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35 Questions About ‘Deception’

Though from here on out, we’re referring to ABC’s magician-detective show as ‘Magician: Impossible’

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

There is a new show on ABC that premiered on Sunday night called Deception. It’s alright if the title doesn’t immediately ring a bell—for months, I have only heard it referred to in passing as “that magician detective show.” Sure enough, if you Google “magician detective show,” Deception is the first thing that comes up, because it is the only show of its kind. And I really can’t emphasize this enough: Deception is incredible. It follows a disgraced magician as he helps the FBI solve a series of crimes perpetrated by a mysterious master illusionist, which could be the greatest logline in recent history.

Peak TV is too much, you say? Rebuttal: We have a magician detective show now.

Watching the Deception premiere, I felt that my soul was nourished. But I also left with a litany of questions for what is network TV’s latest, greatest disasterpiece, because that’s how these so-bad-it’s-good shows (some contemporaries: 9-1-1, The Good Doctor, and Riverdale) work—they’re amazing, but also logically confounding in every way. Here are my 35 most pressing questions—along with several smaller follow-up questions—about the first episode of Deception. I shudder to think that there will be more episodes following this cataclysm.

1. Before we even begin, I’d love to know how the showrunner of Deception describes this series to other people.

OH MY GOD. Magician: Impossible!!! Why isn’t that the name of the show? Can we all agree Magician: Impossible > Deception?

2. Can we collectively refer to Deception as Magician: Impossible from this day forward? They’d have to change it eventually if we all kept tweeting, “I Love #MagicianImpossible,” right? Cool.

3. Deception begins with our disgraced magician, Cameron Black (Jack Cutmore-Scott), staring at the screen and telling the viewer that “magic is deception.” Did they really need to use the name of the show within like, the first 15 seconds? We know what we’re here for!

4. Will Cameron Black do really cool card tricks?

Hell yeah.

5. Wait, the name of Cameron’s magic show is also called Deception?!

6. Look, deception is a nice word—it really rolls off the tongue—but do you need to constantly refer to it? I’m getting Deception overload and sometimes instead of talking about a magician show, it sounds like we’re talking about a Diane Lane movie.

7. Cameron Black wants to do an escape attempted by Harry Houdini, 100 years laters to the day. There’s no way this doesn’t go wrong in some way, right?


9. Wait, what?! WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

10. To back it up: This guy just crashed into a set in Las Vegas, and within moments, reappeared in front of a crowd in Times Square. Seriously, how did he pull this off? Is magic … real?

11. Cameron moves through the crowd celebrating his epic stunt, and wait, is that Joanna Wellick (Stephanie Corneliussen) from Mr. Robot?!

Screenshots via ABC

Yeah, that definitely is. Maybe she was watching Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) fist-pumping in Times Square after a successful hack and accidentally stumbled upon a magic show?

12. Really, though: Does Deception exist in the same television universe as Mr. Robot? It’s a long shot, but “magic is deception” and “control is an illusion” are pretty similar catchphrases, and the hacking that goes on in the USA Network show sometimes feels like its own bit of magic. Am I thinking about this too much?

13. Here’s where things get wild: Cameron and Not Joanna drive off together, and Cameron notices that her irises are two different colors, which distracts him enough to get into a deadly car accident, and he flees the scene. That’s illegal! Why on earth are you fleeing a crime scene?

When Cameron is arrested for this hit-and-run in Las Vegas (wait, wasn’t he just in New York?!) we learn the truth: Cameron has an identical twin brother named Jonathan Black.

Is this an epic twist? You bet it is.

14. Is it also the same exact twist Christopher Nolan used in his magician drama, The Prestige? You bet it is.

15. Does Christopher Nolan have grounds to sue ABC? You bet he does.

16. So now Cameron is a disgraced magician and Jonathan is in jail for a hit-and-run that left his female passenger dead—though Jonathan swears the dead body at the crime scene is not the same woman he drove off with. (Considering it’s Joanna Wellick from Mr. Robot, I definitely believe him.) But how is this going to lead to Cameron working for the FBI?

17. Fast-forward one year, and a cartel member is being transported via plane by the FBI. Is this where we get to see the master illusionist in action?

18. Somehow the entire plane vanishes without a trace, along with the valuable cartel member inside it. How many illusionists work with crime syndicates? Do they have to pass some kind of magic test to be trusted by dudes that funnel millions of dollars to one another? Does an illusionist go, “Is this your card?” and if it isn’t, they get shot and dumped in the desert?

19. Anyway, back to Cameron: He’s drinking at bars/determined to capture the illusionist responsible for his brother’s arrest (sounds like a potent combo). He sees the disappearing plane on the news and immediately goes to the crime scene. My biggest issue: How did a supposedly world-famous, disgraced magician sneak through the yellow tape?

He’s even carrying a pack of cards!

20. Cameron determines that the plane snuck out through the back entrance, epically revealing the flimsy wall the plane was snuck through.

Nothing wrong with Cameron’s reveal; it’s pretty dope. But how come the FBI, uh, didn’t bother to check the other side of the hangar when a plane went up in smoke?

21. “You’re looking for a drug dealer,” Cameron tells FBI agent Daniels (Ilfenesh Hadera), “I’m looking for the magician who helped him get away.” Is this the best thing anyone’s said on TV this year?

22. Why is Cameron still holding a pack of cards in the FBI offices?

Is that pack of cards glued to his hands? Imagine if a tennis player just carried a racket with him everywhere he went. (I’m not saying I wouldn’t watch a TV drama in which Roger Federer solves murders for the LAPD, by the way.)

23. With some convincing from Agent Daniels, Cameron is allowed to consult with the FBI and track down the illusionist and missing cartel member. In real life, has a magician ever consulted for the FBI? I’d love to know, for research purposes.

24. Is this a magician microaggression?

25. Oh boy, Cameron and Agent Daniels are going to hook up by the end of the season, aren’t they? It’s a tale as old as time: a member of the bureau falls for the hoodie-wearing magician who loves to hold a pack of cards everywhere he goes. Again, has this ever happened in real life? I just want to know about all the magician-FBI romances. I, for one, am falling for this show.

26. Cameron and Daniels question folks in a warehouse district where the plane might be stowed—and by “question,” I mean Cameron does some magic tricks to distract them and reveal their true emotions. When one definitely guilty person tries to flee, Cameron tosses a knife to stop him in his tracks.

What if he hit the guy? Would Cameron and Daniels be forced to appear in front of internal affairs to discuss their clear violation of due process? Would the rest of Deception be Cameron and Jonathan pulling tricks in prison before, eventually, making a grand escape? I would definitely watch Magician Prison Break.

27. While we’re at it, does Castle get any royalties from this? This show is basically … Magic Castle (sorry).

28. Cameron and Daniels track down the actual location of the plane, and Daniels decides to handcuff Cameron to the car so she can go in alone. Did she really think a magician couldn’t escape handcuffs? That’s like Day 2 at magic school.

29. I’m not sure why either of them went inside the warehouse before calling for backup, but things obviously go south and Cameron ends up face to face with an armed bad guy. He humblebrags about being able to catch a bullet with his bare hands because he trained in Budapest (??).

Daniels shoots the bad guy before he can fire, but will the Deception finale show Cameron catching Chekhov’s bullet? I really need to see this happen.

30. Does Deception have references to other famous magicians?

Can Criss Angel and other magicians cameo in Deception? I want an elimination-style “magic-off” where Cameron Black has to be buried alive for longer than David Blaine or something.

31. How’s that twin brother Jonathan doing in jail?


32. With the help of Cameron’s “magic team”—actual quote—they have a plan in place to capture the escaped cartel member using an elaborate disguise (Cameron is going to wear a mask as the cartel’s accountant!). Somehow, that’s not the most shocking part of all: Cameron can fight blindfolded?!

33. HOLD UP.


THIS REALLY IS MAGICIAN: IMPOSSIBLE!!! (Alright, he swapped out the real gun with a fake gun during the SUV skirmish, but still: That was pretty awesome.)

34. With the episode almost over, one question remained: what about the mysterious master illusionist? Who is this person?

Ah, of course! It’s Mr. Robot’s Joanna Wellick. (Sorry, I’m still convinced this is the same TV universe.) Deception looks like it’ll play out with the mysterious illusionist throwing out a new puzzle for Cameron and the FBI to solve every week.

35. Am I going to keep tuning into Deception? No. Am I going to keep tuning into Magician: Impossible? Of course I am.