Sunday, April 26, 2009

In Plain Sight, "In My Humboldt Opinion": Because I got high

Brief spoilers for tonight's "In Plain Sight" coming up just as soon as I place an order at the drivethrough...

"In My Humboldt Opinion" was, in my own humble opinion, a vast improvement on the season premiere. No messing around with mysterious corpses, just Mary doing her actual job, and dealing with one of the many complications of life in WitSec: if you're a criminal, and your emotional well-being has depended on one of the crimes you regularly commit, how do you function when you have Mary telling you to obey the law?

Kevin Rankin is quickly becoming one of those actors whose appearance instantly makes me more interested in whatever he's in, whether it's a good show (as Herc on "Friday Night Lights"), a bad show (as the only interesting part of "Bionic Woman") or in between. Here, he used his Steve Zahn 2.0 qualities to good effect as Jerry the socially anxious pothead. And he made the episode's climax, where Mary found a way around the problem by affixing a Bob's Burger sticker to the witness stand mic, unexpectedly poignant. I always like seeing TV characters be good at what they do, particularly in surprising ways, and so Mary saving the day with unorthodox thinking -- as opposed to just bullying Jerry into testifying -- was a nice touch.

I didn't even mind the Jinx and Brandi material so much this week, because they were used as illustrations for the visiting shrink of just how frantic Mary's life is. When they're working as foils for Mary, I don't hate them as much; it's only when I'm expected to care about either one as an independent character that they become unnecessary distractions. And Raph's also not a huge problem if his appearances are as brief as they were here, where he became the one good thing in Mary's day.

Also, like Stan and Marshall, I'm warming to Eleanor. Anyone who can shut down that jerk from the FBI so easily by reaching out to her old contacts is someone to be reckoned with.

Midway through the episode, I wrote the following note: "Finally! An episode of the show that's actually an episode of the show!" Let's hope we get more of these going forward.

What did everybody else think?


Tigerpants said...

I'm inclined to agree, as I think the show really works when Mary's demonstrating the reason she has this job in the first place. I still loathe Jinx and Brandi, and can't wait for the inevitable episode where they disappear from Mary's life, and she realizes how empty she is without them. I get that she is, in a way, but man, they're annoying. I really liked the shrink, though. I hope we get to sit in on Mary's phone calls to her once in a while.

Colleen said...

I really agree. I think they managed to step it up with this one and take something that could have been really cheesy and it worked, and worked well. Jinx and Brandi's story seemed to fit, and give some interesting insight into Mary without taking over. And I LOVED Mary finding out what Rafe did.

Tosy And Cosh said...

What struck me the most was how funny the episode was. I can't count the number of times I laughed out loud. It seems clear by this point that the show needs to get away from the mystery/procedural model (who killed who and why) and be much more about character - the witness of the week was, here, engaging as a person, not as a carrier of plot, and that's what worked.

Zach said...

Wasn't actually a Bob's up the yellow legal pad and started scribbling just before he was called to the stand? She hand drew the Bob's logo for him, which she then stuck on the mike.

For summing up how good Mary is at her job I thought that was a killer touch.

Zach said...

Stoopid blogger. Should read

"Wasn't actually a Bob's sticker -- remember when Mary snatched up the yellow legal pad and started scribbling just before he was called to the stand? She hand-drew the Bob's logo for him, which she then stuck on the mike.

For summing up how good Mary is at her job I thought that was a killer touch."

Anonymous said...

LOVED the episode.
My one issue - FBI agent Robert O'Conner. Did he transfer to ALQ since he has a cubicle? I was hoping to never see him again. Although, I did like Mary dumping the garbage on his desk.
Also it was great when Mary realized Raf's role in the suitcase switch.

Karen said...

As the moment of testifying approached, I figured it would be tied in some way to Bob's--the drive-thru scene was the equivalent of Chekhov's first-act gun that must go off in the third--but I thought it was handled well. It wasn't until I saw that little hand-drawn logo that I realized what Mary had done with the legal pad in the witness room.

I found the final scene with the psychologist a little cloying ("I've also never seen anyone do their job better than you do"--really? NO ONE? It couldn't just be a compliment on her passion and creativity?), but I liked the nature of their relationship.

It was a good episode. It worked as an episode of the show. And yet...I didn't find it particularly compelling. It didn't make me happier for having watched it, as some episodes have in the past.

I think the show has just, in general, not found its way, which is a shame.

Mary Ann said...

Much, much better than last week.