Since we last saw Chase, it's been moved out of direct competition with Hawaii Five-O, but into direct competition with a two-hour American Idol. I'm not sure that's an improvement.
In "Narco," the team faces off with the wife of an arrested drug distributor, who's willing to do anything in order to keep her husband from going to prison, starting with setting a key witness on fire. As one of the main characters says, it's a big leap for her to go from loyal wife to murderer, and it's one that isn't quite convincing; we don't get a clue what makes Isabella Cordova turn so ruthless so quickly. Yes, protecting one's family is a motivation, but what drives her to think she has to kill to do that? Or has she been that way all along and we're just not shown her underlying malice? Either way, there's a piece missing from her characterization.
Furthermore, what she does is a series of things we're pretty much supposed to take for granted. In one scene, she's able to call someone with the number off a random police officer's cruiser, then escape when said officer gets a phone call threatening his family. I'll give that a pass by assuming, as the show does, that she may have a mole with access to the police database. Later on, however, she's able to find the safehouse a witness is being held at and have time to set up a bomb to take out said witness. I can gather finding the witness, but she has enough time to assemble and place an explosive device? Or does she simply have a surplus of them at the ready? Everything seems to nag at the rules of time and plausibility. The only real honest shock here is that Annie is abducted in the closing minutes - finally an instance in which she is not Superwoman.
Meanwhile, Jimmy and Natalie sort of discuss whether or not they should get married. I would be more interested in this subplot if I were at all interested in their relationship; however, her one brief appearance in "Betrayal" isn't enough to have gotten me invested in her, so I likewise am apathetic toward what happens between them. However, I will say that I much prefer Jimmy with Natalie than the show trying to pair him with Annie; I find myself getting so furious when series assume that a man and a woman can't simply be good friends without sexual tension.
The show does come back with an episode full of people I know from other shows: there's Yancey Arias, Lana Parilla (Boomtown) and Michael Irby (The Unit). It's always an added treat to recognize a guest star, like an old friend who drops in unannounced. Irby, in particular, gives a reliable performance as Marco's former colleague and the lead DEA agent on the case. One of the best scenes in the hour is when he and Marco have a brief but long overdue fistfight. It's nice to see Amaury Nolasco with a substantive role in this episode, even if his backstory seems to come out of the blue, and he and Irby play well off each other.
Maybe it's because I was watching Justified this afternoon, but Chase seems to pale in comparison. Now that it's squaring off against Criminal Minds, Modern Family and any two-hour episodes of Idol, I wonder how much time it has left.
For more Chase, check out the show category at my blog, DigitalAirwaves.net.