In Plain Sight, Season Two (2009)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Following the traumatic events that landed Mary (Mary McCormack) in a situation she had no control over has left her shaken. Unable to officially work until she is cleared is making her go stir-crazy – even a mere 24 hours after being rescued. Her sister (Nichole Hiltz) was somehow entangled in the mess that landed Mary kidnapped along with Brandi’s loser drug-dealing boyfriend who didn’t make it through the ordeal. Drugs are involved and though Brandi is accused of stealing them, Mary refuses to help Brandi on the grounds that she could lose her career. Mary soon has bigger issues to deal with when she learns from her boss Stan (Paul Ben-Victor) that one of her witnesses was just found lying dead in her bedroom – seemingly as a result of suicide. Usually not a woman who likes to follow orders, Mary seems fine to “tag along” with her partner Marshal (Frederick Weller) considering she is not officially cleared to work. Even the presence of a new office administrator (Holly Maples) doesn’t damper Mary’s uncharacteristic attitude… until she learns that her witness may have been murdered, and then all bets are off.

If the first season of this show was duller than your usual cop drama, round two is more so. Ironically that doesn’t mean that the show is boring with exception to a few, most of the episodes are interesting – and even warrant serious thought. Some of the interesting dilemmas presented include a man having to choose whether or not to save his wife or unborn child. Following complications to her pregnancy, and hearing his options, the man asks how he could be expected to “kill” his child (“Aguna Matatala”). There is more than one passing reference to God which is more than we can say about the average cable show. Giving any praise to Him isn’t always meant to be seen positively and there are multiple different religions within that but there are touching moments that seem to be written with great care demanding that you respect them.

Other episodes that stood out – though not for their message of faith, was “Stand-Up Triple,” “Rubble with a Cause” (an example of Mary selflessly protecting a witness) and the finale which demonstrated unusual emotions. Likewise one episode features an equally touching phone conversation between Brandi and Marshal as regards an English paper she is writing. One of the driving emotions this season is the transformation many of the characters endure. Brandi becomes a better person through her ordeal, finding independence and making healthier relationships while Jinx admits to her problems, accepting treatment and in fact, sticks to it for the course of the season though I suspect that won’t trend for the three seasons that follow. Then there is Mary who is perhaps getting more difficult to like. She cannot accept failure in life while we glimpse the possibility that Marshal cares for Mary as more than a partner… and this is another point of contention for me.

When I like an on-screen couple together, there is nothing more that I want than to see them together but it is also a trap that is more clich├ęd than I care to admit. Here Marshal and Mary are nothing but platonic partners who care deeply for the other one while Marshal is often the only person who can get through to Mary but then in the episode when Marshal realizes he isn’t the one to have put a ring on Mary’s finger, we get the feeling, he feels something for her. The ending is touching with the perfect song playing over the credits though most of it is humorous. There is ample conflict this season including the return of the FBI agent out to convict Brandi of drug and murder charges while the arrival of a blonde-haired stranger (Laura Prepon) shakes Mary’s belief in her long-absent father. I think at its worst, this show depicts its characters as so flawed (“real”) that it may take us aback. There is really nothing in this show that fools us into believing these characters aren’t… real. In a sense, it shames us into realizing that so much of what happens on the show mirrors our own petty complaints or needs. Perhaps, at the end of the day, that is what makes In Plain Sight so compelling.

(Parental review: Mary’s cases involve a mother who basically “sells” herself by succumbing to multiple flings with wealthy men though she is not a prostitute. Mary and Rafe continue their intimate relationship. One episode involves a lesbian witness [there is a same-sex kiss] and prior to that a clothed sex scene. [Some crude sexual references are also used.] There is some violence and tense moments – some victims are kidnapped. Abuses of deity are most of profane language though there is some swearing. The show is rated TV14.) 

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