For the most part, Perception has been stuck in a certain middle ground. The concept of a super intuitive professor struggling with schizophrenia is a fascinating one and the actors involved in the show have been likable from the start. Yet some of the episodes have been hit or miss.
It's been a series with plenty of promise that I've just been waiting to break out of the typical mold.
Which is why "Kilimanjaro" was a fantastic new page. It that set the bar far higher than I had expected, providing an engaging episode from the central case to the side plots that surrounded it. This was a solid outing and probably one of the best of the season.
I've always been a fan of the bookend class lectures, not only for the smart writing that makes you think about the concept, but the way it surrounds the theme of the installment. And while that topic usually encapsulates the hour and everything involved, Dr. Pierce is usually leaving campus to solve crimes. It can be easy to brush over the fact that he has teaching responsibilities.
On top of trying to solve the school murder case, Pierce also spent his time connecting with one of his students. We've seen him bumble around his female student admirer, but trying to work with the football jock was breaking ground. There was a certain heartbreaking notion in someone not knowing what to do when the one thing they've been good at was suddenly taken away from them. It was even great that, despite Dr. Pierce's anger at the cheating and the ignoring of his medical advice, he still wanted to help.
For all of his character outbursts and flaws, Pierce consistently finds ways to try and aid others. It's what he does.
It was even a terrific surprise when the other student he was trying to help turned out to be a hallucination of his younger self. I was so engaged in the episode itself and the tightness of the story that I hadn't even considered the possibility. It was a great reveal that in its continuation provided for further insight into the main character's ambitions and dreams. At the same time, listening to his younger self offer advice on the case and Kate Moretti's feelings never felt forced.
Of course, neither did the murder case itself. Sure, Kate and Pierce went through multiple suspects from the arrogant and smug "Prince" to the fawning student, but their following of clues made sense - and in that roundabout way of discovering more and more, it interwove both the cheating on the mid term papers to the murder.
It was a perfect win-win, that once again, until right before we finally landed on the true killer, was a great surprise. I guess in the end, studying can be deadly.
The episode had such a wonderful flow that even the side character plots felt relevant. From Max's great detective work to Kate breaking up with her boyfriend (can we even call it that?), the theme of ambition surrounded everything. And I loved that even if only for a short period of time, all of those supporting cast members had something significant to do. They also weren't noticeably absent like before.
My only flaw, if you could even call it that, is that for now, I'm not sure if I buy Kate's feelings for Pierce. I've always gotten more of a student/teacher vibe from their working together, but I'm not entirely against the idea either. I know it was always inevitable to have something between the two, but I've liked that the show hasn't been bogged down by the "couple drama" yet. I guess time will tell if they can even go on a date without Pierce's hallucinations messing everything up.
This was by far one of the most succinct and top notch episodes so far. There weren't any crazy gimmicks or over the top storylines, just great writing that allowed for an interesting case to be combined with an entertaining parallel plot. And what better way to end it then with Rolling Stones lyrics?
You could say that Perception truly got what it needed.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.