It's time to send off Season 1 of Criss Angel BeLIEve, so how do you possibly do that? Well, you go to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a massive demonstration. There's a little bit of everything in this episode: professional high stakes, personal drama, and Mother Nature once again crashing the party. If we'd scripted what this episode was supposed to be like, we probably couldn't have come up with this.
[SPOILER ALERT: If you don't want to know anything about tonight's episode of Criss Angel BeLIEve, stop reading now. This preview contains some general spoilers.]
Firstly, a programming note: if you somehow have not seen last week's episode ("Elephant Herd Vanish") yet, you probably want to do that now. You don't have to have seen it to enjoy "Ship Appearance," but there are things from last week that carry over into this week, and they'll make more sense if you're caught up.
On to the new content. Team Angel takes a "working vacation" to Cabo after Criss is invited to perform there. The idea that he pitches is based on one of the demonstrations in his live show, which sounds simple enough, but watch everyone else's faces as he decides to add multiple new layers to the concept. He really wants to pull out all the stops for this international performance, and this one definitely qualifies as over the top.
The smaller demonstrations throughout the episode are entertaining (you have to wonder if Criss can go anywhere without having to perform), but the ship appearance is the most notable piece. It's the first time we've ventured into the 'Appearance' category of magic, and the first time the show has filmed outside of the United States. Clearly, there's territory to be mined here in any potential Season 2, in both respects.
You won't necessarily be biting your nails this week. This doesn't have the risk factor that came with the likes of "Cement Grave" or "Lord of Illusions," so there's not as much suspense as those episodes. Instead of hoping that Criss doesn't get maimed, you're wondering how exactly the team is going to pull off the not-so-short list of things that are supposed to happen as part of this demonstration. And while you don't get answers to every item on that list, it's with good reason, because like 'Double Straight Jacket,' this episode detours into another story.
What's more serious - and ultimately almost more moving - is the other half of the episode, in which Criss goes to see a doctor about the shoulder pain he's suffered since his straightjacket escape. This is the kind of stuff most people would leave out of a show for a variety of reasons, but once again BeLIEve takes us places that we've never been before. We don't want to spoil it for you, but we get the opportunity to take a pretty personal journey with Criss, and that's something more valuable than just entertainment. For all the fantastic things we've seen this season, the most important aspect of BeLIEve has been how it's helped us understand the world of magic.
Criss has done an excellent job over the run of the show so far to pierce his public persona - or at least the public perception of his persona - and show us his inner workings on every level, from technical to emotional. While "Ship Appearance" may not be BeLIEve's most thrilling hour, it perfectly wraps up the education the audience has been given over the last two months, and it will leave you with what this was all for: a greater appreciation of not just magic, but the greatest magician we've had the privilege of watching.
Criss Angel BeLIEve airs tonight on Spike at 10 PM ET/PT. Be sure to check out our exclusive post-season interview with Criss Angel about the series, and follow Criss on Twitter (@CrissAngel).