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[personal profile] jencat
Motive is one of those shows that sneak up on you. I ended up being reluctantly charmed by the first series, and then this year, it's become one of the few things I actively looked forward to every week. And that's basically the combination of Angie (who is rarely Not Awesome, but spent a lot of this series looking more unsure of herself), Angie and Oscar being BFFs and basically platonic life partners as well as work partners (the scene where they arrived at a muddy crime scene all dressed up after having to leave his dad's wedding and had to sort their boots out was one of my favourite TV things this year), Bets being.. Bets, Bets and Angie being BFFs, the cinematography, the hilarious Alphas casting... and also the fact that you end up totally sympathetic to the killer more times than not. Which means that the victims aren't generally photogenic young women being the victims of predators, as per most other procedururals. And sometimes they're the killers too.

Which is why the season two finale was so disappointing - it looked like Motive, and it felt like it was trying to wrapp the plotlines which have been rumbling on for the whole of season two, but.. I have no clue why they chose to go the direction they did.It was supposed to be about Angie having to choose whether to carry on lying about what happened ten years ago, because Angie-now is not Angie-then. And we've gradually seen her go to Bets and Oscar and explain it to them, and talk about what happened and what to do, and how to live with it - and work with Cross - and Oscar made sure she talked to her son about it, so Angie's doing the difficult thing, and now she has people in her life who will support her doing the difficult thing. She's not a cowboy anymore. It was a nice, gentle character arc - that was how I read it, anyway - about being a grown-up, and still being awesome.

Except, it felt like somebody in the writer's room got bored after threatening Angie with a more acute moral dilemma last week (she was being supaenaed to admit she lied ten years ago to cover Cross, except telling the truth meant possibly letting an entire evil biker gang empire prosecution collapse) and so the plot suddenly veers off at a random angle. Samantha gets nastily bumped off (and, thanks, but I didn't really need to see that whole scene where she gets beaten up and strangled, multiple times. It felt tacky and horrible), the poor girl who got orphaned by the incident Angie lied about also got stalked and murdered horribly, and it all didn't really feel like the way Motive normally does things.They basically threw everyone under the bus so that Cross could come out of it looking remotely sympathetic (let's back up a step: Cross is a cocky, lying womaniser who slept with his partner, the prosecutor of his case AND, we found out tonight, the wife of the biker gang boss he was investigating, and left their lives in mostly smoking ruins as a result. I don't care if he was about to propose to Samantha (and frankly I'm amazed she fell for his slimy charms at all. Falling for Cross is a good way to screw up your life in general apparently). He hadn't really changed, not essentially, and he's spent the entire series micro-managing Our Heroes whilst being crazy-unprofessional. What we needed to see was Angie throwing Cross under the bus, and accepting the consequences, professionally and personally, because she had people who supported her in doing that. And he really isn't that nice a guy.

Honestly, when I first heard the synopsis was that Samantha had been murdered, I assumed Cross had done it, and had gone way beyond the initial corruption that led to him getting Angie to lie, and this was just another consequence of covering for Cross... As it turned out, some other random police dude who had been there ten years ago and - honestly, he was basically a Cross-substitute because, what, they want to keep Warren Christie around next series? - had gone undercover with the same gang, but his corruption had involved stealing part of the biker gang's shipment and was now going to kill the... Actually, I still have no clue why he killed Julie, since she was only a witness to Cross and Angie's having lied about the shooting. The plot had tied itself in so many pointless knots at that point I kind of stopped trying to keep up.

But the aim seemed to be to avoid anyone doing anything, really - the second murder victim should have been a lot more personal to Angie (really, it should have been her motivation to go against Cross and stop any more victims racking up, but nope), and the only person who seemed to be acting professionally was their overall boss (yes, please do suspend Cross. Like, forever.) and Oscar, who was very politely understandably a little bit frustrated that Angie was suddenly more worried about Cross's feelings than about keeping the integrity of their case intact (seriously? Have we learned nothing?).  It felt like Motive trying to do an episode of a more cliched procedural - it definitely didn't need Oscar saving Angie by randomly showing up and killing the bad guy (seriously, his 'why we do this job' speech at the end was much more Oscar). It was like they were trying to find the natural conclusion to the plotline (which would really have been Angie tells the truth, not, Angie puts her gun down and nearly gets shot and has to get rescued by Oscar rather than shoot the wholly deserving bastard who just killed two women) and shoe-horned that in instead. It asks too much of the few character moments we do get of Oscar (this season we've heard more hints about his father than we have about him directly) to make him fix everything - it feels really unbalanced with Motive's usual refreshing dynamic of having Oscar just think Angie is his awesome BFF and not feel like he has to rescue her, ever. That's why it's fun just watching them be silly and decide what to eat next, most of the time.

But nope, we got a rescue! And a hug! Which honestly felt weird. And it ended with one of the best speeches Motive has ever come up with (awww, we love you too, Oscar!), at which point Angie has a slightly brittle breakdown of some kind and is either threatening to quit or not work with Oscar any more to spare him having to 'clean up her messes'. Um. This is Not Awesome, by the way (seriously why spend all this time having Angie be awesome in her Angie-ness and deal with everything and come as far as she has that Oscar starts the series having not even tried for a promotion because they work so well together... and then have everything fall apart over some totally unworthy guy and Angie's character motivation is... what now?! He's still fucking up her life all these years later and everything will never be awesome again?).
And it's not in the spirit of Motive at all, which is even more annoying.

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Jennifer Howell

July 2015

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