After last week’s so-so pilot of Chase, and after seeing the solid debut of its competitor Hawaii Five-O, I had to ask myself: was Chase going to rebound, or risk getting rolled over by its more recognizable competition? With Five-O having an established name and a network-backed, much-feted star in Alex O’Loughlin, it was going to be an uphill battle.
We open in Odessa, Texas, where Eduardo Lopez is trying to make friends with a random guy in a Mustang. The problem is that Eduardo Lopez is a violent fugitive, something we discover a short time later when he murders the random guy, who just happens to be the son of a state trooper. Of course, if there’s one thing cops of any color hate, it’s killing other cops or their families. The case becomes an instant priority. Even if Jimmy’s been kicked out by his girlfriend Natalie yet again.
Annie believes that the kid’s death may be because his father worked on the task force that originally caught Lopez red-handed. It’s a logical assumption, the first one anyone would jump to, but doesn’t yield anything just yet. The team does locate Lopez’s cell block-mate at a chop shop in Midland, and questioning him gets them precious few details, just that he needed to borrow a few tools and seems to have a warped respect for the law. (This is also where we find out that, sadly, Chase is another show that’s decided to forego an opening title sequence. Shame, because it really could have benefited from one.) Their next step is the house of his apparent girlfriend (because even crazy people have girlfriends), a DMV employee who tells them that the Mustang used to belong to Lopez. It wasn’t about the kid, but the car. Lopez is under the delusional belief that he’s in Mexico, and he’s out to repossess everything that he believes is his, at whatever cost.
Lopez’s next stop is to swipe some other guy’s Ford Bronco, the second of five vehicles that he allegedly once owned, which prompts the question of, “Where are the other three?” Annie dispatches her people to cover all their bases. She and Jimmy go to question a Robert Jamison, only to find Lopez has beaten them there just minutes before. Once Jamison has been taken away in an ambulance, they try to deduce why Lopez left the Bronco there and took Jamison’s car instead. A search of the garage also finds that the Bronco has been torn open, as if Lopez was looking for something inside the vehicle. Annie passes this information on to her other team members. Unfortunately, unsuspecting victim number four forgot to check his cell phone messages and doesn’t get the one Marco left him. He’s out selling off the truck in question at a car lot, leaving Marco and Daisy one step behind.
While Annie tries to figure out what Lopez was looking for in the Bronco, Lopez is pulling apart the next car, and that’s when she (and we) discover there was money hidden in each of them. It all starts to make sense now, as Jimmy points out that the money is the more important asset, and Annie deduces that perhaps the Ford’s owner, Terry Bowden, has found Lopez’s money and is out blowing it. Now it’s a race to find Terry before Lopez finds him and kills him for stealing and spending the cash, and they’ll have to hurry: Lopez has already been to Bowden’s house and to the dealership where the truck now is. By the time the Marshals get to the dealership, Jamison’s GTO is there with the car salesman’s corpse inside, but Lopez is not. He’s outside Bowden’s house (after a gratuitous killing of his dog which is really not necessary), trying to kill him. Bowden makes an escape, but one figures it won’t be for long.
The team turns Bowden’s house upside down and deduces that he and his girlfriend are planning to elope in Vegas and honeymoon in Italy, just from credit card charges and one well-placed photo. Jimmy is too thrilled that they’re going to Vegas, and Annie just wants to needle him about his failing relationship with Natalie. Bowden and his girlfriend are getting married when she finally answers his phone. It’s Lopez, who wants to know where his money is after paying a visit to Bowden’s girlfriend’s elderly mother (thankfully he doesn’t kill her). Bowden refuses to give up the money, which only assures that he’s going to be in huge, huge trouble. Needless to say, his new wife doesn’t like the idea of being permanently on the run. There’s a touching moment where she tells her new husband that the money doesn’t change how she feels about him. It’s enough to convince him to set up a meeting with Lopez to return the money, because meeting with a serial killer is always recommended.
Annie, Jimmy (who gets to knock the suit and tie look out of the ballpark), and Luke arrive at the Venetian, where Bowden and his wife were staying, only to find said wife hiding literally in the couch. She’s not very bright, so she spills all about her husband’s plan to the Marshals. Bowden and Lopez are meeting at a diner on the outskirts of Vegas (which looks more like the middle of nowhere to me), and everything is terribly awkward. It seems to go well enough, and then Annie calls up Lopez for a chat. Turns out she and Jimmy are right on his tail. Jimmy obviously paid attention in the driving part of law enforcement training, as he not only keeps Annie from getting her head blown off but runs Lopez off the road, not unlike he did to the state trooper’s son at the opening of the episode. Unlike that, however, Annie pulls him out alive and he’s taken away.
After the fact, as the Marshals celebrate their victory, Jimmy is brooding alone at the bar. It’s Annie to his rescue, sort of: she’s recovered the gun he left at Natalie’s apartment, but she can’t fix the damage to his relationship. He knowingly points out that everyone he dates (and everyone about every TV cop dates) has a problem with his job. I could literally count the TV cops that have stable relationships on one hand. That’s always been a complaint of mine with television, and it doesn’t look like Chase is going to disprove that, though since it’s already been spoiled that Natalie will make an appearance later on in the season, it’s a given that she and Jimmy will reconcile at least temporarily at some point. As long as it doesn’t go on in perpetuity, I guess I can live with that.
That said, the second episode of Chase is a marked improvement from the first. The plot has enough twists in it to keep most viewers guessing through the hour (admit it, you thought it was about the kid at first), which is the important part. The characters still are slipping through my fingers for the most part; I haven’t really found a one of them that I want to latch onto and root for, even considering I’m a big Cole Hauser fan. Granted, it also took me two episodes before I started getting invested in any character in Nikita, so I’ll give the show a temporary pass in that department. If it can continue with reasonably effective plots and develop its characters further, Chase might just catch on.
The question is if it will get enough time on the airwaves to do so against the stiff competition of Hawaii Five-O, which has already cleared some of those hurdles. If it has one thing going for it, it’s that the 10 PM hour is home to newscasts for some networks, meaning it has less competition than other series. However, considering that FOX’s Lone Star is about to get hooked after just two episodes after critical praise, I worry that Chase might be racing against the clock already.