Peter Krause should never be playing the least interesting character on a television show.
For example: You can’t have Six Feet Under without Krause’s Nate Fisher. It simply wouldn’t work. And, look, I didn’t always love Nate (I’m #TeamBrenda all the way, natch), but I needed him. I cared about his arc even when he was annoying and frustrating. I cared about the way he related to the rest of the Fishers, and I wouldn’t have been as invested in that family structure without him. And when Nate died toward the end of the final season, his absence was palpable. Six Feet Under was an ensemble show, and I wouldn’t say Nate was the reason to watch, but he kept you in it, even when he was impossible. And so much of that was due to the work Krause put into the character.
More: The Catch: I’m convinced Ben’s hold on Alice is bordering on abuse
I’m not going to blame my disinterest in Benjamin on Krause. I don’t think he’s the problem. He’s as dreamy as ever, and his commitment to the character’s dialogue and actions is admirable. But there’s simply no avoiding the reality that the character of Benjamin is The Catch‘s weakest link. And that’s going to prove to be a problem, given that he’s one of the two leads.
I think the biggest issue is that Benjamin is as unlikable as Nate Fisher (probably more unlikable, truthfully) and he’s also not totally necessary in advancing the story. Because, no matter how much screen time the show allows him, The Catch is Alice’s story. She’s the private investigator who goes into an emotional tailspin after being betrayed by her fiancé. She’s the one who comes up with a revenge plan. She’s the one who is managing said revenge plan while also continuing her badass PI work at her own firm co-run with her bestie, Val.
So, yeah, I guess it’s nice to know what Benjamin’s up to, and I understand that the interactions between him and Alice are supposed to fill me with all the feels, but none of that is really necessary. We could still grasp the complexity of Alice’s situation without knowing which con Benjamin is up to now and how he plans to gaslight seduce his ex this week. Add the fact that there’s nothing particularly likable or interesting about him, other than his creepy charismatic charm, and it becomes clear that the character is a waste of space on the screen.
Hell, at the end of this week’s episode, he and Alice slept together for the first time since he left her. And I care about Alice and still I felt nothing. This is not a good sign.
So, what’s keeping me in The Catch? Pretty much everyone else, especially the woefully underused Val. This week, we really got a chance to see her friendship with Alice in action, when she discovered Alice’s secret phone calls with Benjamin. (I am really glad they didn’t drag that deception out any longer; it was getting tedious.) When Alice comes clean, Val is justifiably angry, because you don’t just lie to your best friend about conning your manipulative, abusive ex — you let them help you take him down.
Part one of Alice and Val’s team-up was a success tonight — Val distracted (and humiliated) the stalker-y Agent Dao while Alice went to meet up with Benjamin. Whether Val will find out about the sex remains to be seen, but it’s also kind of irrelevant, because her loyalty and determination to take down the men who have harmed her friend are strong.
It was refreshing to see The Catch focus on Alice and Val for a change. So far, the show has been so focused on romantic relationships — Alice’s grief over Benjamin, Val’s divorce, Benjamin and Margot’s business-like dynamic, Margot’s secret lesbian affair, and so on. The female friendships that play such a large role in the Shondaland universe haven’t been given much screen time on The Catch so far. I’m glad, then, that the show is taking Alice’s relationship with Val seriously. It means that there may be hope for The Catch to evolve into a badass feminist PI procedural, rather than the on-again/off-again tango of Alice and Benjamin that we’re currently seeing. I’m hopeful that Benjamin will become a stronger, more developed, more needed character by the end of this season — but, if he doesn’t, at least there’s a viable (even preferable?) way for the show to move forward without him.