shows the body or you hear the screams, so this guy’s probably not dead.
The next morning, P.I. Eddie Valetik (Eddie Cibrian) walks into his office and gets “bad” news from his tech guy Roberto ‘Berto’ Vasquez (Xavier de Guzman). Sam Swift (Rachel Bilson) and her assistant Monica (Alice Lee) want to redecorate the office that Eddie gave Sam in the previous episode. It’s an amusing exchange where Sam is trying to assert herself taking a more adult take on this P.I. thing – but her thinking clashes with Eddie’s.
Right after this Sam gets a mysterious phone call – which Eddie overhears.
Do they even know what they’re asking? How dangerous it could be? Codename: Livorno. Are you kidding? It’s a huge risk. If things go wrong, I could really get hurt.
Naturally, Eddie wants to know what’s going on, and naturally, Sam won’t tell him. That’s okay. He puts Berto on the case to investigate.
From there, Eddie and Sam head out to check out a possible new client. Sam’s excited when she sees it’s a nightclub she used to frequent.
Sam: This used to be my club!
While Sam’s very friendly with the owner, Aram “Ram” Nazarian (Hrach Titizian), Eddie is far less enthusiastic.
Take Two Episode 3: The Case
Ram wants Eddie to find Eric Quinn Fisher (Markian Tarasiuk). Eric is the D.J. from his clue, and she’s been missing for 36 hours. Eddie’s suspicious as to why Ram’s so concerned.
Eddie knows Ram as a mafia guy – but there’s clearly more to his suspicion than that. Nevertheless, after the two have a private conversation, Eddie agrees to take the case – for Eddie Fisher’s sake.
Afterward, Sam asks Eddie about his problems with Ram, but when Eddie tries to use her curiosity to find out about her secret phone call she backs off. Still, she’s a little miffed that Eddie’s so down about Ram. To her, Ram’s a guy who tried to look out for her when she was spiraling down.
Who Dun It?
This turned out to be an enjoyable twisty case. Even though it was easy to figure out that Ram’s henchman was the one responsible for Eric’s kidnapping, why it happened was not. The reveal about Eric being Ram’s son was someone surprising, and the pieces leading to it were well placed.
What was completely unexpected was learning the Ram’s “henchman” Dominic was really a guy named Stephen Carter (Jesse Hutch). He had inserted himself in Ram’s life to revenge the death of his firefighter cousin. One of Ram’s illegal operations had got him killed.
Stephen’s original plan was to kill Ram. When Stephen realized that Eric was Ram’s son (he had the secret blood test done to be sure) he decided to kidnap Eric. Then Ram would know what it was like to lose someone, and Stephen would give his cousin’s wife – now alone raising two boys – the money.
The Case Ending
How Sam and Eddie convinced Ram to not kill Stephen was another win. Rather than seeming implausible, it suggested that Eddie and Sam were both right about him.
Earlier, Sam had gotten to see the dark side of Ram – how quickly he could turn to rage and violence. At the end though, Ram was also able to listen to the argument presented about why he should let Stephen get away with what he did. It let Eddie see the Ram who showed concern about Sam’s drinking.
It’s not that Ram isn’t a dangerous and ruthless mobster whose first instinct is “to strike back.” Yet, he isn’t totally unreasonable, and he has the ability to empathize with another person. Furthermore, he was able to understand his own part in what happened. It’s why he agreed that the money was a fair deal for the life of the innocent man that got caught in his mobster scheme’s crossfire.
NEXT UP: Everything good about this episode, plus that one problem…
Take Two Episode 3: The Review
The One Thing That Didn’t Work
Let’s get the problem out the way. During the course of the investigation, Eddie and Sam need to get the video feed from a building. Eddie has a fake Homeland Security badge, but Sam doesn’t. Still, when Eddie’s ruse is faltering, Sam pulls her hair back and steps in as a hard-nosed agent. She scares the security guard into letting them see the feed without a warrant.
I get that part of the gimmick for Take Two is using the acting skills of Sam in order to help solve cases. In the first two episodes, these bits are cute and passably believable. In Take Two episode 3, it’s not.
Pulling her hair back and talking tough is not a disguise. As such, asking the audience to believe that she’s not recognized by security is a bridge too far. Sam is the lead actress of a popular seven-year series who’s also a tabloid favorite. It’s like saying the guard wouldn’t have recognized Jennifer Antison right after her split with Brad Pitt. You can’t pretend that Sam’s face is unrecognizable.
A simple fix to would have been to go CSI Miami and give Sam a pair of mirrored sunglasses The writers also could have just skipped the gimmick altogether. The guard could have been a fan and Sam got the video because of that. It’s far better if Sam doesn’t do the acting thing at all than to do a scene that doesn’t give the audience a level of plausible deniability. With good characters and a decent case, the audience won’t be disappointed that Sam didn’t do an acting bit in the episode.
Take Two Episode 3: The Good Stuff
Another reason why the above was unfortunate is that many things in Take Two, “Taken” are solid. There’s good character-building going on with the dynamics between Sam and Eddie – as well as with Monica and Berto. For one, Sam and Eddie are connecting in a way that makes the age gap less apparent.
This small scene is one of the best between Sam and Eddie thus far. Despite the secrets they’re keeping, Eddie is actually being straightforward with Sam without being snide and without it feeling like he was talking to a child. It’s more like his younger sister.
Likewise, Sam’s reaction doesn’t seem childish. It just shows her lack of experience as a P.I. – and with criminals in general. There’s no such thing as a “cool, fun mobster” that won’t won’t kill you if you get in their way.
There’s some nice mirroring of Sam and Eddie in Monica and Berto. Sam and Eddie use those two to try figuring out each other’s secret. It doesn’t work, but it does establish the dynamic between the two. This quirky pair are interesting in their own right!
Sam Showbiz Sleuth Skills
While the bit with getting the video feed is a fail, Sam gets other opportunities to bring in her show-biz background. (It’s yet another reason that bit is unnecessary.) The best is when she uses a garden hose to knock suspect Meagan Murphy (Fiona Vroome) off her motorcycle as she’s trying to escape. Her thrilled response makes it clear it’s something from her TV show. There’s also her knowledge about “banana bag” girls, and teaching Ram a calming breathing technique from her acting class.
Learning About Eddie’s Past
Sam also learns more about Eddie’s past – although not from Eddie. It’s his security systems pal Zeus (Lamont Thompson) that fills her in on gang 23. They were a group of crooked cops that Eddie discovered while on the force. Zeus says that because Eddie always does the right thing, he turned them in.
Unfortunately, because Eddie did the right thing and turned them in, he, like many a whistleblower, ended up getting in trouble and losing his job. One of the people involved with these cops who ended up getting away scot-free was Ram.
The one thing about how we’re learning about Eddie that feels a little off is that it’s never Eddie revealing himself. Opening up about one’s past helps create intimacy, and Eddie’s not doing it. Meanwhile, Sam’s past is pretty must on the record and she has no problem talking about it. It makes the relationship feel unbalanced. Heck, even Berto is more open about his past than Eddie!
Berto and Eddie’s History Reveal More About Eddie
“He busted me when he was a cop, mentored me through juvie, made sure I graduated high school, then put me to work as a cop.”
This move by Berto helps establish a more direct understanding of Berto to Monica. It also works as a more subtle way of revealing Eddie’s character. We now know he’s the kind of guy who would take a good kid heading down the wrong path under his wing and help him out. It kind of explains Eddie’s reactions to Sam.
In the previous episode, we saw him speak up for Sam at her hearing. That he’s reluctantly taken her in now fits as the kind of person he is. Beneath the gruff exterior, the man has a soft heart. Of course, that’s not necessarily romantic connection – but it’s an honest and believable one.
Take Two Episode 3: The Wrapup: Sam’s Big Mystery
So, what was that mysterious phone call about? Sam got asked to do a commercial that would be shown only in Italy. (Apparently, she’s big in Italy.) It’s humiliating because it involves dancing around in as a slice of pizza!
There’s a scene between Sam and her agent Syndey (Heather Doerksen) where Syndey tells Sam that she should do it because A) it’s a ton of money. B) It will help show the industry that she can “show up and be a professional.” Sam’s not too sure about that – until later.
After Ram pointed a gun at Sam in a fit of rage, Sam saw that dark side of him. She asks Eddie why he even took the job, “knowing what he is.” Eddie tells her because it wasn’t about Ram, but about Eddie. His answer totally fits with what Zeus told her about always doing the right thing – but then there was more.
When this first happens, it seems coincidental that Eddie makes this point that is directly connected to a decision Sam has to make. It’s not. Think about it. If you go back to the beginning of the episode where Eddie first heard Sam on the photo, he mentions that he’ll check in with Sydney. Then at the end of the episode, he’s at the shoot! How’d he figure it out? The most likely scenario is that Syndey told him and asked him to convince Sam to take it!
Take Two episode 3 is the first one in the series that has a real “Castle-like” feel to it. It’s there in the pacing, the twistiness of the case, and the playful competitive aspects between Sam and Eddie – as well as with Monica and Berto. It also has a better dynamic between the former. Rather than feeling like Eddie treats Sam like a child the two are more like siblings – with Eddie as the older brother. No, it’s not romantic, but it’s progress – and this is only episode 3.