In January of this year, I reviewed the first episodes of the debut season of NBC’s serial murder mystery, Deception. And now that the season is over, I feel I owe it to the writers and cast members to blog about it again. Why? Because like most freshman television series that aren’t Fox’s The Following, Deception has neither been renewed or cancelled yet, leaving me to believe it is on the bubble.
Granted, the ratings weren’t really all that great, averaging just shy of four million viewers per week the entire ten episode season. But let’s be honest, NBC doesn’t really do all that great on any given night; just look at these numbers: Chicago Fire averages the most with around 6.5 million; Law & Order: SVU comes in second with just over six million; and Grimm third with around five million.
These numbers might seem impressive, but when compared to the other networks, not so much: ABC’s biggies, Castle and Revenge, bring in around ten million each week; CBS hauls in the most with NCIS and its almost twenty million viewers; and Fox grabs up almost ten each with both their veteran hit (Bones) and their freshman series (The Following).
Clearly, NBC is the weakest of the networks when it comes to viewership of the primetime dramas (I’m not taking any of the reality programs into consideration for this post). So, why not stop killing series so early (Smash is now gone for those that don’t already know—but the network will air the rest of the episodes this summer… supposedly), quit bringing in even more new shows… only to be cancelled after one season, and give the existing programs “on the bubble” a chance to build a viewership?
Now, I was excited for Deception before it even aired one single episode… mainly because I love whodunits. Twin Peaks was and is one of my favorite all time TV serial mysteries ever; well, the first season anyway. And of everything I watch today, and I watch a lot, Pretty Little Liars might just be my favorite program of all. There are simply not enough murder mysteries on television now-a-days. Most of the primetime spots are filled with police procedurals, medical dramas, comedies, and soap opera-type shows.
But the writers and creators of Deception broke away from the norm, producing one of the most skillful whodunits I can remember. There were tons of twists and turns week in and week out, but everything centered around one question: Who killed Vivian Bowers?
So what is Deception?
Deception follows the story of two friends—Vivian Bowers (Bree Williamson), the wealthy socialite who is known for her partying, and Joanna Locasto (Meagan Good), Vivian’s childhood best friend. The only problem is, Joanna must now investigate the murder of Vivian…
The first hour raced by. I have to say I was impressed with the way the series introduced all of the characters AND hinted as to why each Bowers family member would have had motive to kill Vivian. Well, almost everyone—I wasn’t sure after the pilot as to why daddy would have wanted to harm his daughter, but I was beginning to by the end of the second episode.
To help explain why Deception was such a successful whodunit, let’s first meet the people with the motive to harm Vivian—the Bowers:
To begin, we have the patriarch of the family—Robert Bowers, played by Victor Garber from Alias. Robert is the founder and CEO of the family’s pharmaceutical company. He seems to be really torn up about the death of his daughter, more so than the rest of the family anyway… at first. As the layers of the onion are peeled back, viewers learn Robert is really nothing but a cutthroat business man who will do anything to protect himself (notice I said himself, not his family).
Next, we have the stepmother—Sofia, played by Katherine LaNasa from Three Sisters and Judging Amy. Sofia has made it very clear that she’s the one that cleans up the family’s messes. Plus, she knows Vivian’s biggest secret and threatened her stepdaughter when she announced it was time to tell the truth. Just how wicked is this stepmother?
Next, we have the older brother—Edward, played by Tate Donovan from Damages. All fingers point to good ol’ Eddie, especially since he has a temper and was suspected of strangling and killing another girl years earlier. Not only that, but his wife (Samantha, played by Marin Hinkle from Two and a Half Men and Once and Again) has taken their children and left him which seems to just add to his anger issues.
Next, we have the other brother—Julian, played by Wes Brown from True Blood and Hart of Dixie. Julian appears to be a lot like Vivian; he loves to party and has a history of drug use. Plus, for whatever reason, Julian is the one who tossed a ring into the river that seems to match the indentations left on Vivian’s head just before her death. But did he kill her? Oh, and Julian is credited with creating the new Bowers’ pharmaceutical drug nearing release—a drug that allegedly caused harm during the testing phase that the family is covering up. So, if his sister was sleeping with the whistleblower, that clearly gives Julian something to lose…
And finally, we have the little sister—Mia, played by Ella Rae Peck from Gossip Girl. There’s more to Mia than meets the eye… the first episode hinted at the fact that she might be Vivian’s daughter, which I thought was great. Then, they confirmed it before the first hour was up, which I thought was a bit fast. However, doesn’t this give Mia motive? She seems to be really upset by the death of her sister, but did she know that her sister was really her mother and had been hiding the truth from her all these years? Hmmm….
Of course, there are also the people outside the family with motive. Could it be the boyfriend/whistleblower/baby-daddy (Ben, played by Tom Lipinski from Suits)? How about the loyal Bowers’ handyman who will do anything for his employer? Perhaps it’s the state senator (Haverstock, played by John Larroquette from McBride and Boston Legal) who has been around for decades and knows all about the Bowers’ secrets? And let’s not count out the competition who will do anything to get their drug to market first.
As expected with a whodunit, the list of potential suspects grows with each additional episode…
But Deception wouldn’t be a murder mystery without the police investigating the crime. Joanna didn’t go undercover on her own, as much as she wants to know who murdered her best friend; instead, she was sent in by FBI Agent Will Moreno (Laz Alonso from Breakout Kings). Many at the FBI and police department are sick and tired of the Bowers family getting away with murder—literally. So, could the men and women in blue be potential suspects as well? Why not? Anything’s possible…
There were a few specific questions I hoped would be answered before the season finale, with the primary being the show’s tagline: Who killed Vivian Bowers? Most of my questions were answered, and that doesn’t happen often. The ten episode debut season wrapped up very nicely with only the slightest cliff-hanger, leaving us wanting more. Perhaps the series was written this way because the staff didn’t know at the time whether or not the show would be picked up for a season two; or maybe this storyline was the plan all along. Regardless, I applaud the writers and creators of Deception. Really, I do.
Deception did have one downfall as far as I’m concerned though—the series ended potential story lines and mysteries way too fast. For one, they hinted at Vivian being Mia’s mother… and then they confirmed it. Bam! They introduced a reporter with inside information as a potential informant for Joanna and her undercover investigation… and then killed him. Bam! I mean, c’mon. Slow things down just a bit to add to the intrigue. However, I can’t blame the writers—shows never know if or when they’ll get canned, so why not move fast?
NBC, for what it’s worth, I loved sitting back and watching the Bowers family members unravel and reveal more and more about themselves and as to why they each had motive to kill their beloved Vivian. Each and every week, I literally thought Vivian’s murderer was a different family member. I wouldn’t want that person to be the killer, but from all the twists and turns I thought for sure he or she had actually done it. And the next week, it was someone else. That is until the very end when the series revealed exactly who was guilty of murdering the beautiful socialite.
So, who killed Vivian Bowers? I’m not going to tell; but I will say this—the show deserves another season! The one mystery may have been solved, but the authorities still need to make their case in order to arrest him or her. Plus, we have so many directions the show could go with even more mystery and intrigue. And don’t forget about the cliffhanger; after all, someone was kidnapped…
What do you think? Did you watch Deception? Do you think NBC will bring it back for a second year or kill it, making it yet another one and done? I’d love to hear from you!