In tonight's second episode of Criss Angel BeLIEve, the titular illusionist attempts to be the first person to successfully catch a bullet. But the goal of making history isn't the only reason why this installment is memorable.
[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.]
It's fair to say that "Bullet Catch" shares some similiarities with last week's premiere episode, "Blind." Both programs feature Criss attempting a demonstration in the 'superhuman' category of magic - the least demonstrative, because it involves no trickery whatsoever, but conversely also the most rewarding, because the results are legitimate. In both episodes, the objective is something that other folks have died trying to achieve (there are reasons for that opening disclaimer!).
And when it comes to the smaller tricks that make up the rest of the show, both have cameos from musical artists; last week it was Ludacris, this week it's Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas. If you're a die-hard Criss Angel fan, you'll even spot a trick that he's performed during his recent promotional tour for BeLIEve.
So you're not about to see the wheel being reinvented tonight. But that's just fine, because where "Bullet Catch" succeeds is in furthering our understanding of what it means to be a professional magician, which is the entire point of Criss Angel BeLIEve in the first place. Where "Blind" allowed us to meet Team Angel and familiarize ourselves with everything they do, "Bullet Catch" shows us what happens when things go wrong. And reminds us that even if you're Criss Angel, things do go wrong.
The episode earns our respect right out of the gate, because you have to be a certain kind of crazy-fearless to even want to attempt to catch a bullet. But even if you were that insane, you'll then see things you probably wouldn't even have considered were you in the same position. Can this demonstration even be pulled off legally? How do you train for such a thing? (Hint: it's not just having people shoot at you.) What kind of mathematics are involved? And just like with "Blind," is weather going to be a factor in the final production? These and other questions all get answered, and we leave the show a lot smarter than we came into it.
We're not spoiling anything by pointing out that Criss doesn't die attempting to catch a bullet. But whether he succeeds - and furthermore, all the time, effort, calculation, negotiation, energy and just pure courage it takes for him to even try - is the most compelling television you're likely to see this week.