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Series / Deception (2018)

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Magicians: they deceive you, they trick you, they entertain you—the one thing they will never do is lie to you.
Penn Jillette's remarks during his and Teller's cameo in the pilot

Deception is an ABC Police Procedural that began airing March 11th, 2018.

Superstar magician Cameron Black is on top of the world when he finds himself arrested for the accidental death of a woman. Cameron is forced to admit his greatest secret: the man the police have photos of leaving the scene is his twin brother Jonathan, whom Cameron has secretly been using to help in his illusions for years. Jonathan insists he was set up by a woman with different colored eyes but is convicted of manslaughter.

With his career ruined, Cameron is thrown to see a news story about a supposed airplane exploding which he sees as an illusion he once used. He helps FBI Agent Kay Daniels solve the crime which turns out to have been supplied by that same mystery woman. Now, Cameron and his magic team aid the FBI in special cases while Cameron tries to hunt that woman down to prove his brother's innocence.

The series was canceled after one season.

For the 2013 series of the same name (originally called Infamous), see Deception (2013).


  • Abusive Parents: The twins' father. If forcing his sons to share an identity for the sake of a stage act wasn't bad enough, he trained Cameron by handcuffing him, putting in a milk vat, and leaving him there alone, despite Cameron being much shakier with lock-picks than Jonathan. It's implied this was his standard training method.
    Jonathan: Dad really screwed us up, didn't he?
    Cameron: Yeah, he did.
  • A-Team Montage: Used to show Cameron and his team putting together the tools they use for their scheme to bust the crook.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: The team hunt a guy who sprayed a witness with a water pistol containing poison. They track him down as he targets someone else, the man seemingly confused over what to do and "did I win?" Cameron realizes the guy thinks he's part of some reality TV show and no idea he was used to commit a real murder.
  • Beneath Suspicion: The FBI is hunting for Sasha, a Russian mob boss so secretive no one even knows who he looks like. It turns out he's really the supposed bartender at the local mob hangout, Kay openly lampshading how no one would ever give the bartender a second look, let alone suspect he's the boss.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: In one episode, Cameron is about to be attacked by thugs just as Jonathan is going to be stabbed by an inmate. Cameron notes their father took them on the road a lot and they were easy targets for thieves so "our dad taught us more than just magic." Cue both brothers suddenly showing great fighting skills to take down their foes.
  • Break the Haughty: The early arc for Cameron as he's on top of his field as an illusionist but the revelation of his twin brother and his hopeless quest to get him out of jail, renders him disgraced and his team ready to abandon him.
    • The early episodes play with Cameron arrogantly thinking he can take charge in investigations and learning the hard way that criminal cases are tougher than they seem with consequences to his acting up.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Subverted twice in "The Unseen Hand". Cameron is shot by a sniper and we expect that he was saved by a vest but the bullet was actually stopped by a thick pane of bulletproof plastic. Since the rifle bullet penetrated halfway through the plastic, a normal bulletproof vest would have been completely inadequate in the situation. Later, Cameron purposely gets himself shot (while wearing a vest) to save Kay and Issac. He is in considerable pain afterwards and shown to have an intense bruise; Kay also reams him out for being an idiot.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Subverted. Jonathan claims to have no recollection of meeting the Mystery Woman when they were both kids which apparently had a profound impact on her. To him it was just a small incident in a very busy life and he does not recall every fan he met years ago. She call him out on the Blatant Lies and points out that his lucky charm coin is the same coin she gave him all those years ago.
  • The Cameo: Penn and Teller show up in the pilot to note the scandal around Cameron.
  • The Caper: Cameron and his team pull these off once an episode to bust the crooks.
  • Captured on Purpose: When a woman who stole a tech device is arrested, Cameron and Jonathan talk on the phone and realize it was way too sloppy for her to be caught. Cameron tells this to Kay and just as she asks why, the woman breaks out of her cell and into the building. Kay's CIA ex-boyfriend, also on the case, is forced to admit that the woman is headed for a secret CIA black ops safe that even the FBI is unaware is in the same building.
  • Cardboard Prison: Cameron states he's thought up at least eight ways to easily break Jonathan out of prison and "I could get him out tomorrow." However, this would make them both fugitives and thus nearly impossible for them to prove Jonathan's innocence. It's hinted Jonathan could break out on his own but agrees with Cameron's feeling and thus stays inside.
  • Cassandra Truth: It turns out a Conspiracy Theorist known for insane stuff (like NASA lying) actually found evidence of a secret society. His own crew compliments him on "sounding so melodramatic" hyping it up and he insists this is for real but they just laugh. He then gets blown up by a car bomb, showing he really was onto something.
  • Catchphrase: Cameron loves to say "nothing is impossible" at least a couple of times an episode.
    Kay: You know you don't own that word.
    Jordan: He did try to trademark it.
    Cameron: Still pending.
  • Cliffhanger: Sadly, how the series ends: Johnathan knocks out Cameron, switches places so Cameron is in jail, rebuffs Kay's request for "Cameron" to stay and joins the Mystery Woman.
  • Complexity Addiction: A recurring theme as Cameron admits magic tricks and such schemes tend to be rather complex just for the hell of it in order to disguise the truth.
    • A Russian mobster sets up a fake reality show as a way to lure in and eliminate people who want to defect from his organization.
  • Engineered Public Confession: A good tactic for the team.
    • Cameron is confronted in a police interrogation room by a corrupt cop who boasts about his misdeeds and that he picked this room because there's no cameras or windows and thus can claim he killed Cameron in self-defense. At which point, Cameron informs him that he took advantage of a blackout to trick the cop into entering a different room his team had remade. He peels off a section of the "wall" to show a window into an adjourning room where Kay, the detective's captain and a video camera are recording the whole thing.
    • Cameron makes a corrupt CEO think a secret society is out to kill him. Already freaked out, he confronts a reporter about how he killed her father to keep his illegal activities quiet. He scoffs at the small recorder in her hand.
    Killer: You think that little recorder is going to ruin me?
    Kay: (entering with gun and her cell phone) No. But mine's better.
  • First-Episode Twist: Cameron has a twin brother, Jonathan.
  • Disappeared Dad: It's unclear if the twin's father is dead, but he is definetly not part of their lives anymore.
  • Frame-Up:
    • Jonathan (posing as Cameron) is seen leaving with a woman who turns up dead when he crashes the car. But Jonathan tells Cameron that the dead woman may look like the same one but it's not because of the different eyes. They speculate that whoever is doing this is going after Cameron more than Jonathan.
    • After an inmate is burned to death in his cell, a can of lighter fluid is found in Jonathan's cell and the deputy warden tries to force a confession out of Jonathan. It turns out that the deputy warden has a history of framing inmates for crimes that occur in the prison but lack an obvious culprit. He picks an inmate who could have committed the crime and plants evidence implicating that inmate. This way he closes the investigation quickly, gets a conviction and makes himself look really good in front of his superiors.
  • Gas Lighting: A common tactic by Cameron and his team. When a guy working for a legendary graffiti artist turned criminal doesn't talk, the team makes sure he sees a mural of himself with blood on his face. Sure enough, the guy's convinced his boss is coming for him and turns evidence.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: When investigating the murder of a psychic, Cameron rants a bit about how they're frauds and liars. Kay and Alvarez note that it's not much better than spending years not telling the public he had a twin brother helping. At one point, they find an earpiece used by the woman's partner, Cameron mocking it only for the agents to point out he used the exact same thing for his act. However, Cameron is right when he points out that most people who see magicians perform know perfectly well that there's a trick going on, and trying to figure it out is half the fun, while psychics con people who genuinely believe in them into handing over their money.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Cameron's hair is loose and unrestrained, bordering on Quirky Curls, while Jonathan's is slicked back, not a hair out of place. Also doubles as an ID tag for their personalities: Cameron is an optimistic showman with a penchant for improv, while Jonathan is a cynical chessmaster who prefers the long game. For bonus points, Cameron's hairstyle makes his hair appear much lighter; bordering on blond; Jonathan's makes his appear darker.
  • Identical Twin Mistake: Cameron and Johnny Black have been using the Twin Switch as part of a magical act for most of their lives. Very few people know that Johnny exists which allows them to do spectacular teleportation tricks eg. Cameron disappears in an explosion on stage in Las Vegas and Johnny then appears on a similar stage in Times Square in New York City. In the series premiere Cameron is arrested for a crime committed in New York City and realizes that the police have mistaken him for Johnny. Once the twins' secret is revealed to the world, Johnny is sent to prison and Cameron tries to prove that he was framed. Once Cameron confronts the Mystery Woman behind the frameup ,she realizes that she framed the wrong brother. She once met Johnny but mistook him for Cameron and when she wanted to recruit him for her scheme, she framed the other twin to get him out of the way. She is quite annoyed when she realizes that she got the wrong brother sent to jail.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Kay tells Cameron that real FBI investigations involve a lot of slow work as "clues don't just drop into our lap." Right on cue, a couple of paper airplanes drop down from a kid upstairs who saw a key crime go down.
    • Walking through Times Square, Kay states that there's no way someone would do something without understanding the full implications just because it would get them attention. Grabbing a real sword nearby, Cameron leaps onto a platform and asks if anyone would want to take part in an illusion involving getting their head cut off, pointing out how dangerous it is. Roughly thirty people hold up their hand instantly.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: A cop sees a shooting at a small shop but is knocked out. When he wakes up, there's no sign of the corpse and another clerk is there claiming nothing happened. Cameron, naturally, is the only person who believes him and soon helping him crack the case.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Even departments within the FBI are not immune to this. A suspect in a murder investigation turns out to be already under investigation by the FBI's Counter Intelligence division. When Kay asks what is going on, the Counter Intelligence agent lies to her face and insists that it is just a routine investigation into ties to money launderers. Turns out the suspect is a very dangerous international weapons dealer and Counter Intelligence did not want Homicide to mess with their case.
    • In another episode, Kay wonders why a terrorist would allow herself to be captured and then escape inside the building. When she lists the various agencies inside, her CIA ex boyfriend tells her they need to get to the 23rd floor where the CIA has been operating a black ops site without any knowledge of the FBI. The man is forced to tell of the woman trying to steal a file on CIA operatives for revenge. Kay openly notes how the CIA's refusal to share with other agencies just makes things more difficult.
  • Latex Perfection: Cameron and his team use these types of masks for their tricks. Gunter openly snaps he doesn't want to use these as they itch so much.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Lampshaded by Cameron when he and a woman are locked in a trunk and she's amazed at him out of his handcuffs in seconds.
    Cameron: You're locked in a trunk with an escape artist. You think I can't get out of here?
  • Man Behind the Man: A female version as they investigate the death of a psychic. It turns out the victim was just the front for the customers as her younger sister was the one who watched in secret and did the cold readings but had to keep out of sight for personal reasons.
  • Master of Disguise: Cameron is able to use this well. He nicely impersonates the banker of a crime cartel to get into FBI headquarters. Kay is able to see through it but admits that if it took a bit for experienced FBI agents to see through the act, Cameron should be able to fool the actual crooks.
    • Becomes a dark example in "Sacrifice 99 to Fool One" when the team realize too late that the Mystery Woman's accomplice who's now locked in a depressurizing vault was a kidnapped Cameron in disguise. Even Jonathan had no idea it was his own twin.
  • Missing Mom: Jonathan and Cameron's father is mentioned semi-frequently, though always in the past tense. Their mother, however, has never been mentioned at all.
  • Motive Misidentification: At first, Jonathan and Cameron assume the mystery woman was setting up Cameron as no one is supposed to know Jonathan exists. When it's discovered the woman has been tracking them for some time, they realize Jonathan was always the target as her scheme involved exposing the twins' secret to the world. However, it's later indicated that she knew about them but mistakenly believed it was Cameron she was setting up, not Jonathan.
  • Noodle Incident: Cameron is nonchalant about his circumstances when he's kidnapped by the Mystery Woman.
    Cameron: If you think this is the first time I've been handcuffed to a bed in a foreign country by a beautiful woman, you're greatly mistaken.
  • Out-Gambitted: A reporter ignores Cameron's warnings to confront a corrupt CEO, convinced he won't do anything in his own office. Their talk makes it clear the guy is ready to murder her on the spot. She informs him that she's already compiled the evidence on him and mailed it to the FBI...only for him to smugly pull out the envelope, informing her that his agent broke into the mailbox to intercept it. Too late, the woman realizes that guy really can get away with killing her. Lucky for her Cameron shows up to help.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Not as extreme but brought up when Cameron is abducted and the FBI get Jonathan out of jail to find him. Having been so used to Cameron joking and being laid-back, Kay and Alvarez are thrown by how Jonathan is far more serious, his jokes often insulting and not as eager to show off as Cameron is.
    • Ironically, their superior actually likes Jonathan more than Cameron. "You don't talk as much. Good."
  • Revealing Cover Up: A man known for rather insane conspiracy talk is killed by a car bomb. The investigation shows he really had stumbled onto a secret society. One of the members insists to Cameron it wasn't them, lampshading that no one would take the guy seriously thanks to his crazy stories but killing him would make people realize he was onto something and draw attention to them. Their preferred method of silencing people who find out about the society is to sue them for defamation, harassment and even copyright infringement.
  • Running Gag: FBI agent Alvarez constantly complaining over Cameron "ruining" a magic trick when he explains it to the agents during an investigation.
    • Cameron annoyed when Kay tells him to "grab your wand" or other magician-themed item when they're leaving.
    • All it takes is a mention of a real-life rival like Chris Angel or David Blaine for Cameron to go on a rant.
  • Secret-Keeper: Before the revelation to the world, only Cameron and his team were aware Jonathan even existed.
  • Sherlock Scan: The pilot has a rare audio version of this when the mysterious woman calls up Cameron and Kay and taunts them, saying they have no idea where to look for her.
    Cameron: You're in the international terminal at Frankfurt. (woman looks around in shock) I've spent the last year flying around the world, I know every airport has its own acoustics. And Frankfurt pipes in Beethoven muzak like they're afraid people will forget he's from Germany. Did you just look over your shoulder?
    • Cameron invokes this as the major trick used by a psychic for her "predictions" although it's hinted the woman might be more than that.
    • Tracking a woman who stole a secret device in a subway, Kay thinks it's just her and Cameron. But Cameron quickly notes how the janitor seems to be going out of his way to avoid actually sweeping trash; a game-playing kid looks to be in his 30s; a "homeless" woman has a fresh manicure; a woman is talking on a cell phone despite the lack of reception; and a woman in a fancy suit is pushing a cheap stroller. The kicker is when Kay realizes the guy in a suit watching them is her CIA ex-boyfriend.
  • Skewed Priorities: Invoked by Cameron when, just as bombs in a museum are about to go off, Kay insists on dragging a painting out rather than save herself. But she defends it, saying how her late sister loved them so much and she had to save one.
    • Cameron's ex girlfriend is being held captive inside a car being run on remote control. Cameron leaps onto the hood but then spends his time telling the woman he's sorry he never told her about Jonathan, not seeming to get how serious this situation is.
    • Cameron rants to the Mystery Woman that he's not upset about her kidnapping him and handcuffing him to a bed. No, he's outraged she wants him to audition to be part of her scheme to rob an auction house.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Castle. Also to The Mentalist. It's kind of like the bastard love child of the two shows.
  • Spot the Imposter: When a banker for a crime cartel shows up at FBI headquarters to talk, Kay notes how his suit is Brooks Brothers, not the expensive European suits the man would wear. This reveals he's actually Cameron in disguise.
    • Kay realizes a "cop" at a crime scene is a hitman as his shoes and the pen he gives her are far too expensive for a beat cop.
  • Spotting the Thread: A key reason the FBI agrees to help Cameron is his skill at spotting how a crime is really an illusion.
    • Kay proves just as adept spotting details herself that can help in cases.
    • Going over the remains of some paintings caught in an explosion, Kay, a major art fan who's visited this museum constantly, realizes the brush stroke style is wrong and the paintings were fakes and the entire "bombing" was a distraction for them being stolen already.
    • When investigating the death of a conspiracy theorist, Cameron realizes that the guy would normally never own a microwave since he believed them to be was part of a secret government program. Thus the microwave in the dead guy's apartment is a fake and was used to store man's secret notes.
  • Stage Magician: Cameron.
  • String Theory: The second episode ends with Kay revealing to Cameron that she's been looking into Jonathan's case, bringing together a room of photos and files on a few boards and she's willing to help.
    • It then cuts to London where the mysterious woman has an entire windowed wall of her posh apartment decked out with photos and files on the brothers, complete with strings connecting them.
    • Also, Jonathan ends up setting up a private room at his prison with several charts of the various clues to the Mystery Woman.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Evan after the FBI captures the Mystery Woman, it does not automatically free Jonathan since the only evidence of a frame up they have is his word. They spend the entire episode trying to obtain a confession since that is the only thing that will get the conviction overturned. When they fail to do so, Jonathan is sent back to prison.
  • Technician vs. Performer: The Black twins, and the reason Cameron ended up as the public identity. Their father pushed Cameron to be the visible twin from childhood because he's a natural performer, even though Jonathan was better at the technical aspects of magic.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Subverted. None of the show's trailers gave any hints to the twist of Cameron having a twin brother.
  • Trickster Twins: Downplayed but Cameron and Jonathan have long been pretending to be just one person to pull off illusions (such as how "Cameron" can go from Vegas to New York instantly).
    • This was pushed by their magician father who created the act.
  • Twin Switch: The entire point of them posing as one person was to utilise this for their magic acts.
    • Also, the series finale has Jonathan knocking out Cameron and leaving him in prison in his place while he joins with Mystery Woman.
  • The Unfavorite: Jonathan is a bit bitter that Cameron was always the one their father favored and how he was the one pushed to be the "only" Black on stage.
  • Unknown Rival: The mystery woman claims to have been holding a long grudge against Cameron but he has no idea who she is. It turns out, that's because the twin she met in childhood was Jonathan using Cameron's name; Cameron was home sick.
  • Un-person: Jonathan has long been kept a massive secret to the point their father basically buried all records he had more than one son and the only time Jonathan shows up in public, he's pretending to be Cameron. He's surprisingly upbeat about not having any life of his own but annoyed it got him in jail.
  • Wham Line: "You chose the wrong brother."
  • Wham Shot: In the final scene of "Sacrifice 99 to Fool One", Jonathan is trying to get some men out of a vault about to depressurize. The last one is the Mystery Woman's accomplice, who's locked inside. As the gang watch in horror, the accomplice peels off his disguise to reveal it's Cameron just before he collapses.
    • The last few minutes of season 1 are a wham sequence. The Mystery Woman was arrested, but she gets to walk because she knows stuff about the FBI's Most Wanted, without exonerating Jonathan. Cameron knows she'll escape before she even makes it to the safe house, and calls it quits with the FBI. Kay all but explicitly admits she has feelings for Cameron. Except this is intercut with flashbacks that show she's actually talking to Jonathan, who knocked Cameron out in prison and switched places with him in order to get Cam's treasure map, and now Jon is free and working with the Mystery Woman to find the items while Cam is stuck in jail.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: A tech at a lab is shot by his lover who's a spy stealing a key item. When the man checks himself out of the hospital, Cameron realizes he was in on it with her. As he points out, there's no way a trained sniper capable of hitting a target from 400 yards could fail to kill someone standing two feet in front of her.