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Instinct Series Premiere: Grade It!

Instinct

If ABC’s Deception failed to fill the Castle-sized void in your TV-obsessed heart, perhaps CBS’ Instinct did the trick?

Although the Eye Network’s new cop drama — which premiered Sunday night — doesn’t star Nathan Fillion or Stana Katic, it otherwise bears a striking resemblance to the late procedural: Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) stars as Dr. Dylan Reinhart, a CIA operative-turned-psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dylan’s going through a weird phase right now; even though his classes are still filling up and his books on criminal theory remain popular, he’s lost that cool, semi-dangerous vibe that he had when he worked in the CIA. But Dylan had promised his now-husband that he would leave that life behind, so he’s committed to the quiet stability of academia.

Enter Lizzie Needham (Bojana Novakovic, Satisfaction), an NYPD detective investigating a recent murder that seemed to pull inspiration from Dylan’s latest book about gambling. After killing a young man named Dino in a nightclub bathroom, the murderer had left behind a playing card — the Jack of Diamonds.

At first, Dylan is reluctant to team up with Lizzie and help her crack the case, even if it was influenced by his writing. But after his book editor encourages him to get his mojo back and turn in a draft that’s not so “flat,” Dylan decides he can’t — and perhaps doesn’t want to — avoid an exciting crime-solving gig, spousal agreements be damned.

As the murders in this case begin to rack up — each of them featuring a different playing card left at the scene — Dylan realizes that each card offers a clue as to who the next victim will be, and a connection between these unlucky men and women eventually emerges. They were all arrested for various crimes over the years, but none of them ever got jail time, thanks to a by-the-book judge who consistently let these people go free because of some obscure precedents or crazy loopholes in the law.

At the end of the hour, Dylan and Lizzie finally track down the serial killer: It’s one of the judge’s clerks, Dan, who went on this killing spree because he’s furious that multiple criminals were allowed to go free simply because of some weird technicalities. They deserved to pay for their crimes, Dan believes — until Dylan reminds Dan that if he keeps murdering people, and doesn’t do the time for it, then he’s no better than his own victims.

Dan is ultimately put in handcuffs, and Lizzie, despite getting shot in the chest during a final scuffle with the perp, is on the road to recovery. She admits to Dylan that ever since her fiancé (and former partner at the NYPD) was shot and killed in the line of duty a year ago, she’s had trouble trusting people — until Dylan came along. And Dylan, having already revealed that he used to work at the CIA, confesses that he could use some new ideas for his next book, and a partnership with an NYPD detective could be just the thing that gets his creative juices flowing again. But seriously, he should tell his husband what he’s up to.

OK, your turn. What did you think of Instinct‘s first outing? Grade the episode in our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!