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Erika Christensen, Ramon Rodríguez Will Trent.png

ABC's 'Will Trent' Gets Procedural Romance Right

By Jen Maravegias | TV | March 27, 2023 |

By Jen Maravegias | TV | March 27, 2023 |

Erika Christensen, Ramon Rodríguez Will Trent.png

Do you know what I like the most about Will Trent, after every single piece of Faith Mitchell’s (Iantha Richardson) wardrobe? There is no significant “will they or won’t they” romantic storyline. I mean look at this. This isn’t even the sharpest of her outfits and I love it.

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Obviously, there’s the history and ongoing relationship between Will (Ramón Rodríguez) and Erika Christensen’s Angie Polaski. But that relationship is established and the focus is on how they’re making their relationship work while they each drag ten tons of emotional baggage through life. It’s a more interesting and less played-out dynamic than tuning in every week to see if they’re going to sleep with each other.

In the most recent episode, Angie unexpectedly comes across the foster father who raped her as a teen. This sends her into a tailspin that threatens her fragile, hard-fought sobriety. Will confronts her at the end of the episode and she struggles with what to tell him. There’s a real and honest moment shared between them. Will is waiting for Angie to be honest with him, but she’s not ready. Logically, she knows there’s no reason not to trust him, he’s been her ride or die since they were teens in the foster home together. But she can’t quite make herself that vulnerable again, even to Will. It all plays out on her face as they stand there at the kitchen sink and ends in a hug, Angie reassuring Will that she just had a bad day.

The other relationship central to the story is the one Angie has with her partner, Michael Ormewood (Jake McLaughlin). Their “will they won’t they” happened in the past and they came down firmly in the “they will” camp. Now they are navigating a working partnership with a romantic entanglement in their past. That includes having Angie over for a family dinner night so Ormewood’s wife can meet his new partner. She’s a cop’s wife so she already knows all about their previous dalliance and gives Angie the ol’ “Now you know I know so don’t F it up” speech in one of the early episodes. Since then Polaski and Ormewood’s relationship has been refreshingly free of interpersonal drama. They have good chemistry together, crack easy jokes with each other and endure the idiosyncracies that make them unsuitable as partners to anyone else in the precinct. They’re just two people who work together! And they work well together, even without the coded language of repressed desire being spoken between them.

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I’m a big fan of procedurals. They’re my comfort food and my go-to insomnia solution. I used to watch any old thing but I’ve drawn the line at shows that feel too jingoistic (I’m looking at you Blue Bloods) or too sensationalist (Criminal Minds I watched you until I could watch no more. Although the new season was pretty great.) I’ve also given up on trying to watch all of the spinoffs, with apologies to CSI: Hawaii. Bones is still my favorite, but only the first few seasons. What started off as an involving blend of pseudo-science and puzzle-solving became an overly emotional soap opera set in a science lab. The drawn-out romantic pining between Brennan and Booth, and the shift from the case of the week to everyone’s personal lives being the driving focus killed the whole show. Literally. It ended very abruptly.

So, while the central premise of Will Trent is ridiculous — an illiterate dyslexic is a superstar detective for the Georgia Bureau Of Investigation — at least I know they won’t ruin it by forcing us to watch two main characters awkwardly fall in love with each other. They’re already in love and the drama is in watching them try to figure out how that works. I am also very happy to watch Faith Mitchell (she of the aforementioned enviable wardrobe) make out with a new person every episode if they want to keep doing that. Let Faith get her handsome doctor or the misunderstood criminal with a cute face. I say get it. Just don’t let it get in the way of the mysteries.