NBC's Deception: Will You Stick Around to Solve This Dysfunctional Family's Mystery?

Deception - Season 1 Deception debuted Monday night, spinning a tale of lies, secrets and murder — but did the NBC mystery hook you?

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Before you unleash your snappy judgments on the series premiere, a refresher: Detective Joanna (Californication‘s Meagan Good) grew up alongside the wealthy Bowers family as the housekeeper’s kid and counted eldest daughter Vivian as her best friend — until they had a falling out and stopped talking to each other. Twenty years later, the rich party girl has been found dead of an apparent overdose — but was it really homicide?

Joanna is tapped by FBI agent Will Moreno (Breakout Kings‘ Laz Alonso) — who’s also her former partner/one-time boyfriend — to find out what really happened by infiltrating the Bowers clan, which is full of suspects. First, there’s powerful, but heartbroken Spy Daddy patriarch Robert (Alias‘ Victor Garber) and stepmom Sophia (Justified‘s Katherine LaNasa) — who, trust us, will make Victoria Grayson look sweet in future episodes. Then, there’s their children: Sons Edward (Damages‘ Tate Donovan), who was trying to get his sis written out of the will, and Julian (True Blood‘s Wes Brown), who was Joanna’s teenage love; as well as snarky daughter Mia (Gossip Girl‘s Ella Rae Peck).

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After hearing Joanna’s fake sob story — she’s trying to start over after an abusive relationship — Robert invites her to stay at the family’s home while she looks for a job. That makes looking for what she’s really after much easier. She quickly discovers a sex tape that reveals that her former friend was pregnant before she died. (In another scene, Mia notes that her sis was kicking her drug habit.)

“It’s going to be different this time. It’s going to be on your terms, Vivian,” says the mystery man in the video. Turns out, when teenage Joanna ratted out Viv to her dad — which ended their friendship — the socialite wasn’t on drugs, she was preggers. She then was shipped off to a place for unwed mothers to quietly give birth; unbeknownst to Mia, the sister she loved was really her mother.

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Meanwhile, a tabloid reporter tells the detective that Vivian had come to him with a big scoop: Her family’s new cancer drug, developed by Julian, wasn’t all that it was being cracked up to be and was actually responsible for quite a few deaths. And did we mention that the younger Bowers son — who’s clearly still hung up on Joanna — has a ring that matches the bruise on his dead sis’ cheek and finishes the pilot crying to Bon Iver as he tosses the piece of jewelry into a lake? Does that make him too obvious of a suspect? Regardless, Joanna’s cushy new gig at Bowers Pharmaceuticals should help piece together this mystery.

Now it’s your turn, TVLiners: Hit the poll below to let us know what grade you give Deception, then hit the comments with your conspiracy theories! And if you missed the series premiere, watch the full pilot below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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60 Comments
  1. Dick Whitman says:

    The whole best-friend-murder-mystery thing (sextape and hiding place included) kept reminding me of Veronica Mars, which is always a good thing. I’ll keep watching.

  2. Jason Lawson says:

    Loved it! Will be sticking around.

  3. Sara says:

    I want to like it because of Victor Garber and Tate Donovan (and didn’t a preview show John Larroquette?), but that was painfully obvious that Mia was Vivian’s daughter. Also, Meagan Goode is kind of hard to watch as I find her a bit too wooden of an actress. I will stick through at least the next episode, because again, I adore the actors, but I wish they had gotten better actresses to match up to them. I hope the next episode is better, because I had really been looking forward to this show.

    • Erin says:

      I agree the “she’s her daughter” reveal was very obvious, but I find it encouraging that they didn’t drag that out for several episodes like a lot of other shows probably would have.

      • Ella B. says:

        Felt the same way — we called it within the first 10 minutes, but at least they didn’t think they were being subtle enough that it was supposed to be some huge dramatic reveal in the season final or something.

  4. Jake says:

    Okay, but seriously. How hard would a background check (from such a powerful and secretive family) and find out that she is a cop?

    • Shaun says:

      If the storyline had her as a longtime undercover cop then maybe she wouldn’t have much attention.But her back story is too obvious.

      • KD says:

        That’s what I thought, especially with Tate Donovan’s character being so suspicious. I can’t imagine he wouldn’t have had her checked out.

        And she used her own name when she called the facility that her friend was put in. What’s to stop the facility from telling the family that a cop called Joanna called to investigate? Why didn’t she let one of the Feds make that call?

        I hope this issue gets resolved/explained soon.

    • Maisie says:

      HA! I had exactly the same thought. Furthermore, why would Vivian’s death ever be considered a suicide in the first place, given she’d obviously been severely beaten? Under the circumstances, wouldn’t the very first conclusion be: homicide?

  5. Le snooze. This was a boring Revenge rip-off. It could just be a poor pilot, but it’s definitely not begging for additional viewing

  6. sam says:

    Oh dear God people this is clearly a rehash of veronica mars and revenge. Get it together with the comparisons.

    I’m here for Tate Donovan making unintentional one liners though.

    • TATER says:

      Totally here for Tate!! But I actually liked the story and like all tv shows am willing to over-look some of the obvious or farfetchedness (is that even a word?). Will be sticking around till the end just to watch Tate do his thing.

  7. sladewilson says:

    definitely watching…

  8. jimbo says:

    Watched for Tate Donovan as well, he’s fantastic. Other than that I was underwhelmed by the pilot but I will give the show a shot for a couple more episodes. The preview at the end did look promising.

  9. Mark says:

    It was really boring. It looked too dark. None of the characters were particularly interesting although I did like Victor Garber. I also found the show a little confusing?

  10. Lamb says:

    Veronica mars

  11. Scott says:

    Two words: Wes Brown That’s must see TV right there

  12. emcee says:

    Spy Daddy!

  13. Kimm says:

    I was having a hard time with the flashbacks. Why didn’t they young down Megan Good? I’ll give it time, because I like certain cast members.

  14. Allison says:

    This reminded me of Dirty Sexy Money (I think that’s what it was called) more than Revenge. I enjoyed it enough but that may be because, like others, I was tuning in for certain actors enjoy. Plus I have time since they cancel everything I start watching these days.

  15. Ella says:

    Love Victor Garber! I agree that it is a cross between Veronica Mars & Revenge but I still found it interesting. Will keep watching.

  16. Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

    I always find it interesting that people will say a show is bad, but they will watch it because one of the actors on it. There are actors I think are great, but if the show sucks I’m not watching it. I gave this one a B and will give it a few episodes to see if it goes anywhere, but I am with others that it is just a rehash of storylines past from other shows. Nothing groundbreaking here.

  17. Chicago Dan says:

    Once I read that NBC cut the order from 13 to 11 yesterday, I figured NBC doesn’t have much hope for the show. I’ll wait to catch-up if it should buck the odds. I was intrigued at first, but then the ad that showed more of the pilot, actually turned me off. It’s too bad. I’m all for more original dramas and less unscripted fare, except for sports!

    • Kenny says:

      Your right about the episode order being cut, but its not because of NBC’s faith in the show, its just that they need to wrap up its season up faster so Revolution can get its timeslot back…Revolution also got cut from 22 to 20 so it wouldn’t run into the summer

      NBC has too many Shows and no were to put them which is why Hannibal may not start until the summer(TCA) and Deception is lucky it made the cut for midseason

  18. greysfan says:

    To me its like Revenge meets Scandal in a weird sort of way. It wasn’t bad. I gave it a B overall but i want to see a few more episodes before i decide to keep watching or ditch it.

    • Jules says:

      I was thinking Revenge Meets Scandal, as well. But I found myself bored by it mostly and I don’t think I’ll be back. It just didn’t keep my interest. Plus the ages in that family seemed very strange. Is Victor Garber (63) is supposed to be the father of Tate Donovan (49) or his older brother? I thought he was the father, but there’s a huge age gap between Tate Donovan and the other children (played by Bree Williamson and Wes Brown) so maybe he is their uncle. Still, it was obvious really early that Mia belonged to Vivien because of the age issue. Does anybody have children ranging from 15 to 49?

  19. Trent says:

    I really liked it! I was sucked in by the soapy goodness and really enjoyed Meagan Good, the twisty plot and the flashbacks. While I love Veronica Mars (and own the DVD’s), this didn’t remind me of that show AT ALL. And frankly, I have never understood the widespread online adoration of Revenge — I find Emily VanCamp wispy and dull, but that’s JMO. I will be watching Deception, though.

  20. meah says:

    I love that u guys liked it,for me its the only pilot I have watched twice..meagan,victor,tate were amazing.And sophia bowers is the BOMB!!!WES BROWN is everything and more

  21. ruby says:

    I am so over the revenge comparison.people make it sound like revenge is so amazing.I mean its pretty good that’s all.I mean its season 2 has been crap!its sort of closer to veronica mars..and people calling it a rip off,tell that to all CBS cop shows lool!!and no its not similar to SCANDAL at all,just that it female leads are BLACK

  22. T says:

    Laz Alonzo, Laz Alonzo, Laz. Alonzo. Sigh……. Enough said.

  23. Trenton says:

    I just hope the show isn’t conventional. B/c it seems clear that Tate Donavan is sleeping with his step mother, Julian probably hit her, was the one with her at the start…trying to get her to be a better role model for her own daughter but didn’t kill her. He will be the fall guy, And I loved loved loved that Batista got such an awesome promotion, guess his sister runs the bar. Laguerta really was hurting his career..

  24. hmmmm says:

    not there was anything particularly wrong with it, but did anyone just think it was really boring? the whole episode just felt like the main character was wandering through the house, having really awkward one-on-one interactions with everyone in the family…nothing really to get excited about.

    • Trenton says:

      To be fare isn’t every conversation at your ex best friends house who just tragically died awkward considering you have been away for 17 years…

  25. Rob says:

    My main issue is that I just didn’t buy Tate Donovan as Victor Garber’s son and a brother of the rest of them without an explanation as to why he’s far older than them. Idk maybe I’m just being picky. I wasn’t thrilled with it. But I’ll see where it goes.

  26. Nunaya_Bidness says:

    Wasn’t it stated, or maybe I assumed that Tate’s character was from a previous marriage?
    I don’t get the Revenge comparisons either, though the characters of both Emily and Joanna come across as rather wooden and one note. In the case, of Deception I’ll give it a chance and hopefully the cast will warm to each other. But in the case of Revenge, I’m almost over it.

    • kjess says:

      I thought all of the “kids” were from a previous marriage. Didn’t someone say something about “when mom died”? Also, if the wife is the mom of all of them, I don’t get how she can be so unfeeling when her daughter died. I could be wrong though, I got bored and didn’t pay close attention after a bit.

  27. Spencer says:

    I like me some Meagan Good – I’ll check out the pilot.

  28. ruby says:

    Atleast on Deception its love triangle is more plausible than that of revenge.meagan good has great chemistry with both laz alonso and wes brown..emily only has chemistry with josh bowman(daniel).

  29. Mike says:

    I won’t be watching another one. The pilot was BORING, and poorly put together. It’s too bad too because I like a few of the actors.

  30. prish says:

    Eye-candy actors, playing a little over the top, but what else can you expect from a pilot? We have to give some allowance for the first show laying down the backstory. Pilots are, usually, never a story to come back for. The actors keeping it together through the slog of backstory threads tells us something. They are working as a team, and the show should be good, ongoing.

  31. cas says:

    I was going to watch this soley for Victor and Tate. However, I need to make sure it gets the ratings before I invest in a show. So here is hoping because I love those guys!

  32. Katiebell says:

    The most annoying part of starting a new show, the fans who act like Revenge started the whole “rich family, murder mystery, main character investigating the murder” plotline.

    God, if you love revenge so damn much, go watch that show and shut up.

    • Rain says:

      Thank you! It’s like they’ve never heard of Dallas (original recipe) or Knots Landing or any day time soap opera! Revenge is nothing new and definitely nothing special!

  33. JKR says:

    “She quickly discovers a sex tape that reveals that her former friend was pregnant before she died.” I admit I haven’t seen it yet, but wouldn’t she have known this from the autopsy?

  34. Bob says:

    Don’t get too involved, people, this one looks like it’ll end before the “mystery” is solved.

  35. Carrie says:

    For some reason I find Revenge bordering on realistic – if you had tons of cash, but this girl has no cash. Is the local police department really going to keep her on the payroll while she goes undercover to solve one murder and maybe some drug fraud? I love the fact that that is the detail that I was hung up on….

  36. cjeffery7 says:

    to me, this is a lower key version of Revenge and Alias. and i dig it so far. i watched cause there wasn’t anything else on, and half way through i was like hey, i could probably go for this. and by the end i was like yeah i might just watch this next week, but i hope the qualities i liked in the pilot continue. i am cautiously interested.

  37. Loni says:

    Was I the only distracted by the costume designer’s apparent love for the color orange? Vivian’s dress when she died; Mia’s nail polish; a shirt Joanna wore… With all the other colors so muted, that orange just really stuck out to me.

  38. Pearl says:

    I just… I spent all time thinking that the main character was Olivia pope’s younger sister. The sister is actually the daughter thing, was so damn obvious, that everything that “lead” to that felt unnecessary. The crapy false background story was too crapy. By the way, it passed 16 years, not 20. All the dialogue seemed very forced. It just… It hasn’t soul behind it.

  39. Marilyn says:

    Ok so I must be crazy but I thought that on the sex tape she was with her brother. I know that is sick but that is what I thought. Obviously I am wrong?

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