Duped by Deception? What is the Endgame for ABC's Magic Act?

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Deception on ABC

In the mid-70s, the great BILL BIXBY starred in a one-season crime drama called THE MAGICIAN. Bixby played Tony Blake, a stage magician who was asked to investigate a plane crash. He became a moonlighting crime fighter, using his skills at illusion and misdirection to catch the bad guys.

It was a pretty cool idea, although it came with built-in limitations.

Fast forward to 2018, and ABC brings us DECEPTION, starring JACK CUTMORE-SCOTT as Cameron Black, a stage magician whose career comes tumbling down when the secret to one of his greatest stunts comes to light -- that he has a twin brother, Jonathan. The world learns about Jonathan when he is arrested for leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in a woman's death. Only the woman dead on the scene wasn't the woman who was with Jonathan in the car. He's been set up, and he's sent to prison.

One year later, Cameron is obsessed with proving his brother's innocence, and he has a chance to get help when he forces his way onto an FBI investigation where the criminals used clever stage magic techniques to pull off their crime. Thus is born the Deception Team, with Black's own stage helpers, Dina (LENORA CRICHLOW), Jordan (JUSTIN CHON), and Gunter (VINNIE JONES) helping out FBI Agents Kay Daniels (ILFENESH HADERA and MIKE ALVEREZ (AMAURY NOLASCO).

The cases ultimately lead the FBI to believe that Jonathan is innocent, but they won't have their absolute proof until they capture the "Mystery Woman" (STEPHANIE CORNELIUSSEN) with the different-colored eyes, who has seemingly been masterminding high-value thefts around the globe.

Or is she?

In the latest story arc, we learn that items targeted for theft are being encoded into paintings and riddles, directing the Mystery Woman to what needs stolen next. This definitely indicates that she and her team are working for someone else. But the most recent episode, cool as it was, beggars belief. Cameron has gone missing, having been abducted by the Mystery Woman to assist with a theft. The FBI gets temporary release for Jonathan to help save his brother. And the final theft is a diamond, the clue for which is hidden in a riddle written in an asylum cell.

Forty years ago.

That's right, the riddle, which the Mystery Woman cannot solve on her own, gets solved by Jonathan, pointing to the Lynx Diamond which is going up for auction the next day. The problem with that particular plot is that the riddle really has been there for forty years, unsolved. It's not even posed as a riddle (you'll have to watch the episode to see.) Suddenly, Mystery Woman isn't so powerful or infallible, and it removes a lot of the intrigue from the series.

Ratings for DECEPTION have been underperforming, and it's rumored that the series may not be renewed for a second season. Perhaps that's why things are starting to wrap up so suddenly, rather than continue to draw out the dual worlds of the twin brothers -- police work and prison -- because once Jonathan is free, the goose that lays the golden eggs is dead.

Personally, I find DECEPTION to be a light, fun show. Unfortunately, like THE MAGICIAN, it had built-in limitations that it is having serious problems getting past.