I can say, without hyperbole, that last night’s episode of The Gates was the best episode so far in the series’ run. Granted, that might not mean much when only three episodes have aired. Even still, this past episode, entitled “Breach,” gave me hope that the show can create a compelling, character-based drama that will be able to engage audiences on a consistent, week-to-week basis.

The most impressive element of “Breach” was how the show’s writers were able to keep so many plates spinning at once. At this point in the show, it seems like every character, no matter how ancillary, is involved in their own subplot (and this show is definitely not short on characters). One of the few exceptions to this rule is Dana (who?), Nick Monohan’s daughter, who wasn’t mentioned by name until the second episode, and didn’t even pop up in this episode at all. Poor Dana.

Perhaps the most compelling subplot so far is the one involving Claire Radcliff -- the vivacious, stay-at-home vampire mom who’s not only struggling with her bloodlust, but with her current suburbanite trappings as well. In this episode, Claire is attempting to play the gracious host to her husband’s potential business partners, but has trouble acclimating to the role of homemaker. While out shopping, she encounters an old friend (perhaps an old flame) named Christian, and the two leave for a restaurant to catch up on old times. Christian makes no small effort to goad Claire into her old life of feastings on mortal flesh. Claire tells Christian she’s happy with the life she’s chosen, but he doesn’t exactly buy that.

Later, Claire notices Christian leading a young woman away from the bar, most likely with intentions on sampling her heart juice. Claire encounters him outside and sees the deed taking place… and decides to join in! For those counting at home, that’s two vampire attacks in three episodes for Claire. She’s setting a good pace. She arrives home later with an excuse ready for Dylan (her hubby), and she does an apt job cooking food for the previously mentioned dinner party. But near the end of the episode, we see Claire is still keeping in touch with Christian, and she intends to go back out with him for more feeding frenzies. Oh, those zany vampires and their wonton murder! This could definitely go in some interesting directions for Claire. Dylan has already threatened to kick her out of the house if she didn’t stop feasting – at least inside The Gates. Claire, on the other hand, might try living a secret double life with -- dare I say it -- a secret paramour?

This episode was also an important one for the love triangle of our favorite lycanthrope Brett, the half-succubus Andie, and the ultra-sensitive normal schmoe Charlie. Andie began the episode by ignoring both Brett and Charlie; Brett, since he had dropped the L-Bomb on her, and Charlie, since she and he had made out a week previously. Mostly, this storyline spins its wheels for awhile, as both boys profess their feelings to Andie, and Andie strings both along for most of the episode.

This stalemate gets a kick in the rump when Lukas, another werewolf buddy of Brett’s, tells Brett that he had seen Charlie and Andie kissing. Brett instantly is enraged to hear this, but Lukas warns Brett against acting on this rage. Instead, he convinces Brett to go running with him and his pack of wolves.

This starts a chain of events that leads to some juicy morsels of exposition on other characters. Brett, having tasted the sweet nectar of freedom that can only be attained by running naked in the woods with a bunch of wolves, decides to rethink his relationship with the decidedly non-werewolf Andie. Also, having been caught on film leaving The Gates next to a crime scene, Brett is called in to questioning by Nick about the burglarizing of several neighborhood homes. Brett’s mother, Karen, who is called in along with her son, learns Brett was running with the pack. Not only does Brett get grounded, but we also learn f0rom this conversation that Brett’s father and brother were killed in a “hunting accident” from a similar experience. Later, Karen confides in Sarah Monohan about her communication problems with Brett. Sarah, who wasn’t incredibly fond of Karen after a nightmarish bake sale/fundraiser fiasco, instantly warms to Karen after seeing her more vulnerable side.

Eventually, when Andie and Brett speak again, Andie breaks off their relationship. As good as Brett has been to her (aside from standing her up on their froyo date), she tells Brett that she doesn’t love him as he loves her, and that he deserves better. How very thoughtful of her – though naturally, about two scenes later, she goes right back to kissing Charlie.

Other Quick Hits from this week:

- After Andie breaks up with Brett, he meets up with Lukas and goes running with them. If you ask me, Lukas was just a bit too excited to go gallivanting naked with his buddy through the forest again. Might want to make that Love Triangle a Square… or some other quadrilateral.

- Though there’s been some serious signs pointing to this in past episodes, this week all but confirmed Leigh (one of the officers at the police station) has some sort of supernatural characteristics. During the burglaries, Leigh has a decorative box stolen from her home, which causes her harm to be apart from. When the burglar is captured and released on bail, Leigh goes to his house and kills him, hoping to keep her true self (and the contents of that box) a secret.

- Marcus, the eager-beaver police officer, makes a huge relationship leap this week by asking Teresa, his girlfriend of one week, to move in with him – at least temporarily. Leigh doesn’t seem to improve… do I smell yet another Love Triangle brewing in The Gates? Either way, what is it about relationships in this gated community that make them blossom so quickly? First, Charlie gets Andie to dump her long-term boyfriend after knowing her for a little over a week. Next, Teresa tells Marcus she believes fate brought them together on their first date. Now Marcus and Teresa are living together? Jeez. Something’s in the water in The Gates, and my money’s on Love Potion No. 9.

- Nick Monohan, who in the pilot seemed to be the main character, takes a backseat in this episode to the other side plots mentioned above. His involvement in this episode – in trying to solve the mystery of the break-ins – serves more as a catalyst to move along other stories than it acts as an anchor to the episode as a whole. In my opinion, this works to the episode’s benefit. I haven’t been too fond of Nick’s character so far, and the less of him I see, the better.

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