‘Motive’ Season 3, Episode 7 Review: ‘Pilot Error’

This week’s ‘Motive’ features a pastry chef literally iced and a pilot as the perpetrator. How could these two be connected?

When Chelsea (Sonja Bennett) is found in the freezer of the apartment she was supposed to have vacated, it’s one of the more inventive demises in Motive history. The audience meets her killer Brad in Shanghai, and because he’s played by Chris Klein, it’s no surprise he did it. It’s usually the most famous guest star that’s the murderer.

It’s the why that’s the question – and we find out that the two met as passengers on another flight. You know the rest of the story: Brad proposes to his girlfriend Nicole (Rebecca Marshall), who was in “bridal boot camp” with Chelsea, who’s been fixated on Brad since that flight.

She’s so determined to win him over that she mugged Nicole and stole her engagement ring, and an enraged Brad kills Chelsea when she attacks him with a knife.

In the subplot Vega (Louis Ferreira) tells Cross (Warren Christie) about his newly developed medical condition, which Cross agrees to keep quiet. Vega also continues to grow closer with Betty (Lauren Holly), so this is a significant episode for the bearded one.

“Pilot Error” plays by the numbers so there’s no real suspense here. While it’s a nice twist that he’s not just two-timing his fiancee, that’s not enough to make the episode memorable.

It doesn’t help that Klein isn’t a great choice for the role of Brad – despite his best stares and gravely delivered lines, he doesn’t generate any real emotion either way. We’re not scared of him when we think he’s a murderer and we’re not that sympathetic toward him when we discover that it was an accident.

The most interesting part of the installment is the final scene between Vega and Angie (Kristin Lehman), where he calls her out for her fixation on Neville Montgomery and she, in return, asks why he keeps letting her drag him into unfavorable situations. It’s a renewed wedge in their partnership, and it also reminds the audience that the core of Motive is the dynamic between the detectives.

While guest stars are a huge part of what makes the case of the week, the biggest factor in the show’s longevity is the same as any other – that we care about the core characters even if the plot of this particular episode isn’t the best.

The end of “Pilot Error” leaves us wanting more of Vega and Angie just sitting in the squadroom talking, and that says a lot about the talent of Ferreira, Lehman and the writers of Motive. Now if only the cases could pick up that much steam.

Motive airs Sundays at 10/9c on USA.