Welcome back to my “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” marathon! One of the recurring themes of crime shows is the presentation of a suspect’s motive in a crime. There is the rare time that a motive isn’t clear or even exists. Today’s episode showcases that possibility. This is “The Motive.”
Tommy Greer is a self-described crime buff who is obsessed with following murder cases as a hobby. While getting drunk with his friend Richard, he’s convinced to try committing a murder just to see if he can get away with it. Richard randomly selects someone from the phone book and Tommy ends up killing them, giving him no actual motive to be suspected for. Will Tommy get away with the murder, or will he find that even crime buffs have a thing or two to learn about committing one?
This episode really liked to hammer in the concept of motive. This didn’t make it a bad episode, but the first 10 or so minutes that involve both Tommy and Richard being drunk had Richard repeatedly bring it up. It got slightly annoying, but despite that the episode was pretty decent. The ending was my favorite part, as I felt I should’ve seen it coming and was pleasantly surprised by it.
Tommy was our main character, and it felt strange seeing someone who’s clearly a little unhinged in that role. He has a chart detailing solved and unsolved murders that have both motives and lack of motives, and his reason behind this hobby is, as Richard puts it, that he goes overboard with everything. The reason behind the hobby was to take his mind off his wife leaving him, whom he apparently went overboard with as well (possibly an obsession thing too?). It takes Richard pointing out a flaw in his chart and convincing him while wasted to commit murder, but his obsession leads him to go through with it even when sober. We don’t get to know Richard all that well, but despite spending most of the episode drunk out of his mind, we do learn a few things about him that make the character more than one-note.
With close to half of the episode spent with the two drunk and plotting out the murder, the other half focuses on the murder itself and the aftermath. The murder seemed overly complicated to me despite being “motiveless,” as Tommy poses as a sort of telemarketer/survey man to get close to his victim. Once he’s in the house, he does the smart thing by insuring they’ll be alone, but then proceeds to spend nearly 20 minutes (not in-episode time) surveying the man just to lead up to him smashing his neck with a hammer. It felt like an excuse to meet the episode’s run-time, and through the survey he does get to know his victim a little, which seemed kinda counterproductive to the whole thing. I guess you can argue he wanted to gain his trust first to carry out the murder, but it just seemed unnecessarily complicated to me.
Overall, “The Motive” was an okay episode. The ending elevated it for me a little bit, but the rest of it felt like it could’ve had a tighter focus and better pacing. If the motive aspect of crimes interest you, try giving it a watch, but be prepared to have the word “motive” feel like it’s lost its meaning about halfway through.