"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Friday, July 25, 2008

In Plain Sight: Iris Doesn't Live Here Anymore

This was quite possibly the best In Plain Sight so far. Seriously. From start to finish, this one had it all -- a good story, interesting characters, not too much voice over, a relatable situation and ultimately, a satisfying resolution that was realistic but tough. It also had what has been sorely lacking in the previous episodes -- balance. Marshall got as much to do as Mary, for a change, and was equally involved on an emotional level. Too often, Frederick Weller's character has been reduced to Mary's sidekick and support system. Not this episode.

The situation was a tough one. In the opening, Mary says the Witness Protection Program places people: some criminal, some not. The McBride family fall into the "not" category. They have everything to lose when their daughter's in the wrong place at the wrong time. With very little time, they're uprooted, kicking and screaming all the way.

Subplot of Raph and Brandi is going to some strange places. Apparently, Brandi is as nasty, selfish and bitchy as I thought. For her to see through the door that Mary and Raph were getting it on, and still knock on the door, was out of line. Geez, Mary's her sister! That's wrong. And I know that her attempt to dump the suitcase of cocaine -- notice it didn't go in the river -- is going to blow (ha, ha) in her face.

Warren was a complete asshole. His anger and disappointment in Iris was understandable, but that monumental selfishness was stunning. My favorite scene was when the adoring wife tells him straight out that as much as she adores him, and she clearly does, he better not ask her to choose between her children and him. That reminded me of Sophie's Choice, not the situation, just the idea of a mother loving her children equally.

Why has it taken till now for Mary to present the Memorandum of Understanding for the Witness Protection Program to clients? This was such an important scene, it makes me wonder why they haven't played this out before. Warren finally comes around, especially when he learns that Lily was as responsible for the situation the family's in as Iris. Can he really blame both his daughters to the point of losing them? Marshall's words about reconciling sink in and Warren forgives and becomes contrite.

Other points of interest

"Not supposed to situations" like Lawrence says is prefiguration, all right.

Background symbols abound. When Warren walks out of the office and Marshall confronts him at the elevator, the sign in the background is "High Voltage." That completely describes Warren's emotional state. "Now I have this rage inside me," he bellows, and you can see and read it. \

Another symbol, the high school is called Rio Bravo. Also, the calendar story is told instead of the Alamo story. That's two homages to John Wayne movies, which is who Mary is most like. Can The Searchers be far behind?

After the shooting, it was great the way the innocent bystander with the lawnmower was shown to have been mowed down by the machine gun. You didn't see the body, just the lawnmower going down the driveway by itself.

The opening gag with Mary, Marshall and the stewardess story was great banter, and for a change McCormack paced herself. She has a tendency to talk too fast and rush the joke.

Marshall's so smart and observant. Bach on the piano, the measurements on the door. Mary's sensitive in her own way, hard though it is for her to show it. Marshall's heart is in the job, too. He also pegs Warren as all bluster and no balls.

Mary's calendar on the refrigerator, her setting a goal for them to survive six months, was gone after one scene. Continuity error or did the McBrides dump it.

Like I said, there was just enough voiceover, like Mary overhearing Lawrence's romantic words to Iris and saying, "Only a 17-year-old can pull off that kind of crap." She's right and because she is, it's funny.

Over the wrap, Mary says a few words that really speak to the episode -- and in this instance -- really were appropriate. "People generally think of forgiveness as the flipside of contrition, the obligatory response to an apology. It is not. To forgive is to answer the call of our better angels, and bear our wounds is the cost of doing business. It is that rarest of things, simple and pure. Transcendent, without strings."

The final touch, Marshall brings the door to the family, was a perfect coda.

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